What to do about Winter Hockey Season? Help us decide, your opinion matters!

By now you probably have heard that Government of Alberta announcement on January 29th, 2021 and hockey is not looking like it’s in the cards for a while.

We are working on the best options for the NCHL to move forward and we need your help!

Please take 1 minute of your day to fill out this short, anonymous survey. Answers will be accepted until Thursday, February 4th. Your opinion matters greatly to us.

After that will have another update by the end of this week with more info on what we will happen with the 2021 Winter and Summer Seasons.

Customer Guarantee: As always, we guarantee that when we cannot provide the product you registered for, your team account will be refunded the difference of the games that you did not receive.

Thank you for your patience in these trying time, and for playing with us all these years.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!


The Alberta Health Authority announced a list of new restrictions for the province today. Even though vaccines are just around the corner, today’s reality is rising hospitalizations and cases. Unfortunately, these restrictions also include team sports, and hockey specifically.

This is a regrettable situation, and we understand how you feel, but we all need to do our part in flattening the curve and stopping the spike, so that we can resume playing the game we all love as soon as possible. The announcement today does not mean the winter season is cancelled. All nightmares end eventually, and so will this one.

We anticipate that things will be looking better in the new year, as more people are inoculated. What does it mean for this hockey season and the games you have missed, and will miss under the new restrictions? It is our full intention, for the games that would have occurred during the time that restrictions are in place, to make up as many games as possible prior to the end of the current season. We recognize that it may not be possible to make up all the games missed.

As you can see, this is a fluid situation and anything can happen. There is one thing you can be certain of, no matter what happens, we will make sure things are right for you and your team. If we are unable to make up the games affected by the restrictions during the Winter 2020-21 season, we will apply a credit to your team’s account balance, for your GM to manage for every game we are not able to reschedule. We will not know what these credits are until the end of the season, at this time your team GM can request a refund of the credit, or leave it on account for future season. This is our guarantee to you. Once we have more information, we will further update you.

From all of us here, thank you for choosing the NCHL and your patience with us as we navigate these unprecedented times together.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!


Today, November 24th, 2020 the Government of Alberta announced a list of new restrictions for the province that will come into effect on Friday November 27th, and will last for 3 weeks. You can see the full list of restrictions here: https://www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx

Unfortunately, these also include team sports, and hockey specifically. This is a regrettable situation, and we understand how you feel, but we all need to do our part in bending the curve and stopping the spike, so that we can resume playing the game we all love as soon as possible.

What does it mean for this hockey season and the games you have missed, and will miss under the new restrictions?

It is our full intention, for the games that would have occurred during the time that restrictions are in place, to make up as many games as possible prior to the end of the current season. We recognize that it may not be possible to make up all the games missed. As you can see, this is a fluid situation and anything can happen.

There is one thing you can be certain of, no matter what happens, we will make sure things are right for you and your team. If we are unable to make up the games affected by the restrictions during the Winter 2020-21 season, we will apply a credit to your team’s account balance for every game we are unable to reschedule.

This is our guarantee to you.

We are aware that Premier Kenny said this in the conference: “Sport leagues are also impacted, but can apply for exemptions, if they have “well-developed COVID safety plans”. We are not sure what this means exactly, and will do our best to find out whether we qualify for such an exemption, or what needs to be done so that we can. Once we have more information, we will further update you.

From all of us here, thank you for choosing the NCHL and your patience with us as we navigate these unprecedented times together.

A Better Way To Play!

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!


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 


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.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


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. (We also think that summer hockey in 2021 will be played under the same constraints to start the season.)

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.


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 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!