With the end of the local houseleague hockey season about four to six weeks away, parents of children involved with the Rayside-Balfour Minor Hockey Association (RBMHA) received an unwelcome surprise last week.
Coaches and managers were informed by association president Jacques Vincent last week that, effective Feb. 14, all practice times for the rest of the season are cancelled.
Needless to say, the Valentine's Day decision is unlikely to leave those affected feeling the love.
In an email to coaches and managers, Vincent notes that this was a "difficult decision" prompted by "higher than expected costs" this year.
He wrote the effects of assembling smaller-than-anticipated teams, and higher ice costs combined with newer, more rigid city guidelines about returning ice times, left the association with little choice — cut the practice season short or risk being unable to pay the ice times bills at the end of the year.
Teams were given the option of moving forward and purchasing their previously allocated practice times, although the time allocated to make a decision was minimal, an email to NorthernLife.ca noted.
A concerned parent who contact the newspaper said the RBMHA only gave 10 days notice about the problem and set a deadline of Feb. 5 (two days after Vincent's email was sent out) to book new practices.
NorthernLife.ca has left messages for Vincent, but they have yet to be returned.