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 

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!

CALGARY NORTH WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY, BEFORE YOU PLAY – A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF PLAYER SAFETY

We are just days away from returning to the Ice and all playing the sport that we love. With that in mind I will need to go over some specifics when it comes to West Hillhurst and their COVID protocols as well as a couple rule adjustments.

West Hillhurst Arena Rules

Arrive at the arena no sooner than 20 mins before your scheduled ice time. Ideally come as dressed as possible or change in the parking lot.

You will have an assigned dressing room so you can put on your skates and store personal items. Dressing Rooms are max occupancy of 9 people. There will be overflow designated areas in the hallway and will be marked for any extra players.

Bring your own water as sinks/fountains will be restricted

There will be no use of Showers and you must leave the arena 20 mins after your ice time is completed. When you leave please follow signage and exit out the appropriate doors.

There are no Spectators allowed

Please stay in your designated dressing rooms and designated areas of the hallway until your ice time starts, do not line up and congregate in the hallway to the ice surface.

*Please respect and follow all signage, floor markings or social distancing measures to ensure we protect one another *

Rule Adjustments for World Cup of Hockey

We will follow all rules of the NCHL except for;

There will be no jersey infractions but players must have a similar color with its own unique number

There will be no playoff Eligibility. All players that are registered with your team and have completed the NCHL waiver as well as COVID waiver are eligible for ALL games.

No players are to approach or go near the scorekeeper. We must ensure social distancing is adhered to. If you have a sub from your cohort or a jersey # change please approach a referee and advise them of this.

You can play the game if you don’t have a goalie. If your goalie is injured or does not show and you have enough players (6) you can play the full game. Just know that if you can not field the proper number of players due to penalties or ejections the game will end in a forfeit

At the discretion of the team GMs and in fairness of fun, YOU can swap players mid game. This means that if you are short players, or the game is uneven, you can swap individual players or even Goalies to ensure the game is fun and can be completed. If this does happen your players will still be created playing for your team as well as the team they swap too and all stats will be counted

There will be no re-alignment. Due to COVID restrictions we must play within the same Cohort for all 5 games. If your team truly feels they cant compete, speak to the other teams GM about swapping players and/or bring out Subs from the other teams in your cohort to compete.

Player penalty minutes. If a player receives a total of 10 PIM they will be suspended 2 games. If a player exceeds 14 PIM they will be suspended indefinitely. As normal Summer season is 15 games, player PIMS are 30 PIM = 2 game suspension and 40 PIM = Indefinite suspension, we adjusted these numbers by 1/3 to fit the 5 games. Team total PIMS is set at 50 PIM. If your team exceeds 50 PIM your team will be suspended for the remainder of the World Cup of Hockey and no refund will be given.

The last 2 games of the World Cup of Hockey will follow Playoff rules of the NCHL

ALL teams will be limited to 13 Players and 1 Goalie during any game. If you have more than 13 Players, any extras players will not be permitted to play and will be asked to leave.

Reminder that Teams must only have 10 players and 1 goalie on their official roster. Any extra players are Subs from the same Cohort.

Please remind your players to complete all waivers and please submit your rosters ASAP. Failure to do so will result in your team not being allowed to play. These waivers and rosters are crucial in the NCHL abiding by AHS health protocols and for Trace Tracking in the off chance a COVID positive case comes forward. Please respect this and have it completed.

Thank you and welcome back to the World Cup of Hockey!

Mike Calhoun

NCHL Director of Player Safety

CALGARY SOUTH WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY, BEFORE YOU PLAY – A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF PLAYER SAFETY

We are just days away from returning to the Ice and all playing the Sport that we Love. With that in mind I will need to go over some specifics when it comes to Trico Arena, South Fish Creek Arena and their COVID protocols as well as a couple Rule adjustments.

Trico Arena

Arrive at the arena no sooner than 15 mins before your scheduled Ice Time. Ideally come as dressed as possible or change in the parking lot. You will have an assigned dressing room so you can put on your skates and store personal items. Dressing Rooms occupancy is listed on each dressing room.

