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Hockey Alberta is ready for September

In just a few weeks the 2021-22 hockey season will be underway. Players across the province will be on the ice for practices, tryouts, evaluations, games and tournaments. They will be joined by coaches, officials, safety staff, and other volunteers whose hard work ensure that opportunities to play hockey exist across Alberta.

From the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Hockey Alberta established COVID-related plans for our sport based on the guidance and requirements of the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. As Hockey Alberta prepares for the 2021-22 season, our planning continues to be based on current direction from those bodies. That also means we will adapt to any new directions that may be provided if circumstances change in Alberta.

Currently, the Government of Alberta has no Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) orders that place any restrictions on sport programming. Therefore, Hockey Alberta is preparing for a 2021-22 hockey season with few to no COVID-related restrictions.

At this time, there are no limits on the number of participants on the ice, use of dressing rooms, or access for spectators (unless other requirements are in place through the municipality or facility). Tournaments can be hosted, and Hockey Alberta is planning for the return of provincial championships in March after a two-year hiatus.

In preparation for the 2021-22 season, there is a lot to be done. Here are a few reminders:

  • Member Partnership Presentation – On August 25, a Zoom presentation is being hosted to outline partnership opportunities for Hockey Alberta Members.
  • Indigenous Hockey Summit – Hockey Alberta’s inaugural Indigenous Hockey Summit will be held August 27-28 via Zoom.
  • Player Registration – All member organizations are currently open and seeking players (MHAs, Recreational Hockey organizations, Para Hockey organizations, Accredited Schools, Junior and Senior Teams).
  • Coach Certification – Clinics are being scheduled, and registration occurs, through the HCR 3.0 platform.
  • Officials Certification – Clinics are being scheduled, and registration occurs, through the HCR 3.0 platform.
  • Tournament Sanctioning – Requests for tournament sanctions are now being accepted through the Centre Ice Portal. Sanctioned tournaments are listed on the Hockey Alberta website.

Hockey Alberta is excited to be planning for the 2021-22 season. But we also want to remind everyone of the ongoing need to be safe and vigilant. Throughout the past 18 months, everyone involved with our sport has focused on the health and safety of our participants. The health and safety of our participants remains paramount.

Hockey Alberta recommends the continuation of the hygiene and sanitization processes that became second nature to us last season. Hockey Alberta is not mandating vaccinations as a requirement to play hockey. However, the Government of Alberta and the Chief Medical Officer of Health have stated the importance of all eligible Albertans getting fully vaccinated as the most effective way in protecting yourself and others.

Finally, we ask everyone to remember that current plans could change at any moment (as we learned last year and even last week with the Government announcement on August 13), based on new decisions or requirements implemented by the Government of Alberta. As changes occur, and as hockey activities are impacted, Hockey Alberta will continue to work with the hockey community and our government partners to adjust and to ensure the safety of our participants is foremost as our sport returns for the 2021-22 season and beyond.

Hockey Alberta is ready and working with our Members and stakeholders, and we will provide regular updates and reminders, as we prepare for the 2021-22 season.


Challenges, opportunities and potential solutions

RED DEER – Indigenous youth face many challenges when it comes to participating in hockey in Alberta.

And while the challenges are significant, the opportunities and potential solutions were an important focus during Friday night’s keynote discussion to open Hockey Alberta’s Indigenous Hockey Summit.

The virtual event opened with a Zoom roundtable featuring Theoren Fleury, Wacey Rabbit, Marvin Yellowhorn, and Jordan Courtepatte. The discussion was moderated by Travis Plaited Hair of the Blood Tribe.

Fleury is well known for his career with the Calgary Flames, and as a victor over trauma and abuse. Rabbit played on the 2003 Team Alberta squad that won gold at the Canada Winter Games, enjoyed a successful junior hockey career, and played professionally around the world, most recently in the East Coast Hockey League. Courtepatte’s career included junior hockey in the BCHL, and a professional stint in the Central Hockey League in Texas. And Yellowhorn has been involved in hockey most of his life as a parent (he is Rabbit’s father), coach, and volunteer.


As the panelists reflected on their careers and lives in hockey, they identified three areas where the hockey community can focus to help increase the number of Indigenous participants and improve their experience in the sport.

One area is cost. Rabbit reflected on how much the cost of a hockey stick or a pair of skates has increased since he played as a child, and said he believes “a lot of natural athletes are missing out because of the pricing.”

Courtepatte, who helped found the Enoch Cree Minor Hockey Association near Edmonton, said the sport is simply getting too expensive.

“The average family can’t afford to pay for one kid… There needs to be additional resources in place to offset costs,” said Courtepatte, adding that it’s also important to make sure parents are educated to know where to apply for assistance.

The second area that must be addressed is racism.

Courtepatte said that while steps have been taken to address racism, it continues, and it’s not acceptable.

“It’s a lonely place when it feels like no one wants you,” Courtepatte said.

Rabbit said he has experienced racism while playing hockey.

“It’s in the world right now, it’s happening everywhere,” Rabbit said. “It’s happened to everyone on this panel. It is important for minor hockey associations to acknowledge (when racism occurs) and do something about it.”

The third area involves understanding the challenges that Indigenous youth are facing in their personal lives. Fleury talked about a need for “trauma-informed education” within schools and the sporting community.

“We have no idea what these kids are experiencing before they get to the rink,” Fleury said. “A lot of their behaviour is based on what they’ve experienced at home. We have to be aware that when a kid is acting out it’s because of their trauma experience, not because he’s a bad kid. Often, the only place he gets peace and joy is playing hockey, so we’ve got to make it the best experience we can.”

The panelists agreed that a key part of the solution involves more Indigenous people being involved at all levels of the sport including board members, coaches, managers, and officials.

“When you come to the rink and see a person who looks like you, that’s important,” said Rabbit. He also reminded everyone that it’s important to celebrate the success stories, highlighting Brayden Arcand, an official who is now working in the Western Hockey League.

The panelists agreed that the benefits to addressing these challenges are immense. Positive hockey experiences will help Indigenous youth learn to deal better with adversity, develop important life skills, and have family and community growth opportunities. And, as Fleury suggested, he believes the next Wayne Gretzky is out there, if given the chance to play hockey.

Hockey Alberta, in partnership with the Indigenous Sport Council of Alberta, is hosting the Indigenous Hockey Summit to gather hockey leaders from around the province to continue the growth of the game in Indigenous hockey communities and allow for networking and sharing best practices.

The Summit continues Saturday with separate day-long sessions for Minor Hockey Administrators, Coaches and Officials.