The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League followed the lead of other junior hockey circuits in North America on Wednesday as they announced their COVID-19 vaccination policy for the 2021-22 campaign.
“The Board of Governors approved this mandatory vaccine policy to provide the best opportunity for the players to complete the 21-22 SJHL season,” the league said in a prepared statement.
The vaccination policy will apply to coaches, players, scouts, athletic therapists, trainers, equipment managers, on-ice officials, off-ice officials and anyone else who interacts directly with players on a regular basis.
Anyone who falls into those categories needs to have had obtained their first shot by Sept. 10 and their second shot by Oct. 15.
“These dates will allow ample time for teams to make sure they can help with arrangements for any player or staff who haven’t yet received their COVID-19 vaccine,” the league said.
“This will also allow time to come up with any modified work for staff or players should that be deemed necessary.”
The league also stated that players, coaches and staff that are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask at all times when around other members of their team or when taking part in off-ice team activities.
They also said that due to the travel restrictions into Manitoba, coaches, players, and staff cannot travel into the province until they are fully vaccinated.
The SJHL pre-season will start Friday as the Humboldt Broncos will face the Nipawin Hawks, while the regular season will get underway on Friday, Sept. 24.
The 2021-22 season will also see the Estevan Bruins host the Centennial Cup, which will take place from May 14-22 of next year.
That will mark the first time that the National Junior A Championship will have been held since 2019, when the Brooks Bandits won on home ice.
The Portage Terriers and the Penticton Vees were to have held the 2020 and 2021 events, but they were both cancelled due to the pandemic.