The NCHL Welcomes Its New Lead Ambassador

The NCHL would like to introduce Jen Dorward as the new Lead Ambassador for the league.

Jen has been working with the NCHL for the past 5 years as a time keeper and league ambassador. She will now be the main point of contact for team GMs in regards to any concerns you may have. Jen will be helping you directly, or will make sure that you are connected to the right person who can best help with what you need.

She will also be checking in after your games occasionally to find out more about how the game went, and how your team’s season is going overall. This helps us best identify teams for realignment and to improve the overall league parity. Your experience matters a great deal to us, and we are working every day to improve on what we do.

Normally Jen would be in charge of coming to your dressing rooms, and scheduling other ambassador visits in all cities. Unfortunately with the COVID-19 restrictions, she will not be able to come visit your dressing rooms throughout the season, so we are doing our best to still stay in contact, address your concerns, and communicate any important information you may need about the season.

With all of her experience and her passion for the game, we know that Jen will be a great fit for the position. This is one of the many little things we do for you as a player, and team GM to make your league experience with us amazing.

If you have any questions or concerns about your games you can fill out a form here (Calgary, Edmonton, Richmond). If you have general questions please email info at nchl.com

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

KEEPING YOU SAFE WHILE PLAYING HOCKEY THIS WINTER – COVID SPECIFIC RULES FOR THE SEASON IN ALBERTA

First things first, before you can step on the ice you must fill out a COVID specific waiver.

Now that we got this out of the way, lets delve into the new rules for the winter hockey season so we can all play hockey in a safe environment.

The following Rules and Regulations are in place due to COVID and will commence until further notice by Alberta Health Services.

*These rules are in place for Calgary and Edmonton. Richmond GMs will be emailed their own set rules based on viaSport British Columbia*

*Please note some of these are not Arena Specific and are subject to change*

  1. If you are feeling ill or sick please stay home and not risk attending the arena and potentially affecting other players
  2. Please bring hand sanitizer or other disinfectants as extra precaution as not every arena will provide this on site
  3. Please wear a face covering or mask while entering and walking around the arena until you reach your dressing room. Face coverings or masks are not required on the ice surface during warm up or games
  4. Please arrive with water as water fountains will not be available at arenas. Please utilize individual water bottles
  5. Please arrive no more than 15mins prior to your scheduled ice slot. You must leave no later than 15 mins after your ice slot has ended. It is recommended that you arrive pre-dressed
  6. Showers or washrooms in the dressing rooms are unavailable. Washrooms are provided at the main lobby area of the arena.
  7. Please maintain a 2m distance anytime not on the ice surface to assist with physical distancing
  8. Please follow maximum occupancy dressing room limits that are posted on dressing room doors or elsewhere in the facility
  9. Please respect and follow the rules and regulations of each arena ie. directional arrows, signage and entrances/exits
  10. No spectators can watch unless otherwise stated at each arena
  11. Do NOT pick up pucks following the 3 minutes warm up, please leave this to the Referee and Scorekeeper. This is to provide physical distancing as well as no contact with pucks.  Please GENTLY pass the pucks to the referee crease from a safe distance after the warm up buzzer.
  12. If a scrum breaks out, it is the responsibility of team members to separate participants. Referees will not be breaking up scrums as it severely limits physical distancing and health and safety protocols. 3rd Man In penalty infraction will not be made if you separate your player from the scrum. BUT if you enter the scrum to break it up and become an active participant the 3rd Man In penalty infraction will be called at the discretion of the referees
  13. Each team will be maxed at 15 players and 1 goalie per game. Even though teams are maxed out at 16 players/per game they could still have i.e. 30 players on their overall roster. Any additional players above 16 will need to be submitted to stats[at]nchl[dot]com so they can be labelled with a COV or DNQ as exception
  14. If you require a sub goalie or have a backup goalie please email us for approval per mini series in your cohort, this will reset after every 14 day break
  15. If your team requires a sub, you can only use players from your current cohort, another cohort where the player hasn’t played the last 14 days or a player not currently playing in any other league.
  16. GMs will not be signing and verifying the game sheet at the start of each game. GMs are asked to come with a written roster for their team which will be given to the referees and provided to the scorekeeper. This roster needs to be provided for your teams first game and the first game following your 14 day break. It does not need to be provided for every game. If you have a sub playing from another team in your cohort, or a sub goalie please let the referee know so this can be recorded on the game sheet. This is to prevent playoff qualification issues as rosters are final at the end of the game and rosters will be submitted with the game sheet.
  17. No shaking of hands post game. Raise a stick, or three cheers as a way of showing good sportsmanship 

