By now most of us have become accustomed to
the many uncertainties Covid-19 has brought to our daily lives. In the midst of all this uncertainty we are
very much aware that members of the minor hockey community would welcome some
indication of what the upcoming hockey season might look like. The WSMHA Board has been in constant contact
with both municipal authorities and our minor hockey governing bodies over the
past four months and based on their input we are now in a position to provide a
return- to- play plan for the 2020-21 season. While some elements of this plan still
need to be finalized and others could change, we believe the following will
enable you to proceed with your personal hockey plans with some confidence.
We have based this plan on a number of key assumptions:
1. The health and safety of players, officials and volunteers must remain our top priority and, accordingly, the WSMHA will operate in full compliance with guidelines and regulations provided by government, health authorities and minor hockey governing bodies.
2. In keeping with its mandate, while the WSMHA will make every effort to ensure that any Stouffville resident who wishes to play minor hockey will have the opportunity to do so, we are subject to regulations and protocols imposed by governmental authorities and governing bodies which may limit the number of participants in specific programs or specific age groups.
3. Registration numbers and governing protocols permitting, the WSMHA will offer two programs – one recreational and one competitive- each combining elements of skill development and games.
4. Initially, our programs will not involve any interaction with teams from other centres; we anticipate current governmental restriction may be lifted early winter allowing for an abbreviated York Simcoe regular season (and possibly OMHA championships) for Rep teams and exhibition games for Select.
5. Should we receive the go- ahead to resume games against teams from other centres the WSMHA will hold try-outs for AA, AE and Select teams; players wishing to try out for AAA teams will have similar opportunities with AAA centres.
Health and Safety Considerations/ Protocols
In consultation with the Town, the Ontario Hockey Federation and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association we will be adopting a series of protocols designed to deal with player, official and volunteer health and safety considerations. They include traffic flow, facility scheduling, dressing room and washroom use, participant and spectator limitations, PPE requirements, water bottles, contact tracking etc. We are all subject to many “new normals” and the time you spend at the arena will not be an exception. We will do what we can to minimize inconvenience, but compliance with these protocols is a prerequisite for participation.
Prior to program commencement we will provide all participants with a detailed description of applicable protocols and procedures based on the latest information available at that time. We can tell you now, however, that we will have in place a very comprehensive process for:
o screening all participants prior to every game and practice.
o tracking all participants at each “event”.
o Immediately notifying each member of any confirmed or suspected incidence of Covid-19 within their “bubble”.
The Board is currently evaluating proposals from potential suppliers of electronic apps for collecting, storing and reporting this information in an efficient and effective manner. We will then designate specific individuals to ensure that these protocols are implemented for all participants at each game and practice. Finally, should there be any reported case of a confirmed or suspected incidence of Covid-19 we will have procedures approved by local health authorities in place to deal with it effectively and appropriately.
Recreational (House League) Program
The recreational hockey program is designed for players who wish to participate in a league focused on the FUNdamentals of hockey and which does not involve games with or travel to other centres. As in the past, recreational players under the age of 13 will begin with two skill development sessions per week. Based on Hockey Canada guidelines this will evolve over time into one practice and one game per week. Players 13 years of age and older will play two games per week on average. Games will be based on a modified (4 on 4 or 3 on 3) format.
Players will be assigned to a “bubble” or league comprised of (currently) 50 members. There will be a minimum of 4 teams per league each with 9-10 players of similar age, a coach and trainer. Roster sizes, the number of teams or game format s may be adjusted if government limitations on bubble sizes are relaxed.
1. Skills Development: Team practices under the direction of accredited coaching staff will be used to assist players in developing individual and team skills for players under the age of 13 throughout the season. Coaches will follow the Hockey Canada- approved “pathways” for U11, U9 and U7 in terms of skills, and practice plans. As indicated above, basic skating and hockey skills training will be provided by professional instructors. Please note: since health and safety regulations requires a “no contact” protocol for adults providing on-ice assistance in games and practices, all players will be required to meet a basic skating skills proficiency standard in order to participate i.e. be able to skate the width of the ice without assistance.
2. Games: Each bubble or league will consist of a minimum of 4 teams. Players will be assigned to teams based on several evaluation sessions and we will make every effort to balance the teams competitively. Player numbers permitting, we are initially planning on a 4 on 4 format with playing regulations appropriately modified to accommodate health and safety precautions and smaller roster sizes (ex reduce/eliminate faceoffs). No games will be scheduled Thanksgiving weekend or during the Christmas holidays. Some games for older players may be scheduled on weekday evenings.
3. Other: Assuming current restrictions are lifted and ice becomes more available we will make every effort to re-instate additional recreational programs including “Come Try Hockey” as well as some of the supplemental skill development clinics which have been well received in previous years.
