NOJHL to return to play!

Junior ‘A’ hockey is soon to return to northeastern Ontario.

Having received the go ahead from the various public health officials, the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League is set to begin the 2020-2021 regular season in mid November.

With safety precautions and guidelines in place, first pucks are poised to drop on the 2020-2021 campaign, including a pair of home and home exhibition games between the Soo Thunderbirds and Blind River Beavers this weekend.

The NOJHL, along with amateur hockey across most of Canada, has been in a shutdown of games since the middle of March of this year relative to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be sure, the NOJHL will certainly sport a drastically different look when play resumes in November.

Following is an excerpt of NOJHL Covid-19 playing rules as obtained by Hockey News North.

All NOJHL team officials, volunteers and support staff agree they will comply with all laws of Ontario, the municipality and regional public health authority where the program is operating.

All Hockey Canada safety protocols, the Ontario Hockey Federation return to hockey framework to which the NOJHL has adopted and adheres to and NOJHL return to play policies and procedures are in effect.

  1. Absolutely no deliberate body checking or body contact permitted. Any deliberate body check or body contact will result in a major penalty and game misconduct at the discretion of the referee.
  2. When a scrum or gathering (two or more participants) occurs with prolonged contact officials will not separate the players, they will communicate with them to disengage. Should the scrum continue, play will be stopped.
  3. All major penalties, gross misconduct penalties and match penalties will be applied in accordance with current Hockey Canada playing rules.
  4. If intentional physical contact occurs, the game official will provide one warning to both teams on account of the first minor penalty involving intentional physical contact — and any subsequent minor penalty from this list will result in immediate removal from competition. An individual player does not require an individual warning prior to removal, the warning will be directed at the head coach. It is the responsibility of the head coach to manage their team and relay the warning. Minor penalties have been modified to align with the elimination of intentional physical contact.
  5. Any player involved with post-whistle scrums or altercations will result in an automatic 10-minute misconduct for the first offence. Second accumulated infraction will result in a two game suspension, third accumulated infraction in the season will result in a five game suspension and fourth accumulation will result in an indefinite suspension pending a hearing with the league. As with all accumulating infractions, the NOJHL will monitor these offences.
  6. Face offs: Players must remain on their side of the hash marks at all times, jostling for position is not permitted. The player who initiates the breach of the hash mark will result in that team’s centre being removed from the face off. A second infraction on the same face off will result in a delay of game penalty. Centres must abide by rules for scrums, positioning for ice and puck battles and obey the direction of the on-ice official with all face offs. Intentional contact rules will apply to any intentional contact during the course of a face off.
  7. Any spitting by any participant, players and coaches, is strictly prohibited and will result in an automatic match penalty. Many rinks also have signs that discourage spitting, and this will continue to be a significant point of emphasis.
  8. If an attacking skater intentionally skates through or establishes position in the goal crease, play will be stopped, and the ensuing face off will take place at the nearest face off spot in the neutral zone.
  9. Players must leave pucks to the officials to retrieve at a stoppage of play.
  10. No goal celebrations, elbow bumps or stick taps are permitted.
  11. There will continue to be three 20 minute stop time periods.
  12. All players must wear a “bubble” face mask and facial covering, the Bauer face shield or a mask such as the Under Armour/CCM athletic masks.
  13. All infractions to on-ice playing rules within the OHF five on five modified games that require a penalty shot with be remain as a timed penalty being served and the player is removed from the ice. Current playing rules that are violated that involve any contact with result in the application of deliberate contact and the player will receive a major penalty and a game ejection.
Randy Russon
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Randy Russon

Hockey News North strives to serve as an insightful look into amateur hockey at the minor, junior and college levels. Seasoned Sault Ste. Marie sportswriter Randy Russon is a featured columnist for Hockey News North. Randy Russon’s media career began in October, 1975 at CKCY Radio in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. He joined Sault This Week in February, 1982 and has been its primary sportswriter ever since. Besides writing for Sault This Week and Hockey News North, Russon hosts the weekly Hockey North Show on ESPN 1400 Radio.

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