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Stettler, Ponoka forgo Junior B season, league adopts vaccine program

The Stettler Lightning and Ponoka Stampeders will not play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League this year.

The Stettler Lightning and Ponoka Stampeders will not play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League this year.

Stettler made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday, citing “COVID restrictions” limiting player turnout.

“The new COVID restrictions put us in a very depleted player situation so the decision was made so players could join other teams for the remainder of this season,” the tweet read.

On Monday, the HJHL board of governors approved a league-wide implementation of Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program, meaning all players, coaching and support staff must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before participating in a team activity, or show a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of the activity.

The Lightning lost a pair of exhibition games on the weekend and were scheduled to start the regular season on Friday.

Ponoka lost each of its first two regular-season games over the weekend. Friday they fell 6-0 to the Rocky Mountain House Rams and Saturday, they lost 2-1 to the Airdrie Techmation Thunder.

The Stampeders dressed 18 skaters and two goalies in Saturday’s loss and were outshot 66-16.

“It is with great sadness we announce the Stampeders will be taking a leave from the (HJHL),” they wrote on Twitter.

“Due to the new COVID measures we found ourselves in a position of not having enough eligible players to continue the season.”

The Red Deer Vipers, Sylvan Lake Wranglers and Rocky Rams will all continue on this season following the REP.

“All Vipers’ players, coaches and support staff must either have proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or provide a negative test result completed 72 hours prior to a team event in order to participate,” The Vipers said in a statement.

Sylvan Lake issued a similar statement.

Each of those teams will also require fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the game. The Rocky Mountain Rams will play their home games with one-third capacity and no vaccine proof for fans.

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Byron Hackett

About the Author: Byron Hackett

I have been apart of the Red Deer Advocate Black Press Media team since 2017, starting as a sports reporter.
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