Return to the Ice Update from SWZ

February 10, 2021

To all SWZ players, families, and volunteers:

As a result of the Government of Alberta announcement on Saturday, February 6, 2021, minor hockey teams will be returning to the ice this week. At this point restrictions are in place that will require players to skate in a social distancing environment. Our hope is that as the province’s COVID-19 numbers drop, restrictions will be further eased, and may even be able to return to some kind of a competitive environment such as full team practices, team scrimmages, small area games, or even exhibition games within our zone.

Things keep changing quickly, but here are some details as we currently know:
• The City of Edmonton is expected to be opening up arenas shortly and we could have teams on the ice as early as Thursday, February 11.
• There can be two groups of 10 participants on each half of the ice. Participants include players and coaches.
• Participants cannot interchange between groups in any ice session.
• A 3-meter distance must be maintained on indoor ice surfaces (2-meters outdoors).
The larger group allowance let us to keep our teams together moving forward.

We appreciate that this is not yet hockey as we knew it from previous years, but we feel any return to the ice is important for our kids’ skill development as well as their physical and mental well-being.

Option to opt out of the remainder of the season:

We have received limited feedback from some families about their reluctance to continue participating with the season. To respect those opinions, and to be consistent with our fellow operating areas (Confed & SWAT), we will be providing a one-time opportunity for families to opt out of the remainder of the season. Conditions of opting out are as follows:
• You must notify SWZ by midnight on Thursday, February 11, 2021 by completing the form here.
• Registrations will be cancelled with no provision to return for the season.
• Any refunds will be determined at some point in the future, once SWZ has been able to determine our actual costs to this point in the season. We are in negotiation with a number of organizations to minimize the season cost, and it will take some time to conclude this effort.
More information about the season:

We are excited to give our kids the opportunity to return to the ice. Here is some additional information we can provide at this time as well as responses to some questions we have already received:
1. Hockey Alberta’s Return to Play guidance can be read here
2. Hockey Edmonton’s Return to play guidance can be read here
3. SWZ’s COVID-19 guidance can be read here. This information will be updated shortly upon receipt of clarification on some items from Hockey Edmonton. Please check back regularly.
4. Will we be playing games in Return to Play? What about if we move to Step 2?
At this point only socially distanced practice/skills are allowed. At this point the Government has been clear they will not look to change restrictions until three weeks today. At that point if restrictions are eased it may include larger cohorts, exhibition games, and/or other competition activities being allowed.
5. If we stay in, how long will the season go?
Hockey Edmonton has already determined that regardless of what happens, the season will conclude April 30th, 2021.
6. Will spectators be allowed?
The City of Edmonton facilities group is meeting on Wednesday. We expect to receive updated facility guidelines at that time, including whether spectators will be allowed, and how many.
7. Why can’t you tell me what the refund amount is?
A large portion of registration fees are paid to Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta and Hockey Edmonton. At this time we do not know what reduction in fees we will receive from those organizations. There is also a number of fixed costs we incur as an organization that need to be accounted for.

8. Is there no refund if we stay in the program?
The SWZ Board is committed to being fair to all our families. Upon completion of the season we will again review our affairs and see if it is appropriate to offer a refund or credit at that time.

9. What about sign-up development programs and power skating?
At this point we do not know if we will receive ice to continue those programs. Our expectation is that we will have in update on that in the coming week.

10. Can teams practice outdoors?
Yes, teams will be able to practice outdoors, however the same restrictions apply. The only difference is a requirement to socially distance at 2M as opposed to 3M indoors.

11. What about the Recreational Hockey Program?
Being that the recreational program was designed for game play and not skill development, and being that we are currently not allowed to play games, the league has made the decision to terminate the recreational program for the current year. We will be contacting these families once refund amounts can be determined.
To our Comets families you maybe a bit confused as you are receiving communications from either SWAT or Confed, as well as SWZ. We will endeavour to do better on this next year. Should you have communicated your desire to any of the associations, we will be coordinating around your request.

We continue to appreciate the overwhelming support and patience from everyone. We look forward to seeing our families and players back at the rink with their friends soon.

Darren Buma
SWZ President