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Fans are Back as Leafs host Beaver Valley Saturday

The last time the Leafs took to the ice was a no-fans contest November 20, 2020 against Grand Forks. Fans, and the Leafs, are back Saturday at the NDCC Arena.

It has been a hectic past few days for the Nelson Leafs as the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team scrambled to sort out a game plan to have fans attended the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in exhibition action Saturday at the NDCC Arena.

The recent announcement of a BC Provincial Health Officer order effective Monday, September 13, 2021, that people 12 and older be required to present proof of vaccination to access some events, services and businesses, put a cloud over number of fans the Leafs would be able to allow into the building for Saturday’s game.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay, keepers of the NDCC facility, said this order applies indoor events — like Leafs hockey games — with more than 50 participants.

“We were involved in a conference call (Wednesday) night with the RDCK/NDC and they presented us with a multitude of new restrictions,” Leafs president Corey Viala told The Nelson Daily Thursday. 

“We are in the process of revamping our Safety Plan as this changes things in regards to what we had planned for Saturday’s game.”

However, the Leafs were able to check all the boxes for Saturday game against Beaver Valley, announcing on Twitter Thursday that “Fans Are Back” for Saturday with 545 tickets available with proof of double vaccination required prior to entry.

The 7 p.m. puck drop against Beaver Valley Saturday marks the first time since the 2019-20 KIJHL playoffs that fans have been allowed to attend Leaf games.

Other requirements include:

  • 50% capacity for double vaxxed fans 
  • masks are required to enter
  • assigned seating
  • no standing room
  • fans must sit at all times
  • households are allowed to sit together 
  • physical distancing while seated
  • no getting together during the intermission  
  • vaccination checks at the door prior to entry
  • Essential game operations staff do not count towards the 50%
  • Spectators are permitted inside the arena 30 minutes before puck drop and must exit 30 minutes after.

Nelson opens the exhibition season Friday in Fruitvale against the Nitehawks.

The series is the first of two for Nelson as the Leafs prepare to open the KIJHL season October 1 at home against Beaver Valley.

“We’re so ready to get back to hockey — the players, the coaches and the fans,” HeadCoach Mario DiBella said on the team website.

“Like everyone around the world, it’s been a long and challenging time.

“But the players have come out of this stronger mentally and emotionally, and many of them have reported to camp in great shape,” DiBella added.

Nelson meets Creston in a home-and-home series to close out the preseason next weekend, with Thundercats traveling to the NDCC Arena Saturday, September 25.