• Bell MTS Iceplex - Manitoba's Community Hockey Complex
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Manitoba Moose

Iceplex reopening shows commitment to safety, guest experience, and well-being

Bell MTS Iceplex is a place of gathering where the community comes to play, watch, and learn the game of hockey. Naturally, June 1 was a very exciting day as hockey programming was allowed to resume and people made their way back to the facility after nearly three months of the venue being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gathering the hockey community at the Iceplex looks much different now than it did prior to the closure. New health and safety protocols are now becoming standard as activities and access resume in all sorts of venues across the city. At Bell MTS Iceplex, this means each visitor now needs to complete an online health screening survey and sign into the facility, and once inside, capacity is limited and access to some amenities has been affected. These measures are all in place to accommodate the required physical distancing and other safety protocols mandated by the province, along with True North’s commitment to an enhanced cleaning and disinfection regimen.

“We have housekeeping staff around all the time, consistently cleaning the washrooms, cleaning high-touch areas, disinfecting the stands several times during the day, and more,” said David Sattler, General Manager of the Bell MTS Iceplex. “As we begin hockey games, we will be cleaning the benches several times per day. Basically, anything that could be touched is being cleaned multiple times a day.”

The venue’s protocols are continuing to change too as health authorities further evolve their restrictions. Iceplex staff are committed to not only stay in tune with government and health authority mandates, but also to provide the best hockey and training experience and restore convenience when able.

“Originally, players were required to come in their full gear and they were allowed to put on their helmet, gloves and skates in our dressing rooms so that people would stay within our 15-minute limit of using dressing rooms before and after their on-ice sessions ,” said Sattler, noting that the time limit was created so that proper cleaning measures could be taken in the dressing rooms between groups. “With summer approaching and warmer weather outside, that didn’t make for the best experience. We made the decision to let people get fully dressed in our dressing rooms, as long as they are staying in the 15-minute limit before or after their on-ice session. If we extend that time at all, there just isn’t enough time to properly clean the dressing rooms. The safety of our guests is clearly our number one priority, but within those restrictions, we still want to give people who come to our venue the best experience possible.”

Other restrictions have been dialed back as well. Though initially, the Iceplex required all visitors who would be sitting in the stands to wear a facemask while at the facility, parents and fans now have the choice of whether or not to wear a mask, though mask use is still encouraged. Iceplex staff will continue to wear masks throughout the facility when not actively coaching or training.

Sattler notes that these protocols can certainly be reversed just as quickly, but the Iceplex staff are all very grateful for the progress the province has made.

“We really are thankful for the hard work that Winnipeggers and Manitobans have put into flattening the curve of COVID-19,” said Sattler. “It’s because of everybody’s diligence in distancing and the resulting low infection rates that we can open our building and start to offer programming again.”

For Jets Hockey Development (JHD) programming, which is the Iceplex’s hockey training program, drills and on-ice sessions have been adapted to minimize the amount that players are in close proximity. Even the health orders note, though, that physical distancing won’t always be achieved while playing sports.

“The newest revision of the public health order says that facilities must reasonably maintain distance between people in the facility, except participants actively engaged in sport,” said Sattler. “Right now, we aren’t doing any contact drills, but JHD is still doing group drills. We’re asking that players try to maintain physical distancing when they can, but we know that hockey is a close contact sport, so there will be times when players are closer than six feet.”

Andy Kollar, Manager of Goalie Development at the Ice Lab goalie training facility in the Iceplex, noted that they’ve changed the way they do things as well to ensure as much distancing as possible.

“We’ve created a gap between goalie sessions that we don’t usually have, where we are trying to create less traffic for people coming in and leaving. Usually we do three straight sessions, then a flood with the Zamboni. Now we’re doing a session, then a 15-minute gap.

“We’re not using gender specific changerooms either. We just alternate which room is getting used with each session, which gives our housekeeping staff time to clean the room properly.”

Kollar noted that as a goalie coach his on-ice sessions haven’t had to change as much, since they are one-on-one and distancing is easier to maintain.

