A representative from the Thursday Night Old Timers hockey league raised concerns to Gravenhurst council at their August Committee of the Whole meeting over late ice time allocations.
Duncan Sanderson, who has been involved in the league for 23 years, represented the six teams in the league who play at the Centennial Centre. He said the league is comprised of about 100 players, with 80% coming from Gravenhurst.
“We’ve been informed that after this season, our starting time has been bumped from 8pm to 9pm, which ends our last game at 12am. The Town informed us that this time slot will not be available next year and is offering us the same time slot, but on Saturday evenings. The reason given to us is that they decided to focus on developing youth. We asked that ice time on weekends and school nights be for institutional development,” Sanderson explained.
“A Saturday night time slot will most likely be the demise of our league,” Sanderson said. “We already have several players, myself included, that have indicated an 11:00 pm start is too late and will not be playing.”
“We have hockey players who are coaching or training for various teams, have kids playing hockey that play tournaments on the weekends and can’t make Saturday night games work,” he said. “Additionally, some teams in our league also play in Old Timer tournaments on weekends all the time.”
On top of this, Sanderson said that finding referees would be nearly impossible as “they officiate all day Saturdays and are just not going to officiate until 11pm or 12am at night.”
He acknowledged that as a convenor for the past few years, he understands that there is “an act stating that the allocation for minor sports comes first.” However, he noted that when that time slot became available again, “the slot was not offered to us…but went to a AAA team out of Orillia, not Gravenhurst.”
“Many nights during their tenure, the ice sat empty before us and that that time slot was taken over by and currently used by the ringette association. Now we feel that in these instances, as very long-term, reliable users we should have retained that time slot or had a chance to get it back.” He added other communities have managed the influx of new users wanting ice time without moving the Old Timers slots.
Sanderson said that losing the Old Timers league would have far-reaching effects. He said many in the league are not just hockey players but “are some of the volunteers that represent, train, coach, preside over, convene over and sponsor minor hockey as well as the other minor sports in Gravenhurst.”
Mayor Heidi Lorenz thanked Sanderson for bringing the issue to council’s attention. She said the decisions about ice time were never made at council, but that Town staff would work with the league to try to find a solution.
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