Ice Chips & Canoe Quips

Winter Pickleball!

Finding a suitable venue for winter pickleball is a challenge, especially in light of the pandemic this year. Pickleball play at the Little Current Recreation Centre (curling rink) concluded last week. Players were able to play at the Four Directions Complex last winter but due to COVID, not this year. Fortunately, they did find a facility (Mindemoya Community Centre) to play this winter. The Community Centre does not have the space for normal pickleball play, but are glad make do with what they have. 

They play Mondays (2 to 4 pm), Wednesdays, (1 to 3 pm) and Fridays (10 am to 12 noon). Contact George Ballantyne at 705-805-2385 or Bud Hebner at 705-368-1953 for further information. All Ontario health protocols are being followed i.e. social distancing, sanitizing, masks, etc for pickleball to be played. 

In the longer term what they, any many other groups, need on Manitoulin Island is a multi-sport bubble for winter play. Pickleball is continuing to grow in popularity very quickly in Ontario not only with seniors, but with youth as well. The Manitoulin Pickleball Club play times, locations and updates are posted on our Manitoulin Pickleball Facebook page.

Rainbow Ridge Activity!

The 5th Annual Fall Chill Indoor Golf League at Rainbow Ridge in Manitowaning begins November 19. Thanks to the great weather however the course is open to limited days, for walking golfers only. Sorry, Scotty Madahbee! Then, starting November 14 at 11 am, Amthey will be hosting the Movember Fling Golf with a nine-hole four-man scramble. For $15 golf and a lunch is provided. Contact the club for all details.

Babstock to play pro once again!

Kelly Babstock will once again get to play some professional hockey this 2020 – 2021 season. (Babstock, a band member of Wiikwemkoong, didn’t play in the National Women’s Hockey League [NWHL] last year, opting instead to throw her support behind the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.) Unfortunately, she won’t donning a jersey for the Toronto Six, an expansion franchise in the NWHL, although she signed a contract to play with the Toronto squad this past May.

She was looking forward to the opportunity of showcasing her skills with the Toronto squad since she grew up in nearby Mississauga. But those plans have now been derailed as Babstock was traded to the New Jersey-based Metropolitan Riveters earlier this month. It was Kelly’s choice, but a trade was necessary since Babstock plans to continue living in Norwalk, Connecticut, where she runs her hockey school and also coaches minor hockey teams.

Since most NWHL contests are on weekends, Babstock’s original plan was to fly to Toronto for the team’s home games and some practices while continuing to live south of the border. Of course as with most sports decisions this year, COVID–19 complicated things. Currently, she would be required to quarantine for 14 days every time she came to Canada. As a result, Kelly has been unable to travel and practice with the Toronto squad, which kicked-off training sessions earlier this month, even though team members do not know when, or if, a 2020-21 campaign will be able to start.

Though she is now a member of the Riveters, Babstock admits she is disappointed at not having the opportunity to don a Six jersey. “I really wish I could play there,” she said. “It’s my hometown. I will still be playing there, just on a different team.”

Besidess the Six and Riveters, the NWHL also includes the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and Minnesota Whitecaps. Babstock, 28, has played four seasons in the league. She spent three years with the Whale and then suited up for the Beauts during the 2018-19 campaign.

More hockey history!

This writing day, November 5, marked the 65-year anniversary of a memorable night in the NHL that would end up changing the rule books for good. On that night in 1955, the scoring explosion of third-year Montreal Canadiens’ centre, Jean Béliveau, would bring about a monumental change in the rules governing power plays.

Béliveau scored three goals in a 44-second span on the same power-play against the visiting Boston Bruins, adding a fourth goal on net minder Terry Sawchuk before his evening was done. “Le Gros Bill” accounted for all of Montreal’s scoring in a 4-2 victory on this night 65 years ago.

Five of the NHL’s six general managers voted the following June to release a player from the penalty box if a power-play goal was scored while a minor penalty was being served. Canadiens GM Frank Selke saw the move as one aimed directly as the firepower of his team, which is exactly what it was.

OHL to phase in hitting, if at all!

Ontario Hockey League players have been itching to get their seasons started. Their campaigns have been pushed again from early in the New Year to February 4, at this point. Part of all their training camps and scrimmages would all include a lot of body checking as well during games. Coaches, trainers and players are all coming to grips that the game is going to look and feel much different. Strategies will need to be adjusted and likely even player selection as well. 

The Ontario Minister for Sport, Lisa McLeod doesn’t hold a lot of optimism that hitting will be phased in. Especially when officials consider that Ontario’s number of COVID–19 cases continue to set new records and the larger centres where many teams are based are in so-called Red and Orange zones where stricter pandemic rules apply.

There are many that think that the whole season should be scrapped if the health of the players is of paramount importance. There are also leagues of people that want the game to remain the same, thinking that it is just not hockey without bodychecks. 

I think that if you have played out on a lake somewhere or thrown sticks into the middle for a game of pickup, you’ve played hockey. Focus was more on passing, skating and playmaking skills. Sure there was no (thankfully) open-ice demolishing of players in those games However, isn’t it more important that these youngsters just get a chance to play, even with precautions? A junior player’s career is very short to begin with a shortened season last year and this one, now truncated. Hopefully if everyone can adhere to the precautions we can get these kids out on the ice.

A good sport is good for sports.