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OCN; The Pas minor hockey team up in difficult situation


While the struggles to get ice in at the Roy H. Johnston Arena produced concern in the community, one of the fallouts led to a positive collaboration between The Pas and Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
With the start of the hockey season delayed and questions about whether there’d be ice at the Roy H. Johnston Arena at all this year, The Pas Minor Hockey approached OCN about use of the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre (GLMC). That request was immediately granted and for approximately three weeks The Pas Minor Hockey Association sent their players to practice at the GLMC alongside players from the OCN Minor Hockey Association.
“They bent over backwards. I went into a meeting with them Monday morning and they gave us ice the same day so just the hospitality it just really showed community spirit and we’re very, very thankful,” said Conaty, praising OCN Minor Hockey President Pam Whitehead and OCN recreation Director Barney Monias for their efforts in making the transition happen.
The two associations shared ice time for approximately three weeks and the situation played out so seamlessly that Jerome Conaty, Communications Director for The Pas Minor Hockey Association, believed little if any practice time was lost as a result.
“It was pretty close (to what we’d normally have for ice time) I’d say just because at the beginning of the season things are kind of all over the place but for the most part it was pretty well bang on with what we would have,” explained Conaty.
Rather than using their own ice time, The Pas and OCN minor hockey teams shared the ice, practiced together and combined efforts and costs to produce what also may have been a better system in the end for the athletes.
“How the GLMC did it was they allowed us to join (with other teams). They asked permission from OCN Minor Hockey, so OCN Minor Hockey basically said that we could piggyback off of them and work our practices at the same time as their practices, so we weren’t cutting into the extra time of the GLMC. We were sharing 50-50 basically with OCN Minor Hockey,” said Conaty.
While the number of players in The Pas minor hockey is down from approximately 190 last year to 158 this year that was still a lot of players to accommodate. Yet Conaty believes outside of maybe the midget program all were able to hit the ice regularly at the GLMC.
The situation also didn’t result in additional costs for The Pas minor hockey. While a few parents elected to see if there would be ice in at the Roy H. Johnston Arena first before enrolling their child, Conaty doesn’t believe the situation cost them any registrations. Rather the matter saved both sides money as the associations elected to split the bill for ice time.
“If anything it would actual help us because partnering up with OCN, OCN Minor Hockey said we’re already paying for ice so if you come over here you can pay for half. So it was a cost-share basis when we had the mixed teams so if anything it could have actually relieved a bit of the (financial) burden,” said Conaty.
It also was a win on the ice for the players, many of whom know one another and now were able to share a bit more ice time together.
“All these kids know each other - half the kids Huskies are from OCN - so I mean I loved it. I personally thought it was great; these kids are all friends, they all know each other, so why not practice together,” asked Conaty.
The success arrived at out of a difficult situation has led to talk of possibly combining forces more often in the future, though that is still only at the discussion level.
“It has opened up the eyes for a lot of parents of the possibility of combining hockey programs more often,” confirmed Conaty.
Meanwhile it’s back home for The Pas Minor Hockey Association as ice is in once again at the Roy H. Johnston Arena. While operating in the GLMC was well-received, there’s just no place like home.
“Everything’s kind of turnkey right, all of our lockers and all of our storage, our office and everything is at Roy H. (Johnston Arena) so it will make everything a lot easier for our players and our coaches and the entire association for sure,” said Conaty of being back at the RHJ.

Trent Allen