“As goalies, our sessions are non-contact, so we do have that spacing. But I’ve started to use my stick as a gauge of distance when I’m talking to participants so I don’t get too close.”

Focus Fitness, the 8,500 square foot gym on the second floor of the Iceplex, is operating well below capacity to allow athletes ample space to move within and is also undertaking careful cleaning measures. Users of the space are expected to clean the equipment they use after each use, and after each group session, the gym staff thoroughly clean all the equipment before the next group can use the space.

Greg Husson, an Iceplex customer with two boys in JHD programming who also works out at Focus Fitness and helps out the JHD team when they need a goalie, appreciates the added safety measures along with the effort the Iceplex has put in to making this a smooth transition for everyone.

“With all of the things that the Iceplex has in place now, they’ve made it seamless to come back,” said Husson. “You check in on the website and get everything cleared, and then you get to just walk in, sign in and say hello, and you’re off to whichever rink or amenity you’ve come to use.”

The new restrictions haven’t phased Husson’s boys either, as they are just happy to be back on the ice and playing the sport they love again.

“The smiles on their faces when they got back on the ice was great to see. You can see that they’re happy and motivated, and it’s getting back to a piece of normality in life.”

To Kollar, the fact that parents feel comfortable letting their kids back on the ice and back into their programming, along with the joy that the kids have for being back isn’t possible without a team effort from the Iceplex staff that focuses on patience and attention to details.

“Everything we’ve done to reopen has been well thought-out,” said Kollar. “We really look at the community and it’s safety first. We don’t want to put anyone in jeopardy, and I think our team has done a great job coming up with a protocol plan. We wanted to get the right details in place before opening up.”

These efforts are now providing opportunities that can improve the physical and mental health for all their guests – something that has surely been missed.

“The majority of people that we have in our programs are youth, who have been stuck at home and separated from their schoolmates and teammates for almost three months at an age where we are trying to keep people active and engaged,” said Sattler. “I think it’s important for us to be open to give kids something they enjoy doing and a sense of normalcy. For parents too, being able to see their kids skate might allow them to have that moment of mental calm.”

 

 

Reopening Update and New Guidelines – June 1

CLICK HERE FOR THE BELL MTS ICEPLEX RETURN TO PLAY PROTOCOL: PHASE 2

 

Bell MTS Iceplex Jets Hockey Development, Ice Lab and Focus Fitness are pleased to confirm that we are reopening our facility and resuming programming on June 1, including private one-on-one training, programs and group sessions. Thank you for your patience as we have worked with the province to confirm our ability to reopen.

We look forward to welcoming you back and have been working to ensure we will be ready to meet the needs of our customers in a safe manner consistent with the public health order.

With the health and safety of our guests and staff of paramount importance, a number of new protocols are in place to meet new health and safety guidelines. Effective June 1 there will be some notable changes that will affect programming and facility access. As part of facility-wide physical distancing requirements, certain programs and drills will not be possible at this time. In the first stages of our reopening, parents, guardians, or any other spectators will be limited to one per participant who will be required to wear a mask while in the facility. To minimize the number of people in the facility at a given time, players will be limited to arriving only 15 minutes prior to their ice time and will have only 15 minutes to remove their skates and exit the building following their ice time. Players will be required to be fully dressed when entering the building, except for skates, helmets and gloves. Dressing rooms will be available only to tie skates. Dressing room shower and washroom access will not be available.

We know some of these changes will present a significant adjustment and some potential inconvenience, however, we are doing everything we can to ensure measures are in place that will allow us to welcome you back as soon as possible.

Please be reassured that enhanced cleaning measures have also been implemented including increased disinfection of high-touch surfaces throughout the facility.

We hope you have been staying well and taking advantage of the JHD and Focus Fitness programming that has been made available through our online and social platforms. For these and more resources, please visit the Jets Community Assist Hub at WinnipegJets.com/Community Assist.

