Cape Breton women’s hockey groups raise $90K toward Canada Games Complex renovation

By | December 23, 2022

The Cape Breton Blizzard Female Hockey Association and Cape Breton University Capers women’s team have combined to raise $90,000 toward the revitalization of the Canada Games Complex in Sydney, NS

Blizzard president Christina Lamey believes the arena, which is out of service, will be the first in Canada dedicated to female hockey teams when renovations are complete.

The campaign, which included a draw for a new vehicle, was launched in mid-November.

For 13-year-old Mya Rendell, who plays on the Blizzard U-15 AAA team, the money means more ice time at home.

“Hopefully, we can host tournaments like SEDMHA or the Sobeys Cup, or just any female tournaments that we never got to host before,” Rendell said. “It’ll be really cool.”

U-18 AAA player Samantha Morrison drew the winning ticket Tuesday in a raffle for a vehicle Tuesday. (Daniel Fraser)

She said her entire team is excited. “It’s unbelievable,” she said.

Last year, Rendell’s team had to cancel some practices and games, she said, and this year, the girls’ teams often struggled to get ice time.

Lamey is confident that the project will ease the league’s struggle with lack of available ice.

“It’s a lot of work when you’re trying to organize a girls’ hockey league that’s bigger than most of the local minor hockey associations, almost all, actually, and we have no home ice,” she said.

“We were really happy hitting $90,000. It was like, wow, we took another great step forward for rink revitalization efforts.”

The Blizzard won this year’s Kraft Hockeyville contest. The association was one of four finalists in the running to receive the grand prize of $250,000.

Plans to revitalize the arena are incomplete. It is expected to be back in service for the 2024-25 season. (Josef Cameron/CBC)

The amount that is required for the renovation hasn’t been determined. Lamey said the preliminary designs aren’t complete.

“The boards are out, the old broken down ice plant is out,” Lamey said. “What needs to come next is a new refrigeration system, new boards, new score clock, new Zamboni, essentially all the things that make a building a rink.”

She said the rink should be available for the 2024/2025 hockey season.

The ice surface is Olympic-sized, but it will have the smaller NHL-sized dimensions once renovations are complete.

Lamey said they’ll be hosting an NHL game in the near future and “that is something people will hear more and more and more about in the coming months.”

Lamey said she’s overwhelmed by the community support. So far, the government’s support has been verbal.

“We have received positive words of encouragement from all of our elected representatives,” she said.

The ice will be used by the CBU women’s team and the Blizzard Hockey League, which is at least 23 teams in total, according to Lamey.

“If I could snap my fingers, we’d be on it right now,” she said. “It can’t happen almost enough.”

Hub for accessible hockey

For Dr Gina Deveaux and her husband, Steve, the renovations mean more accessible ice.

They started a sledge hockey program for people with physical disabilities 11 years ago. The Cape Breton Sledgehammers operate out of Center 200.

“The people there have been great to us, but it’s not a sledge-ready rink,” Steve Deveaux said.

Sledge hockey players require a flat surface to enter and exit the ice, and accessible dressing rooms.

“We’re really hopeful that the new upgraded facility is going to be totally accessible and sledge-ready,” he said. “That’s a really huge thing for our association.”

dr  Gina and Steve Deveaux have been running the Cape Breton Sledgehammers hockey team for 11 years.
dr Gina and Steve Deveaux have been running the Cape Breton Sledgehammers hockey team for 11 years. (Josef Cameron/CBC)

The renovations are important to the couple personally, Gina said. Their son, Kurtis, is one of the players.

‘He actually pushed us to get it going and we’re so happy that we did,’ she said.

She said it provides a sport for persons with disabilities, “And we want them to be able to play it the way it’s meant to be played.”

The couple hopes the Canada Games Complex with the new renovations will be a hub for the sledge hockey community.

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