Start of 2020-21 campaign delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic
After making their first trip to the playoffs since 2012 this past winter, the Prince Albert Titans are anxious to keep that momentum building.
However, they don’t know yet when they will get the chance to do that.
The Prairie Junior Hockey League season was originally slated to get underway on Friday, Oct. 9, with the Titans taking part in a home-and-home series against the Carrot River Outback Thunder that weekend.
As with every other hockey league in the province, the start of the 2020-21 Junior B campaign has been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that the games scheduled for October have been wiped out from the schedule and the league is taking things month by month at this point,” Titans head coach and director of hockey operations Kim Dryka said.
“We don’t know yet when the start date is going to be, as the Saskatchewan Hockey Association and the Saskatchewan Health Authority will make that decision when they feel that it’s safe to do so. We’re all just hoping for the best at this point.”
It was a different summer than usual for the Titans, who lost their major fundraiser in their annual sports and leisure lottery.
“That hurt the club a bit, but just like everyone else, we’re all going through tough times right and we’re figuring things out as they go along when it comes to how the season is going to run,” Dryka said.
“We’re coming up with different ideas to make sure that the kids can play. Obviously, we don’t know when the season is going to start yet, but we’re just chipping away.”
The Titans returned to the ice this past weekend for a two-day camp at the Art Hauser Centre, which saw 35 skaters take to the ice.
“It was a little different, especially as our on-ice groups were smaller and it was the first time back on the ice for some of the guys, as there wasn’t a lot of ice time available during the summer,” Dryka said. “We saw a lot of good things though over the course of the two days.”
The Titans finished sixth in the Bob Dybvig Division last year with a 12-24-4 record and went the distance against the third-ranked Saskatoon Royals before falling in the third and deciding game of their opening round series on Feb. 28.
“We have 16 guys back from last year’s team, so there’s a good group to build around here,” Dryka said. “Our backend is solid, the forward core is coming together and we have our goaltenders back.
“We added some extra pieces to the puzzle and we’re hoping to make a little more noise this season…when it does start.”
As they await news on the start of the upcoming campaign, the Titans will be practice twice a week this month before cutting things down to one practice a week in October.
“The reason we did that is to help keep the costs down,” Dryka said. “With no fundraising dollars coming in at the moment, we’re watching the budget so that we don’t find ourselves in a hole.
“I think everyone in the league is in the same boat right now. We want to keep the kids out on the ice and give them something to do that they enjoy. It’s been a long six months for all of them.”