Alberta green lights AJHL season restart
The home arena of the Spruce Grove Saints will host fanless AJHL hockey games starting in March, if proper COVID-19 protocols are followed.
EDMONTON -- Another Alberta hockey league has been granted government permission to resume team sports activities beginning next month.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League announced Friday it had received approval to restart its 2020-2021 season, provided its 15 teams undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
The restart constitutes an exemption of the current public health measures, which prohibit Albertans of all ages from playing indoor team sports.
“We’re thrilled,” said Rob Sklaruk, general manager of the Spruce Grove Saints, “We think that this was the right thing to do on behalf of the AJHL and we’re real excited to get back.”
Games are to be played without fans in attendance and exclusively on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through to the end of May, the league said.
So far in 2021, the province has granted permission to the National Hockey League (NHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) to resume playing indoor games, with varying health protocols and without spectators.
All AJHL teams have committed to using private PCR testing and must test negative for COVID-19 twice and quarantine for 14 days before attending training camp, according to a league news release.
“We think that our guys will be doing the right thing and being indoors where they’re being safe. We hope we don’t get any positive cases,” said Sklaruk.
Alberta Health said games will be structured around three-team cohorts for 30-day periods, meaning one team will only play the same two opponents for one month. When the cohorts change, there must be a 12-day break before the formation of a new three-team cohort.
“Based on the schedule, once the season begins, the plan would be to quarantine all three teams for 14 days in case of a positive on any of the three teams in the cohort,” said Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications for Alberta Health.
The AJHL played 80 games of its current season before public health restrictions forced it to shut down in November.