Barrie’s minor hockey season is looking a lot more like a normal season than last year.
Murray Shanks, President of the Barrie Minor Hockey Association (BMHA), says they’re still finalizing a few details before players can hit the ice. “We’re planning for a normal, what we can call ‘normal’ hockey season. For the players, all the conditions for attending the rink and that type of stuff has not been finalized,” he told Barrie 360. “We’re working with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association, and they’re working with the public health units on any kind of regulations that way.”
“We truly don’t anticipate anything except wearing masks that are mandated for any indoor activity,” Shanks said, adding parents will be permitted back into the stands this year. He said, while arenas will have capacity caps, they’ll be large enough to accommodate anyone who wants to watch a game.
Shanks doesn’t anticipate any rules governing whether players need to be vaccinated before taking to the ice. “We haven’t been given any guidance on any kind of regulations on vaccination. We’re not going to have anything particular unless it comes from organizing groups like the OMHA, or Hockey Canada even. But right now, we’re not planning on having any regulations on that.”
The return to hockey couldn’t come any sooner for many minor league players, says Shanks. “The kids are very anxious to get back on the ice and play hockey,” he said. “We’re at approximately about 1,400 people already registered to play hockey. We’re feeling really good about the return from our members that want to get back out on the ice,” Shanks says he anticipates over 2,000 players will sign up before registration closes. There were about a thousand last year.
While Shanks feels the minor hockey season is full steam ahead, he isn’t taking any risks. “We’re planning for a normal hockey season. But somewhere in that desk in our office, there is a COVID plan too, just in case, so we don’t want to get caught. Basically, we’ll take the learnings of last year, and we’ll roll it out. But we truly hope that we don’t get shut down again and have to revert to something less than normal hockey.”
Registration is now open through the BMHA website.