Technically, Chris Gerrie is a professional hockey player, having appeared in two ECHL games for the Wichita Thunder over the past 11 months. However, with his roster spot gone and the province of Alberta in lockdown mode, the only ice available to him right now is at outdoor facilities open to the general public.
"I've tried to use all the resources I can," Gerrie said.
At the mercy of weather conditions, ice quality, and crowd size at the two rinks closest to his apartment in Calgary, he's learned it's best to train under the lights after the neighborhood kids have retired for the night. Alone, bundled up, and wearing only half of his equipment, he'll skate laps and fire pucks at a vacant net:
Gerrie, a 24-year-old forward from Mount Royal University in Calgary, made his pro debut last March, just before the ECHL pulled the plug on its 2019-20 season. Throughout the summer and fall, he relied mostly on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for income as he trained on and off the ice.
"You just kind of have to come to terms with it, I guess. It's so out of your control, right?" he said. "I definitely have my moments where I feel really sorry for myself, but you've just got to remember everyone's in this pandemic and people are in way worse situations."
The Thunder welcomed Gerrie back for training camp in December. He was sent packing shortly thereafter, though, because the club had received four AHL players on loan from the Toronto Marlies. He made $160 for two days of work.
"I'm starting to get experienced in all of this craziness," Gerrie said, with a nod to his place in pro hockey's pecking order. "It seems like there's new obstacles every week. But I've definitely gotten more mentally strong."