Masks no longer required for hockey players or refs at Soldotna rink

Jan 14, 2021

Representatives from local youth hockey associations have been writing to the Soldotna City Council to ease restrictions on players and spectators for months.
Credit City of Soldotna

Soldotna is further loosening COVID-19 restrictions at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. This time, it’s bringing back hockey games and removing the on-ice mask requirement for players and officials.

The city closed the center in November, as case rates worsened locally, and opened it back up in a limited capacity last month. But it still required that players wear masks on the ice.

The Soldotna City Council voted to remove that requirement at its Wednesday meeting. Youth coach Christie Stinnett was one of many hockey parents who advocated the change.

“I’m on the ice with these kids with their masks on," she said. "Everybody’s following the rules right now, we have great mitigation plans, but these kids are struggling.”

She said it’s hard for kids to breathe when they’re skating and sweating with masks on.

USA Hockey, the national governing body for the sport, takes a similar stance. The association website said players and officials should wear masks when they’re not playing, but that it’s OK not to wear them when they are. 

Masks will still be required for coaches and spectators at all times, and for players and officials while they’re not on the ice. There can be 250 spectators in the center at once.

The resolution also permits an increase in the on-ice capacity for hockey events, from 32 to 50 skaters. The center can also now host games and scrimmages for youth, high school and Rusty Blades hockey. Team rooms will open back up to players, as well.

The resolution additionally opens the rink to public skate, for up to 50 people at once.