Players six feet apart, no cheering fans in 2020 in Mooretown and East Lambton


Barry Wright
The Independent

With the traditional start of minor hockey in the area on the horizon, local associations are making plans to reintroduce the sport in the coming weeks. 
The East Lambton Minor Hockey Association, serving primarily players in Brooke-Alvinston and Warwick Township, plans its restart on September 8.
“OMHA has directed us to set up groups, known as “Bubbles” or “Hockey Bubbles” to start the season,” said ELMHA President Adam MacKellar in a post on the association’s website.
“Each bubble is permitted to have no more than 50 players and is subject to strict guidelines. ELMHA has decided to keep our bubbles within our association. We will have six bubbles – U18(Midget), U15(Bantam), U13(Peewee), U11(Atom), U9(Novice), U7(Pre-Novice),” he added. 
“A board member will be designated to oversee each bubble, MacKellar said.
He says the composition of the bubbles can change as circumstances unfold.
He says the biggest challenge might be with the Initiation Program players as parents will not likely be allowed in the arena and coaches must keep their distance, so helping these six-year old’s tie their skates and regain their feet after falling will be an issue.
“We know this is different than our usual start-up and may present challenges at times, but we think this approach is the safest for our players and offers the flexibility needed to adjust to the dynamic nature of COVID-19,” he says.
Normally, games would be scheduled in both the Watford and the Brooke-Alvinston Inwood Community Centre. But Randy Hills, Brooke-Alvinston’s public works manager, says when and where ice will be available still has to be worked out.
He told council Aug. 13 that it would be unlikely there would be enough demand for ice to open the Alvinston arena in September.
Mooretown Minor Hockey Association is also making fall plans.  A separate COVID Code on Conduct has been created and all players and spectators will be screened at the entrance to the Moore Sports Complex. 
Anyone who refuses to be screened will not be allowed into the building. 
The association says players must arrive 15 minutes before their allocated ice time, fully dressed with the exception of skates which can be put on in dressing rooms with the doors remaining open. Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrances and in the dressing rooms.
One spectator per family will be allowed in the rink to a maximum of 20 people, but cheering, chanting and yelling will not be allowed as “those activities pose a high risk of spreading droplets,” according to the guidelines.
Mooretown hopes to start its season with a two-week development hockey camp on Sept. 8.
The rules of play will be different too. 
Games will be four-on-four for two, 22-minute periods of stop time.
Each team will dress nine skaters and a goalie and all players must remain at least a stick length apart while on the ice.
Faceoffs have also been taken out of the game with the visiting team getting first possession in the first period, while the home team gets the puck to start the second period. 
Goals, icing, offside and the freezing of the puck by the goaltender will all result in a change of possession with the defensive team having to allow the other squad to get to centre ice within ten seconds before they can apply any pressure on the puck. 
And, the penalty shots will replace the penalty box with a two-minute infraction resulting in one penalty shot and four minutes of penalties or more resulting in two penalty shots.
Referees can use discretion and eject players for intentional contact if they feel it’s warranted.
The current Return to Play guidelines are in effect until Nov. 1, but could be moved depending on direction from Hockey Canada and/or government and public health officials.