Portage College men’s hockey team will have to wait a year before suiting up officially again.
Isaac Barr, one of the new recruits for the Lac La Biche based Portage College Voyageurs hockey team, was looking forward to playing with the Voyageurs, but understands everyone needs to be cautious during the pandemic.
“Obviously, it sucks for a hockey player to hear that there’s no hockey, but at the end of the day it’s for everyone’s health and safety,” says Barr.
“Everyone’s wellness is a priority over everything else. In reality there is only so much we can do, and so much we can control and COVID-19 is a very serious thing.”
It was announced late July that there wouldn’t be a 2020-2021 ACAC men’s hockey season with the this year.
Barr has been a scorer in town for awhile.
Barr formerly played for the Lac La Biche Junior B Clippers, when he was recruited to join the Voyageurs.
It doesn’t happen every day that a Junior B player moves up to a College level team, but Barr demonstrated his skills on the ice and won MVP and Best Forward of the season during his last year in the NEAJBHL.
However, he does acknowledge it’s going to be a challenge adjusting to College level hockey.
“I mean it’s kind of unheard of, there’s not too many Junior B players that go to ACAC hockey,” says Barr.
“As far as making that jump from Junior B to college hockey that’s obviously a tough thing, it’s a different style of hockey. With Junior B, it’s a lot rougher and there’s a lot of fighting, and switching to college there’s no fighting, and it’s a faster game.”
The Portage College Voyageurs over the past few years have struggled as a team to pull out some wins.
Last season, they were unable to win a single game the entire season in 28 total games.
The losses were not going to deter Barr from joining the team.
“I was looking forward to making a positive impact on the team, and maybe snag a couple wins for the upcoming season,” Barr says.
“I really wanted to show people that we can compete in that league and turn things around for Portage.”
Nate Bedford, the Head Coach for the Voyageurs and the Director of Athletics and Recreation for Portage College, had high hopes as well.
“We did everything we could to make sure that we put ourselves in a great place to have a good year for the upcoming season, so we recruited extremely well,” says Bedford.
“We did a good job recruiting good quality hockey players and students, so we were really looking forward to the year ahead.
“I can appreciate the decision to cancel the season, I can support the decision, but obviously it’s extremely disappointing especially considering how much better we improved the summer, but it’s understandable.”
Although there will not be a season, Bedford is still hoping to have some practices throughout the year for the players staying in Lac La Biche.
“We will be able to practice just not on a regular basis. So it will be more sporadic, but we do want to able to get on the ice, and still work out, and do those types of things in our community,” said Bedford.
“There’s still no guarantees and no expectations on how many practices there will be at this point.”