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Mooseheads making the best of it during lockdown

With Halifax Mooseheads James Swan, left, and Jason Horvath in chase, Bathurst Titan’s Riley Kidney races to get control of the puck around centre ice during a Nov. 20 QMJHL game against the Bathurst Titan at the Scotiabank Centre. (ERIC WYNNE/Chronicle Herald)
With Halifax Mooseheads James Swan, left, and Jason Horvath in chase, Bathurst Titan’s Riley Kidney races to get control of the puck around centre ice during a Nov. 20 QMJHL game against the Bathurst Titan at the Scotiabank Centre. ERIC WYNNE/Chronicle Herald)

Just to be clear, the Halifax Mooseheads do not have any special exemptions during the current COVID-19 shutdown here in Nova Scotia.

The QMJHL season continues without them in markets where teams still have clearance to play so the Mooseheads can only wait and hope for the case count to improve and restrictions to be lifted like the rest of us.

"We're the same as everybody else right now - no groups more than five and no practising - so we've set our guys up with Zoom workouts to do at home," said Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell.

"It's just where we are today. It's the same for everybody else. People are working from home and trying to make everything work. We're just trying to do our part and the best we can do right now is home workouts and catch up on our schoolwork."

The enforced pause in the season means strength and conditioning coach Chris Pierce all of a sudden becomes the most important member of the Mooseheads staff. He played a key role in preparing the out-of-province players who had to quarantine at a local hotel for two weeks leading up to training camp. He is again coming up with creative ways to keep everyone fit without them having access to gyms or arenas.

"You can actually do a lot in a five-by-five foot space," Russell said. "He's working with the kids and designing different things for them to do. It's a minimum two weeks so we want them to be able to stay in shape, as much as possible."

While no one wanted the interruption, the break will actually help a couple of the players. Forward Cole Foston, for example, has not played since Oct. 29 because of a lower body injury so he buys some idle time to heal.

"Foston's still not skating so this means he won't miss any more games while we're off," Russell said. "And he should be back skating if we're able to get back in two weeks. (William) Robitaille also got hurt in the Bathurst game (on Nov. 20) and he's day to day so the break helps someone like him, too. (Defenceman Alex) Tessier is also out with an upper body injury and he's out indefinitely."

Elsewhere, team captain Justin Barron is in quarantine in Red Deer, Alberta at the Canadian world junior team tryout camp and the other five teams in the Maritimes Division are also unable to play games at the moment, either because of flare-ups in their area or the new travel restrictions in Atlantic Canada.

"The silver lining is we've been on the ice since August and with everything going on outside the Atlantic bubble, I think we've been doing really well as a Maritime group," Russell said. "We're proud of what we've accomplished so far and hopefully we can get our numbers back down and resume."

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