Revision Date: 2020.08.23

Introduction
Like every organization in BC, the Whistler Minor Hockey Association (WMHA) must have a plan to keep our minor hockey players and other WMHA members safe during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Our responsibility goes further than our members, as our plan must also take into account our members’ families, other facility user groups and all other members of our community.

This document sets out the elements of the WMHA’s Return to Play plan.

At the current stage of national, provincial, regional and local return to play planning, we know what activities in Whistler are possible from when the minor hockey season starts after Labour Day through Thanksgiving.

This plan broadly outlines those, and will be further updated as the first phase of the season progresses.

At every turn, we as an Association have been asked to be flexible and patient as guidelines have been developed. We are asking the same of you. These are challenging times. Everybody is working hard to deliver the best possible hockey experience for our community’s kids during this pandemic.
Plan Coordination
The activities we make available to our members must comply with the plans and requirements of:

Hockey Canada / BC Hockey (as our parent sanctioning bodies and source of insurance),
the BC Health Authorities (under current emergency orders) and viaSport (as the organization tasked with coordinating return to sports for all sport across the Province),
PCAHA (as the immediate parent of WMHA hockey activities, and the coordinator of our league and any games), and
the Resort Municipality of Whistler (as the owner and operator of our facility).

Each of the above organizations has published detailed guidance on safety protocols and the programming for on-ice activities allowed as a result. Our plan must be coordinated with all of this guidance. Attached to this document is a list to some of the most immediately applicable of these guidance documents, all of which can be accessed through the Whistler Minor Hockey website’s Return to Play section.

This Return to Play plan document broadly summarizes the current guidelines and permitted activities, but members should be clear that anything in this document is superseded by the more detailed guidelines from the applicable authority.
Ongoing Communication
One important element of this plan is ongoing communication. The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly and as a result minor hockey has been and will continue to be in a state of rapid change, both forward towards a more normal hockey activities, and potentially, if required, backwards with greater restrictions.

Board Member Kevin Sopp has agreed to step up to the responsibility of keeping WMHA members and their families of important information as the season progresses.
Registration and Fees
Registration is different this year. We are using TeamSnap, and are taking only credit card payments.

The biggest change is that fees will be paid in installments, starting with a small registration fee to be paid at the time of registration. Given this, we are asking that all members register by August 24, so that we have an idea of overall registration numbers, division sizes, and on ice-groups for purposes of scheduling.

Fees were set by the membership at the Annual General Meeting. They are slightly higher but generally in line with past years. Because we are using installments, fees can be adjusted over the course of the season based on things like length of any competitive portion, permitted team sizes and a possibility that worsening health conditions require the season to be suspended or canceled. As a Board, we will continually monitor this, and adjust future installments accordingly.

The first installment for the first part of the season must be made online in advance prior to any player being allowed on the ice. This is necessary for insurance purposes.
Season Start
We are scheduled to return WMHA member players to the ice on September 14, 2020. Through Thanksgiving, on ice activities will be limited development activities guided by professional coaches. Teams will not be formed until the end of this period. Rather, we will create divisional cohors, with on-ice groups made up of players from each cohort.

The RMOW is one of the few municipalities that has ice in for the traditional start of the minor hockey season. We can be grateful for that.

It also puts us as an Association in the position of “going first,” and there will be a fair amount of attention being paid to how well we do as a membership. It’s critical that we all do our part. (If you have a question about your part, there’s an Appendix at the back of the WMHA COVID-19 Safety Plan that lays it all out.)
Tryouts and Team Selection
Tryout and team section will also be different this year.

According to the PCAHA, team play will not begin until after Thanksgiving. Tryouts for rep teams, including for the upper division Sea to Sky Bears Zone teams, will likely not take place until nearer to the end of September. Because they will take place after the season is underway, players hoping to play with the Zone program will begin the season with the WMHA.

Tryouts will follow neither the compact format of traditional WMHA tryouts or the weeks-long format used for the Zone teams last year. For some divisions, elements of the tryout may be incorporated into the latter parts of the development ice times.

We are asking that any player wanting to try out for rep at any level indicate in response to a quick survey that we’ll send out prior to the start of the season. Interest in trying out will be taken into account as we establish skater groups within cohorts.

As with registration, tryout fees must be made online in advance prior to any player being allowed to participate in dedicated tryout ice times.

COVID-19 Safety Protocols
The WMHA has prepared and made available a first draft of its COVID-19 Safety Plan. You can access a copy of the plan on the Association website. The plan collects in one document some of the most important requirements of the various safety guidelines applicable to minor hockey players and the Meadow Park rink.

Perhaps the most important part of the plan are the Whistler municipality’s guidelines for safely using the Meadow Park rink. If you read only one document in addition to the WMHA COVID-19 safety plan, please read the RMOW’s Meadow Park Sports Centre COVID-19 Safe Work Guidelines for Public Entry.