Bring your own water as sinks/fountains will be restricted

There will be no use of Showers and you must leave the arena 15 mins after your ice time is completed. When you leave please follow signage and exit out the appropriate doors.

No Spectators allowed

South Fish Creek Arena

Arrive at the arena no sooner than 30 mins before your scheduled Ice Time. Ideally come as dressed as possible or change in the parking lot. You will have an assigned dressing room so you can put on your skates and store personal items.

Max occupancy in the dressing room is 10 people

Max number of players on a each bench is 8. This does not include the players already on the ice surface for each team

-You must leave the arena 30 mins after your schedule Ice Time is complete

There will be no use of showers or dressing room washrooms. If you need to use the washroom please use the central washrooms at the front lobby area. Please also bring your own water.

No Spectators allowed

Players must also fill out this waiver if you are to use the South Fish Creek Arena. The link to the waiver is found below. Please have your players complete ASAP.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/survey-taken/?sm=DqoZWVotbk70NjXiXf6xG5ZLnqTfxq4RYEWuOgphncFj5jZpZvxMXlbDBtmQGDWWpN5KzSqZpKWMZva6NVs7dc7X_2F6H4bq9605ivrs_2Fkzrg_3D

*Please respect and follow all signage, Floor markings or social distancing measures to ensure we protect one another *

Rule Adjustments for World Cup of Hockey

We will follow all rules of the NCHL except for;

There will be no jersey infractions but players must have a similar color with its own unique number

There will be no playoff Eligibility. All players that are registered with your team and have completed the NCHL waiver as well as COVID waiver are eligible for ALL games.

No players are to approach or go near the scorekeeper. We must ensure social distancing is adhered to. If you have a sub from your cohort or a jersey # change please approach a referee and advise them of this.

You can play the game if you don’t have a goalie. If your goalie is injured or does not show and you have enough players (6) you can play the full game. Just know that if you can not field the proper number of players due to penalties or ejections the game will end in a forfeit

At the discretion of the team GMs and in fairness of fun, YOU can swap players mid game. This means that if you are short players, or the game is uneven, you can swap individual players or even Goalies to ensure the game is fun and can be completed. If this does happen your players will still be created playing for your team as well as the team they swap too and all stats will be counted

There will be no re-alignment. Due to COVID restrictions we must play within the same Cohort for all 5 games. If your team truly feels they cant compete, speak to the other teams GM about swapping players and/or bring out Subs from the other teams in your cohort to compete.

Player penalty minutes. If a player receives a total of 10 PIM they will be suspended 2 games. If a player exceeds 14 PIM they will be suspended indefinitely. As normal Summer season is 15 games, player PIMS are 30 PIM = 2 game suspension and 40 PIM = Indefinite suspension, we adjusted these numbers by 1/3 to fit the 5 games. Team total PIMS is set at 50 PIM. If your team exceeds 50 PIM your team will be suspended for the remainder of the World Cup of Hockey and no refund will be given.

The last 2 games of the World Cup of Hockey will follow Playoff rules of the NCHL

ALL teams will be limited to 13 Players and 1 Goalie during any game. If you have more than 13 Players, any extras players will not be permitted to play and will be asked to leave.

Reminder that Teams must only have 10 players and 1 goalie on their official roster. Any extra players are Subs from the same Cohort.

Please remind your players to complete all waivers and please submit your rosters ASAP. Failure to do so will result in your team not being allowed to play. These waivers and rosters are crucial in the NCHL abiding by AHS health protocols and for Trace Tracking in the off chance a COVID positive case comes forward. Please respect this and have it completed.

Thank you and Welcome back to the World Cup of Hockey!

Mike Calhoun

NCHL Director of Player Safety

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 Winter Ice Hockey In A COVID World – Registration Information For Calgary Teams (AKA – The Plan)

As far as plans go, someone once said everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face (Ok it was Mike Tyson and we are paraphrasing). Mike did get one thing right, with all this uncertainty surrounding us during the great calamity called COVID-19, how can one plan anything right now? Yet we somehow have to proceed with life and hockey.

