AJHL allowed back on the ice, teams will be tested regularly for COVID-19

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The AJHL has gotten the green light from the Alberta government to resume the 2020-2021 season, after COVID-19 restrictions halted all sports in November. Teams will follow new protocols under a Return to Play plan.

The AJHL said in a Friday statement that players, coaches and support staff are quarantining ahead of training camp, which is scheduled for the start of March.

Fans are not allowed to watch games, but all games will be shown on HockeyTV. Games are expected to begin sometime in March and continue until the end of May. They will only be played on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. As of Friday, no updated game schedule has been released.

Teams will be tested weekly for COVID-19 and twice before starting training camp. The league will use DynaLIFE testing, which was used during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and the IIHF 2021 World Juniors Championships in Edmonton.

Teams will quarantine for 14 days if anyone within an AJHL cohort, including players or staff, tests positive for COVID-19. All players and staff screenings will be monitored through the SureHire Risk Assessment App.


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Before games were suspended in November, the Oil Barons competed in eight exhibition games. They also won all four of the regular season games played before the pause.

The athletes and staff are excited to hit the ice, said Oil Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau in a Friday interview. The news is unexpected, but great, he said. However, getting everything together in a short period of time will be stressful for the team.

“It’s kind of overwhelming frankly,” he said. “You don’t do anything for two-and-a-half, three months and then all of a sudden, boom, and in a week or less you have to try and get everything coordinated.”

While the season has been paused, players have been training at outdoor rinks and exercising at home. The slower pace of the past few months has Thibodeau concerned about injuries, which were common when players met in September after not playing since March. The start of training will focus on easing players back into a routine.

Thibodeau is making sure protocols are being followed and that the team will have enough tests. He added COVID-19 still adds some uncertainty to the season, but the team is excited to once again play hockey.

“You get a chance to play in a season that you thought was lost, let’s face it, it’s a great opportunity for these kids and they’re extremely excited,” said Thibodeau.


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