The South Delta Minor Hockey Association hit the ice last weekend for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of all their programs.
In doing so, the association is one of, if not the first minor hockey association in the Lower Mainland to return to hockey.
“We can’t say enough about the support we have received from the City of Delta, our players, parents and coaches,” said SDMHA communications officer Wayne Carleton. “It is good to be back on the ice and last weekend was a great success and positive start to the SDMHA Summer Skills program.”
Carleton said the association has been working hard the past four weeks working with the City of Delta, Hockey Canada, BC Hockey and ViaSport on its Return to Hockey Safety Plan.
He said the health and safety of all players, coaches and support staff is top priority.
“A lot of other minor hockey associations hope to get back soon,” said Carleton. “We have shared our plans with a number of other associations, so hopefully they can see our success and get back on the ice soon. It’s been a lot of effort to create our health and safety plan to get us back out there.”
The SDMHA Summer Program will operate at Tilbury Ice every weekend throughout the month of July. Last weekend there were four ice sessions on Saturday and seven on Sunday.
The focus of the summer program is skill development and training.
A minimum of two metres (six feet) of physical distancing is to be maintained at all times on and off the ice as per BC Health protocols. The maximum number of players per session is 10, plus coaches. No spectators are permitted in the building, only players, coaches and a dedicated safety person.
He said players are asked to arrive at the facility dressed and muster in a staging area where they will sit, socially distanced apart from other players, put on their remaining gear and skates and then head inside for their session.
“Beside Tilbury is the fenced sport court, so we set up the staging area,” he said. “About 10 minutes before the ice time we bring them into the rink. We have 30 minutes between the ice sessions to allow for ice cleaning and proper sanitizing. It worked out really well last weekend.
“Normally we don’t run summer programs, but there has been high demand for this. We got good buy-in from parents, coaches, players. Everyone was happy to be back.”
Carleton said there is no definite timeline for getting back to games and normal programming, but they hope to hear more in the coming months from Hockey Canada, BC Hockey and ViaSport.
“We normally have a camp at the end of August, so that is scheduled to go,” he said. “There is lots of moving parts in terms of getting back to scheduled games. Like everything else we have no confirmed dates. Potentially there could be interclub games within the association, but it’s all a wait and see. Until things change I think it’s going to be more training and skill development for the foreseeable future. There is no rush, everyone wants to get back, but we have to do it in a conscious manner.”