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NOJHL to commence preseason with next stage of return to play

SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) announced Friday it will commence the next stage of its ‘Return to Play’ scenario with the beginning of a number of preseason games.

On-ice action will begin tonight on two fronts as the Soo Thunderbirds host the Blind River Beavers in a 7 p.m. start at John Rhodes Community Centre while the Espanola Express will entertain the French River Rapids at 7:30 p.m. at the Regional Recreation Complex.

Stage II of the NOJHL’s ‘Return to Play’ set-up features the league having worked closely in partnership with municipal, regional and provincial health organizations in attempting to guarantee the well-being of it’s players, officials and respective staff members.

Strict measures have been put in place, with stringent penalties, that will be fully enforced by both on-ice officials as well as the league’s executive and management board.

This includes a very limited number of spectators, or in some cases, no fans being allowed into buildings to view games.

As per current provincial regulations, no intentional body contact will be allowed and any occurrences will be strictly enforced and penalized.

A lengthy list of rules and regulations have been formulated by the league’s executive committee, in conjunction with its member clubs, as well as all governing bodies associated with the NOJHL.

“I’d like to commend all those involved in this entire process is assisting us as we draw closer to on-ice game action,” stated NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca.

“The health and safety of everyone associated with our league remains paramount and our No. 1 priority,” added Mazzuca. We trust our in-depth plan of action will offer vital guidance and direction as we work towards an eventual full and safe return to play strategy.”

Further information, including additional exhibition games, the number of teams that will compete during the 2020-21 season and the format of the NOJHL’s regular season schedule will be announced in the coming days.

The following is the current list of NOJHL exhibition games, which are scheduled to be available on a pay-per-view basis via HockeyTV.com.

Friday, Nov. 6
Blind River Beavers @ Soo Thunderbirds

7 p.m.
John Rhodes Community Centre

French River Rapids @ Espanola Express
7:30 p.m.
Regional Recreation Complex

Saturday, Nov. 7
Espanola Express @ French River Rapids

3 p.m.
Noelville Arena

Soo Thunderbirds @ Blind River Beavers

7 p.m.
Blind River Community Centre

Hearst Lumberjacks @ Cochrane Crunch

7 p.m.
Tim Horton Events Centre

Sunday, Nov. 8
Cochrane Crunch @ Hearst Lumberjacks
4 p.m.
Claude Larose Arena

Games/dates/times subject to change