With hockey hitting a standstill in mid-March of 2020 due to the current COVID-19 global pandemic, vast uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 season remained at the forefront of the minds of those within the local Manitoba hockey community. But with rinks now officially open for business and Hockey Manitoba’s Phase II Return to Play plans finalized and approved, it’s only a matter of time until the wheels are turning on the 2020-21 season.
With no schedules or calendars yet released, AAA Winnipeg and Manitoba U-18 AAA hockey announced this past week that the upcoming 2020-21 seasons would go on, with strict adherence to new protocol.
The provincial AAA program held a Zoom meeting on August 16, with which the Board of Directors determined that the 2020-21 season would occur, and a task force has been created to help determine the league start date, schedule structure and other health and safety factors.
“The Task Force will focus on (1) ensuring compliance with appropriate heath guidelines (provincial, regional, and Hockey Manitoba), (2) limiting contact between teams, (3) limiting travel between regions, and (4) limiting hotel stays and contact with non-members,” AAA Manitoba wrote in its League Update. “The Manitoba U-18 AAA Hockey League must remain flexible with its Return to Play Strategy. We look forward to a safe 2020-2021 hockey season.”
The 13-team provincial AAA program is expected to see puck drop on the 2020-21 season sometime between October 9 and November 1, while the schedule will feature somewhere from 24-36 games (down from 48 games in recent years), while the league may see its teams divided into two or three divisions, to help with the distancing protocols.
On Monday, AAA Winnipeg tweeted out a link to its 2020 Condition Camp, scheduled for this coming weekend, to which it stated: “There is still time to register for Hockey Winnipeg’s AAA Conditioning Camp being held August 29 – September 3. Use attached link to sign up.” The link provided is now listed as ‘expired’, but with three days before the camp is set to get underway, one would imagine the possibility of getting involved in the action is still there. Area tryouts for Winnipeg AAA are set to begin on Tuesday, September 8.