The National Capital Junior Hockey League (the region’s junior ‘C’ loop) has proposed a 2020-21 season with non-contact play, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.
In its November 2 announcement, the NCJHL stated it is “in the process of submitting a plan to HEO to allow NCJHL to play hockey again for this season.” HEO (Hockey Eastern Ontario) is the sports governing body in this region, operating as a branch of Hockey Canada.
The plan requires all clubs to commit to play that will feature no body contact, which is expected to result in “extremely fast hockey.”
“NCJHL is working with HEO to provide a safe environment for all to play in and for fans to watch from.”
Current COVID-19 restrictions set by the provincial government and enforced by local health authorities allow only limited hockey, currently with no games and no body contact. Teams are allowed modified scrimmages, with clubs in bubbles or paired. For example, Hawkesbury’s junior ‘A’ team is paired with the squad from Rockland for non-contact scrimmages.
Curling clubs in Alexandria and Alexandria are working towards the launch of their respective 2020-21 seasons as soon as possible, with both currently registering members new and returning.
The Alexandria Curling Club is aiming for a November 9 season start, with a number of adjustments. There will be no gender-based leagues, at least for now, and the industrial league won’t play this year. As well, a raft of COVID-19 health and safety protocols are in place, details of which can be viewed via this link.
Maxville’s Glengarry Curling Club previously announced that it would not be open this fall, setting early January for a potential season start.
The Lancaster Curling Club had hoped to open in October, providing that sufficient members registered. That target was not met, so the club’s executive has deferred opening until January, seeking to boost its membership numbers by then. See this earlier story for more details.
There is some junior ‘B’ hockey on tap for tonight at the Glengarry Sports Palace, where the Alexandria Glens are booked to host the Char-Lan Rebels in an exhibition, non-contact scrimmage, the fifth of their pre-season series.
As with the previous scrimmages, current COVID-19 health and safety rules place a number of restrictions on the event, including limiting the number of spectators who can attend. Tickets were sold online in advance and are not available at the door.
The game is scheduled to be broadcast online via Hockey TV (subscription required). Liam Arkinson will have the play-by-play call.
Thus far, the Rebs have had the upper hand in the series of scrimmage. Char-Lan won the first three meetings. The fourth, played in Williamstown on October 17, saw Alexandria prevail 4-3 in a shootout, with Patryk Kostrzewa scoring the game-winner.
Off the ice, both clubs remain active. Recently, the Glens and Rebels conducted a trade, the details of which can be read here in a previous post.
October 23 saw the Alexandria Glens hold an intra-squad scrimmage, with Team Yellow (Braden Legue, captain) winning in double overtime, 8-7.
The Rebels announced that forward Tyler Branchaud has signed with the team. He skated with the U18 Colts for the 2019-20 campaign, recording 24 points and 51 penalty minutes in HEO 37 games. The 17-year-old hails from Metcalfe. He’s already somewhat familiar with Char-Lan’s junior ‘B’ team as last season he played as an affiliate with the Rebs in 9 games, notching 3 points. In two contests with the CCHL Colts, Branchaud didn’t hit the scoresheet.
Worthy of note, Branchaud is a dual-sport athlete who also competed for Canada at the U18 men’s softball world cup last year.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old defenceman Dillon Spinner has committed to returning to the Rebels for another go-round this winter. He was the team’s recipient of the Ken MacDonald award for overall proficiency last season. Char-Lan is glad to have him back “to solidify a strong D-corp.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, many Canadians hunger for some normalcy, hoping for the return of hockey.
Some leagues have taken tentative steps to resumption, such as the QMJHL which began regular-season play earlier this month only to see much of the league forced to shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks on teams and provincial government orders in some parts of the province. Other leagues, such as the CCHL and EOJHL have tried scrimmages, allowing each club to partner with one other in non-contact play. Elite minor hockey went the route of bubbles, but again with no contact, while local minor hockey programs have focused on training and development.
All this leaves the fan wanting more.
So how about a little hockey humour courtesy of TSN?
Or what about a hockey movie? Bleacher Report compiled a list of “must-see” movies for the hockey fan. You can check it out here. What do you think? Is there a film missing?
Fans (as well as players, coached, etc.) have to remain hopeful that hockey will return eventually to rinks near and far, hopefully sooner rather than later. Elite junior leagues currently appear to be targeting December or January re-starts, while the NHL is also looking at January 2021 to begin its next season.
Over in Europe, regular play has begun. For example, subscribers to DAZN can watch games from the KHL online.
The Lancaster and District Curling Club had hoped to open a modified season this month, but that was contingent on sufficient full-time members signing up. That didn’t happen, so the club’s executive has decided to delay the start of the season until January in hopes that membership numbers increase.
In light of operating costs, the Lancaster club needed “at a minimum, 80 full-time memberships committed and paid” by the set deadline of October 15.
“Thank you to all who have responded to our call but unfortunately there were insufficient memberships by the deadline and after reviewing the income/expense data, and considering the rising COVID cases the season will not begin as planned.”
In addition to a modified curling season, Lancaster is aiming to resume its Learn to Curl program in January.
Club president James Doonan notes, “By shortening the curling season, we will be better able to control losses. As well, during this period, we will review and update the control measures for COVID previously communicated.” For more on the changes to curling this season, please see this previous post.
“The club is committed to having play this season so long as authorities allow. We are aware that it is a major social aspect of many people’s lives in the winter months and we hope to provide a welcoming and above all safe experience for everyone.”
James Doonan, club president
Full refunds and/or pro-rated refunds are (and will be) available.
On Monday morning, the Township of South Glengarry announced the temporary closure of the arena in Williamstown, along with several other township buildings, in online posts that referenced “health and safety reasons.”
Later in the day, the township clarified.
“Acting under the advice of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the Township of South Glengarry temporarily closed three of its facilities to the public on Monday, October 19th, 2020. The closures of the Municipal Office, Fire Hall in Lancaster, and the Char-Lan Recreation Centre were a direct result of a positive COVID-19 test of an employee.”
Township of South Glengarry statement
The announcement went on to reassure residents and users of the facilities: “The Township has maintained a strict contact tracing regime for all individuals entering these facilities and all relevant information has been provided to public health authorities for investigation and follow-up. At this time, any person requiring follow-up from the EOHU has been contacted. Township staff have since deep cleaned all of the noted facilities.”
When the arena in Williamstown opened for the season on September 21, strict health protocols were implemented, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Among them was capacity limits, required wearing of a face mask, and signing in for contact-tracing purposes.
The Char-Lan Recreation Centre is slated to reopen “for ice times only” later today (October 20) at 5 p.m.
You may have heard last week that the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), arguable Canada’s top minor hockey league, pulled the plug on all activities this fall, suspending programming until January 2021. However, that announcement is league-specific and does not apply locally, as Hockey Eastern Ontario has reiterated that programming, already modified, under its jurisdiction will continue this fall.
As it stands, local minor hockey organizations, such as those in Alexandria and Char-Lan, are already operating under a heavily modified system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to strict health and safety protocols, no games are permitted in an effort to limit player contact.
The focus of fall programming is on training and development, with the hope that game play may resume come January.