Cochrane Generals head coach and general manager Kurtis Jones never truly shut off the engine when the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) pulled the plug on its season in February. Now he's shifting into higher gears as the pieces start to fall into place for the 2021-22 season.
"It's hard sitting behind a computer and doing all the work away from the rink, but now I'm happy. Hopefully, everything pans out here with the pandemic, and we can get going with hockey once we get that 100 per cent approval."
On June 6, the league set out its plans for the 2021-22 season that include more regular-season games, the approval for a new team, and the withdrawal of another.
The HJHL has set Sept. 10 as the start of the regular season. Teams will now be playing 42 games, up from 36, with a detailed schedule in the works.
The Kainai Braves have joined the south division, and the High River Flyers have folded. At this point, that means there will continue to be seven teams in the south division, which includes the Gens, and eight in the north.
Jones has been recruiting new players for the last two months. He's now also booked ice time this summer for players to knock off some of the rust.
The Junior 'B' club's camp is tentatively set to open on Aug. 20. A few exhibition games will follow before cuts are made to the roster.
"We can't wait," says Jones. "Our guys are chomping at the bit. I've been having monthly meetings and every two-week meetings with the players."
Jones is impressed with the proactive approach taken by new league president Ian Hill.
Hall will get his first real taste at the helm after being named president midway through last season when long-time president Gilbert Renaud called it a day.
"He's changing the whole professionalism of the league. A lot of new things are coming."
"We're trying to make it a better league because we have area teams here that can certainly compete in any other junior B league."