NCHL JERSEY RULES FOR WINTER 2020-21 HOCKEY SEASON

Jersey rule is back in place for the Winter 2020-21 hockey season.

We have extended the usual grace period from 4 weeks to 7 weeks to give teams extra time to get set up this year. Starting November 1st, 2020 all teams must have team jerseys that are compliant with the NCHL Rules.  

Here is the jersey rule as written in the NCHL rulebook. Please note that the extension has been made for this season only so still notes as the 4th week in the rules. No infractions will be emailed out until November 1st 2020.

All teams are required to have both matching Dark (Home) and Light (Away) team jerseys;

4. A plain jersey consistent in color with the base color of their team’s jerseys will be accepted as a team jersey. Jersey must have the team logo, team name, NCHL logo, or a plain front.

5. Any jersey with another team logo, or dissimilar in color will not be acceptable

6. All players must be wearing team jerseys before the 4th week of the season.

7. Any players not wearing team jerseys after the 4th week of the season will have a jersey violation marked on the game sheet for that team. At 3 violations the last game played will be a forfeit.

8. Team representative will be notified by email for every infraction after game sheets are received.

9. Club teams must select 1 style and logo of jersey to wear and this must be consistent throughout the year and will constitute as a jersey violation if another variation is used.

10. Teams need to ensure Goalies have proper matching jerseys and Goalies are encouraged to not wear the same color jersey as their opponent. If a Goalie does not have a Matching jersey this will not result in a Jersey Infraction.

11. All jerseys must have distinct contrasting 8”-12” numbers clearly marked (sewn, screened, sublimated, or heat sync) on the back

Taped numbers are not permitted.

No number is not permitted (Goalies are exempt)

Cannot have the same number as another player except if the other player is a Goalie

12. Team representatives must ensure that all players’ names and numbers are clearly recorded on the game sheet. Team representatives will sign the game sheet after reviewing the rosters.

13. Special arrangements may be made between team representatives and league administration to allow their team to play with one uniform set while their second set is in production.

14. Teams with only one set of uniforms are responsible for checking for uniform conflicts.

15. Visiting teams that wear a similar color to their opponents’ home jersey must contact the home teams GM to ask if they would be able to wear their white jerseys for that game.

16. If the Home team is also in possession of only one set of jerseys (same or close in colour) the visiting team will be responsible for acquiring a temporary set of white jerseys.

WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM OFFICIALS THIS WINTER HOCKEY SEASON, ON AND OFF THE ICE

Things are going to look a little different this season.  But that is not a surprise by now. AHS and other governing bodies rules and regulations require us to have teams in cohorts and officials to physically distance themselves where possible, and wear masks when not possible.

With this in mind here is what we are doing this winter to keep everyone safe on, and off the ice.

OFF ICE PROCEDURES

  • The off-ice official (Time Keeper, TK) will have no contact with players and all players that have to enter the penalty box for an infraction must stay as far away from the TK as possible.
  • The timekeeper will no longer open or close the gate for a penalized player.  It is the responsibility of the player to ensure the penalty gate is securely closed upon re-entering the ice surface.
  • Your team is required to provide a copy of your roster with any player adds, jersey number changes, and so on, to the referee at the start of warm up.  
  • The TK will verify your roster against the printed copy of the game sheet and both will be submitted at the end of the game.  
  • All rosters are final at the end of the game so please ensure your rosters are accurate when handed into the referee.

