Saskatchewan Hockey Association’s return to play guidelines approved by provincial government

Daily Herald File Photo Members of the Prince Albert Lehner Electric Foxes and the Sherwood Park Fuzion female Midget AA teams chase after the puck during a game at the Kinsmen Arena in January.

Tentative start date of Nov. 1 for provincial leagues to start regular season

The news that hockey players, teams and fans around the province have been waiting for came out on Thursday afternoon.

The Saskatchewan Hockey Association announced that their Return to Hockey – Safety Guidelines had been approved by the provincial government and that teams could potentially move past the current evaluation and training phase (known as Phase #1) as soon as next weekend.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we worked to develop a comprehensive plan to return in a fun and safe environment,” the SHA said via Twitter when they released the news.

In the document, exhibition games (known as Phase #2) within a four-team or 50 players mini-league have a tentative start date of Saturday, Oct. 17.

League games (Phase #3) have a tentative start date of Sunday, Nov. 1 and would consist of six teams or 80 players.

Regular season games at the Under-13, Under-15, Under-18, Junior and Senior levels would start on Nov. 1.

Under-11 league games would start on Nov. 15, while Under-7 and Under-9 contests would begin on Jan. 1.

An expanded mini-league of eight teams or 120 players (Phase #4) would tentatively start on Jan. 18, 2021, while the dates for league playoffs and provincial playdowns (#Phase 5) are still to be determined.

In order for the SHA to move into the next corresponding phase, the following factors will be under consideration:

  • Positive COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan plateauing or declining over a period of at least four weeks
  • There are no major outbreaks or COVID transmission in the province
  • There are no major outbreaks or COVID transmission related to hockey games or facilities in Saskatchewan
  • There are no major outbreaks or COVID transmission related to hockey games or facilities in other provinces
  • Positive COVID-19 cases do not increase in the three weeks following major events or holidays where people will gather in the province (e.g. back to school, elections, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s).

“Hockey will be enabled like all other organizations that have returned to play,” Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said during a press conference in Regina on Thursday just before the SHA’s announcement.

“While there will be sporadic cases in people who participate in hockey just like in school or workplaces, we have not seen any widespread transmission associated with sports and that is especially because everyone is following the guidelines and rules in place. It will be essential as we move forward to pay attention to those guidelines.”

The release also said that a face-covering policy has been put in in place for all members of minor hockey; including players, coaches, bench staff, on-ice officials, off-ice officials and parents/spectators.

“The policy will apply to all SHA membership until such a time that it has been deemed safe to remove this policy,” the release stated.

“It is the intentions of SHA to have a consistent environment so when players, officials, coaches and spectators are headed to a rink, they will know what to expect.”