In preparing for the June 1 reopening, Bell MTS Iceplex made a commitment to ensure the health and safety of our guests and staff. Part of that commitment includes frequent review of our Return to Play Protocols to ensure not only the health and safety of individuals at the Iceplex but also to provide the best hockey experience possible under the province’s public health orders. As we approach fall and with Hockey Manitoba’s Phase Two Return to Play being approved by the Province, additional updates to the Iceplex Return to Play Protocol have been made.
Starting August 24 all individuals entering Bell MTS Iceplex who are not participants in hockey programming will be required to wear a mask at all times. Participants are required to wear a mask while entering the facility until they reach the dressing room and again upon leaving the dressing room to exit the facility. Coaches and team officials are not required to wear masks while on the ice or behind the bench, however it is strongly recommended. Off-ice coaches and team officials (managers, volunteers) must wear a mask while in the facility at all times. Individuals under the age of ten do not have to wear a mask, however, it is strongly recommended. Masks are not required to be worn in The Pressbox Restaurant & Sports Bar, although they must be worn to and from the restaurant.
Focus Fitness members must wear a mask in all areas of Bell MTS Iceplex until they reach the changeroom and again upon leaving the changeroom.
Under phase two of the public health order, games and scrimmages are allowed requiring few changes to the game of hockey itself. The public health order requires that facilities implement measures to ensure members of the public at the facility are reasonably able to maintain a separation of at least two metres from other members of the public at the facility, excluding participants while they are actively engaged in a sporting activity.
As per Hockey Manitoba’s approved Return to Play document, minor hockey games are not allowed at this time. Any group associated with Hockey Manitoba is limited to scrimmages amongst their rostered players.
The health and safety of our employees and guests is our number one priority. All employees and guests are required to complete a self-screening tool before proceeding to work or to their activity.
Employees and guests will be advised to practice physical distancing by standing at least six feet away from other people throughout the facility or an extended stick length away while on the ice, as much as possible. Distancing markers will be located throughout the facility in areas where individuals are in lineups or skate-tying locations. Enhanced traffic flow measures have been implemented to accommodate one-way traffic in the lobby. Visitors are asked to promptly enter and exit through and avoid congregating in the lobby. Spectators are asked to enter the arenas immediately upon checking in and should leave the lobby as soon as possible when exiting.
Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed at key guest entrances and high-contact areas including the lobby, check-in desk, and other high traffic areas.
Bell MTS Iceplex has been made aware that an adult program participant from the Winnipeg region who was in the facility has tested positive for COVID-19. Program participants who were in Bell MTS Iceplex during the same timeframe as this participant have been notified by the ice user. Bell MTS Iceplex is committed to ensuring a safe experience for everyone in our facility. In following all provincial guidelines we continue to maintain enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures and operate at reduced capacity to accommodate physical distancing. We also strongly encourage all participants who use our facility to follow COVID-19 guidelines as directed by the province.
David Sattler, CPA, CGA General Manager Bell MTS Iceplex
Bell MTS Iceplex prides itself on its team atmosphere among employees, and sometimes they don’t have to look far to find strong team players to join their staff. Two members of the Iceplex’s Building Operations team, Eric Rhoden and Cameron Neubuhr, have grown up at the Iceplex as both are graduates of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA), which operates out of the facility.
Both Rhoden and Neubuhr graduated from the WJHA program in 2019 and started working at the Iceplex shortly after, with Rhoden working in ice maintenance as a Zamboni operator and Neubuhr working in general maintenance and covering everything from helping with ice maintenance to cleaning dressing rooms.
For the Iceplex, it’s meaningful to see students like Rhoden and Neubuhr that have utilized their facility as they’ve grown up transition into positions where they are now serving the next generation of students who get to enjoy all that the Iceplex has to offer.
“A lot of it relates to the skills that they learned through the academy,” said David Sattler, General Manager of the Iceplex. “So they understand what needs to be done in a team aspect. They learned those skills from the instructors and the True North Youth Foundation group, and they’re great ambassadors of those skills. They prove them day in and day out.”
Learn more about the True North Youth Foundation and the WJHA at TNYF.ca.
The Jets Hockey Development (JHD) team is branching out this August. Not to other rinks, as they’ve done in recent years, but to another sport. For the first time ever, they’ll be offering a ringette camp at Bell MTS Iceplex for girls in the U10 through U16 age categories from Aug. 10-14 and Aug. 17-21.