On-ice summer program registration will begin at noon on May 28 including Jets Hockey Development programs and camps and Ice Lab sessions up to June 30. For information regarding programs currently available or to book a session please email jhd@tnse.com.

Focus Fitness program registration will begin on May 29. To register please visit our REGISTRATION PAGE and create an account.

Bell MTS Iceplex Team

Programming Update – Facility Reopening Delayed

Bell MTS Iceplex has been informed by the province there was a miscommunication in the directive to allow us to schedule one-on-one ice times with our instructors this week. With the health and safety of our community as a top priority, the reopening of Bell MTS Iceplex remains on hold. We continue to prepare to welcome you back and will share a revised reopening plan soon as we are able.

Bell MTS Iceplex Return To Play Protocol

CLICK HERE FOR THE BELL MTS ICEPLEX – RETURN TO PLAY PROTOCOL

Bell MTS Iceplex is pleased that our community’s collective efforts to stay home have minimized the spread of COVID-19 in our province and we thank you for doing your part. We are optimistic about the province’s phased-in strategy for reopening businesses and services in our community as it will allow us to resume programming starting Tuesday, May 19th at Bell MTS Iceplex.

To book an Ice Lab session please visit our online booking platform and CLICK HERE.
To learn more about the Ice Lab sessions or how to purchase please CLICK HERE for more information.

To book a 1-on-1 JHD session and for information regarding programs currently available please email jhd@tnse.com.

We look forward to welcoming you back and have been working to ensure we will be ready to meet the needs of our customers in a safe manner consistent with the public health order.

With the health and safety of our guests and staff of paramount importance, we are proactively planning for a number of new protocols to meet new health and safety guidelines. When we open, there will be some notable changes that will affect programming and facility access. In the first stages of our reopening, parents, guardians, or any other spectators will be limited to one per participant who will be required to wear a mask while in the facility. Dressing rooms and showers will not be accessible, meaning that players will be required to dress at home, or in designated outdoor stalls. In addition, to minimize the number of people in the facility at a given time, players will be limited to arriving only 15 minutes prior to their ice time and will have only 15 minutes to remove their skates and pads and exit the building following their ice time.

We know some of these changes will present a significant adjustment and some potential inconvenience, however, we are doing everything we can to ensure measures are in place that will allow us to welcome you back as soon as possible.

We hope you have been staying well and taking advantage of the JHD and Focus Fitness programming that has been made available through our online and social platforms. For these and more resources, please visit the Jets Community Assist Hub at WinnipegJets.com/Community Assist.

Bell MTS Iceplex Team.

Player development comes at all ages for Jets Hockey Development

Continuous development is the key to success in hockey, or any other sport. Whether you are just learning the game, or are at the highest level of the game, you need to continue to get better all the time.

The Jets Hockey Development (JHD) team at Bell MTS Iceplex knows this as much as anybody and it shapes their programming. There isn’t a level of hockey that their programming doesn’t touch, as they have programming for everyone under the age of seven to NHL calibre players. It’s all part of their philosophy to provide professional instruction at all levels of the game, and to help players continue to improve throughout their hockey journey.

Much of JHD’s coaching and instruction comes through their own programs such as hockey camps, tournaments, individual on and off ice sessions, and more. Their efforts to share their breadth of knowledge and experiences goes beyond those programs though. Through several partnerships with leagues, divisions, and teams in Winnipeg, the JHD team has not only increased their own programming at the Iceplex but has also brought their elite coaching off-site.

One program that formulated for JHD in the fall of 2019 was a partnership with the St. James Assiniboia Minor Hockey Association (SJAHA) Initiation House League. The partnership had the JHD coaches leading the sessions at SJAHA venues as opposed to at the Iceplex, and it offered them a great way to instill the basics of hockey to players starting at the beginning of their hockey careers.

The House league starts its season with an eight-week development program before regular season games. It was during this development program that JHD stepped in and brought their expertise, which was a new way of doing things for the SJAHA. In past years, the league had done their development program in-house, but in wanting to give greater support to their coaches and raise the level of development, having JHD run the development sessions was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up on.

