City making adjustments due to delayed start to hockey season

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald The last major event at the Art Hauser Centre was on March 8 when the Saskatoon Stars went up against the Prince Albert Northern Bears.

As the city of Prince Albert continues to look at the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on their finances, one of the venues that will have an impact on the city’s bottom line is the Art Hauser Centre.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Greg Dionne asked how the delayed start to the 2020-21 Western Hockey League would affect the projections made in the latest financial update, as the Prince Albert Raiders campaign won’t start until December at the earliest.

“We’re still working on what the projections will be like now that the start of the Raiders’ season has been pushed back,” director of community services Jody Boulet said.

“We had committed to council that we would centralize all of our bookings into the Art Hauser Centre before we open up a second arena. That would limit the financial impact that the recent change to the start of the WHL season would have.”

The Art Hauser Centre is also used as the home venue for the Prince Albert Mintos and the Prince Albert Northern Bears, who compete in the Saskatchewan Male and Female Under-18 AAA Hockey Leagues respectively.

“We are expecting the return to play plans from both leagues to be determined later this week, with scheduling meetings planned for the last week of August,” Boulet said.

“We think that we will known what time frame we are looking at for both leagues within the next two weeks. In the latest update that we received from both AAA leagues, they were looking to start from mid-October to early November, but that was subject to change.”

While the start date for hockey leagues is still to be determined, Prince Albert Minor Hockey plans to start on time with their tryout process getting underway on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

“We’ve been in communication with them to make sure that we start off in the Art Hauser Centre, followed by the Kinsmen and Steuart Arena,” Boulet said.

“We’ve also reached out to Buckland Arena as well, as it’s closer to some of the rinks in other communities. We want to make sure that we keep our local teams in Prince Albert as we wait for the other leagues to begin.”

SJHL Season Delayed

While the league itself has yet to make an official announcement, news came out from various Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League beat reporters on Tuesday that the start of the 2020-21 campaign has been pushed back.

According to Estevan Bruins play by play announcer Rob Mahon, the SJHL had sent an email to all 12 teams in the league that their planned start date of Sept. 25 has been moved back to Oct. 9.

The teams had met in Humboldt last month to work out their 58-game schedule, but it had yet to be released to the public.

— With files from Jason Kerr