The region’s junior ‘A’ hockey league is aiming to begin its 2020-21 season on October 1, pending approval of its return-to-play plan by local health authorities.
In a media statement issued September 4, the commissioner of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), Kevin Abrams, announced that his league, using the Hockey Eastern Ontario return-to-play plan as a guide, has been working with “four regional health units and ten municipalities through our twelve member teams” to formulate a path forward for hockey to resume.
The plan includes “modified play in pre-season” to begin October 1 for all teams, including the Hawkesbury Hawks and Cornwall Colts.
“In these uniquely challenging times, I must thank our member teams, the players and parents participating in the current programs, as well as the HEO RTP Task Team, the HEO Board and Staff, and the 4 local health units and facilities in the 10 municipalities that are home to the CCHL, for their support and patience as we work through these unprecedented times together.”
Kevin Abrams, commissioner of the CCHL
The 2019-20 CCHL season was abruptly halted in March, following instructions from Hockey Canada to suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league had just begun its playoffs, which included the Hawks, the second-place team from the Yzerman Division. The Colts didn’t qualify for the post-season, ending the campaign fifth in the division.
In preparation for the hoped puck drop on a new season, teams are spending this month engaged in training, skills development, and evaluation. Upon approval of the CCHL plan for the pre-season, Abrams will “submit a similar proposal for the commencement of the CCHL regular season in the ensuing weeks.”
The World Junior A Hockey Challenge tournament was scheduled to be held in December but has now been cancelled as part of Hockey Canada’s suspension of events booked for fall 2020.
It would have been the 15th annual edition of the international hockey tournament that features tier 2 junior ‘A’ teams from hockey-dominant countries. Traditionally, Canada has two entries, and local players have featured on past squads.
The 2020 event had been scheduled for December 13-19 with games to be played at the Cornwall Civic Complex.
According to the Hockey Canada release, organizers will be looking to reschedule the event to December 2021.
Other cancelled tournaments are the national women’s under-18 championship, set for November in B.C., and the para hockey cup, booked for December in Nova Scotia.
From the announcement, “Hockey Canada’s priority remains the health and safety of all participants and the general public. We believe the decision to cancel these events is the safest decision given the ongoing uncertainty of the [COVID-19] pandemic at the local level, as well as the international implications associated with these events.”
With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, some aspects of hockey life have gone on, while others have stopped or been changed. For a young goaltender from Embrun, the situation over the past few months delayed his visit to his OHL draft club until this week.
The 15-year-old Jackson Parsons, who was picked in the 2020 OHL draft in the third round, 53rd overall, by the Kitchener Rangers. The top junior league in the province held its draft virtually this year, so this recent visit to the team’s home was Parsons’ first opportunity to see their facilities and meet in-person with staff.
Embrun resident, an OHL draft pick of the Kitchener Rangers, Jackson Parsons recently worked out virtually with Hockey Canada and has been invited to the organization’s national U17 development camp, set to begin July 19.
In May, he signed an OHL standard player agreement with the Rangers. Parsons was picked in the OHL Priority Selection draft 53rd overall.
The 15-year-old’s junior hockey career began last season, which was split between the U18 Cornwall Colts and the junior ‘B’ Char- Lan Rebels.
The Rangers recently highlighted Parson’s summer on their website, quoting the net minder’s thoughts on his Hockey Canada experience thus far: “All of the important information was made available to us, and it was really valuable. Parsons said. I just looked at the online format as a change. It didn’t necessarily lessen the experience at all.”
Kitchener head coach and general manager Mike McKenzie added, “Every little bit helps, especially with kids at this age, and they learn different things from a lot of people in the hockey world.”
Team staff will be connecting online with all Rangers players, including Parsons, with plans for weekly calls from the coach and “guest speakers.”
The Central Canada Hockey League (junior ‘A’) held its Annual General Meeting on June 29, the first time it had been done via video conferencing, for the 12 clubs of the Eastern Ontario loop.
“While uncertainty remains, the return to play protocols developed by Hockey Eastern Ontario through our four local health units and the Canadian Junior Hockey League have allowed us to prepare for the upcoming weeks and months.
The CCHL will conduct its scheduled meeting on July 15, and at that time will confirm the start date and schedule length based on the most current information of the day.
We look forward to hitting the ice for training camp and our annual showcase when it is safe for players, officials and spectators to do so.
CCHL announcement following the 2020 Annual General Meeting
The 2019-20 came to an abrupt end in March, with the playoffs set to begin, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandated Hockey Canada shutdown.
The Hawkesbury Hawks (36-24-2-0) were scheduled to play the Smiths Falls Bear (33.24-3-2) in their opening-round playoff series, while the Cornwall Colts (21-35-1-5) didn’t qualify for post-season action.
As the COVID-19 isolation continues, the country’s national regulatory body for hockey encourages players and fans of the game to stay connected.
All leagues under the auspices of Hockey Canada shut down in mid March as part of virus containment measures, later cancelling their respective seasons. This left many players with unfinished campaigns while fans suddenly found themselves without their favourite sport to watch.
Hockey Canada has launched a number of efforts to keep the sport in people’s minds during this time. Amongst the initiatives is a campaign to encourage players and fans to share photos on Twitter and/or Instagram, tagging posts with the hashtag #makehockeymore
The sports body has also shared a list of recommended hockey-related books.
They also have virtual backgrounds (graphic files) that can be downloaded and used as your computer desktop background or for video conferencing. Check out the Hockey Canada offerings here.
Due to COVID-19 concerns and a Hockey Canada directive to cease all hockey-related activities, as well as an order by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit to close community and recreation facilities, the Alexandria Glens of the CCHL2 have deferred their board meeting, scheduled for March 25.
At this time of uncertainty in the sports world and otherwise, a new date for the meeting has not been set.
The 2019 edition of the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge Team Canada East selection camp will be held at Cornwall’s multi-sport complex, in August. Upwards of 44 players, drawn from junior ‘A’ (tier 2) hockey leagues in Eastern Canada, are expected to participate in the Hockey Canada event.
Ontario-based players will be drawn from the CJHL, OJHL, and NOJHL. Others will come from the Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Quebec (LHJAAAQ) and Maritime Hockey League (MHL). Invitees will be announced in the coming weeks.
The camp is scheduled to run August 6-9, with four inter-squad games planned to assist coaching staff in evaluating players.
Glengarrians have been selected in the past for Team Canada East, including Tylor Spink, Tyson Spink, Sebastian Dirven, and Ross Craig.