The North Central Hockey League (NCHL) announced the upcoming 2020-2021 season would be cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.
The league, which includes Lacombe, Blackalds, Bonnyville, Daysland, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Morinville and Red Deer, plays at a senior AA level.
In a statement posted on the league’s website on Oct. 15, the organization said the teams took a vote via Zoom call to decide on the fate of the season. The vote ended with 8-1 for cancelling because of the restrictions put in place as a result of COVID-19.
Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta both have guidelines in place that the NCHL found hard to overcome. This includes limited to no use of shower facilities, sanitization of dressing rooms after each use and having to self-isolate for 14 days after playing away games.
“Between Hockey Alberta’s guidelines and the town’s restrictions and rues, it was just a little too much for a lot of us to overcome,” said Reed Watts, head coach of the Lacombe Generals.
The organization originally considered deferring the season until Dec. 4 but ultimately decided it would be safer for everyone involved to wait until next year.
According to Watts, the decision was not easy to make and it was disappointing for the team who was planning on making this one of their best seasons.
“We’re a little disappointed that we don’t get to flex our muscles and go about the season,” he said.
Watts and his team will continue to practice and are hoping to play some exhibition games against nearby teams, in preparation for the 2021-2022 season.
“Whether they’re meaningless games in the standings to some players and hopefully to some fans, they won’t be totally meaningless,” Watts said.