ON ICE PROCEDURES

  • The on ice officials (Referees) will physically distance themselves as much as possible from the play, and will limit interactions with players.  
  • You will notice that officials will no longer go to the net when there is a crowd, instead they must stay towards the corner of the ice to make calls. When it is not possible for the officials to physically distance themselves, they will wear a face covering.
  • Officials will not enter the circle for face-offs until players are set and ready for the puck to be dropped. The official will wear a mask for puck drop.
  • Officials will no longer stay on the boards when required to be near the player benches instead they will distance themselves from the boards or move into the zone sooner to avoid lingering amongst players.
  • Referees will also dump pucks onto the ice to start warm up and pick them up after.  Please make sure your players are GENTLY passing the pucks to the officials from a safe distance. A penalty can be assessed to your team if a referee is hit with a stray puck that is carelessly shot towards them during this period.  

We will adapt our procedures as required throughout the season and communicate any changes to you.

Lets play hockey this winter in a safe and fun environment.

Thank you from all of us at the NCHL.

NCHL – A Better Way to Play!

HELLO, I HAVE A QUESTION AND WE HAVE ALL ANSWERS ABOUT WINTER HOCKEY IN ALBERTA

We recently published how we are going to play this winter season with full (16 player) rosters here and have received many questions about it, please see the answers below.

How many players can I have on my roster this winter?

We are getting lots of questions about the size of a teams roster and what is/is not allowed for play during Stage 2 Relaunch.

The answer to this question is two part, please read it carefully.

On Ice Roster’– your team can ice a total of 16 players from your Paid Team Roster (see below) per schedule rotation (4 games) based on the AHS cohort rules. These are the only 16 players that may participate in game play for that specific schedule rotation. In addition to these players, your team may also use spares from the other teams in your schedule cohort during the schedule rotation you are in.

For example you may play your first game with 11 players (10 skaters and a goalie because that is all you could get to come out from your “Paid Team Roster”), then for your second game you may have 13 players, but 10 of them are the same as the ones you had our for game one, and three are “new players”. 

You now have room for 3 other players to bring to game three from your “Paid Team Roster”. Lets say you need a spare goalie and two spare skaters for game three, you have now used all of your “Paid Team Roster” players for the schedule rotation. For game four you will now need to use only players from your On Ice Roster or from the other team you are not playing in your cohort. 

You should probably leave yourself some room for a spare goalie on the On Ice Roster for game four in the set if you are concerned you will need a spare. 

After the 4 game rotation is finished, cohorts can be reset and On Ice Roster will be as well. Players must isolate from play for 2 weeks during the break.

Paid Team Roster’ – Although each team can only ice 16 players per schedule rotation of 4 games, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a larger roster of paid players. Lots of teams have larger rosters to help manage league fees however it is unlikely that these teams have all members in attendance every game.  

After each schedule rotation of 4 games, teams enter into their “quarantine period” of 14 days (minimum). After the 14 day period the next schedule rotation begins, teams can start with a fresh slate of players if they choose to do so or continue with the original 16 they had in the previous schedule rotation. When cohort sizes are increased or removed all together, you will already have your rosters in place to resume the season as usual.

We know that this is not ideal but neither is trying to navigate a world in the midst of a pandemic. We heard that a bigger size of on ice rosters is extremely important to you. This is not something we chose on purpose, rather we have to work within the onerous AHS regulations placed on hockey in Alberta in general. It is the best possible option out of all sub optimal options.

The alternative is to have smaller rosters, less games, reduced parity (we are able to rejig divisions every 4 games in our format) and more expensive league fees. We believe this is a better way to play, because when things go back to normal, we don’t have to skip a beat and can resume the season without much interruption or having to expand team rosters and charge additional team fees. 

How many games will we play during the Winter 2020-21 Season? 

You will play 30 regular season games and at least 1 guaranteed playoff game. If your team continues to win, you continue playing. The final is going to be best of 3 series, same as in previous seasons. To see more details about the winter season please go here: https://www.nchl.com/winter-hockey-season-league-information-and-team-pricing/ 

What are we going to do when we need a goalie sub?

