Mini-leagues will allow St. Marys teams to play other nearby centres
In the very near future, the St. Marys Ringette Association hopes to submit their application to advance to Stage 3 of the Ringette Ontario’s ‘Return to Ringette Guidelines.’ Stage 3 allows for return to modified play.
“What this essentially means is that ‘mini-leagues’ can begin to be formed and groups can now play other groups from other municipalities within an acceptable geographical boundary,” SMRA president Mike Lynch says.
“In the Snipers’ case, that boundary will include other centres within Huron and Perth Counties, with the possibility of allowing one team from Grey/Bruce as they have no one else to play.”
When approved, St. Marys may be playing groups from Mitchell, Goderich, Exeter/Seaforth and possibly Hanover depending on what mini-league each group is placed in. The determining factor for each mini-league is the maximum number of skaters cannot be more than 50.
For the SMRA, the task of scheduling the mini-leagues and working with neighboring centres rests with Ice Scheduler Lori Black. It is no easy feat and Black acknowledges, “the biggest challenge has been the size limitation of 50 players, imposed by Ringette Ontario. It forces the creation of two mini-leagues per division, even if there are only 51 players.”
The player cap of 50 is only one obstacle that must be overcome, “the next biggest challenge has been working with facilities that have different on ice capacities. It means you need to be creative,” Black explains. Every facility has their own maximum capacities and the trick is ensuring everyone stays without those guidelines.
Getting back to safe modified game play is vital on many levels, Black says. “The closer we can get to a “near normal” game experience, the better the girls’ physical, social and emotional wellness will be.” Another challenge obviously is the safety of the players. Black adds that “given the low number of cases in HPPH and consistent COVID-safety protocols, our players will be as safe in neighbouring arenas as they are in school.”
Approval this week?
If all goes according to plan, Ringette Ontario will approve St. Marys’ Stage 3 application this week. As soon as the other centres get approved, then mini-league play can begin with the hope being the first of November.
“It is very exciting that we are at this point so quickly,” president Lynch says. In a typical, non-COVID year, league play does not start until mid-October.
“Last year, St. Marys’ first WRRL game was not until Oct. 19,” Lynch noted. “Progressing to Stage 3 and being this close to resuming game play is very exciting. It is also a huge credit to the association and the work that has been done to ensure our players return as quickly and as safely as possible.”