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.
Planning for a 2020-21 season has been underway for some time. Representatives of the 10 teams of the NCJHL met on August 17, with all “teams expressing their intention to continue active participation in the league.”
As noted by the league, current provincial health restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic limit hockey to 4-on-4 play with no contact, “with strict rules relating to physical distancing, maximum number of players on the ice as well as how many people are able to attend games.”
“Our main concern always has been, and will continue to be, the health safety of our players, staff, officials, and fans. We will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.”
Regular-season play in the region’s junior ‘C’ hockey league concluded with the Vankleek Hill Cougars as the top team in the East Division, while the South Grenville Rangers finished first in the West.
First-round playoff series, league quarter-finals, are underway, with two games in the books for each.
VKH is tangling with the Gatineau-Hull Volant in series B, which is knotted at a game apiece.
The Cougars took the opened 6-3, but dropped the second contest 9-5. Game three is scheduled for February 26 in Vankleek Hill, starting at 7:50 p.m. The teams will then play Friday in Gatineau, before returned to the Cougars’ home ice Saturday evening, for a 7:20 p.m. match.
The North Dundas Rockets, who play out of Chesterville, are in series C with the Clarence Castors. This one is also tied at one game each. Clarence won game one 5-3, and North Dundas replied in game two with a 7-3 effort.
The next two contests are set for the Chesterville arena, February 26 at 8:15 p.m. and February 28 at 7:45 p.m.
In series D, the St. Isidore Aigles lead the Bytown Royals two games to none, on scores of 4-3 (OT) and 5-1. The Aigles are scheduled to host the third match tonight, at 8 p.m.
Series A has South Grenville (Cardinal) leading Metcalfe 2-0 in games.
NCJHL 2020 award recipients: Justin Lefebvre (regular-season MVP, North Dundas Rockets), Jacob Servant (rookie of the year, Clarence Castors), Lucas Stitt (executive of the year, South Grenville Rangers), Keean McEachern (best defenceman, VKH Cougars), Samuel Limoges-Ring (best goaltender, South Grenville Rangers), Andrew Hazard (Bédard Family award, Clarence Castors), Nicholas Castonguay (best defensive forward, VKH Cougars), Ron Harrison (coach of the year, South Grenville Rangers), Brayden Forrestell (most improved, South Grenville Rangers), and Joel Hunt (most sportsmanlike, North Dundas Rockets).