During your schedule rotation your On Ice Roster is NOT at 16 players – You may use any spare goalie. However, that goalie can not be playing on another team in a different division or anywhere else.

Once an appropriate goalie has been added to your roster, that goalie may not play for any other team outside your cohort until the current schedule rotation is complete. After the schedule rotation is complete this goalie now needs to take a 2 week break from play.

During your schedule rotation your On Ice Roster is already at 16 players – In this situation you may dress a current skater on your team as a goalie or you may ask to use one of the goalies currently playing on another team WITHIN your current cohort.

If neither of these work, each division has a couple of emergency spots. Although not a guarantee, you would try and find an appropriate “fill in” goalie after getting permission to do so from the Director of Player Safety. We will need a sufficient amount of time to organize this, so last minute goalie additions will be nearly impossible to accommodate. 

Can players play on multiple teams?

The answer to this is YES, but we need to qualify how.

If a player plays on multiple teams within the same cohort during the schedule rotation, that player can play on any team in the cohort.

If player is on multiple teams in different cohorts the answer is still yes however that player would have to commit to one team for the duration of the schedule rotation AND complete the 14 day “quarantine period”. Once that has been satisfied, the player may play for another team in a different cohort.

Why the team fees didn’t change with smaller rosters?

Prices are based on a per game basis not a per player basis, the ice costs the same if there is 1 player or 40 players on it, same is true for officials. As the season is still the same amount of games we can not change the pricing. If you are registered for a schedule package above REGULAR your team would receive credit for any games played during the Stage 2 Relaunch phase. 

In essence, during the cohort type schedule you will be receiving a REGULAR schedule. All team with HOME ICE or HOME ICE PREMIUM packages will receive credits or refunds prorated for the number of games you were downgraded and did not receive as part of your package. You will only pay for the package you receive!

I need more players to complete my Paid Team Roster, can you help?

Absolutely, there are two ways we can help. You can join the special, private FreeAgent Facebook group for your city and post a call for players on there, and/or we can also send you the spreadsheet with all available FreeAgent players we have.

Please contact us (email or the contact form on the website – https://www.nchl.com/contact/) and request access to either one, or both.

Will there be modification to on ice rules?

YES. More info to follow, we will communicate these as they are finalized.

TEAM ROSTER ENIGMA SOLVED FOR WINTER HOCKEY, AND HERE ARE THE DETAILS

We have been working in very close communication with all NCHL facilities and have been playing through many different scenarios on how we can get this upcoming season online while adhering to ‘return to play protocol’ outlined by Alberta Health & Safety, Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada.

The good news is we have a plan!

This new plan will address two major concerns that you told us are very important to deal with. Larger roster sizes (more people per team, less fees) and secondly, larger division sizes (more teams to play against, better parity).

We are happy to announce have found a way to play hockey in as normal of an environment as allowed by the safety protocols. We will NOT have to limit divisions to four team (11 player rosters) in order to stay within cohort requirements. We will be playing 5 v 5 hockey this winter in a safe way.

How will this work?

We will be grouping teams into divisions of six teams (two groups/cohorts of three per ‘rotation’). Each team will play a series of four games in a rotation.

As teams complete their final games of the rotation they will enter into a 14-day (minimum) ‘isolation period’ while the remaining teams continue to play until they have played their four games.

Once teams have completed their isolation period, the division will be restructured with two new groups of three (one new team per group) and each team will continue again to play two games each against the teams in their grouping.

This will continue in the same manner throughout the remainder of the season or until we have word that things can return to ‘normal’.

Sounds complicated?

It is! That’s why we’re figuring it out for you, and that is why it has to taken us a while to get the details out to you. Thank you for your patience.  

It will all make sense once you have your set team schedule. The basics are: you play four games then you take a minimum 14 day break, rinse, wash, repeat.

You can have rosters of up to 16 players (per rotation), after an isolation period you can add/remove as many players as needed as long as the team roster doesn’t exceed 16 players during each rotation period.

Why is this a better solution than other options out there?

There are three very good reasons.

