Summerside Western Capitals hockey team returns to the road
'It's a lot more than just a hockey game'
The Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League are playing their first games since Nov. 21 this weekend, and they're travelling off-Island to do it.
The team submitted a plan to play away from P.E.I. that was approved by the province's Chief Public Health Office.
"We're allowed to go to work, play hockey and, basically, any other times you stay home," said Pat McIver, general manager of the Western Capitals.
"We're going to be really busy with our hockey … So I feel comfortable that we can keep these guys active enough and playing hockey every day to keep the temptation of slipping on their isolation away from them."
The team is scheduled to play the Truro Bearcats on Saturday and the Amherst Ramblers on Sunday. Once the games are done, the team will climb back onto the bus and head directly home with no stops on the way.
Once at home, the players have to follow rules much like a rotational worker, said McIver, having to keep as much distance from family members as possible.
No fans will be allowed in the stands at games in Nova Scotia.
The team is still working out some details in order to host teams from off-Island, but McIver said it should be worked out by next week.
Getting back to playing games is something players and coaches have wanted since the last buzzer rang.
"There's been some disheartening moments," said centre Josh MacDonald.
"We've had games lined up that have been cancelled, but we just kept plugging away and kept practising, hoping that the day comes where we get to play."
It's important that the players get to play, said head coach Billy McGuigan.
"I think what the average Joe doesn't really understand is what these kids have on the line," he said. "You're talking [NCAA Division I] commitment at Cornell University. There's big scholarships on the line for these young men.
"You've got a couple of hundred players that really are counting on these years to set up the rest of their lives."
McIver said people should remember there's more to the Capitals than the players. He said other staff count on games, too.
"It's a lot more than just a hockey game," he said.