The Saskatchewan Hockey Association released guidelines on Thursday for hockey to return beyond the current capacity of evaluations and practices. To ensure a successful 2020-21 hockey season, from beginning to end, the SHA Safety Guidelines states that it is the “responsibility of every player, coach, team official and spectator to ensure they are following the public health measures and doing their best to control the spread of COVID-19.”
For senior, junior, Under 18, Under 15 and Under 13 teams, exhibition games can begin as of Oct. 17. The exhibition season is limited to a group of four teams, or 50 players. Then, as of Nov. 1, other SHA league games can start with slight mini-league restrictions, which would be a maximum of six teams or 80 players. The next step is an expanded league, which can include up to eight teams or 120 players, and has a tentative start date of Jan. 18, 2021.
The plan for the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Gold Wings is to have a 28-game schedule starting November 15. This will start regionally and move to provincial with playoffs in April. The 28-game schedule will consist of a home-and-home series each weekend. As of right now, regionals and the Esso Cup are on the schedule.
It was noted that the Gold Wings are only in a planning stage right now, as things might change during the last couple weeks of October.
Although the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is included in hockey, the SJHL has to continue to work with Saskatchewan Government/Health on the protocols and how each team's arena will handle fans. Once protocols and the arenas’ abilities to handle fans are satisfactory to Saskatchewan Government/Health, then the SJHL could have a start date.
Coaches and trainers for the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings are dedicating their time with players to skill development and team bonding right now, while they wait for a decision from the SJHL.
“Until we get a date, it is all speculation,” Rich Pilon, head coach for the Red Wings.
There is still a lot for the team to work on, especially by concentrating on skill development sessions. “It gives us more time for the coaches to get to know the players, and for them to get to know us,” said Pilon.
Dates, procedures and protocols may change as deemed necessary by the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Hockey Association.