While no one knows what will happen in the future, we are operating under the assumption that hockey will be back to some kind of normal without the draconian restrictions placed on it by the vagaries of the pandemic.

Other jurisdictions do not have cohort requirements right now, in Manitoba players can play on as many hockey teams as they want and there is no limitation on team sizes as a result. The same is true in some places in BC (we heard through the hockey grapevine that in Victoria people have been playing beer league hockey for the past 6 weeks without cohort restrictions – could be just a rumor though).

So the trend seems to be moving in the right direction in regards to what winter may look like. And thus we have decided to offer a regular winter hockey season to all our teams that will include:

  • Choose Your Schedule Option (only in the NCHL)
  • The NCHL Experience – playing hockey in a safe, fun, competitive and well organized environment
  • 30 Regular Season Games
  • 1 Guaranteed Playoff Game (every team makes the playoffs)
  • Best of 3 finals (way more games for your team)
  • 3 stop time periods, 15 minutes each
  • 2 Referees and 1 Scorekeeper at Each Game (or you get a team credit)
  • Online Stats For All Teams and Players
  • Individual Payments for Players (only in the NCHL)
  • Payment Options – one, two or monthly
  • Season Start – After September 1st, 2020
  • Season End – Before April 30th, 2021

See full season details …

“But you just said no one can tell the future, so how can you offer this and be sure it will actually happen?” you may be wondering, and rightly so. This is our plan for winter. If for whatever reason we are not able to offer you hockey in this manner come winter, we will need to adjust so we can still play. It will come down playing hockey vs not playing hockey, and we think playing hockey is always the better choice.

So here is our promise to you, if we are not able to offer the season as outlined above, and have to adjust or cancel hockey all together you will always have the option to either get a refund for the remaining games you did not get, or keep the team fees as a credit until hockey returns.

We will work with each and every team to make sure we take care of you and the wishes of your players. The same way we did this past winter season when it was abruptly cancelled, and the summer season that never happened. All teams that wanted a refund for games not played have been taken care of.

THE IMPORTANT STUFF

Today we are releasing the season and pricing information for winter. Some plans stayed the same, while others had to be adjusted a little due to increased costs from arenas. Ice costs did go up in some places, because the arenas must now sanitize surfaces more often, purchase additional PPE and have more staff.

Here is the link to Calgary Winter Team Fees and all available schedule plans. This year we are again offering 4 schedule options, Home Ice Premium (you get to draft your schedule ahead of everyone based on the order of your deposit), Home Ice (half the games same rink, same day and same time), Regular (choose your schedule) and Budget (do everything on your own to collect team fees, the cheapest league hockey option in Calgary but you don’t get to choose the schedule you get).

Registration will open on Monday July 6th, at noon MST. Pre-registered teams will have until Wednesday July, 8th at noon MST to complete the registration and join the Winter 2020-21 NCHL-Calgary Hockey Season. We strongly encourage you to provide us with a deposit at the time of registration or instructing us to apply any unused team credits on account towards your deposit. Teams that have enough credit on account are assumed to have their deposit fully paid at the time of registration.

See important deadlines here …

If you pre-registered your team earlier when we did not know which way was up, thank you for your support! That means you now have a 48 hour advantage over any other team that did not do so, and you can complete your registration ahead of these teams. Why is this important?

Teams that want to get the best possible ice times we can offer for winter (we picked up a few good ones this year) need to be at the top of the deposit order because this order determines the selection of your schedule in the schedule draft. Teams that chose Home Ice Premium option will be choosing first in the draft ahead of any other team that chose a different schedule option but we will be looking at the deposit order as well.

For example, if the first overall team in the deposit order bought Home Ice or Regular as their schedule option, it will be given a chance to upgrade to Home Ice Premium on the spot and will then be able to choose the best ice time for them, out of all available ice times or not.

If an upgrade is not selected by this team, we will go through all of the Home Ice Premium teams first so they can select their schedules, and then come back to Home Ice teams, the team that has the highest placement in the deposit order at that point will choose first, and we will continue this process until all Home Ice teams chose their schedule for the season. After that teams that bought a Regular schedule will choose their schedule in the same manner.