Firstly, fees. If you have less players on a team, the team fee has to be spread out among less players. Since it does not matter if there is 1 person or 40 people on the ice at the same time, the base cost remains the same and team fees don’t change. Less players on the team, more fees per player.

The second reason is roster sizes and spares. If you are only allowed 11 players it will surely be the case that you will need to call spares. That will be a hard thing to do on a nightly basis and actually will be impossible after a while when the space in the cohort is exhausted. In our plan after each 4 game sequence cohorts reset, and more players become available. You will also need less spares since you can use up to 16 spots per 4 game rotation.

Lastly, when things go back to normal, and restrictions are relaxed or lifted you won’t have to remake your team, charge players more to play or change anything really about your team! We will be ready to resume hockey as normal without having to turn the ship around.

Will we still have ‘Home Ice’?

Unfortunately, no. We will not be able to offer any upgraded packages at this time. All teams will have a ‘regular’ schedule which will be a mix of many different ice times, days, arenas, within their conference.

Although, you will definitely want to keep your credit on account if you have selected an upgraded package, as we will rebuild the season once we are clear to resume normal conditions. You will be able to pick your Home Ice schedule then.

Once the season has been completed, we will then issue prorated refunds to each team for the portion of the season that packages were unable to be fulfilled.

You may choose to receive a refund for the upgraded portion of your package now, but if you do, you will no longer have that package when we resume play under normal conditions, and will lose your pick position.

Will we still pick schedules?

Yes! Teams will get to choose from available schedules that have been generated specifically for their division. The team in the division with the earliest deposit order will get to pick first from a selection of six schedules, the second team will get to pick from the remaining five schedules, third will pick from the remaining four and so on.

Will there still be a schedule draft?

No. Since we have social distancing restrictions, it would be very difficult logistically to get us all together in one place at one time. Schedule selections will be sent out to all team GM’s and teams will be asked to send in their schedule selections in order of preference.

Will there be realignment?

Yes, although it will be a much more complicated procedure than it would be in a normal season, we will be moving teams as required. This may mean a possible extension of the isolation period for the teams that are moving into new divisions. During the holiday break (around Christmas) we will also look at a major realignment for all divisions if required.

Do we have to sign a special waiver?

All players will be required to ensure they have completed the most current NCHL player waiver on the Breakout app as well as the NCHL COVID-19 screening waiver.

Also, depending on which conference your team is in and where you play, you may be required to fill out an additional waiver for certain facilities.

Do we have to wear a mask?

As per Alberta Health & Safety guidelines, all league participants will be asked to wear a mask upon entering any facility and to be worn at all times within the facility except when entering the arena playing area (AHS does not recommend wearing a mask while participating in intense physical activity).

What else do we have to do to ensure we are following protocol and being safe?

Each facility is unique and may or may not have their own set of independent guidelines, rules or protocol for their facility. We will send more detailed information as required prior to season startup.

When is season startup?

The tentative first day of games for the 2020-2021 Winter season is September 10, 2020.

Lets Play Hockey!

The NCHL – A Better Way to Play!

DRAFTING THE BEST WINTER SCHEDULE FOR YOUR HOCKEY TEAM THE EASY WAY

You want choice. Who doesn’t? This is why we let you choose your own winter hockey schedule that is best for your team. In the next 5 minutes or so we will explain how the schedule draft works.

Not be confused, we assume that you have done the following (otherwise what we tell you next won’t make any sense)

Ok now that we got this out of the way, lets get into the meat and potatoes of the schedule draft.

Sometime in August, after we closed team registration we will look at the list of all teams that signed up, and build what is called the deposit order. It is simply the ordering of teams by when they have paid their required deposit based on the schedule plan chosen. The sooner you paid it, the higher you are on the list.

The deposit is comprised of money paid by players plus any additional credits the team may have (keep) on account from previous seasons, minus anything outstanding (owed by the team).

Now, a team may have enough money in credits on account at the time of registration that cover the needed deposit amount. We will take the timestamp of when the team registered as the time of deposit. (PRO TIP: this is a very good reason why you may want to keep money on account between seasons)

Why is this important? We use the deposit order to determine how teams pick their schedules for the winter. The team with the very first overall deposit will have a chance to select first out of all of the ice times we have available, continue reading to see how it all works.

