The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has been approved to start play and that means the Yorkton Terriers will be hitting the ice for exhibition games the next two weekends.
Terrier president Corvyn Neufeld explained the team has a pair of home-and-home match-ups now scheduled against Melville as a tune-up for a still hoped for regular season.
The Terriers will be in Melville Friday, and again Friday, Oct. 30.
The teams meet in Yorkton this Saturday, and again Halloween Night.
There are however, restrictions associated with the game for fans.
In a release Saturday the SJHL stated a maximum attendance of 150 fans will be in place for the exhibition games.
Fans will also be required to wear masks while in the arena, said Neufeld.
“They can take them off while in their seats, but if they get up to move around they must wear them,” he said.
Fans are encouraged to buy their exhibition tickets online which will ensure a record for contact tracing, said Neufeld, adding those buying at the Terrier office will need to sign in, and leave a contact telephone number.
As it stands, it is unclear whether there will be concession sales for the exhibition games, said Neufeld, adding he expects the Curling Rink Lounge to be open with a reduced capacity, and while the main concession may not open, there may be limited sales inside the arena.
Neufeld admitted the exhibition games are “kind of a test” of systems for teams, and how well those systems work will factor into a decision expected Nov. 4, indicating “if we will be able to have more fans” for a regular season.
Obviously 150 fans would not cover costs over a regular season, added Neufeld.
“I think every team in the league is pushing hard for the number to be higher,” he said, adding in the case of the Terriers 50 per cent capacity at the Westland Arena would be ideal, although even 500-600-700 fans would be workable.
What reports Monday of 66 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily number in weeks, might mean to the process is unknown.
“That’s not encouraging,” said Neufeld, who added in his position he must remain optimistic for a regular season.
“It’s literally day-by-day,” he said of plans for the season.
As it stands the Terrier players have been staying in the city since training camp at their own expense waiting to get to play games, said Neufeld.
“They’re excited,” he said of the announced exhibition games.
If a regular season does go ahead the league will be split into north and south, with teams only playing within their divisions, said Neufeld. The south would encompass Yorkton, Melville, Estevan, Weyburn, Notre Dame and Humboldt with teams playing home-and-home weekend sets, with an expected 46 game schedule.