AJHL season begins Nov. 13

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons celebrate a goal against the Bonnyville Pontiacs at the Centerfire Place on Friday, October 16, 2020. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

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The AJHL season will begin on Nov. 13 after being postponed from it’s original September start date because of COVID-19 regulations.

Teams will play within a two-division format – South division and North division – with the annual AJHL showcase, season end date and the format for the playoffs being announced at a later date.

When the Fort McMurray Oil Barons first game is, and who they will play against, has not yet been announced. A complete schedule for the regular season will be posted once it is finalized.

Earlier this month, the league started an exhibition series with two-team cohorts. This will continue through to Nov. 8.

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons started their exhibition series against the Bonnyville Pontiacs, winning four out of six games. They are scheduled to play against the Grande Prairie Storm this weekend, before heading back to Fort McMurray for a game against Spruce Grove on Nov. 7.

Oil Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau could not be reached Thursday, but called the exhibition games “high-quality hockey” earlier this week.

The league is working with the provincial government’s Junior, Collegiate and University League Guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Protocols for the season are in line with Hockey Canada’s Return to Hockey Safety Guidelines and Hockey Alberta’s Return to Hockey Plan.

Capacity limits, ticket sales and social distancing measures will all be regulated individually by each community arena and team. During the Fort McMurray Oil Barons home exhibition games capacity was set at 100 fans.

The 2020 exhibition season will be broadcast on HockeyTV.com, with annual passes available at an $80-discount. More information can be found on the Oil Barons website.

lbeamish@postmedia.com

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