The 2020-21 season rolls on this week with the start of a pair of training camps on the ice in Calgary – the BFL National Women’s Team Training Camp, presented by Sobeys, and Canada’s National Para Hockey Team Training Camp, presented by Canadian Tire.
It is the first opportunity for both programs to have their players together; thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, players have been skating in smaller groups in hub cities across the country dating back to last spring.
But with the pandemic still dominating everyday life from coast to coast to coast, the first priority of the camps is the health and safety of the players, staff and the community.
How exactly is this being done? Let’s take a look at a few questions that hockey fans might have.
Are both camps being held in a bubble environment?
Yes. The 14 players attending Canada’s National Para Hockey Team Training Camp, presented by Canadian Tire, are in one group, while there are separate Red and White groups for the BFL National Women’s Team Training Camp, presented by Sobeys. The only cross-over for women’s camp will be the three Red-White intrasquad games. There is no access for fans or media during camps, and a number of national team staff are working remotely to reduce the number of people inside the bubbles.
What COVID-19 protocols are in place for camps?
Hockey Canada has been working closely with Alberta Health Services to ensure all provincial guidelines are adhered to and that all protocols provide the utmost safety to participants and the general public. In an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19, camp protocols go above and beyond what is required based on current provincial guidelines. Protocols and key preventative measures are in place for all Hockey Canada staff and athletes.
What are ‘key preventative measures’?
These include what have become the basics of COVID-19 prevention – social distancing, avoiding touching the face, frequent handwashing, no large gatherings, no spitting or handshakes, etc. Players received their own marked water bottles and towels, which are washed after each practice and game.
Were players asked to quarantine before coming to camp?
All 49 players attending both camps were asked to quarantine after getting their pre-camp test done, and all players were quarantined for three days upon arrival in Calgary. Two negative tests are required to begin small group practices (see below), and three negative tests are required to begin full-team practices.
How often are players and staff being tested?
Six tests for para camp attendees, and seven tests for women’s camp attendees. This includes a test prior to departure to ensure players and staff are safe to travel home.
What happens in the case of a positive test?
If someone falls ill or returns a positive test, they will immediately go into isolation and in-depth processes that have been developed will help guide the medical and management teams to take swift and decisive actions based on the scenario.
When are masks worn?
Players are required to wear protective masks while indoors and in public spaces, except while eating and during physical activity, including all on-ice sessions. Coaches and team staff must wear masks at all times, except while eating.
What do practices look like for Canada’s National Women’s Team?
For the first two days of practices (Jan. 19-20), players skated in groups of three, with two skates daily lasting 30 minutes each. Full-team practices will begin on Jan. 21, with teams remaining in their Red and White cohorts.
What do practices look like for Canada’s National Para Hockey Team?
For the first two days of practices (Jan. 18-19), players skated in groups of three, with on-ice testing on Jan. 18 and a pair of 45-minute practices on Jan. 19. Full-team practices begin today, Jan. 20.
Will there be Red-White games during camp?
There will be three Red-White games during the BFL National Women’s Team Training Camp, presented by Sobeys – Jan. 24, Jan. 27 and Jan. 29. These will be the only times players from the two cohorts will share the ice. There will be two Red-White games during Canada’s National Para Hockey Team Training Camp, presented by Canadian Tire – Jan. 22-23. There will also be a 3-on-3 tournament on Jan. 25.