The rules of the game have changed for players, coaches, parents and officials as the Barrie Minor Hockey Association (BMHA) prepares for an October 24th launch.
The BMHA protocols are based on recommendations from the Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Canada and the local health unit.
BMHA General Manager Steve Fontaine said there will be nine players and a goalie per team with five teams in a bubble for a total of 50 players. These players will only play within their bubble.
Fontaine expects a good majority of members will back. As many as 1,600 players take part in the league each season.
“We sent out a survey in April and at that time 90 per cent responding said they were anxious to come back. We do expect 10, 15 and maybe as high as 20 per cent will decline.”
The games will be 4-on-4 with two 22 minute periods.
“The ref will never touch the puck. Penalties will result in penalty shots. Offsides and icings will result in a change of position, and a goal will result in a team clearing the zone and starting from there.” said Fontaine.
Hockey moms and dads will have to compromise. Players will be allowed just one parent at the game at one time.
Lafontaine said he is waiting for the green light, but in his last discussion with the City of Barrie, players will be allowed to use the dressing rooms with physical distancing.
For now, there will be no road trips.
“If by the guidelines set out by the Ontario Hockey Federation and we reach Stage 4, we could look to revive minor midget and our midget programs, which are usually the players that are draft eligible for the OHL (Ontario Hockey League).”
LaFontaine is looking forward to the start of the season.
“At the end of the day, our goal as an organization is to try to get as many kids on the ice as possible for their metal well-being than anything else.”