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Steele Hall closed to public until first of year

SUNY Fredonia has to do everything in its power to keep students safe when they return to campus this fall.

Having already canceled fall intercollegiate sports, the college announced Thursday that it was closing Steele Hall to the outside public until Jan. 1.

That leaves the Northern Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association without a home until the new year.

“With everything being so volatile, not just with sports, but in every public facet, we anticipated there was a potential for a problem opening to the public,” Shaun Fadale, NCCYHA president, said Thursday afternoon. “They’re trying to protect their flock and make a safe environment.”

By no means does Steele Hall’s closure to the outside public cancel the Steelers’ season. Fadale has already spoken to other area ice arenas to see if ice time will be available.

“We put some contingency plans in place a few months ago,” he said. “We started laying the groundwork for this in late May or early June.”

The Western New York Amateur Hockey League, which governs the Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association’s Jamestown Lakers as well as the NCCYHA teams, has asked organizations to gauge interest locally and establish sign-up numbers earlier than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Frankly, we know that we had some families in the Bantam age group move on, but we’ve gained some kids in the younger age groups, too,” Fadale said. “People are just excited to do something finally.

“Anything is possible,” Fadale added. “I wouldn’t be surprised with the trends in the NHL, MLB and NFL if everything got shut down until January.”

The hope locally is that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces updated mandates sometime within the next week that could make it easier for larger groups to gather in indoor settings.

“Parents are asking questions and we are trying to be as transparent as we can, but it’s hard to be transparent when you don’t know what the government is going to do,” Fadale said. “USA Hockey has been pretty good at communicating and updating things. There is so much that is unknown. There is never an answer that is permanent. It’s always fluid.”

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