At the same time as our accounting department is building the deposit order, our ops department is working hard on compiling all suitable ice times that can be selected as home ice.

A few days before the draft we will send this ice matrix to all team GMs who have selected Home Ice Premium or Home Ice schedule plans. This is done so that you can rank each ice time based on how much you like it.

After you received the ice matrix and have ranked all your choices based on how much you like them you are ready for the draft.

Typically the draft happens in a room (ok a bar) with all ice times displayed on the big screen for everyone there to see. All team GMs are invited to this event regardless of the schedule plan you picked, and you will see in a moment why. Now days, we may have to do the draft virtually via zoom or some other means to minimize exposure.

The schedule draft starts with the very first team in the deposit order list, regardless of the schedule plan chosen. They paid their money the quickest and so they get the first dibs on choosing what to do with their draft position. This is the only way we can make the process fair for everyone given the limited amount of good winter ice times available.

If the team at the top of the order did not choose Home Ice Premium schedule plan, we will ask them if they want to upgrade to Home Ice Premium on the spot, so they can make a selection. (but in reality there is almost no intensive to be first in the deposit order with a Regular schedule plan, unless it was a mistake).

Home Ice Premium teams get the best available ice times, so if the team in question does not upgrade, we will move on to the next team in the deposit order, and the next team will now have a chance to pick their schedule for the winter.

We continue this process until all Home Ice Premium teams have chosen their ice slots, skipping any non Home Ice Premium teams in the deposit order (remember, each team that did not choose Home Ice Premium but is high in the deposit order will have a chance to upgrade to grab that ice time they really want).

Next we go back to the remaining Home Ice teams starting at the top of the deposit order again. We repeat the process we followed with Home Ice Premium teams only now for the Home Ice teams, until all these teams have made their selections.

Yes, if you were late with your deposit and do not see anything on the board you think is worth the money you can downgrade on the spot as well to a cheaper schedule plan and save some money. But you can’t downgrade after the draft is finished. See why below.

Once the draft is finished for teams that wanted a home ice type schedule (home ice means 50% or more of the games will be played at the same time, on the same night at the same arena), we will set the divisions for the season. All teams now will be placed in divisions. This will determine what Regular schedules are available for remaining non home ice teams to choose from.

Effectively it will limit the Regular teams to 3-4 schedules in their division. Once again we will go back to the deposit order to see who will select first in their division. Not all Regular schedules are made equal, so being higher on the deposit order still makes sense!

As soon as we have placed all the teams in divisions and have all schedule selections returned to us from the Regular teams we can build the master hockey schedule.

This is why we have to close team registration about 30 days before the start of the hockey season. We need enough time to do the work on the master schedule, catch mistakes and fix unexpected problems so that we can release the schedule for everyone at the same time.

So if having the best schedule for your team is important, register and pay your deposit as quickly as you can. You will have the most choice if you are first.

Playing Recreational Ice Hockey In A New World – Alberta COVID-19 Stage 2 Rules and Regulations Interpreted

On Tuesday June 9th, 2020 Premier Kenny announced that Alberta will effectively enter Stage 2 of the relaunch strategy as of Friday June 12th, 2020. Luckily for us, hockey nuts, arenas were moved from Stage 3 into Stage 2 of the relaunch and can open on Friday. Don’t get us wrong, this is great news, we will finally be able to play hockey soon(ish). That is the good news.

Now, what is the actual reality of the situation? Things are little bit more nuanced than the initial headlines would suggest. Most, if not all arenas in the province will not reopen on Friday and here is why.

The province published a very detailed list of regulations outlining how hockey arenas, and organizers must manage playing hockey during Stage 2 of the relaunch. Obviously it would be really hard for players and officials to social distance on the ice, and maintain a 2 meter distance from each other, it would be impossible to wear masks during play. The new regulations do not recommend players wearing masks during the game. (we had a pretty good chuckle about masks in pools part of the regulations published)

Anyone who says otherwise, simply did not read the regulations, and listen to the answers by Dr. Hinshaw at the announcement on Tuesday.

