Saturday , 8 May 2021

Challenging start for LLB minor hockey

Lac La Biche minor hockey will be back this season, but it isn’t coming without its challenges.

Hockey Alberta released their return to hockey plan on September 3, helping to clarify how minor hockey will move forward while navigating the protocols that COVID-19 brings.

“COVID-19 has totally changed the approach to how we will start the season and progress into regular play,” said Bonnie McDonald, President of Lac La Biche Minor Hockey Association (LLBMHA).

“Much like the rest of the community, we need to consider social distancing, mask use, specific health questionnaires, cohort groups and arena seating as we move forward. We want to put the kid’s and volunteer’s safety first.”

Topics like hygiene, how to properly social distance while on the ice, and the protocols on what to do if a player is tested positive are all covered in the return to hockey plan.

Players will also be divided into cohorts that stay the same throughout the season, and because of this they are able to be closer than two-meters.

This is one of the reasons LLBMHA wants parents to sign their children up early, so they can figure out how many cohorts they will need to have.

“We encourage all parents thinking of registering their children to complete our online registration.
“Without accurate numbers of participants, we cannot determine what teams and cohorts to form.
“We want all kids to have a chance to participate. This is a common challenge all associations are currently facing in our league,” said McDonald.

For the upcoming season, there are a lot of questions left unanswered, and the answers they have right now could change.

The date that is currently set for the minor hockey season to start is September 14, and there will not be any competitive play until at least November, but nothing is set in stone because of how unpredictable the pandemic is.

“We have the tentative start dates and have been working with our league and Hockey Alberta, so essentially, we do not have any long-term forecasts and things have been changing rapidly in the last few weeks,” said McDonald.

Many organizations and programs are hesitant to open up again because of the possible risk factors that come with gatherings of any kind.

Making sure the ground work is laid out for the children and parents to be welcomed into hockey safely has been one of the biggest challenges.

“We want provide a fun experience for the kids and a safe environment,” said McDonald.

“We are working hard behind the scenes to form a safe and enjoyable year for the kids. COVID has change all of our worlds.

“Hockey and other sports may give us some part of our regular lives back during these challenging times.”

About Bianca Mazziotti