COCHRANE— The Cochrane Generals have committed to a 24-game season this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Heritage Junior Hockey League held a meeting on Monday (Aug. 31) to discuss the future of the season.
“There is lots still up in the air as far as the season goes,” said Paddy Maclure, assistant general manager of the Cochrane Generals. “We’ve got our camp in the first week of October, and we’ve agreed to have some exhibition games in kind of a pod.”
Maclure said that they were hoping to have the exhibition games against Okotoks for the month of October before going into the regular season.
Last season, the Cochrane Generals made it to the division finals in the playoffs against the Okotoks Bisons, when its season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12.
For the season itself, the Heritage Junior Hockey League has decided to split the league into three divisions.
“There’s a south division. However, central division and a north division,” he said. “It will be us, Airdrie, Mountain View and Three Hills in the one division.”
Paddy said that he thinks two of the teams in each division will play each other for a week before taking a two-week break to ensure everyone is healthy before playing another team from the same division. However, Paddy acknowledged that the structure of the season is still flexible and could change.
“I don’t think we’ll be playing anybody from the south and I don’t think we’ll be playing anybody from the north, but we’ll see what happens.”
Regardless of that, he said, fans should still look forward to a full season of competitive hockey.
“The whole thing was just to get through this exhibition thing and see how it goes,” he said. “There is definitely going to be a 24-game season regardless of what happens. If it happens in November, if it happens December 1 we can still finish the 24-game season.”
Current provincial guidelines stipulate that there can be 100 spectators at indoor events in the province, as long as social distancing measures are maintained.
Maclure said the players and coaches are all looking forward to getting back on the ice.
“We’re quite elated that we can at least have some games going on,” Maclure said. “I know all of the players are itching to play and itching to get at things.”
Head Coach and General Manager of the Cochrane Generals, Kurtis Jones said he also expects the season to start up before the end of the year.
“I think we’ll be playing by December 1,” said Jones. “We have to wait on what the league’s going to vote on, how many teams are in, how many teams are out, we’re still trying to figure that all out.”