Prior to opening weekend of the KIJHL, Commissioner Jeff Dubois released a statement regarding the ongoing issues the league is facing as it begins play during COVID-19.
The KIJHL began the season following COVID-19 cases involving two teams in the East Kootenay.
On October 30th, the KIJHL announced that a member of the Kimberley Dynamiters had tested positive for COVID-19.
On November 6th, the KIJHL announced that a member of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats had come into close contact with an individual outside their team cohort who had tested positive for COVID-19, and their team member was directed by Interior Health to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of last contact.
“The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League is excited to begin our 2020/21 regular season, but we are doing so mindful of the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19,” Dubois said in the statement on the KIJHL website.
“Prior to any of our team’s stepping on the ice this fall, we drafted an extensive Return to Play policy manual that incorporates guidelines and best practices outlined by the B.C. Provincial Health Office, Viasport and Hockey Canada. I’m very pleased with the proactive approach that our teams, staff members and athletes have taken to ensuring that everyone involved with the KIJHL stays safe and healthy.
"In the two instances where we have had to deal with a positive test or potential exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual, our teams have followed all directions provided by Interior Health and taken additional measures to ensure the well-being of members of their team and their opponents.
"We will continue to monitor the situation closely, follow the guidance of the Province and Interior Health, and act with the health of all KIJHL members, and their communities, as our foremost priority as we begin regular season play this weekend and in the future.”
All members of the Dynamiters team cohort have now been cleared to return to hockey activities, and the team will play its regular season opener on Friday, November 13th against the Fernie Ghostriders as scheduled.
In Creston, as of November 12th, no members of the Thunder Cats team cohort have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms and the team will play its regular season opener on Friday, November 13th against the Columbia Valley Rockies as scheduled.