From Warroad to Rochester and every town in between, Minnesotans are amped for hockey season. By working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health, local associations and rinks, in conjunction with guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota Hockey is ready to drop the puck.
Dr. Michael Stuart, the chief medical and safety officer for USA Hockey and Mayo Clinic professor, says we all need to do our part.
“The risk of viral transmission can’t be eliminated, but it can be significantly reduced by sustained diligence,” said Dr. Stuart, a hockey dad and Rochester native. “Numerous strategies are essential to prevent the spread of infection.”
Here are Dr. Stuart’s tips for hockey families to stay safe and healthy this year:
1. Self-quarantine as needed – “Stay home if you are sick or have been exposed to an infected person.”
2. Keep your hands clean – “Clean your hands with sanitizer or soap and water frequently. Hand sanitizer should be available on the bench, the penalty box, scorer’s table and your hockey bag.”
3. Social distancing is key – “Maintain social distancing measures (6 feet apart). Separate the arena arrival and exit routes, dress at home, avoid locker rooms, limit the number of players and coaches on the ice during practice, no chalk talks, group goal celebrations or the postgame handshake line.”
4. Mask up – “Wear a face covering or mask in all public areas whenever you are not on the ice. Wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off. Avoid touching the front of your mask or touching your face beneath the mask. Wash your hands after each use.”
5. Sharing isn’t caring – “Do not share water bottles, towels or other equipment. Clearly label all equipment with your name and number.”
According to Dr. Stuart, creative approaches to practices, including grid hockey, physical distancing, reduced number of players, no gathering for white board instruction and more, can be found on USA Hockey’s Mobile Coach app.
“Parents and coaches should set the example by adhering to all the preventative measures recommended by USA Hockey,” said Dr. Stuart. “The entire hockey community needs to work together so our youth can experience the many benefits of participating in team sport: fun, physical fitness, friendships, academic success and valuable life lessons.”