COVID-19 Vs. The Minor Hockey Community
Hockey Canada had canceled the season in early March and the Minor Hockey Communities are eager to learn when or how they will start playing again. Unfortunately, the future is unclear. Now, the Government of Ontario gave permission to reopen in May for professional sports training facilities, provided that sports leagues involved have established health and safety protocols for COVID-19, Hockey Canada has decided for minor hockey to remain off the ice.
By now organizations, coaches, managers, players, and parents normally would be preparing for hockey tryouts, finalizing teams, or enrolling their children in hockey camps. Instead, many parents (like myself) are having their children on driveways, in garages, basements or backyards “trying” to keep their skills sharp by firing pucks at an open net or stickhandling with golf balls.
We all know this upcoming season will be different, but we don’t know what changes will be coming from Hockey Canada? Here at HockeyNeeds, we have a few ideas on how to start next season… Safely!
In early May (as part of a Minor Hockey Organization Committee) we were tasked to come up with ideas within Ontario’s guidelines on how we can start the 2020-2021 season and we like to share what we presented.
- 3 on 3 hockey for the season with no face-offs
- 9 players + goalie per team
- 2 coaches at the end of the benches with masks and gloves on
- Referees should wear full visors or masks and use electronic whistles
- Each person entering the rink should have his or her temperature taken
- All Players must replace their cage and wear full visors. Goalies will be exempted
- Water bottles should be metal and must have a lid covering the spout and players names on them
- Players are asked to dress as much as they can at home
- One parent and child(ren) should show up to the rink no more than 15 minutes before their game starts. Also, if possible Parents should alternate if they have two or more children playing on different teams due to their age level.
- Parent and child(ren) must leave within 15 minutes at the end of their game
- Each team should use two dressing rooms to ensure social distancing
- Games should be spaced out 30 minutes apart
- Dressing rooms and the player’s bench should be cleaned with a disinfectant mist before, during, and after each game. The City should be consulted regarding this proposal.
- Parent and child(ren) should enter at the main entrance and use the exit doors at the end of the dressing room lobby
- Good quality practice jerseys with the Organization’s logo and numbers silkscreen printed.
- Numbers should be #1 for goalies and #2 to #10 for players.
- Basic matching hockey socks or use any leftover select hockey socks
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One consideration to keep in mind is how close the participants are within contact. Whether the participants have any type of protective equipment that would limit the ability of droplets to be spread to the next person that they’re touching.
Another consideration, Minor Hockey Organizations may run into a situation, because some arena doesn’t have adequate hot water and don’t replenish their soap containers often enough. There will be a need to have a discussion between the Arena Operator (Private or City run) the responsible where players are meeting, to make sure that there’s access to ways for them to properly disinfect.
The medical science to date indicates that COVID-19 can be spread through droplets when somebody coughs or sneezes. So far there is no evidence the disease spreads through sweat. Therefore, basic hygiene practices should be enforced after a game or practice. I think any hockey mom will agree to encourage more hand washing when you finish hockey.
Lastly, Houseleague many see a spike in registration from parents at the “A” to “AAA” levels wanting to play houseleague this year, again for safety measure, and to avoid traveling rink to rink.
I believe many Minor Hockey Organizations in Ontario are leaving the big decisions about minor hockey’s return to the OHF, and Hockey Canada with other leagues being in the same boat. It boils down to “The Waiting Game” for direction from “Someone Smarter” than us to figure out what’s the right decision, due to the fact it is our children’s health at risk and what is best for them. In the end “Cooler Heads” will prevail and hockey will be back on the ice sooner than later.
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