That being said, you get the most choice with Home Ice Premium, then with Home Ice and finally the least amount of choice is available to the teams who bought the Regular schedule option. Finally the Budget teams do not get a choice, and are simply assigned a schedule for the season. What does this mean for you?

If choice is important to you, buy Home Ice Premium and get your deposit in as quickly as you can. If you buy Home Ice, you will need to wait until teams with Home Ice Premium schedule packages have chosen their ice times.

Otherwise, if you do not care about what you get so much, and want to save money please choose the Regular schedule, because what may happen is this. Teams with either of the home ice schedule options may end up in your division, and if you are the only Regular team in that division, you will not have a choice but play on the home ice chosen by these teams. It could be good, it could be bad, so you are taking a gamble.

Oh and one more thing, we can only physically accommodate half the league for Home Ice Premium or Home Ice, because in order for us to guarantee at least half the games at the same rink, at the same time on the same day, the cut off is 50% of teams. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. So if this is important to you, please do not wait, complete your registration ASAP and put your deposit down (it is $1500 for either of the home ice options). Once we sell out, all we will be able to offer is what is left.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

A Word About Cohorts, Schedules and Spares – Playing Rec Ice Hockey Is A New (Ball)Game Now

There is plenty of confusion about what the new regulations mean for recreational, and for some (ok most?), beer league hockey. Things have changed and the ground (ice) shifted under our feet.

With the arrival of COVID-19 and the ensuing lock-downs no one was sure when ice hockey will be back. We have now been given a second chance to get back out there. But it comes with a cost.

The virus is still with us and the pandemic is not over. If you listen to Dr. Hinshaw’s weekly briefings we can not let our guard down just because restrictions are loosening.

We get all that, and we know you do as well. Hockey is allowed to be played, with restrictions. The kind that no one even thought about before all this happened.

But we can play! Yes it is not an ideal situation, and it requires us to adjust everything we have done before when playing hockey. Is it worth it? That would be up to each and one of you reading this to decide.

For some people this will be a deal breaker, as they will wait to see what happens after hockey resumes. For others, they can’t wait to get back out there. For us, we fall somewhere in the middle, we can’t wait to be out there and want to play, but we do not want to take a step back and face new restrictions.

The schedule is essentially unknowable before everyone registers to play

This is why we all must abide by the new regulations and continue to do our part, the good news we are now allowed to play! That was not an apparent outcome in April when the world was ending.

The question is, how much do you want to be playing and will you accept the costs associated with it? Ask yourself how you feel when you get out on the ice, and the world and its worries melt away for the next hour and a bit. How will you feel when the NHL is in full Stanley Cup Playoffs swing this August and teams are going for the cup (talk about how weird things have gotten …)? Will you need to scratch that itch?

If the answer is no, we understand, it is a personal decision for each individual. But if the answer is yes, we are doing everything we can to return to play, safely. So lets talk about the realities of playing hockey in the COVID world.

Schedules

Arenas are scrambling, all at once, to put back the ice they have taken out back in April. This takes time and equipment, we have written about this recently here. As we are working very hard to nail down the start of the season dates, all indications point to the week of July 20th as the start of the season, which at this point is about a month away. This is not a lot of time to get organized, and here is why.

We need to know how many teams will be playing in this abbreviated World Cup of Hockey season so that we can set the cohorts correctly in the beginning. With each passing day we have less time to do this. Until we know what cohorts we will have (we want to wait as long as possible before building the cohorts so we can improve the parity of each for the duration of the season) we can’t make the schedule.

The schedule is essentially unknowable before everyone registers to play (teams). This is by the way how it works for any other season and the reason why have to cut off registration a month before the start of a “normal” non COVID season.

This being said, once we know what teams will be playing and what cohorts we can build, we will set the schedule for the whole season (5 games) and it will not change (no realignment is allowed). You will have schedule certainty after we make and publish it.

