Hockey families and rink operators disappointed, but understand county's decision to lock down the sport

Charles Molineaux
Updated: April 05, 2021 11:10 PM
Created: April 05, 2021 10:33 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Disappointed players and skating rink operators say they’ll follow restrictions, wait, and hope now that youth ice hockey in Monroe County is back in coronavirus lockdown.

"And, I was just really really sad and I was like… 'Well, this is weird,’” sighed 11-year-old hockey player, turned coronavirus patient, Ben Morgan.

He says it was a letdown to discover he and some of his teammates have COVID-19 after they played in a hockey game a week ago at the Bill Gray's Regional Iceplex.

On Monday the Monroe County Public Health Department announced that, out of 240 people at the facility that weekend, 27 have now turned out to have the virus and it’s withdrawing its permission for youth hockey, effectively banning it.

It was tough news for Ben, even as he quarantines in his family's basement.

"Everyone was kind of sad that we were going to have to miss out on games,” he said. 

"As much as it stinks to kind of shut down for a little bit, it's probably a smart move,” added Ben’s father, David Morgan, a hockey player himself.

In its announcement Monday, the health department says it's seeing "a substantial and growing number of COVID-19 cases related to ice hockey, more so than other higher risk sports" and it's urging anyone who was at Bill Gray's on March 27 and  March 28 to self-quarantine and to contact the health department at 585-753-5555 as soon as possible.

"The reality is I feel really bad,” David said. “because Bill Gray's is one of the better locations as far as really trying to be very fastidious and careful with cleaning."

“We take COVID more seriously than 99.9% of the businesses out there,” Bill Gray's manager Chris Woodworth said.

He says the Iceplex has been extremely careful, insisting on masks and social distancing.

"We've taken great pride in creating a safe environment here for our many customers. Unfortunately, there's only so much we can control,” he said, adding that the facility has also kept close track of who comes and goes, and when, and people’s contact information.

He says Bill Gray's is eager to work with health officials to do contact tracing.

"We all just need to really hunker down and do what's needed here and let's get over this hump and get through the woods,” he said.

The health department says it plans to reevaluate its decision on youth hockey in two weeks.

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