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Cambridge Ice Hounds return to play after pandemic pause

With the help of a grant from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart charity, the hockey team is getting back to practicing
ice hounds
From Cambridge Ice Hound's Twitter account (@icehoundz)

After being away from the rink for nearly 20 months, the Cambridge Ice Hounds are heading back to the arena on Saturday.

The organization was founded in 2006 and is aimed at children ( aged 5+) and adults with physical and/or cognitive disabilities that prevent them from participating in traditional hockey programs. The Ice Hounds have a variety of programs that cater to athletes just getting started in the sport up to those who are at an advanced level.

Cam Linwood, the president and head coach of the team, said he is looking forward to getting the athletes back in the arena. "We stepped off the ice in March of 2020, and chose not to operate last season," said Linwood. "Recognizing the population that we deal with, we wanted to make sure that everyone was staying safe and healthy."

At this time, the Ice Hounds will not be participating in any games but on Saturday, they will be back at Galt Arena in Cambridge for a practice. 

"We certainly are focusing forwards and are hoping that as things improve with the situation of the pandemic. Hopefully we'll be able to start scheduling some games and even some tournaments by the end of the season if things keep going in the right direction," said Linwood.

He also spoke about the importance of not only getting the athletes back on the ice but also bringing back the social aspect that the team provides to their lives. 

The Ice Hounds started off with nine athletes back in it's first year operating and now has 60-70 athletes signed up for this upcoming season. It is a volunteer-run organization and although the athletes are the main focus, Linwood describes the experience of coaching as irreplaceable. 

"I continually tell people that the best part of my week is when I'm on the ice with our athletes. It's just an incredible experience to be able to watch them grow and develop in whatever capacity they can. There's no expectations in the program, we just want to see our athletes get out there and enjoy themselves."

After being granted $18,000 from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart charity, Linwood said the money was used to reduce the burden from the families returning to the program. This included supporting ice rental fees and supplying the athletes with suitable gear for the season.

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