Saskatchewan minor hockey teams criticized after travelling to Winnipeg tournament and attempting to cover it up

Five “AAA” Saskatchewan minor hockey teams are facing backlash after travelling to Winnipeg to participate in a tournament earlier this month.

The teams consisted of players from seven years of age to 12, and were from the Wheatland Wild organization and the Parkland Maulers from Yorkton.

While coaches say after consultations with the province they felt they were not breaking any COVID-19 restrictions at the time by going, the Wheatland teams allegedly changed their name, did not put players full names on programs and game sheets and instituted a social media ban on all parents before heading to the tournament.

While at the tournament photo ops were also reportedly turned down.

The Parkland team meanwhile used players full names and played under their real name.

The province has also reportedly admitted that some inaccurate information regarding current rules and restrictions may have been provided to teams in an email, but adds teams should not have participated in the event.

The Saskatchewan Hockey Association does not govern any of these teams in the summer, but still, General Manager Kelly McClintock feels extremely disappointed that this happened.

“Yeah you can play hockey, but at the same time you can only have groups of 50, and you can only have 30 in the rink at once, so how does that even give you an idea or the perception that you can go play in a tournament with all these teams and parents in the rink at once, that’s the disappointing part,” McClintock said.

Current provincial COVID-19 guidelines state there is to be no inter provincial travel for any sports teams.

The participating teams have said they believed that meant teams travelling into Saskatchewan.

“It’s still disappointing to see that teams went, four of them changed their names, they didn’t use kids full names on the game sheets that were online and they put a social media ban in place, so that shows deceptiveness right there and that again is also a disappointing part,” McClintock added.

The Wheatland teams also said they hid the fact they were going to the tournament because they did not want to “rock the boat”.

According to the Saskatchewan government, the current COVID-19 rules and guidelines have been further explained to the teams involved and a warning has been issued that if further inter provincial travel among sports teams occurs, enforcement measures may be taken.

McClintock wants to make it clear inter provincial travel is not permitted at this time for sports teams, adding he’s been receiving calls from Saskatchewan teams asking if they can travel to Brandon Manitoba for another tournament.

“Why would you even consider that right now?” McClintock questioned.

The province said public health inspectors have advised anyone who attended the Winnipeg tournament to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and limit their activities in their communities for 14 days.

Teams registered before the pandemic began, however some Saskatchewan teams, including from Regina elected to withdraw from the tournament.

The tournament is known as the North American Hockey Classic, it takes place at several arenas in Winnipeg, including the Bell MTS Iceplex.

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