After the league’s fall meeting was held on October 3rd, it was confirmed that the league would be expanding back to 10 teams, and that they would be starting the regular season on November 5th.

The Rosetown Redwings are a very welcome return to the league that you can expect more on later, but the resurgence of Rosetown’s team wasn’t close to the top point of order at the semi-recent meeting.

Similar to leagues around the province the SVHL was forced to worked around Sask Hockey’s updated rules, and decide what was the best way to move forward with the league this year. Trevor Drury with the Sask Valley Hockey League made sure to mention a discussion atmosphere was present when tabling safety options for the upcoming season.

“We will have a representative from each team on a COVID protocol committee. Their job will be just communicating each rinks, and municipalities COVID protocols so that all teams are in the know,” said Drury, who also shared the leagues stance on vaccine status, “We also passed the motion to make vaccines mandatory for everyone in the league.”

Current Sask Hockey policy states that if a league does not have a mandatory vaccine policy, all participants will have to wear a mask while playing. Ahead of the meeting it was mentioned by Drury that he had sent out a memo to the teams explaining this, and then at the meeting a motion came from the floor to put in mandatory vaccines that later resulted in a unanimous vote.

“Personally I’m happy because I officiate,” noted Drury, “I was not looking forward to wearing a mask on the ice while I was reffing,” he said laughingly.

When it comes to where things stand on the ice, the re-addition of Rosetown is setting up an 18 game regular season, with a home-and-home to take place between each team. The other nine teams in play last year will also return, while the remaining ones continue their absence.

“Beechy and Elrose are still on leave. They are extending their leave for another year so it will be a 10 team league.”

Drury expects all SVHL players will be excited to get back on the ice, whether or not their bodies are up to the task after a lengthy break.

“They’ll be excited to be back. Some of the rivalries we have in the league are built on mutual respect. We have a lot of good clubs in the league who just want to compete against each other.”

He expects the fire to be back no problem, and doubled down on the fact that some teams love to play each other mentioning Kyle and Eston as one of the leagues best match-ups.

“They draw well, and they have good games. Eston also had a very competitive game with Dinsmore last year. It was an 8-7 shootout and just a fantastic hockey game,” said Drury complimenting a young Dinsmore squad.

Another thing that was discussed headed into the season was any potential rule changes, and Drury did mention one that would change things up when it comes to building a roster.

“Last year we experimented with adding an extra import to the roster for league play. This year we decided against that so we are back to SHA rules.”

Not bringing in the extra players, plus having Rosetown re-join and seeing their players scramble back to town after loaning themselves out last season is something that could definitely make a bit of a difference according to Drury.

November 5th’s opening date features three games. Rosetown will be home to Kenaston in their first game back and Delisle is hosting Central Butte as both games start at 8 pm, and Eston will travel down to Lucky Lake for an 8:30 puck-drop to close out the first night’s action.