For players and parents, the three most important principles of the various safety protocols are:

Stay at home if you have cold, flu or other COVID-19 related symptoms.
Wash hands frequently and follow other good hygiene practices.
Keep socially distanced, the length of a hockey stick apart, and wear masks where social distancing is compromised.

Some of the key points of the current safety plan are:

In the current state of the health emergency measures, no more than 16 people may be in the lobby of Meadow Park at one time.
No more than 14 pairs of skates may be on the ice at one time.
Players must arrive and leave fully dressed. No dressing room access is currently allowed.
At this time, parents will NOT be permitted to watch practices. For the older players, parents will likely not be allowed to enter the facility at drop off and pick up.
Ice times may be shorter, with longer transition periods between on-ice sessions.

More detail about participant limits and how to arrive, move through and leave the Meadow rink are included out in the COVID-19 Safety Plan.

A note on patience and flexibility here: the PCAHA expects to release COVID-19 safety plan materials for use by WMHA and other member minor hockey associations. We’ll have a close look at these as soon as they come out. They may change our plan, or even completely replace our current draft. We’ll let you know as we can of any change.
Return to Hockey Activities
Jeremy Robb, our 2019-2020 director of development, is in the process of organizing coaches and practice plans and curriculum for all divisions. These will be delivered by professional coaches and organized with the support of volunteer coaches and managers.

On-ice activities and protocols

For this portion of the season, we can have 10 skaters, 2 goalies (or 12 skaters) and 2 coaches (2 team officials minimum) in the facility during each available ice time.

Coaches give ice instructions verbally at a distance. No gathering around coaches or white boards.
Activities primarily focused on skill development, emphasizing skating, puck handling, shooting etc.
Below is one possible on-ice practice plan. In its July 10 Seasonal Structure document, Hockey Canada has published a number of additional on-ice setups and activities.
The PCAHA is also working with its membership to develop and share other activities, such as skills competitions, to keep this portion of the season engaging as well as valuable for skills development.

Possible On-Ice Sample Practice Plan
Two instructors / coaches + 12 skaters – Ice split by boards down red-Line. North end of the rink (Zamboni gate) will be used by the 6 players with 1 instructor, the other half will be used for shooting specific training and free play 3 v 3 with 2 nets and shooter tutors.

Skating/Puck handling -> to game application segment | 1 Instructor on 6 Players

  1. Skating Specific movement teaching/Drill 10Minutes
  2. Puck handling Specific Movement Teaching/Drill 5 Minutes
  3. Skating/Puck handling Game application drill 7 Minutes

Shooting/Free Play | 1 Instructor on 6 Players

  1. Shooting Specific Lesson 5 Minutes
  2. Shooting Specific Skill against Boards (50 Shots each) 6 Minutes
  3. Shooting Specific Pass/Receive Shot on Net Drill 6 Minutes
  4. Stick and Puck free Play 3 v 3 Cross Ice game 5 Minutes

At the halfway time mark, both groups exchange sides of the rink and begin 2nd part of their lessons.

Scrimmages
If and as appropriate, we can have socially distanced scrimmages to keep players engaged:
These could be 3 on 3 plus a goalie at each end.
No pressure on the puck carrier within a 2m distance, turnovers would occur on errant passes, shot on goal, or a goal.
On a loose puck situation, after an errant pass for example, the player with position on the puck would have to be “given” the right to the puck.
Like basketball, implement a shot clock to keep the game going. Shot clock expires, puck turns over.
The thinking part of the game can continue as players have to read where they think the puck will go, so they can get there and have position on the puck. Still a thinking game.

Off-ice activities

There may be some groups that want to add off-ice activities. These would be outdoors and focused on instruction and fun. A primary benefit of this time would be social: a time to gather (loosely and socially distanced) with teammates.

Activities would include traditional “dry land” group fitness (if and as appropriate to the age level), but wouldn’t be limited to workouts.Additional activities could include set play walkthroughs and ball and other games designed to complement hockey skills.

Activities would be located at local fields and, if we can reserve it, the sport court across the fields from Meadow Park.

Possible Off-Ice Sample Practice Plan
Whistler Sport Court / Instructor + 12 Kids

  1. Dynamic Warm-up (Transferable to Pre-Game Warmup Routine) 20 Minutes
  2. Stickhandling + Fitness Hybrid (Age appropriate Skill and Fitness) 20 Minutes
  3. Tactical Run thru (Division/Age Appropriate) Entry’s, Dzone Coverage etc. 15 Minutes
  4. Cool down and Stretch – Standard Routine to be taught and executed at the end of every session.

Focus on proper dynamic physical warmup that is transferable to pre-game prep in future games.
Basic stickhandling and fitness circuit component led by the coach with players in their own space 2 metres apart.
As appropriate, a short chalk talk segment on the principle of team play in various offensive and defensive team Tactics that will be followed up with on foot reps with a hockey ball.

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