When Will Hockey Be Back?

On March 22nd, 2020 the Government of Alberta will make a decision on moving to Step 3 of the reopening plan. This means that hockey can potentially resume. If this is, indeed, the case, that is great news!

That being said, and the recent history of how things went for Step 2, a delay is quite possible. We are prepared for this. Our original plan was to close team registration on March 24th, 2021 if hockey is to resume on time.

However, if a delay is in the cards, we will shift this, and other deadlines to match the pace of reopening.

In other words, team registration will close two weeks before the start of the summer season. The summer season will start 2 weeks after the announcement is made that hockey (adult sports) will go ahead.

At this point we have absolutely no doubt that the summer season will go ahead! More people are getting vaccinated every day, and by the end of June, everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one according to the plan laid out by the AHS.

Sure we may not start on time, but we will start, and we will be playing soon.

What is that going to look like? To start we are preparing to operate under the same rules placed on us by the government in the winter. Meaning, there will be cohorts, but your team can still have a full roster!

At some point when everyone has had a chance to get the vaccine, we anticipate the rules will change, and cohorts will not longer be required. If this is not the case, we can still have a season with full rosters.

To summarize. Yes the summer season will go ahead (we don’t know exactly when, hopefully April 7th). Most likely there will be cohorts in place for some, or the whole length season. Your team can have 16 players on the roster (what we call full roster size).

Thank you for your patience, and for choosing the NCHL.

We are all in this together, and we will figure out how to navigate all this successfully, as we have done over the past year.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play

Summer hockey is the best time to play!

Step 2 Activated – What does this mean for summer hockey?

On March 8th we officially entered Step 2. After about a week of delays the government finally loosened restrictions to match what it said it will do here. We have been under the hospitalizations threshold for step 2 for a while, and yet, still no summer hockey.

Better be safe than sorry, right? No one wants to see a third lock-down. (If you don’t care about our rationale of how we get to the conclusion skip the next few paragraphs to what we think will happen this summer for hockey.)

To be clear, hospitalizations are a lagging indicator. People end up in the hospital at some point after they get COVID (days or weeks). The politicians didn’t do themselves any favors by telling all of us to concentrate on this metric. Leading indicators apparently matter a whole lot more (and they should).

Less new cases means less active cases later. Less new cases means less people will likely to be hospitalized. Say the hospitalization rate is 4.5% (that is what’s reported on this page) and today’s cases are 278, then 12.51 people will end up in the hospital at some point. Sounds like one of these word problems from grade 5, but that is how the math breaks down. And it is hard to argue with data.


Summer Hockey, What Will Happen This Year?

Another indicator is the R value. Or reproduction rate, really should be called R squared. A value of above 1 means exponential growth in cases. However it is calculated in retrospect. You can see more about how it all works here if you are interested. As of today the R value is 0.95. This means the rate of transmission is decreasing. So good job everyone!


Odds Are in Our Favor Right Now

The minister said the government will not make a decision on Step 3 until March 22nd (this is 3 weeks after they made the decision on Step 2). There is a very outside chance, think hospitalizations below 150, low test positivity rate, and R value well below 1, for the government to accelerate some loosening of restrictions before then.

Odds are more like 50/50 we see the province advance to Step 3 on time. Step 3 means adult sports are allowed. Probably in the cohort model for a while (we think till June 30th at least since this is when everyone should be able to receive at least one dose of the vaccine). Most likely they will follow the same tactics used in Step 2, loosen something on March 22nd, but not go all the way and if things remain on track move to Step 3 in the following week.


What Does it All Mean For Summer Hockey?!

For summer hockey it means two things. First. There will be summer hockey unless something catastrophic happens between now and March 22nd (or a week after that). More people will get the first dose of the vaccine. There will be less transmission. This is where the trend is going. Ok, maybe we are not in Step 3 on March 22nd, maybe we are in Step 3 on April 1st or 7th, or whatever date you want to pick this spring. We will be in Step 3 at some point. And Step 3 means hockey!

What’s the second thing? Well, we operate in a world of high uncertainty right now. We know that there will be summer hockey but we don’t know exactly when the season will start. All depends on Step 3! That being said, we are ready to go in 2 weeks after we enter Step 3. The reason? We need time to build the schedule and finalize team registration.

We understand that playing hockey in a COVID/post COVID world is a personal decision. But if you, like us, want to play hockey as soon as possible you can help.

The league does not happen without teams and players. And the longer teams or players delay their decision on what they will be doing this season the less room we have to maneuver when it comes to how much ice we can get and how many teams we can allow to register.


What can I do to make summer hockey happen?

Go to your team GM and tell him or her you are dying to play. Show them that you are ready to pay your team fees. Get them to register the team and help rally the troops. The sooner we have teams register the easier it is to build the schedule and make hockey happen. So yes, you have a part to play. A big part. This is how you can help.

By the way, on the slimiest of chances that the season does not happen, we will take care of you and your team. Any money paid is refundable in this situation (restrictions in place so season can’t go ahead). We will credit the team account like we did this winter and your team GM can redistribute the fee back to you the player.

You literally have nothing to lose. Fees are 100% guaranteed. But if we don’t get on with this you may not have a place to play this summer.

NCHL – A Better Way to Play!



More Good News We Heard – Day 356 Since First Shutdown

Dear Diary, today was a nice day outside. Finally it feels like spring is just around the corner. The sun was shining, and it was warm. Hope is in the air.

The best news we’ve heard so far, everyone who is 18 and older will have a chance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by June 30th, 2020. The minster of health and Dr. Hinshaw announced this today.  And by fall everyone will get their second dose! Of course deliveries will have to be kept on time for this to happen.

So will there be a summer hockey season? You will have to judge for yourself. We think the odds are heavily on our favor now. There is little chance the season will get cancelled if enough people are vaccinated. In fact we expect the restrictions to begin loosening sooner than later.

Will the summer hockey season start on time? That we do not know yet. We certainly hope so, and we see the trend moving in the right direction.

There is even talk of fans at Flames and Oilers game, skip to 16:30 to listen to the question/answer about that.

But here, listen to the news conference for yourself.


Everyone, 18+ Will Get A Chance At Vaccine By June 30th

As far as the stats go. As of today, there are 245 people in hospitals across Alberta, including 47 in ICU. This is a decrease of 6 hospitalizations and a drop of 1 in ICU patients. So things are moving in the right direction there. These of course are lagging indicators.

And now to the leading indicators. 331 new cases were reported with a positivity rate is 3.6%. This is also a decrease from yesterday. Strangely the R rate was not mentioned in today’s presser. Must not be too concerning then?

As far as March 22nd date for moving to step 3 goes, the minister said, hospitalizations as well as leading indicators need to be stable. We are optimistic! Watch for Jonson & Jonson vaccine to speed the vaccination pace up as it should be approved withing a few weeks, if not sooner in our opinion.


What about BC?

According to CBC, “There are 248 people in hospital, 63 of whom are in intensive care. There are currently 4,743 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 8,659 close contacts of confirmed cases are being monitored by public health. “

BC government has not really said what things will look like going forward as far as reopening goes. Last update was on November 18th, 2020. So we wait and see.

That’s it for today. Have a safe night.

Hockey, we miss you!

Things We Learned Today – Day 355 Since First Shutdown

Dear Diary, it has been 355 days since Winter 2019-20 season has come abruptly to an end on March 13th, a.k.a Pandemic Friday.

So where are we at?

Well, things are starting to look up for summer hockey. We are getting vaccines, and vaccines are freedom. Today we heard that Alberta will be following BC’s lead. Any adult, 18+ according to Dr. Hinshaw will be vaccinated with the first dose by early summer if they so choose.

That is awesome, awesome news. If everyone has protection against the virus, restrictions will be eased sooner than later. Who needs cohorts when everyone is immunized? We don’t know that this will be the case, but things are leaning this way.

Hospitalizations are steady, as of today, there are 251 people being treated for COVID-19, a reduction of 10 from the day before. There were 48 people in ICU in the province. Positivity rate is 3.92 percent and R value is 1.01. So overall things are improving.

We think the government is going slow with step 2 relaxation of restrictions to buy time to jab more arms. This should prevent any notion of further lock-downs and cancellations. Majority of active cases are now in people who are 50 or younger, who experience less severe outcomes and tend to not get hospitalized.


The bottom line, we know things seem uncertain, but we are optimistic that summer hockey will happen. It will be safer than it has ever been in nearly a year. It might not start when we think it will, but it will start. And we will play! We hope you join us.