Photo: Jason Malo
"If you don't use it, you lose it". At least that is how the saying goes, but that saying had become a reality for hundreds of adult hockey players throughout Rhode Island. With the state ordered curfew in place, opportunities for adult age players to get on the ice were few and far between this season, with the majority of drop-in skates and men's leagues canceled or limited in function.
Ice time has always been at a premium during the winter season and adult league players are accustomed to skating during off peak hours to allow the younger kids to play at a reasonable time. Further exacerbating the problem of available ice time this season, rinks must schedule cleaning time in-between groups, which leads to the elimination of one rental hour, for every 6 rented, with a 10 minute cleaning buffer.
With all these factors at play, adult skaters have been struggling to find adequate ice time to continue to hone their craft. A majority of these players have not been on the ice since the pause initially started, and many may never return. In a sport that requires a massive physical commitment, it is the fear of some that injury risk will be too high and the decrease in cardio function will be too much to overcome. Hockey is more than just a physical activity, also exercising your brain and helping to keep you sharp-witted. Your mental acuity depends on this stimulus to remain at a high function and keeping the state's adults off the ice for an extended period of time, would only decrease the physical and mental health of these individuals.
On Friday, it is expected that Governor Raimondo will sign an executive order that lifts the curfew, allowing for more flexibility for small businesses. This is welcome news for hockey fans and long overdue, as the curfew unfairly targeted the adult hockey community. Adult league players were never asking for revised policies on locker rooms, showers, or playing with masks, only wanting the opportunity to skate, exercise and relieve stress through the sport they love. Just like it was for the kids, it's time for the the state to "let them play".