Less is better than nothing.
In this case, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association’s Great North Under 18 AAA League has been approved for a modified version of play by public health officials representing the various districts, Hockey News North has confirmed.
To be sure, it is a return to play — albeit in cohort form relative to the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down amateur hockey across Canada since March of this year.
Teams of the Great North will be in cohort.
For example, the Soo Jr. Greyhounds will play against the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves, the Timmins Majors will be in tandem with the Kapuskasing Flyers and the New Liskeard Cubs will be in cohort with the North Bay Trappers.
All public health conditions will be in place when teams in the respective cohort groups play host to one another.
Rules of the modified play will officially be made available ahead of the start of the 2020-2021 season, which is slated to begin in early December following a player evaluation period for all teams that will start on November 15.
Hard working head coach Jamie Henderson, who led the Jr. Greyhounds to a first place finish during the 2019-2020 Great North regular season with a record of 28-7-3 before play was halted at playoff time, welcomed the return to play confirmation.
“2020 has been such a challenge for so many and during these times it is great for our young athletes to have the opportunity for some sort of normalcy, albeit not what they are used to,” Henderson began.
“The game will look a little different and certainly safety precautions are necessary but ultimately our goal as a program will not change and that is to help these players get better every day and showcase themselves for the next level,” Henderson added.
Meanwhile, Brandon Perry, the 31-year old head coach of the Timmins Majors who will begin his fourth season as their bench boss, noted that “this is a good thing … we are looking forward to it as we get all of our ducks in a row here in Timmins,” he told Hockey News North.
Perry, who was a star forward in Timmins minor hockey circles as a youngster before going on to play at the junior A and university levels in Kingston, led his hometown Majors to a 16-18-4 record in 2019-2020.
It was the Majors best record since way back during the 2012-2013 Great North season.