By Mark Campbell

It’s been nearly 18 months since the sounds of minor hockey have been heard inside Heron Park arena. Despite evidence of a fourth wave of COVID-19, the West Hill Golden Hawks announced in August that they would be resuming a full program this fall. All of this comes, of course, with the caveat that programs will be in accordance with provincial public health guidelines and on-ice dates are subject to change.

Registration opened in late August for all divisions: U5 (formerly known as Hawks Nest/Hockey Development) up to U21. Anyone born from 2000 until 2015 is eligible to register. According to West Hill’s Director of Registration Sue Vine, “we offer learn to play, tiered house league, select, and competitive teams. We believe that hockey should be fun for the kids while developing their hockey skill levels.” She has also created a Facebook group called “West Hill Hockey” to assist with communications. Vine noted, “there’s a program suitable for all.”

With COVID lockdowns in place last year, there was no organized hockey available anywhere.  West Hill typically has over 800 participants in its house league program alone. Young hockey players were desperate to find alternatives, and many could be found down at the Rouge marsh area as conditions were favourable for pond skating for much of January and February.

The hope is that this year will be different. For many families, hockey is more than just a game and practice a week. Rita Campbell “never realized how much I would miss standing in an arena with freezing toes. It will be so great to have the kids back on the ice, building friendships, confidence, and perseverance.” Campbell’s son Ryan, 7, will be returning to the ice while Owen, 4, will be playing his first season at West Hill.

Friendship and community are common themes among hockey families. For Richard Glynn, hockey is “more than just the game for us. We made some great friends and felt a connection with everyone.” Parents and their kids often linger at the arena long after their games and practices are over, just to catch up and chat with friends they might not otherwise see throughout the week. His son Enzo, 10, is moving up to a competitive team at another league, while daughter Elaina, 8, will be working hard on her skating this year. “We always enjoyed the buzz that was felt, everyone there for the same reason,” Glynn added.

Programs at West Hill begin the first week of October and run until April.  For more information, or to register, please see their website at