If all goes as anticipated, the South Shore Lumberjacks will be starting their season in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League on Oct. 30.
“We haven’t got confirmation that is going to happen but it's looking more and more likely as we get closer to the date,” said Brogan Bailey, the Lumberjacks’ new head coach and general manager.
The season schedule will likely be 44 games, said Bailey. “That’s what we’re being told. It will contain mostly games within the province and the other divisions just once, so we will likely be going to New Brunswick two trips and one trip to P.E.I. and play each of those teams a single time away and they would play us at home once. It’s just an attempt to limit travel as much as possible.”
The team has begun ice time at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre (LCLC) in Bridgewater.
“We still have to abide by public health protocols,” said Bailey. “We’re not allowed to have the whole team on the ice at once to do a full team practice but we’re kind of adapting, splitting the team in two doing some skating and skill work and stuff liked that.”
The roster is not finalized yet.
“From the guys that we had come out to camp, it was a good group, a good mix of young and old guys,” said Bailey. “There’s still a couple of decisions we have left to make so there’s a few spots the guys will be fighting for through this month and into October. We probably won’t finalize the roster until probably a week before the season. We’ll keep guys as long as we can until we figure out what’s going on with other leagues.”
As it stands, the Lumberjacks do have approval for 20 per cent capacity right now, the same as the Halifax Mooseheads, “so that will only put us at 240 fans in the LCLC. We’re hoping to get it to 40 per cent,” said Bailey, adding the team and the LCLC have been working together “on a possible avenue to get as many fans in there safely as we can. Hopefully as many as 500. If we can get that approval, I think we’ll be pretty happy.”
As with other the other junior A teams, “fan support is super important,” said Bailey. “The whole model we have with the Maritime junior league is based on strong community support. I don’t think any teams would say they can operate without a strong community base. We’re no different. It’s super important to our survival.”
One of the measures the Lumberjacks have taken this year to try and bolster community support is “by getting as many local players back here as we can,” said Bailey. “There’s a really good group of local players so we’re hoping that helps. Obviously, it’s going to be a difficult season in a whole bunch of ways so as much community support as we can get when we do start up is going to be huge.”
The Lumberjacks’ coaching staff all hail from Lunenburg County this season. Bailey is a native of Lunenburg, while Bridgewater native Shawn Woodworth and Italy Cross native Adam Worth are the assistant coaches.
“From all the early signs things are pointed in the right direction,” said Bailey. “We’re very anxious to get started. I hope things do get ironed out and we can do things safely and get fans in the rink and have a season.”
Ticket requests for season passes are now being taken by email at email@example.com or text to 902-299-2550.