Cohorts

As we said before we want to wait as long as possible (and it is not long, probably a week or so) to figure out what we have for teams. Once we have that information we can set up the cohorts. This is where you as the team GM will need to submit a roster of your 11 players, a roster that will not change for the duration of the season (sorry, Stage 2 rules).

Our goal is to make the cohorts as close in skill level as possible so that the games are competitive, and there is decent parity. There will be no realignment of teams during the abbreviated summer hockey season, World Cup style.

So we think it is absolutely key to get this as right as possible, but our hands our tied (severely) by the new regulations. Please forgive us in advance if we make mistakes or unable to have sufficient parity in your cohort.

There are some possible solutions to the parity problem of each cohort. Our plan is to place teams with known history, teams that have played against one another, into the same cohort. When this is not possible we will try to determine with the help of your team GM where the team should be placed.

Another possible solution is placing two known teams in a cohort with the idea that they can split into two (have two teams of 11 players), thus filling the cohort. This solves two potential problems, one is parity. Since the two teams will average out to the skill level of the cohort it most likely will result in a better parity.

The second, is if your team has too many players who want to play but there is a cap of 11 for the season, it may be worthwhile to add 6 or so more players to your regular roster of 16 and make two teams of 11 for the summer. Why not? This way you don’t have to say no to everyone who wants to play and will be affected negatively by the cap.

What’s more, is there is no rule preventing players in the same cohort to play on all teams in the cohorts. There is also no rule that dictates how many players can play in a single game. So some players can play on two teams in the cohort (the games will be back to back but you get more hockey) and it opens up more space for other people who want to play. The key is we have to stay under the cap of 50, how we do it is up to you as the team, and us as the league.

Spares

By now you are probably thinking, what happens, given these limitations, if our goalie is not able to make a game. Are we screwed? No, there are options.

If you find yourself with a less than reliable tender (just kidding, we know goalies, for the most part, are the most reliable members of the team!) or a situation arises when the goalie simply can’t be there see the following.

Option one, there are two other teams in the cohort that have goalies you can call upon ,and since the games will be back to back you should be able to secure at least one tender (they will have to be at their own game, right?).

There will be no conflicts for that goalie to be able to play for your team (if you are a goalie, please consider saying yes all the time to any team that is in a bind, we are all in this together and no one wants to play with 6 skaters and an empty net).

Option two, consider recruiting at least one player who can also go in net for there could be a time you will need this. If this is not possible, you can always dress a regular player in goalie gear to make it work. Won’t be pretty, but it will have to do! Also, we have set aside 2 spots in the cohort as buffer for this type of situation, and you can try to get a goalie that way (emergency situations only).

Option three – the last resort. We changed our rules, your team can now play with 6 skaters the whole game, no goalie needed. This won’t be as much fun, but at least you can get the game in and be out there. COVID times call for COVID measures.

Other spares will come from the other 3 teams in the cohort because only the members of the same cohort can play against each other while not having to social distance (physically distance if you prefer). Your team would have an advantage if it split in two, you will already know one third of all available spares. This should make it easy to make sure you have enough to play with.

If this does not work, you will have access to other team GMs in your cohort to ask for help in case you need that 6th-7th player to make a game out of it.

By the way the jersey infraction rule is now suspended, you just need to have each player (spare or otherwise) wear a unique jersey number, color (should be white or dark depending on who you are playing), logos, none of it matters. COVID times.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

Summer Ice Hockey Is Set To Come Back To Calgary Amid New Stage 2 Relaunch Restrictions

Another day goes by and we have more information we can share with you about the summer hockey season in Calgary (if you are in a different city and are reading this, we do not yet have information on when we can offer a summer season where you are).

The good news is we can offer a limited summer season as of July 20th in Calgary starting with the West Hillhurst Arena. This is the only facility we are able to confirm ice with at this time.

We are working on confirming our ice in the south with Cardel Rec South, formerly known as South Fish Creek Recreational Association (SFCRA) and Trico. If we are able to confirm our ice contracts this week we will be able to start the season in the south as well, possibly sooner than July 20th (there is a possibility ice could become available as of July 6th, but we would need some time to get everything set up before we can start playing).

