THE wait is finally over.
Today sees the Bulldogs back on the ice having been forced to sit on the sidelines for six months due to the lockdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
After last week saw the green light finally given for Bradford Ice Arena to reopen its doors on Tuesday, Wednesday night sees the club’s various junior teams and the club’s senior players hit the ice for some long-awaited practice sessions.
The Under-9s will be first on the ice between 5.30-6.30pm, followed by the Under-11s who will get their hour from 6.45pm onwards.
The Under-13s return to training at 8pm with the Under-15s making the most of their 60-minute slot from 9.15pm before the seniors’ team round-off the evening with a late showing at 10.30pm.
Head coach Andy Brown admitted it had been a long time in the making to get the club’s players back out on the ice, adding that he couldn’t wait to get started again.
“It’s been a frustrating time for everybody at the club,” said Andy. “Obviously, what has gone on over the last few months has been a horrible experience for many people and our hearts go out to those who have suffered.
“We’ve been busy at the rink getting the place ready for when we could start practising again and I know from speaking to parents, players, team managers and our coaches, that we’re all desperate just to get back out there again.”
The club returns to the ice heading straight into step 3 of the EIHA’s phased ‘Return to Play’ structure, although it will be a while yet before any actual games can be scheduled for teams at any age group.
In the meantime, players will be able to train on the ice in groups of up to 30, plus their coaches, with contact to be phased in over the next two-three weeks.
They will be able to work on strength and conditioning with coaches, cover technical and tactical aspects of the game, as well as return to developing their individual skills.
“It’s going to be great,” added Andy. “We’ve been able to keep in touch with people through social media and, in the case of some of the youngsters, some weekend off-ice sessions in recent weeks.
“But I’m just looking forward to getting back out on the ice with them all. It’s been too long and we’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for because we want to get back to having fun out on that ice pad.”