“OJHL Reveals Planned Date for Start to Season, Teams Begin Exhibition Game Play “
Mississauga, ON – The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) announced that the league has prepared for a targeted start in early January.
Over the course of the past few months, theOJHL has worked diligently with its various governing bodies, Regional Public Health Units (PHUs) and its member branch, alongside the league’s Board of Directors, for a realistic and confident start date, which its fans and players can have confidence in. The announcement of a planned start for early-January has been created with what would allow for a 30- to 36-game schedule followed by a shorter playoff format, which would include a reduction of games played in each playoff series.
“The OJHL is now fully prepared, once approval from our governing authorities has been granted, to move forward with a 30-36 game schedule with a potential start in early-January,” said Marty Savoy, OJHL Commissioner. “While we would have liked to announce a planned start date earlier in the year, we felt it best to work alongside all relevant authorities to give us the utmost in confidence surrounding all elements of our return to play plan and our planned start. This would include a modified playoff schedule with best-of-three series replacing our traditional best-of-seven series.”
In preparation for today’s announcement, various OJHL teams have already started the cohort bubbling process – as permitted under applicable law in conjunction with their PHU regulations – with scrimmages and exhibition games. Further announcements will be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead, with dates and coverage details of established cohort bubbles and their respective exhibition game play.
OJHL teams have been in a training phase for the last number of weeks with the plan on getting rosters down to 25 players. Once clubs are down to a maximum 25 players on their rosters, they are then eligible to start playing scrimmage or non-contact games that follow the league’s governing regulations and otherwise comply with applicable PHU regulations and guidelines.
A key aspect of the OJHL Return to the Rink Plan, has been the development of extensive COVID-19 protocols. Beyond the protocol policy and procedures training each team has undertaken, every OJHL team has received a full PPEpackage inclusive of signage for prominent placement within the rinks, which include descriptive reminders regarding hand washing, the importance of wearing a mask, warm-up zones and reminders on sanitation.All teams will receive re-usable masks with washable filters along with disposable surgical masks. Other key items include touchless thermometers, hand sanitizers and surgical gloves.
Most importantly, each team is also receiving a disinfectant fogger machine in partnership with CleanQuip Systems Inc., which will be used to disinfect and sanitize team dressing rooms and other team areas within each facility.
“The OJHL has spent a tremendous about of time developing safety protocols, such as double screening, contact tracing, testing and PPE support packages for our clubs,”stated OJHL Chairman Marc Mercier.“For the last number of weeks, a number of our clubs have been training players in preparation to move forward to cohort bubbling of two teams for scrimmages or non-contact games.We are excited for this next step in our Return to the Rink plan as we initiate definitive steps toward starting our season”.