Minor hockey in CK eyes return to play

Ice hockey refree. Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Modestil

Minor hockey associations across Chatham-Kent are getting ready to return to play next week after the province put all games, practices, on-ice and off-ice training on hold on January 3, 2022.

The Dresden Minor Hockey Association (DMHA) said it will be starting up on Monday and will follow all Ontario and municipal COVID-19 rules. DMHA President Ian Avery said players have kept busy skating outdoors and keeping up their skills, despite all of the disruptions.

“We’ve been very fortunate this year that the river, ponds and outdoor rinks have filled in the three-week gap nicely,” said Avery. “If we can finish the season as was planned, it will go a long way to keeping kids engaged in hockey for this year and next.”

Avery said games that were cancelled will not be rescheduled, adding games will start where the schedules in both the Shamrock League and Four Counties League are at come January 31, 2022.

The Wallaceburg Minor Hockey Association said it will be back on the ice on Monday with all COVID-19 protocols remaining in place, including the requirement for QR code scanning to enter the arena.

The Kent Minor Hockey Association said it will resume all hockey programming on Monday as well.

The South Kent Minor Hockey Association said the plan is to be on the ice on Monday. President Kent Burk said the schedule for the travel teams will resume on January 31, 2022 as previously scheduled and there will be no rescheduling of any league games missed during the shutdown period. He said the OMHA finals championship tournament will be in Barrie.

“If teams want, they can schedule exhibition games to substitute if the schedule is light prior to playoffs,” said Burk.

Burk said the last day of the regular season for the travel teams is February 13, 2022 with the playoffs beginning after that.

He said the under-9 games are being rescheduled and there is still no word on a host location or date for the under-9 year-end league tournament. That issue will be discussed at February’s OMHA meeting.

The local league regular season will start right into playoffs for those teams. The tournament locations have yet to be set, according to Burk.

The Chatham-Kent Girls Hockey Association also posted a note on Facebook saying they would be on the ice next week.

They’re set to resume practices on Monday and said they would provide more information about games when they “get further clarification from the OWHA.”

Speaking on CFCO Mornings with Dave and Cheryl on Tuesday, Chatham-Kent Medical officer of Health Dr. David Colby said he thinks youth sports in Chatham-Kent can return to play safely because Chatham-Kent Public Health hasn’t seen a lot of COVID-19 cases connected with youth sports.

“When we were in a case and contact isolation mode pre-Omicron and during the early part of Omicron, we had to isolate teams and cohorts based on positive cases. So, a lot of teams were taken out by the huge surge in cases that happened with Omicron and with that community-based search and isolate type of philosophy gone by the wayside because of the sheer numbers, then I don’t anticipate those teams will be taken out in those numbers and I think it’ll be ok,” said Colby.