Story and photo by Bryan Wilson
It?s been a season unlike any other for the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), and with the 2020-21 campaign currently on pause, the Brooks Bandits’ coaching staff and players are adapting in order to keep progressing towards their developmental goals.
When a mandated AJHL hiatus took effect in early December, teams in the league had completed no more than four regular season games before opting to send most of their players home for an extended holiday break. Widespread arena closures and limited ice times, compounded by governmental restrictions, has made it difficult to play ?meaningful games? during the COVID-19 pandemic and now even practicing as a team looks different.
Dryland-style training and bodyweight exercises have been the focus for Bandits? assistant coach, Taylor Makin, who has been facilitating team workouts on Zoom throughout the duration of the AJHL pause. Without access to Bandits’ team facilities and equipment, the players have instead logged in virtually to join their teammates in a daily workout regimen done remotely, via webcam. According to Makin, the process has been fairly successful, but has its challenges.
?Every guy is working out from their basement, or their garage, or their kitchen or living room,? describes Makin. ?So I think having no equipment and trying to come up with body weight exercises for elite level athletes has been the biggest challenge.?
The Bandits? coaching staff aren?t using this extended break as an excuse to sit back or let the pedal off the gas, and neither are the players. Each player is expected to be ready to hit the ice whenever league play is permitted to resume.
?I think the biggest thing is just not taking time off,? explains Makin. ?It?s a unique season, a very unique situation and we just want to make the most of it and make sure that we?re still doing things to try and develop, try and get better, and try to keep ourselves in shape, so when we do get going, we?re right where we left off.?
The Bandits (2-0-0) picked up two wins against the Camrose Kodiaks to start the 2020-21 regular season and currently await further government and league announcements regarding a return-to-play plan for the new year.