- On October 9, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto made announcements concerning indoor team sports. Youth sports are allowed to continue, while focusing on development and practice for a minimum of 28 days. As such, Wildcat hockey remains on the ice at this point.
- OWHA has approved return to play for competitive teams and we are working with facilities and the association to establish safe return practices
- Player safety is our top priority and we will be communicating what player and families can expect in the weeks to come
Where does girl’s hockey stand today?
The OWHA has ‘green-lighted’ our return to the ice. Players in our Competitive program have been back practicing since mid-August, while our house league activities were to begin in earnest in early October. With the combined government announcements of October 9, Wildcat hockey will continue as practice-only until we are allowed gameplay in November.
What are the restrictions?
First, health and safety is the most important consideration. The OWHA is working with Ontario’s Ministry of Health to establish guidelines extending from before practices with screening tools, what to do when you get to the arena, and practicing social distancing measures for players and coaches on the ice. The Toronto Leaside Wildcats are also working with the various rinks around the city.
While having their own unique requirements, the facilities are working from a similar playbook. Arena rules govern the use of masks, where to tie our skates, the use of dressing rooms (not permitted at this time), proper spacing on the bench, and entering and exiting the facility. We have established a process to communicate this information to players through coaches.
Is it safe to return to hockey?
Our association has been following the protocols established by Hockey Canada and the OWHA. These safety guidelines were developed in conjunction with Public Health Ontario. The OWHA sanctioned hockey to return in July. Our association has been on the ice since mid-August, and we are confident that our protocols are in accordance with existing safety guidelines. We have established a framework that we will focus on the right things – safe and engaging hockey. If we believe that this is unachievable at any time, we will put a pause on Wildcat hockey.
What if my child feels sick or believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 prior to practice?
We have established a screening mechanism similar to that with which we are all very familiar. Our screening checks all players, coaches, and parents for symptoms and exposure (https://www.torontoleasidewildcats.ca/covid/). The arenas will have a comparable screening questionnaire that will have to be completed before entering the premises.
If your child feels sick or is experiencing any of the symptoms related to COVID-19, please do not come to the arena and seek guidance from Toronto Health.
We have, in addition, established a process to connect with Toronto Health if, after a practice, any of our players suspect that they have COVID-19. It is perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable about having your daughter return to play. We encourage you to talk to your coaching staff or the association to discuss this.
What does the season look like?
The 2020/2021 season has officially begun. Our competitive teams will be engaged in skills development in September. House League and competitive teams will start a regular schedule of games and practices starting in early November.
We expect Wildcat hockey to look similar to last season. There will be a strong focus on practices, and we are working on a development plan that is engaging, instructional, and fun. COVID-19 has provided us an opportunity to get back to basics and work on the fundamentals of individual and team play. There will be some changes to gameplay, the number of teams we can play against, and modified rules such as 4on4.
What about the learn to play, senior programs, and other Wildcat programs?
The TLGHA plans on having a full schedule of your learn to play and FUNdamentals programs starting in early November. Unfortunately, we are suspending Senior Programs, including Non-Slapshot, Slapshot, and Senior Learn to Play.
This was a difficult decision and took into account the specific health considerations of our senior players, as well as the initial format that the season will take, which will focus on traditional gameplay. We will re-evaluate the situation in December with the potential for our senior group to return to the ice in 2021.