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 

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!

EDMONTON 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 Arenas and COVID protocols as well as a couple rule adjustments.

All City of Edmonton Arenas Rules

With Arenas in Edmonton here are the key things regarding COVID protocols that are in place;

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 lots. 15 mins before your ice time you will have a dressing room so you can put on your skates and store personal items.

Bring your own water as sinks/fountains will be restricted

There will be no use of Showers at any of the Arenas and you must leave the arena 15 mins after your ice time is completed

There is limited # of spectators at Arenas

*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 credited 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

Playing Winter Ice Hockey In A COVID World – Registration Information For Edmonton 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 Edmonton 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 Tuesday July 7th, at noon MST. Pre-registered teams will have until Thursday July, 8th at noon MST to complete the registration and join the Winter 2020-21 NCHL-Edmonton 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!