Given the new rules and regulations placed on organizers by AHS, the following restrictions will be in place.

World Cup of Hockey Season (our version)

  • Bubble cohorts of players who can not social distance on the ice are limited to 50 players, this includes on-ice officials
  • As a result divisions will be limited to 4 teams.
  • Team rosters will be limited to 11 players (10 skaters and a goalie)
  • Each cohort will play out of a specific arena
  • Once a cohort is set, NO REALIGNMENT of teams will be possible
  • Players can ONLY PLAY in ONE BUBBLE COHORT during Stage 2 restrictions
    • This means that all spares must come from the same cohort and can not be brought from outside, including goaltenders
    • It also means that players in one cohort can not play in another cohort with us or elsewhere for the duration of Stage 2 restrictions.
  • The season will consist of five games to be played in a World Cup format
    • Three round robin games against the other three teams in the division
    • One semi final game
    • One final game for gold/silver or bronze/4th place
  • Games will not be forfeited due to a goalie not being available, teams will be allowed to play with 6 skaters on the ice.
  • Games will be played on any day of the week, with the exception of the long weekends (games can still occur on Mondays of the long weekend)
  • Season team fees are set at 1699+GST per team. (there are no schedule packages or early bird/returning team credits for the limited season)
  • Registration will open on Breakout at 1:00PM MST Wednesday June 17th, 2020 – please choose World Cup 5 Game Season – Calgary 2020 (see this and this on how to join a new season on a mobile device, for existing teams, or see this if your team is new).

Parity of each cohort may not be ideal under these circumstances and this is why we settled on a shorter season of 5 games.

11 players per team does not add up to 50 total players in the cohort because we need to have room for at least 4 officials to be part of the cohort to make sure we can staff games properly. The last 2 spots will be buffer spots to be used by teams in a cohort in case of absolute emergency, and once used no other players will be allowed to play in the cohort.

Unfortunately we are limited by the new rules and restrictions announced by AHS for Stage 2 relaunch, we have published an interpretation of the new rules earlier. The arena facilities will also have additional rules on when players can arrive, how they need to enter and exit the building and lots of other new procedures (we will keep you informed once we know what each arena requires – these may not be uniform across all arenas)

This means we can accept less teams, smaller teams, and will need to have ice on weekends. We will be balancing the schedule for the season so it is fair for everyone.

If we are able to confirm ice in the south we will offer teams to be part of a different cohort that can play in the south, provided the season has not yet started, because once the season starts we are not able to modify any of the cohorts we create. All cohorts must stay together for the duration of the season during Stage 2 restrictions.

Parity of each cohort may not be ideal under these circumstances and this is why we settled on a shorter season of 5 games. Your team will play every other team once and then play the semis and final, so if there is an issue with parity we can address it in the next cycle of the season.

Instead of locking everyone into a longer season where you will have to play other teams more often, which may not be well suited for your cohort from a competitive perspective, we decided to proceed with caution so we can fully digest the new restrictions and come up with solutions once the rubber hits the road (or in our case, the blades touch the ice).

A shorter, 5 game season is also safer from our perspective as the exposure will be more limited to other players, as opposed to when the season is longer. More games = more exposure. As we progress and find out how the new loosening of restrictions affects the spread, we’ll know if more games are possible in the next season.

It would be a shame to sign up for a long season, then find out that AHS has new rules and restriction, or worse has to shut down arenas again and move their reopening into the next stage.

It’s hard to say how things will progress in the future, and we would rather have the flexibility to adjust by doing a shorter season so we can work out the kinks for winter. This way we will be able to start Winter 2020-21 Season on time in September. Similar restrictions may still be in place then, no one knows this right now and if anyone is saying otherwise, please do not take this at par value.

These are uncertain times, and while we are trying our best to come up with a way for everyone to play hockey safely, things may change tomorrow and we will need to adjust everything again. This is the reality of the new normal, so please be patient with us as we navigate these uncharted waters ahead.

Let’s get out there, safely, and play some puck!

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!