By Pat Payton
At a league meeting last Thursday night, the GOJHL decided to push back the league start to Jan. 15, 2021.
The GOJHL was hoping to start its regular season in early December, but the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in the province necessitated the change.
“It’s been clear for a few weeks now that December wasn’t a very practical starting point,” St. Marys Lincolns’ club president Brandon Boyd told the Independent. “Mid-January allows the dust to settle after the holidays and we can reassess where we’re at as a province.
“This also aligns with the beginning of OHL (Major Jr. ‘A’) camps, so hopefully we will be in a position to all take a step in the right direction.”
Safety first and foremost
Lincs’ Director of Hockey Operations/GM Greg Smale agreed that safety was first and foremost in the league’s decision to start in the New Year.
“With the increase in Covid cases, it was the most logical thing to do,” Smale said. “For us, as an organization, we’ve been playing it pretty safe and doing our due-diligence to make sure everyone stays healthy.
“The government and everyone’s trying to do the best they can with the hand they’re being dealt these days. Ultimately, it’s about players’ safety and keeping the cases from spreading into our community. We want to be playing games, but we want to make sure we’re putting everyone’s safety first.”
With the new starting date in mid-January, the GOJHL is considering options such as the regular schedule extending beyond March and the possibility of the Sutherland Cup playoffs running into June.
“Those details depend on Hockey Canada and ice availability, and will be discussed over the next month,” president Boyd noted.
In other Jr. ‘B’ news, the GOJHL announced last week that its return-to-play plans have been approved by the Ontario Hockey Federation.
When the schedule begins, teams will play five-on-five games under modified rules that forbid body contact and post-whistle scrums. If teams want to have spectators, they’ll also need the approval of their public health units and arena operators.
–At the present time, the number of games each team will play hasn’t been determined.
–The Western Conference’s nine teams are located in six different public health units.
–The Jr. ‘C’ teams in the province are apparently voting in January to determine if it’s possible to have a season. “We will continue to monitor things and will be ready to start a season in January if the situation allows it to happen,” Jr. ‘C’ commissioner Terry Whiteside said in an email to the newspaper this past weekend.
By Pat Payton