Harwood Boys Hockey Dealing with Changes, Good and Bad

Highlanders getting facility upgrades...but can’t use them
Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 11:23 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a fairly normal Winter afternoon for the Harwood Union high school boys hockey team.

“It’s been great,” said senior center Gavin Pike-Thomsen. “The energy is high obviously because everyone’s taking the attitude of you never know when the season’s gonna end.”

Like most teams, the defending D-2 State Champion Highlanders just got back on the ice for the first time a few weeks ago, with COVID keeping the lid on a season that should already be in full swing.

“It’s kinda crazy actually, our state championship game was the last day I guess before everything got shut down,” said Skylar Platt, a junior center for the Highlanders. “We had to adjust quickly I guess to how life would be after that. Just trying to skate as much as possible, but it’s definitely been difficult.”

But there was a little bit of a silver lining to the shutdown for Harwood and their home rink.

“We had the opportunity where we took the ice out, we had found that we had some cracking in the cement,” said Waterbury Ice Center rink manager Timothy Griffith. “We actually went back through and were able to repair the cracks. We rehung the banners, rehung the flags. We did all the painting throughout the rink and in the locker rooms.”

Now Harwood has a bit of an advantage: the level of support they get from the community has allowed them to make a couple additional improvements to the rink.

“It’s pretty special,” Pike-Thomsen said. “All kinds of people, regardless of if they have a connection to the team, come to watch Harwood Hockey play.”

“It was really cool, we were all excited,” added Platt. “We didn’t really know what the shakedown with COVID-19 was gonna be come hockey season. We got locker room upgrades, cool new logo on the ice.”

“That was nothing really with us,” Griffith said. “JA McDonald donated all of the wood, and we had one of the parents of the high school kids, he put up a shop in his garage and he built 50-60 cubbies.”

They’re not completely finished yet, but with the donation of supplies from JA McDonald, the Harwood Parents Organization has been able to upgrade the locker rooms at the ice center. Of course, it’s still to be determined when the teams will actually get to use them.

“Obviously there’s not that bonding experience that there usually is in the locker room,” Pike-Thomsen said.

“It’s a bummer we can’t use the locker rooms, but I guess for years to come, everyone will be excited to have that,” Platt added.

The ban on locker rooms is just one of the many rules the state put in place for high school sports this Winter, restrictions that also include a facemask requirement and no fans. It’s tough, but the kids understand.

“The main hope would be cases go down in Vermont,” Platt said. “More vaccines administered, and then hopefully with that comes hockey games.”

And if we get to a point where it’s safe enough to play, the Highlanders would love the chance to defend their crown.

“It’d be special,” Pike-Thomsen said. “Obviously we had a great year last year but me and the other seniors are hoping to go out with a bang.”

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