2020/21 Hockey Update, News (Kitchener Minor Hockey)

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2020/21 Hockey Update
Submitted By Rolland Cyr on Thursday, August 13, 2020
Kitchener has a storied history in Hockey! Together we have learned a great deal about how to teach this game and a greater deal about how to help children become better citizens.  It is Kitchener’s unique placement in Hockey that has seen us be a leader in the sport for decades, and nothing has changed. We continue to be a leader during this pandemic. We were one of the first Hockey Canada organizations to return to the ice and we are working hard to continue that return in the safest way possible. 

We hope that you will choose to join us and return to the game our country loves.  By completing the Intent to register you are helping us identify ice needs and confirm bookings as well as order infrastructure pieces such as jerseys. 

At KMHA we are uniquely positioned to offer top end programming in a safe and appropriate manner. To begin with KMHA is a large centre with a robust registration base allowing us to field teams at all skills levels and age groups. This breadth will allow KMHA to return to play regardless of the model put forward, by the various governing bodies.  If we are required to play amongst ourselves, we will be able to divide out rep players creating intra squad teams and offer them a challenging and fulfilling experience. Our recreational participants will still have a great number of people to play with ensuring the creation of teams. When we are allowed to expand and play within our public health unit KMHA will have options in our region at the various levels of Rep hockey. At the recreational level KMHA has ample participants to have leagues for everyone to play in.  We also have great support and a working relationship with our municipality ensuring that we will be able to keep wayfinding and sanitation top of mind during any return; because our players’ safety is paramount at KMHA.   

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This last week has seen may announcements in the Hockey world and we wanted to provide an update regarding the state of Hockey in Kitchener for the 2020/21 season.   To date we have information regarding how Alliance hockey (our coed/boys programming) will move forward in stage 3b and beyond. We are still awaiting details regarding female hockey, special hockey and sledge hockey. As we hear more about their return structures, we will produce further updates. Please be assured we respect and care for all our participants and we are working on tentative plans even if we do not have the details yet.

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As for the Alliance framework we do know the following. KMHA is submitting the following proposal:

KMHA will return to Hockey in 8 week “seasons”/”sessions”. These time frames are designed to make the game logistically easier for change to be affected, (moved forward or back as the pandemic requires) as well as to minimise any financial risk for parents and players, should the pandemic throw us a curveball.  The annual fee for players will be split amongst the sessions based on timeframe  except the first time a player registers for Hockey this season there will be an upfront charge to pay fees to our governing bodies and hard costs such as jerseys, that need to be paid early to cover players for insurance and ensure there are uniforms. For subsequent session participation that fee will not be charged and you will only be charged the divisible fee.

KMHA intends to offer Rep programming, at the Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 levels. In previous seasons these levels were formally referred to as AAA, Seeded and MD Hockey.  Should registration numbers allow we would have 2 teams at Tier 3 like we did at MD.  Rep programming will begin after Labour day. It will be comprised of 2 weeks of training and skills,  2 weeks of continued practice and intra-squad scrimmages and then 4 weeks of practices with games against Waterloo and Cambridge.   At this time we are working on logistics with our regional Hockey neighbors to determine details such as game length, league numbers (currently limited to 50. we have proposed back 54 allowing 3 teams of 18 to play against one another.) For the first season/session our scrimmages and games will only be allowed as follows:

  • U8 and U9 will be 3on3 cross ice with no use of the benches.  Players will use the middle of the ice between the bumpers as their bench.  Teams will consist of 18 players divided into squads of 9 for games.
  • U10 to U18 will be 4on4 as determined by the Alliance and OHF. KMHA will create one team of 18 with the best head coach we can find to operate practices and teach our players. This team will then split into an A and a B squad for intra squads games or games against other centres. Each squad will be balanced for skill with 8 skaters and a goalie.

KMHA will watch for updates from the OWHA, Alliance and/or the OHF; allowing the next phase of Hockey to expand our programs. If we do not get the go ahead to advance to the next stage of phase 3 the second season/session will mirror the first session.  If we do move forward details regarding that stage will be provided before registration.

Team selection. KMHA is seeking clarification regarding team selection, but it is our understanding at this time that players will be placed into tiers based upon where they played last year.   AAA to Tier 1, Seeded to Tier 2, and MD to Tier 3. This is a one-year direction from our governing bodies to limit the spread of COVID19 amongst players that would normally mix at Tryouts. The association will have flexibility to fill holes left from players that have moved on with AP’s from the previous year, or players that have moved into the system. We will provide further details when all our questions are answered by our governing bodies as well as public health.

For our House league programs KMHA will look to begin in late September as with previous seasons and will operate in a similar fashion with teams having a 2 week skills/practice phase followed by entering a scrimmage phase and then into the game phase of the season.

  • U8 and U9 will be 3on3 cross ice with no use of the benches.  Players will use the middle of the ice between the bumpers as their bench.  Teams will consist of 18 players divided into squads of 9 for games.
  • U10 to U18 will be 4on4 as determined by the Alliance and OHF. KMHA will create one team of 18 with the best head coach we can find to operate practices and teach our players.  This team will then split into an A and a B squad for games against each other or other centres. Each squad will be balanced for skill with 8 skaters and a goalie.

 

All current COVID safety protocols are expected to continue including but not limited to...

  • No changerooms – players arrive in their gear and prepare on chairs.
  • Masks are worn into the rink and only removed when you are ready to put on your helmet at your chair.
  • Daily health screening submitted to your team
  • Immediate removal if you are displaying signs of COVID19
  • A doctor’s note or public health note are required to clear you for return to play if you have been ill.
  • Players are expected to remain physically distant when not on the ice. This includes distancing at the bench area.
  • One adult may accompany a player to the rink, assist with gear if required, and spectate if the facility allows. There will be no others allowed to stay during the games.

 

We expect that details for female Hockey will be released soon by the OWHA and follow a similar protocol, however we must wait to ensure that we are correct and following all guidelines for keeping our players safe, so that we can return our female players to some form of game action as soon as possible. KMHA will continue to run skills-based alternatives until we have options from the OWHA. 

Details regarding programming for Special Hockey and Sledge Hockey will include what programming will be allowed and when they may be able to expand to playing games. Both programs involve a bit more travel for games and as such may be on a different timeline to return to game play.

Thank You for taking the time to read this update and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to our general manager for clarification.

 

Yours in Hockey

Randy McCarten

President KMHA

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