Hockey could be back when fall hits as quarintine restrictions ease fromthe COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Hockey Alberta outlines early plan for return to play

The return to hockey this fall looks more and more like a possibility as the summer rolls on.

After a Hockey Canada statement last week outlining some of the requirements needed to reach a return to play stage, Hockey Alberta provided similar steps this week.

In a message posted on its website, Hockey Alberta CEO Rob Litwinksi said the plan to return to play involves four stages, starting at the developmental level and working up to a return to tradition 5-on-5 play.

“Make no mistake, we want hockey back. As the Provincial Sport Organization for hockey in Alberta, this is not just our game, it is our passion,” Litwinksi said.

“Everyone involved with our sport recognizes the benefits of hockey for our participants – physically, socially, and emotionally. We know that hockey makes a difference in people’s lives, helps develop individual and group social skills, and is important for the physical literacy of our youth.”

At present, some hockey arenas in B.C. have opened their doors, with tight restrictions in place. Burnaby Winter Club, in Vancouver, opened its doors to small groups earlier in May.

Litwinksi said they are working with Hockey Canada and other provincial hockey branches to continue to develop the return to play plan. Currently, the opening of recreation facilities, including hockey arenas is part of phase 3 of Alberta’s relaunch plan. As of now, that does not include a specific date.

“The intention is to provide the framework and minimum standards for any organization in our province to undertake hockey activities,” he wrote.

“That way, when facilities reopen, and athletes are allowed back on the ice, they can participate safely and securely and in a manner where the participants, their families and all of our other partners and stakeholders are protected and given the best chance for success.”

On May 13, the Red Deer Minor Hockey Commission echoed a similar sentiment.

“Rest assured that once the rinks are open and we get the go-ahead, we will be ready to go,” they said.

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