It won’t be JHD’s usual cast of Dave Cameron, Dean Court, Larry Bumstead or Devin Himpe running the drills for this camp for obvious reasons, as ringette is a very different sport from hockey. To meet JHD’s high standards of quality on-ice programming, ringette coaches are needed to coach a ringette camp.
To run the camp, JHD is bringing in Winnipegger Talia Gallant, who has won gold at the National Ringette Championships and at the Canada Winter Games, and captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Ringette Junior Championships. With Gallant’s pedigree, girls attending the camp can be assured they will be in good hands.
“We want this camp to really boost players’ confidence on the ice,” said Gallant. “Similar to JHD’s hockey programming, the focus will be on individual player skills. With a wide range of ages being involved at the camp, that will allow everyone to get the most out of the week and develop at their pace.”
The JHD team has been receiving an increasing number of requests for ringette programming, particularly over the last year. For Dave Cameron, Head On-Ice Instructor with JHD, it was a natural fit to add ringette programming to their offerings.
“We had a growing demand for power skating for ringette players this winter,” said Cameron, who is excited that JHD can help more players on the ice through this programming. “These camps were the next step to offer a full program for ringette power skating.”
The camp will feature two on-ice sessions and two off-ice training sessions in the Focus Fitness gym per day. The camp will also prepare girls for more than just their upcoming ringette season, as a boardroom session each day will bring in guest speakers to present on topics such as nutrition and career opportunities for females in sports.
“Ringette has had such a positive impact on my life, and I’m excited to share that with the next generation of girls,” said Gallant. “It’s more than a sport. You learn skills you can apply outside of ringette, you get to experience an active lifestyle, and you get to create friendships that will last a lifetime.”
The camp itself will have teamwork on display, as it is the result of collaboration from various departments of the True North Sports + Entertainment family. Gallant is no stranger to the True North-operated Iceplex, as she currently serves as a Ticket Sales Representative with the Manitoba Moose. The rest of the Moose ticket sales team is involved in the camp as well with everything from prep work and promoting registration to off-ice tasks during the camps. With the remainder of the 2019-20 AHL season cancelled and no clear direction on when things will pick up again at this point, the ringette camp gave the ticket sales team a creative way of utilizing their skills.
Cameron and the JHD team are both excited to have Gallant on the ice and to have the experience of the Moose ticket sales team powering the camp, but they’re even more eager to see how the experience impacts the players.
“Once we heard about Talia’s experience and that she was available, it was a great fit to have her come in and lead a camp to offer players this experience,” said Cameron. “My hope for the camp is that players will come and have a great experience learning from a great ringette player and working to continue to develop.”
Cameron is sure that these camps will only further drive interest in ringette programming at the Iceplex, and as the JHD team plans ways of growing their overall programming, they are already preparing more opportunities for ringette players at the facility.
“Our goal is to help as many players as we can and help them enjoy playing,” said Cameron. “As they build confidence in their game, whether hockey or ringette, they will continue to develop the passion to play.”
Gallant couldn’t agree more.
“I think this will continue to grow. A lot of ringette teams don’t often play at the Iceplex; typically it’s out of community rinks. This is really exciting and a great start to promoting ringette at the Iceplex.”
For now though, she’s just excited to get out on the ice and be a part of giving girls the chance to develop in the game they love.
The distance between minor hockey and the pros is usually expansive, but this spring when hockey was cancelled, we were all the same.
Women, men, girls, and boys from all over the world in every league imaginable were suddenly in the same boat: No hockey.
It was the same for everyone and I think that helped soften the blow a little. I know it did for my son who had his season cancelled the night before provincials. To him, it wasn’t fair, but when he found out that no one anywhere in the world was getting to play and the whole global hockey family were in it together, I think he felt compassion for others who were missing out on their goals and dreams for the year and he felt the unity of being a part of something bigger than just his team.
“No one gets to play?” he asked.
“No one,” I said.
“Even the Jets?”
“Even the Jets.”
The good news is we know hockey will start again. We don’t know when yet, but it will. So, until then, what do we do?
Well, since we’re all in the same boat, I’ll let you know what the Jets are doing. It’s simple, too: They are putting in work so when hockey comes back, they’ll be ready. You can do the same. In fact, here is how you can spend your summer training like a Jet.