Competitive Hockey Program
The competitive hockey program is designed for players who have played rep hockey (AAA, AA, A or AE) in the past, or who plan to try out for a rep team should games against other centres resume during the 2020-21 season. This program will include individual and team skills development as well as games based on a modified (4 on 4 or 3 on 3) format.
Each cohort (U9, U10, U11 etc.) will constitute a “bubble” or league in compliance with current Ontario Phase 3 regulations. A typical league of, for example, 4 teams might include 36-40 players (including 1 goalie per team), 4 coaches and 4 trainers. The members of this group must essentially remain the same for the duration of the season to comply with Provincial regulations.
1. Skills Development: For purposes of individual and team skills development the competitive leagues will be divided into three groups: U9 to U11, U12-U15 and U16 and older. The U9 to U11 will follow the Hockey Canada pathways developed for these cohorts under the direction of the U9-U11 coordinator and the AA and AE team coaching staffs for each cohort. The U12-U15 players will practice under the supervision of their respective AA and AE rep coaching staffs and will participate in specialized skill development sessions provided by Total Hockey Skills. Practices for U16 and older will be directed by the AA and AE coaching staffs. We hope to provide an average of 2 to 3 hours per week of skills training for each cohort in line with the practice/skill development allocation for rep teams in previous years.
2. Games: We are planning a minimum of 4 teams for each cohort comprised of rep calibre players. Players will be assigned to teams following several on-ice evaluation sessions and every effort will be made to ensure competitive balance. Player numbers permitting, we are planning on a 4 on 4 format with playing regulations appropriately modified to accommodate health and safety concerns as well as reduced roster sizes. We are targeting a 24 game schedule from September to December with the assumption that restrictions on games with other centres may be lifted prior to the new year, and a more traditional rep program re-established. A contingency plan for the period from January 1 to March Break will be developed should the resumption of traditional rep hockey not be possible.
3. Program Description U12 to U15: There will be 4 on-ice sessions per week for each of these cohorts. There will be two one-hour game slots for 4 on 4 play each week. All players will attend a one-hour skills training session run by Total Hockey Skills on alternating weeks. Each cohort will also be allocated a 1.5 hour “practice” each week under the direction of the AA and AE coaches. A series of specialized clinics for defensemen (monthly) and goaltenders (bi-weekly) under the direction of Total Hockey Skills will round out the program.
4. Program Description U16 to U18: Each cohort will be assigned two one-hour games slots per week. U16 players will have two practices (1.5 and 1.0 hours) under the direction of the AA or MD coaches. U18 players will have one 2.0 hour practice per week with the AA or MD coaches.
5. Program Description U8 to U11: The program for these cohorts will be based on the various “pathways” as determined by Hockey Canada (see OMHA.net). These cohorts will each have a minimum of three one hour on-ice sessions per week under the direction of their respective rep coaching staffs. A practice/ game ratio of 2:1 will apply for the September/ December period in compliance with Hockey Canada, Ontario Hockey Federation and OMHA regulations.
Registration and Competitive Program Application: August 17 -31 (To be confirmed)
Player Evaluation/ Assignment: September 14 - 20
Recreational and Rep Programs Start: week of September 21
Registration Fees: We are very close to finalizing registration fees and payment schedules for the 2020-21 season. Our expectation is that they will be in line with what was previously announced, and will be required as part of the registration fee for both the rep and competitive programs
Competitive Program Fees: Players who wish to participate in the competitive program (and eventually try out for Rep when and if it resumes) will pay an additional fee for the period from September to December* 2020. These fees will vary by age group and will be announced shortly.
· U8 to U11: $_____
· U12 to U15: $ ____
· U16 to U18: $_____
Competitive program fees may be paid in two equal instalments. The first instalment must accompany the application and is payable on that date. A second instalment is due by November 1, 2020
*Should games with other centres resume, we will hold tryouts and determine team fees for the remainder of the 2020-21 rep program. If games with other centres are not possible the interim program will be extended for the period from January 1 to March Break and potential participants will be advised of additional fees for this extended period.
Competitive Program Applications: Application forms for our competitive program will be available on the WSMHA website and may be submitted with payment once the player has completed the registration process.
The WSMHA is currently awaiting confirmation from the Town in terms of ice allocation and installation as well as clarification on the number of participants and spectators allowed per ice pad at any one time. We also require the OMHA to approve our return-to-play plan. We currently anticipate that we will be in position to finalize all key elements of our programs including fees and open registration on August 17. All recipients of this email will be contacted prior to this date informing them as to when they may register as well as any other relevant information which becomes available in the interim.
Any questions re: the return-to-play plan should be forwarded via email to [email protected].
We will do our best to respond as quickly as possible.