Hockey set to return in Blyth and Brussels
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The Blyth Brussels Minor Hockey Association is moving ahead with a 2020/2021 season this winter, but it will look unlike any previous season due to changes driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Association President Robb Finch says there have been extensive directives for the association to cover that are aimed at limiting the potential for the spread of the coronavirus and keeping the teams’ circles as small as possible.
First, Finch said, teams are now to have a maximum of 10 players – nine skaters and a goalie. Those teams will then play the same four teams all season, essentially creating a 50-person bubble for groups of five teams. All games will be three-on-three games, similar to the newly-instituted overtime period format in the National Hockey League.
Games and practices will also be limited in the number of coaches and trainers that can be on the bench, he said, with temperatures being taken and names being recorded every time a team takes to the ice. When children come to practices or games, they can only be accompanied by one parent or guardian as well to limit the number of people in the community centre at one time.
In order to maintain the integrity of the bubbles, there will be no tournaments this year, nor will there be any inter-bubble playoffs, like the Western Ontario Athletic Association (WOAA) or Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) playoffs at the end of the season.
With all of those safety precautions in place, Finch said it has been nice to have teams on the ice again, adding that he feels the start of the hockey season has come at just the right time for many families.
After a long summer and children being out of school since March, he said many kids and parents were happy to be back at local hockey arenas and on the ice, even if it is a little different than past seasons. Finch said that for the mental and physical health of area children, it has been good for them to be back in school and participating in minor sports.
As for how it’s going, Finch said it’s “so far, so good”. Teams have just begun to practice at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre in the early days of the season, but Finch says the season thus far has gone even better than he expected with all the changes.
He said he hopes things continue to move in the right direction with the season and that everyone stays safe from COVID-19.
For more information on this year’s hockey season, visit blythbrusselsminorhockey.ca.