To address this reality, the new rules allow for bubble cohorts, or as the regulations call them, mini-leagues of 50 people, who are participating in hockey. Once a player is assigned to their bubble cohort they are not allowed to belong to another cohort all together.

We can guess the rationale for this is that by being confined to your bubble cohort of players, the spread will be limited in nature as opposed to the situation where players are allowed to intermingle with other players from a different bubble cohort. Also should there occur an infection within a cohort it would be easier to trace its origin and nip the outbreak in the bud. All reasonable.

This presents a unique set of challenges we must address as a league. 50 people in a cohort means officials too, who are not allowed to be part of a different bubble cohort once they are assigned to one. As you can see, this now limits the number of players you can have on your team, and also the number of teams we can have in a cohort. Anyone who says otherwise, simply did not read the regulations, and listen to the answers by Dr. Hinshaw at the announcement on Tuesday.

The reason why almost no ice hockey arenas will open this Friday is simple. Most if not all rinks in Alberta took their ice out when they realized that there is a real possibility of a prolonged lock-down back in April.

4 teams per bubble cohort seems to make the most sense to us, three does not work so well with needing to have a bye week, two is not enough competition, and lets not even consider one team as an option.

With 4 teams in the cohort, each team can have at most 12 players, but in reality is more like 11 (including a goalie) because there needs to be room for officials and in order to have 2 officials on the ice, we would need to have 4 in the cohort to make sure we staff the games properly and have enough of a buffer should an official become unavailable for a game.

There are many other details in the regulations we must deal with before safely returning to play. Your health and safety and the health and safety of our officials (referees and scorekeepers), our staff, facility staff, as well as anyone else that will be taking part in our offerings is paramount.

No one knows the future and we don’t pretend to either …

In our view, proceeding slower is better than rushing into things without considering all that is required, and while we want to get on the ice as quickly as possible, we need to do this safely, so that we don’t contribute to the spread of COVID. At the end of the day we all want to be playing hockey this winter, and it is the last thing we’d want to see, AHS shutting down arenas again. There is no need to get into the impacts of that outcome, but kids would be devastated if they could not play hockey come winter.

The reason why almost no ice hockey arenas will open this Friday is simple. Most if not all rinks in Alberta took their ice out when they realized that there is a real possibility of a prolonged lock-down, back in April. Why keep the ice in when no one is using it, it just cost money (electricity is not free) especially as the days get warmer. So they took their ice out. Smart.

It will take arena operators a bit of time to put the ice back in, some of the challenges we are hearing about, are with equipment and supplies needed as everyone rushes to reopen. Things like pressure washers, ice paint and a multitude of other things you need to reopen. On top of this, there are new regulations for arenas from AHS as well, in regards to what they must do as facility operators to reopen safely. It would suffice to say they will need boatloads of hand sanitizer and PPE. All this takes time.

At the end of the day we all want to be playing hockey this winter, and it is the last thing we’d want to see, AHS shutting down arenas again.

Another thing facility managers must consider are the user groups and bookings in light of the new regulations. Will the bookings needs to be more spaced out between each other? What is a realistic start date after you take into account the challenges of putting the ice back in, and how much time each user group will need to get organized before they can start offering their programs? All these are questions that must be answered now, and it will take time to put the plans together and in motion, so that arenas can reopen safely.

Based on our discussions with arena operators it is a bit of a mixed bag, some are going to open mid July (15-20), while others may not open this summer at all, and be prepared to go in the fall. Even the City of Calgary is not exactly clear on when they will be reopening arenas under their management. City of Edmonton is not taking any bookings until June 30th, and may not take any after.

Yes, things are not as simple as pie when it comes to the realities of what we have to deal with, but we are working very hard on offering a condensed summer season which may look something like this (please do not hold us to it until we announce the details and open registration but this is what it looks like for now).