Everyone always assumes it’s the pure talent that separates the pros from other players, but I can tell you after working with pro hockey players in our city for more than 10 years, its actually the things that require no talent that make the difference: eat right, sleep right, train right. That’s not talent. That’s just hard work.
Today’s professional hockey players devote more time to strength and conditioning than ever before. The result, of course, is that players have never been bigger, stronger, and faster. The Jets players know this well. Just watch a Jets game for a couple of minutes and you’ll see the speed, power, explosiveness, and relentless hustle that has become the physical trademark of the team.
So, do you want to train like Mark Scheifele or Josh Morrissey? Here are three ways to improve your strength and conditioning this summer:
Get stronger. Strength is the engine that makes all other athletic attributes go. Stuck at home this summer with no gym because of the quarantine? That’s ok, don’t get hung up on thinking strength is just about lifting heavy weights. The No. 1 tool we have in any sport is our own body. The best athletes move their body efficiently. Moving our body is our relative strength and it can be developed through body weight exercises that do not require any equipment. Focus on push up, pull up, plank, squat, and lunge variations. Get in plenty of unilateral lower body work, meaning one leg at a time, like single leg squat and lunge variations.
Get faster. If you want to be fast you must practice moving fast. The best way to get faster is to sprint and the easiest way to make your sprints effective is to race. Use different lengths from short sprints, 10-15 metres, to longer sprints, 100 metres and then, everything in between.
Work longer, recover faster. To be relentless like a Jet you must be able to work at a high level for an extended period of time and then recover fast so you can go out and do it again. Use different exercises such as running, biking, rowing and swimming. Start by using a 1:2 work/rest ratio meaning working as hard as you can for 30 seconds, rest for a minute and go again. As you progress push the length of work time up by five seconds and your rest time down five seconds until eventually we have flipped where we started and are now at a 2:1 work/rest ratio, meaning we are working for a minute and recovering in 30 seconds.
The Jets understand that the foods they eat fuel their performance on and off the ice. Here are three nutrition tips to follow this summer:
Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated has a negative effect on both our mental and physical performance. Despite fancy advertising for all the sports drinks, water is always your best choice. Aim for two-to-three litres per day plus 250 ml for every 15 minutes of intense exercise.
Eat whole foods. If you’ve ever been inside the Jets or Moose players’ lounge, you would not have found any processed or fast foods. Everything is healthy and whole foods, meaning it comes from natural sources.
Eat a variety of healthy foods. Likewise, in the players’ lounge you will also find foods from all the food groups and all the macro nutrient categories. Lots of fruits and vegetables, a variety of meats and nuts, dairy options such as milk and yogurt, healthy carbohydrate choices like oatmeal, rice, potatoes, and pastas. It is important to take in a wide variety of foods. Always be cautious of any diets that try to eliminate whole food groups or macro nutrients groups. You are an athlete and it is your business to perform at your best. These diets are not for you.
All the training we do is only as effective as our recovery. While part of our recovery comes from our nutrition the other extremely important part is our sleep. The Jets know this and make sleep a priority, so much so that it can influence how they plan their travel schedule, when they nap and even the types of mattresses they use on the road.
Here are three tips to get the most out of your sleep this summer:
Get the right amount of sleep. Aim for seven-to-eight hours each night. Your body performs certain processes while you sleep that help you heal, recover, and grow. For these processes to happen you must go through the sleep cycles which require you to be asleep for a certain amount of time.
Get the right quality. The quality of sleep is just as important as the amount of sleep you get. To ensure high quality sleep make sure the room is dark and quiet. This means not using any electronic devices within two hours of going to sleep. The type of light they emit, and at such a close proximity, throws off our body’s ability to enter our proper sleep cycle.
Nap right. The benefits of napping from a performance standpoint are immense. Most of us just do it at the wrong time and for too long. Do not feel you have to nap if you do not want to, but if you do, do it right. Nap as close as you can to the point — 12 hours from the mid-point of your nocturnal sleep cycle. So, if you slept for eight hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the mid-point would be four hours in at 2 am. Twelve hours from 2 a.m. is 2 o’clock in the afternoon. That is your ideal time. Make sure the room is dark and quiet. Aim for 15-to-25 minutes as this will help refresh and boost your performance without leaving you tired and groggy.
Let us make the most of our time while we’re waiting for hockey to return. Spend your summer training like a Jet by being great at the things that require no talent so that when hockey starts again, you’ll be ready.
Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment
This article was originally published in the Game On magazine – Manitoba’s hockey community magazine.