The Cochrane Generals are expecting to adjust their style of play after being moved to the north division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League.
The junior team is moving out of familiar territory in the south division after both the Stettler Lightning and Ponoka Stampeders pulled the plug on the season.
Challenges in meeting the Alberta government's Restrictions Exemption Program lead to the decision believes Gens head coach and GM Kurtis Jones.
He says the teams draw most of their players from rural areas, where there isn't convenient access to rapid testing, and vaccination isn't seen as a high priority for those working in agriculture.
The Gens' schedule will be adjusted after this weekend and will see them play the bulk of their games against northern rivals. They'll only meet south division teams twice during the regular season, once at home and once on the road.
Jones says he knows little about the north teams, but he'll be preparing the Gens to play what he suspects will be a more physical style of play.
"The guys are going to have to be prepared. It's going to be a lot tougher, I think, in the sense of contact. They play a whole different style of hockey in the north."
Jones has faith that the Gens can adjust.
"We have a pretty good club, and moving to the north will only make our team that much better."
Jones says the dates of the Gens home games won't be changed, only the teams they'll face.
Also in the north are the Airdrie Thunder, Red Deer Vipers, Mountainview Colts, Sylvan Lake Wranglers, Rocky Rams, and Three Hills Thrashers. The Gens were selected to move because they are the furthest north of the south division teams.
On Saturday, the Gens travel to Rocky Mountain House to play the Rocky Rams. Sunday, the Gens host the High River Flyers at 2:30 p.m. in the Cochrane Arena.
The Gens remind fans that face masks are required, as well as proof of vaccination and photo ID
The Gens are undefeated in their first three games and sit on top of the HJHL standings.
The Red Deer Vipers are first in the north, also undefeated in their first two outings.