The Bonnyville Pontiacs will officially hit the ice again this season.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Return to Play proposal has been approved by the province and players, coaches and support staff are currently self-isolating in preparation for training camp, which is scheduled to begin at the start of March.
Games are expected to begin in the first weekend of March and to be played exclusively on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through to the end of May.
It is expected that clubs will play in three-team cohorts for a month at a time, in a fashion similar to the “developmental season” in October 2020, where the Yaks played six tune-up games against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and two against the Lloydminster Bobcats.
A schedule will be released shortly.
“We are grateful for the guidance provided by Alberta Health Services and our Chief Medical Officer in developing the protocols required to safely resume the season for our athletes,” said AJHL Commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk in a press release.
“Thank you to the Government of Alberta for the opportunity to allow our athletes to develop and excel here in Alberta, and to all 15 AJHL teams for the significant dedication to your players and communities across the province.”
AJHL teams have committed to utilizing private PCR testing through DynaLIFE on a weekly basis throughout the remainder of the season as well as twice before commencing training camp.
DynaLIFE testing was used by the NHL during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and by the IIHF for the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton, AB.
Following the results of two negative COVID-19 tests, and assurance that individuals are asymptomatic as per the SureHire Risk Assessment Program, team members will proceed to team activity at training camp.
If a member of the AJHL cohort – players or staff – test positive for COVID-19 at any point in the season, the team will be required to isolate and suspend all in-person team activities for 14 days.
Enhanced daily screening for all AJHL players and team staff will be monitored through the SureHire Risk Assessment App. Teams will be diligent in following the Government of Alberta’s COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines in order to best protect themselves and our AJHL communities.
Spectators are not currently permitted at AJHL games due to provincial restrictions; however, all games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
The Pontiacs had a 2-2 record against the Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines earlier this season.
With files from the AJHL.