Travel issues for Neepawa Natives


By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

In more ways than one, the road has not been all that hospitable to the Neepawa Natives so far this season. To go along with a 0-8-0 record in games away from the Yellowhead Centre, the junior “A” club has found itself dealing with transportation issues on multiple occasions. 

The Banner & Press was alerted to the first incident back in late September during a scheduled road game to Waywayseecappo. The regionally based bus company through which the hockey club charters its vehicle had a mechanical breakdown. The company’s backup bus also had technical issues on that day and was unavailable. Alternative arrangements had to be made to ensure the team made it to Waywayseecappo. 

The Banner & Press was then alerted to a second incident that happened on Oct. 31, when the chartered bus was once again unavailable to transport the players and equipment to their game in Virden. A last minute caravan of privately owned vehicles had to be organized and used to ensure the team was able to make it on time.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Banner & Press contacted several representatives with the Neepawa Natives via email and asked for an update on the situation. Team president Ken Waddell replied to the request with a written statement confirming that the team has had to make alternate travel arrangements on four separate occasions this year. 

“On two occasions an alternate bus was brought in. On two [other] occasions, the breakdowns happened just ahead of departure time and so private travel arrangements had to be made. It is essential that all efforts be made to avoid these kinds of issues. The team is actively working to solve these issues as comfortable, safe transportation is a high priority for the hockey club,” said Waddell. 

On Nov. 7, just before the Banner & Press publication deadline,  the hockey team announced it had reached an agreement with Brandon Bus Lines for its travel arrangements for the remainder of the 2018-19 MJHL season. The team thanked the players and families for their patience while they worked our way through recent travel disruptions that were beyond the team’s control. The club’s next road game is set for Sunday, Nov. 11 in Winnipeg. 

This is the first time in several years the Neepawa Natives have needed to charter a bus.  Late in the 2017-2018 season, the team owned bus, which has dealt with mechanical issues in the past, broke down to the point where repairing it was not cost-effective to the organization. The Board of Directors voted to use a charter bus service and to also implement a new travel fee for the 2018-2019 MJHL season. In a media release discussing the decision, the board indicated that the money will be used to help cover bus costs, road meals and motel accommodation when it is needed.