World Cup style, round robin (3 games), semis and final

5 game season

4 teams per bubble cohort

11 players per team (10 skaters and 1 goalie)

Will start mid July and will go to the end of August

We still have some details to sort out but we hope we have everything ready to go for the summer season by the end of the week. We have existing contracts with arenas that we signed before COVID hit everyone, and have the first right of refusal on ice when arenas reopen. Some arenas may not reopen or may reopen too close to the end of summer, we need to understand these realities and finalize our summer ice bookings before we can open registration for teams. Our staff is in constant communications with arenas.

It would be pointless to take your money so that 5 minutes later we have to turn around and refund it. Instead we want to crystallize all details first so that everyone knows what to expect and what is possible, then open registration. In our opinion this would be the smart way to go about in an uncertain situation.

As far as the winter season goes, we are also working on season details, we hope that by then we will be out of Stage 2, and play can resume as before (no, or little restrictions in place). No one knows the future and we don’t pretend to either, this is why we decided to offer a shorter summer season, and re-evaluate things for September. We are planning to have a regular season then, but if things do not work as we think they will, we will adjust to the environment we are in. Shorter season is also safer for you the player.

Information about Winter 2020-21 Season will be coming out next week. Teams that have pre-registered will have a 48 hour window to complete registration and set up their deposits to secure their place for the ice draft (we picked up some pretty awesome ice times for winter).

This is all that we know for now. We will share more as details emerge.

Stay healthy, and safe! We’ll see you on the ice soon.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

Return To Hockey Could Happen This Summer In Alberta – New COVID Regulations Released By The Province

Yesterday Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney announced that Stage 2 of the relaunch strategy will start on Friday, June 12th. The Premier also announced that organized sports and hockey rinks are now included in Stage 2 with restrictions.

This is great news! It means that we may be able to have hockey this summer after all. Hockey with restrictions is better than no hockey, any day of the week!

Some of the regulations announced by health authorities talk about set cohorts of 50 people where social distancing is not possible. Hockey falls into this category. The regulations say that these cohorts (mini-leagues) must stay together for the duration of the organized spots activity during Stage 2(read season).

We are still digesting all of the regulations put forward by the government yesterday (there are many, you can see what they are yourself here) so we can find a sustainable path forward to offer hockey to you and your teammates in a safe environment.

The health, safety and well being of our players and league officials is our number one priority.

We must be able to minimize the risk to everyone, if we can not play hockey safely within regulations provided by the government, we would rather not have hockey at all until it is safe to play (as much as it would pain us).

As we write this message to you, we are working as quickly as we can with our facility partners to put a plan in place for both the Winter Season, and possibly a version of a Summer Season starting as soon as there is ice to skate on.

Most if not all arenas took their ice out for summer once it became clear that a lock-down will be in place for an unforeseeable amount of time.

It will take arenas some time to get organized, put their ice back in and make sure facility and staff are compliant with new regulations put forward by the health authorities. We all want the same thing, return of play in a safe environment.

Once there is a plan that addresses all of the new regulations in place, we will be sending out another message announcing the details, so please stay tuned to your email and our social media.

The good news is, somehow, someway hockey will be back!

We look forward to getting back on the ice as soon as we can!

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

Pre-Register For Winter 2020-21 Today!

While good news has been hard to come by the last couple months, we hope that this news can cheer you up!

As of today we are opening a pre-registration for the Winter 2020-21 Season. We do not have any dates for the season (though we will aim for our regular September start), and we are not looking for any money down from you. This idea is just to guarantee teams a spot in the league and also gives us a better idea of how many teams we will have this winter.

With all of the economic uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 situation, multiple leagues have folded in the cities that we operate in. With so many teams looking for a new home, we might have to cap our team amount, and this is the only way to guarantee your spot. The best part is it will cost you $0!

There is also another advantage to signing up. While the order you pre-register does not matter for schedule selection in the fall, it will give you an exclusive 48 hours to sign up your team when we do open full registration. This means you can get in before all the teams that did not pre-register!

GMs can pre-register by going to www.BreakoutPlay.com, selecting your city, and then choosing the Winter 2020-21 Pre-Registration Season.

Thank you,

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!