Waiting on ice: Women's World Hockey Championship waiting for N.S. health approval
HALIFAX -- Less than a month before the best women’s hockey players in the world are scheduled to hit the ice in Nova Scotia, questions still surround the tournament.
The 2021 Women’s World Ice Hockey Championship is scheduled to drop the puck in Halifax and Truro on May 6.
While Nova Scotia’s premier says the games are ‘a go’, for now, he says the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang will be the one who makes the call.
“We won’t do anything without the advice of public health saying it’s safe,” said N.S. Premier Iain Rankin.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage is optimistic that he’ll be wearing his team Canada jersey when the women’s world hockey championship drops the puck next month.
“I think it’s going to go ahead,” says Savage.
With hundreds of players from 10 teams across the world expected to arrive soon, some Nova Scotians say they hope they will not be given an exemption to the mandatory quarantine rules.
“As long as the protocols are being met and everyone’s being tested, and they’re following it, that’s great, it’s just making sure that’s enforced,” says Halifax resident Mark Peapell.
The IIHF awarded Nova Scotia the tournament again, with an original date of April 7-17, but says the tournament had to be postponed again due to ‘the difficult circumstances and challenges for ice hockey and international travel posed by the COVID-19 pandemic’.
Savage says after an unprecedented year of sacrifice, an event of this magnitude is a reward for Nova Scotians.
“I think it’s a bit of a restart, a reopening,” says Savage. “We can be very thankful that we have managed COVID-19 this well, in this province.”
Officials with Hockey Nova Scotia are hopeful the tournament will boost interest in women’s hockey in the region.
“We really wanted this opportunity to host,” says Amy Walsh, executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia.
Walsh says currently there are only 3,000 females playing hockey in Nova Scotia, compared to about 13,000 males.
“There’s so much more room for growth, and my vision, long term, is that it would be equal, that we would have as many girls playing as we do boys,” says Walsh.
Pending final approval from Public Health, the Women’s World Hockey Championship is scheduled to drop the puck from May 6 to 16 at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre and Truro’s Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
In a statement issued in March, the IIHF said they anticipate a limited number of fans may be able to attend games in Halifax and Truro, but the exact capacity will be known closer to the tournament. Fans who have already purchased tickets will have priority to attend.
The tournament schedule will see Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre host Group A, made up of teams from the United States, Canada, Finland, Russia, and Switzerland.
Group B, featuring Japan, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark and Hungary will play at Truro’s Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
The United States has won five straight tournaments, dating back to the 2013 edition in Ottawa (the tournament is not held during Olympic years).
Canada, who has won a record 10 golds, last won the tournament in 2012 in Burlington, VT.