“We wanted to bring someone in to allow our coaches, who are volunteers and are maybe new to coaching hockey, to see what things should look like when they have their own teams,” said Shawn Edinger, VP of the House League for the SJAHA. “We wanted someone to come in who we knew would help top to bottom with player development and fine tuning the skills that the players need.”

The partnership gave JHD further options to reach out to the community and stress the importance of fostering proper technique and skills at a young age, with the potential of giving these players an advantage down the road.

“The goal of the program is to start at a young age with these players and really expose them to some different skating techniques that they can continue to work on, as well as show coaches how they can utilize some of these skill development areas to make sure players get the most out of their team practices,” said Dave Cameron, Head On-ice Instructor with JHD. “It was also a chance for those volunteer coaches to be mentored on the progressions we use from the start of the program to the end of the program, as well as learn how to better communicate some of those skill development areas to their players.”

Both goals were achieved in Edinger’s mind. The benefits with the coaches has been obvious, and a few years down the road, he knows there will be a noticeable difference in the level of development with the players.

“We’re not worried so much about positions or systems, we’re worried about skills,” Edinger reiterated. “Everyone is seeing that these high-level coaches still focus on the skills. You think of an NHL player, and you think of them focusing on what the power play looks like, or what does their trap system look like. But the JHD coaches came in and showed us that cutting around a cone a certain way is important, and that the little things are the most important in planning.”

One partnership that has been running for much longer is with Winnipeg AAA teams at U-15 and U-18 levels. Every Monday night during the hockey season, the JHD team works with 11 AAA teams in skill-focused sessions.

“We have three rinks going on Monday night and it’s a full evening for our coaches, but we can communicate as a staff on what we want to work on with every age group,” said Cameron.

The program has grown from operating biweekly to now running weekly to maximize the return to AAA players.

“It was difficult to build on practice plans or work on progressions because sometimes players hadn’t worked on those skills in those two weeks they hadn’t seen us,” said Cameron. “The change was made to see the teams every week, which allows us to work on a lot of different things and really progress the sessions. It’s led to a lot of really good development opportunities for the players.”

Scott Coates, who coaches the Winnipeg Monarchs AAA bantam team, was coaching the team when JHD made the transition to weekly sessions. He said the change made a big difference for his team.

“It allows JHD to focus on the skill development piece and that gives us more time to do the tactical and systems work in our regular practices,” said Coates, as he continued to emphasize the importance of JHD focusing on skill development. “Our players are of course still developing and being able to do a skill development practice every week just gives them that edge. A lot of times, even at our level, kids might not have been shown the proper way to do things. When a guy like Dave comes out and coaches our players, you can definitely see that improvement toward the end of the year. So, when our players move up an age level, they’re that much more ready for it.”

Jets Hockey Development now also standardizes all of its practices at the AAA level, something they didn’t used to do, ensuring that all teams of the same age group get the same great experience when they come to the Iceplex. It has been a great way of leveling the playing field and has ensured that the JHD coaches can use the extent of their knowledge and experience to develop a plan where every player is developing the skills they will need to succeed.

“Players were getting really different experiences based on what their coaches were asking for,” said Cameron. “Some teams would ask for shooting drills, other teams would ask for power skating. The teams that got power skating lessons obviously got better at power skating, and the other kids wouldn’t. It wasn’t a fair system for a program where every team is putting in the same amount of time as the others. Now we structure what happens every time the AAA players walk through our doors. We come up with the practice plans for development purposes and let the players work through those plans. Now every player that comes through is getting all of those fundamental skills that will help them excel.”

Jets Hockey Development is always looking for new opportunities to develop players of all ages. If your team or organization is interested in receiving coaching from the experienced team of JHD coaches, please contact Dave at dcameron@tnse.com.

If you’d like to explore the programs that JHD already offers, please visit https://www.bellmtsiceplex.ca/jets-hockey-development/. Though many programs for the spring and summer have been postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19, the JHD team is prepared to return to action when the Province of Manitoba and local health authorities permit.