We at Minnesota Hockey want to send our best wishes to everyone in the hockey world as they are navigating this challenging and difficult time. Please be safe, and stay healthy.
As rinks begin opening and players return to the ice, there are more questions coming in about next season and what it will look like. Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.
Will there be a regular season of Minnesota Hockey this fall and winter?
That is the focus of Minnesota Hockey right now, and it is advised that associations begin preparing for a full season. While we don’t know what restrictions will be in place from the government and the Minnesota Department of Health, our Plan A is to have a full hockey season with practices, games and tournaments.
Will I be able to watch my kid play this coming season?
During Phase 1, which is our current phase, players aged 10 and under are allowed one parent/guardian in the rink to help with equipment needs. Players aged 11 and older should be dropped off at the rink and picked up after practice. Looking ahead, current indications from the Minnesota Department of Health are games will likely return before spectators are allowed to watch. More information should be available as we get closer to the season.
What changes are being implemented to keep my kid safe at the rink?
Each arena and association should have its own preparedness plan, but many of the best practices are going to be consistent from rink-to-rink. Here’s a look at some of the most common precautions being recommended by Minnesota Hockey and the Minnesota Ice Arena Manager’s Association:
Will players be allowed in locker rooms?
The availability of locker rooms varies by rink right now. Kids should come to the rink fully dressed with the exception of skates and helmets. Exceptions may be made for goalies. Players are encouraged to use the restroom at home before arriving at the rink if possible. Players should also bring their own beverages in clearly marked re-sealable containers. No matter where players sit – locker rooms or common areas – they should always maintain six feet of social distance when not on the ice.
How are coaches going to maintain social distancing on the ice?
Coaches will have special procedures and guidelines, including practice plans to maximize space, keep kids engaged and focus on skills. During Phase 1, rinks are allowed two pods of 10 people or less, including coaches, volunteers and participants. Drills should be non-contact, player benches should not be used, and coaches should avoid contact/talking face-to-face with players at this time. Players should be dismissed from the ice one at a time through different exit points upon the completion of practice.
When we advance to Phase 2 and games start up again, there should be no more than two coaches allowed in the bench area during games, and coaches on the bench should be wearing masks.
For more ideas and examples of social distancing during practice, click here.
What happens if the state experiences another shutdown at the beginning, middle or end of the season?
Members should be aware that there is a potential for further restrictions placed on youth sports, in particular if there is a surge of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Minnesota. All members should be aware and understanding of this possibility.
The best way to prevent this from happening is consistently adhering to recommendations by health experts to slow the spread such as social distancing, safe hygiene habits, staying home when sick, etc. Limiting the spread and preventing outbreaks of COVID-19 in our communities will play a key role in sustaining the activities we love in the coming weeks and months.
Will tournaments be allowed this winter?
Minnesota Hockey is planning to sanction tournaments as it has in the past. These tournaments are important to participants, associations and communities throughout the state. Minnesota Hockey will be providing additional updates as we get closer to the season, but associations are being told to plan on hosting their tournaments as usual.
Can I participate with my summer team that is not affiliated with Minnesota Hockey?
Players can participate with summer teams that are not affiliated with Minnesota Hockey. Those teams are not required to adhere to Minnesota Hockey and USA Hockey rules, but they should be aware that they are not covered under USA Hockey insurance policies and are not able to participate in USA Hockey sanctioned events.
Participants in all sports should still be mindful of government restrictions and should not be taking part in games or tournaments until allowed by the state of Minnesota.
Can my offseason team get an Offseason Affiliate Agreement to participate in tournaments outside of Minnesota?
Currently, Minnesota Hockey will not allow for any Offseason Affiliate Agreements for teams looking to travel out of state. Minnesota Hockey will revisit this policy when it is advised games can safely be played.
Will the Little Wild Learn to Play Program be taking place this year?
Due to circumstances related to COVID-19, the 2020 Little Wild Learn to Play Program scheduled for this fall has been postponed until the spring of 2021. The Minnesota Wild is hoping to offer two Little Wild programs in 2021, one in April, followed by the regular fall program in September 2021.
Will Minnesota Hockey be requiring players to wear clear plastic facemasks as opposed to cage masks?
As of now, there is no scientific evidence produced that says clear plastic masks are safer and more effective at preventing the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. However, it can be assumed that they may be more effective. Currently, Minnesota Hockey does not have plans to require players to wear any particular type of mask for the 2020-21 season.