SOUTH DUNDAS – Last Saturday (September 11) marked the start of ice times at the Morrisburg Arena, and a return to some normalcy for local minor hockey players.
Joyce Latulippe, president of the South Dundas Minor Hockey Association explained that throughout September, players at all ages will be doing conditioning training, skill development and drills, along with intra-squad scrimmages as they get back to the ice.
Minor hockey teams will begin tryouts on October 1st and continue until around Thanksgiving. After that, the 24-game regular season is set to begin November 1st.
Unlike the 2020-21 season, travel is returning, adding to the sense of normalcy in the hockey arena.
The SDMHA is part of Hockey Eastern Ontario’s District 1 or Upper St. Lawrence district. Travel is allowed within District 1, which includes Smiths Falls, Leeds, Kemptville, Brockville, South Grenville, North Dundas and South Dundas.
Rep-level hockey will also return, involving Districts Two (Lower St. Lawrence) and Four (Perth). South Dundas will again partner with North Dundas Minor Hockey for rep-level teams.
The SDMHA will host the combined U-18 team, North Dundas will host the U-15 and U-11 teams. At publication time, there are no U-13 teams at either club.
Latulippe said that registration for the hockey program is close to pre-COVID-19 levels, with nearly 190 registered.
“We hope to surpass 200, which was our pre-COVID registration number,” she said. “Registration is still open for interested players.”
Getting back to the ice, Latulippe said she is thrilled that the club can offer a ‘return-to-normal’ season.
“Our members were quite supportive last year,” she said. “That support, and adherence to public health rules obviously made those that took the year off feel safe enough to return.”
Public health restrictions, including masking when not on the ice and for spectators, along with physical distancing and other measures, remain in place for the 2021-22 season.
“I hope it is a comfort that school has begun and families can get back into routine before the pressure of tryouts and a hockey season,” Latulippe said. “We all look forward to getting our players back on the ice.”
The hockey season will start November 1 and continue to February 20 except the U-9 division (novice) which will continue regular season play until March 27.
Playoffs for U-11 and older will start February 26 and wrap up by March 25 at the latest.
The league will have two breaks scheduled. The Christmas Break will run from December 23 to January 2, 2022. An exam break is scheduled for January 24-31, 2022.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader