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MHC UPDATE / COVID-19 AND PHASE 3 RINK RE-OPENING ON JULY 13th, 2020

Hello Shark Families, 

Tomorrow marks the start of Phase 3 of our return to hockey operations. The ice schedule we disseminated on Wednesday, July 8th remains unchanged and is available on the right side of this page, or all the way at the bottom of this page for mobile users. Please review to ensure you know the correct times for your player’s activities. 

Our rink operating parameters remain the same as the County guidelines for sports activities have not changed. I would like to highlight that beginning on Monday our temperature and health screenings will be administered by a team of medical professionals that we hired this week. The team is comprised of registers nurses and certified medical assistants. They have been tasked to ensure the screenings are accomplished in a professional manner. Please remember that these screenings are required by the County guidelines. Your cooperation with the screening process is much appreciated. 

Have a great week - see you at the Tank!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

 

MHC UPDATE / COVID-19 AND PHASE 3 RINK RE-OPENING, JULY 8th, 2020

Good Evening Shark Families,

Please find attached the 4V4 and Spring Selects Camp ice schedules for Phase 3 (on the MHC COVID web page, to the right.  on mobile, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page).  Phase 3 begins next Monday, July 13th.  Please note that it is possible for the schedule to change. We will continue to monitor the guidelines provided by St. Louis County, and make changes to our operating parameters and on-ice activities if necessary.  As of now, the Phase 3 ice schedule will begin next Monday and all rink operating parameters remain the same.

In addition, I have included the ice schedule for our MHC Summer Skills Camp.   This schedule is for informational and planning use only, as registration is not open yet.  As previously communicated, all players who were registered for the canceled Synergy Skills camp will have the first opportunity to register for the MHC Summer Skills Camp.  When registration is possible, an email will be sent to the family of those players first, with a link to register.  General registration will open several days later, giving all of those players who were canceled from the Synergy Camp ample time to register.  This process will begin soon - if your player was cancelled from the Synergy program, please look for an email in the next few days.

All schedules will also be available at our website on our COVID tab.

Thank you,

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

Update on MHC Operations and COVID-19 - 5 June 2020

Hello Shark Families,

I hope you are all enjoying the Holiday weekend! We are entering our second week of the Phase 2 Ice Schedule. No changes were made to this week’s schedule, but the schedules for our Select Camps and 4V4 programs are located on our website on the COVID tab to allow you to confirm this week’s ice times (on the right side of the page if you are using a desktop / laptop, and all the way at the bottom of the page for mobile devices).  Our schedule for Phase 3 will be published by Wednesday of this week. Hopefully we will not see any major changes to the County guidelines that would effect the schedule.

On the topic of County Guidelines, last week, your Board of Directors voted unanimously to seek Certified and/or Registered Medical Assistants to continue the temperature and health screening process as we enter our facility. The temperature and health screenings are part of the County Guidelines, and are important for the safety of our players and families. We are faced with the reality of conducting these screenings for an indefinite length of time. We are entering our fourth week of being re-opened, and we have relied on volunteers to conduct these screenings thus far. Unfortunately, we are running out of volunteers, and filling the schedule has become increasingly difficult. The hiring of medical professionals to complete this task will provide consistency to the process, and further assurance to all of our members that we are making every effort to maintain the safest environment possible. Club members are preferred for these positions. If you are a CMA or RMA and are interested, please forward your resume to Treasurer@meramecsharks.com.

Registration for our fall season opens tomorrow, July 6th.   Learn To Play registration will come at a later date, most likely in mid August if county guidelines permit. There are a couple details regarding the registration process that are important to note. For the most part, the registration process will be the same as it has been in the past, and families will be able to register players for travel or house hockey via our website. There are two details that are different that I would like to highlight:

1. One important change is that we've added the ability to pay for the annual Shark Dance Raffle Tickets online this year. Raffle tickets are part of the largest fundraiser for our organization, the Shark Dance. The purchase of one book of raffle tickets is required per family, ages 6U through Bantam. Families with multiple players will be charged for one book of tickets if you register your players all at the same time. If it is not possible to register them at the same time, you will need to contact the Registrar and/or Webmaster to receive a discount code so that you are not billed for the raffle tickets twice.

2. Players that intend to try out for AA hockey as part of our Central States Pod team, the St. Louis Eagles, should NOT register for the fall season on our Sharks website at this time. Details for Central States AA try-out registration will be disseminated within the week. Players that make the team will pay their registration fees though the Central States pod. All players that try out and do not make the team can register for the fall season on the Sharks website after they know the outcome of the try outs. No late fees will be assessed for these players. If your player is interested in competing for the St. Louis Eagles team, please contact Don Arias at playerdevelopment@meramecsharks.com

In closing this week, I would like to again offer my thanks to all of your for your cooperation and patience. I recognize that the requirements, such as wearing a mask, as well as the screenings process are becoming tedious, and frustrating to many of you. Please remember that these requirements are in place to comply with our County Guidelines. Those guidelines are in place to assist us in creating a safe environment for our players and families to enjoy hockey activities, and we will continue to comply with them. Please continue to be understanding and courteous to all other families by adhering to these requirements.

Thanks – see you at the Tank!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

Mask Reminder - 2 June 2020

Shark Families ,

I am confident that you are already aware of the mask requirement that goes into effect in St. Louis County tomorrow morning. 

This is a reminder to all that the County Mask requirement must be followed in our facility. Masks will also be necessary in our parking lot if 6 feet of separation is not possible.  The mask rule applies to all who are over the age of nine, and recommended for children three through nine. 

Players and coaches will be able to remove their masks when on the ice for their scheduled activity. Other than being involved in an on-ice activity, everyone in the Tank or in the Tank parking lot (when 6’ spacing is not possible), must wear their mask, with the exception of those who fall into one of the County’s health or age exceptions. 

Thanks for your cooperation. 

 

See you at the Tank (from behind my mask....)

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

MHC UPDATE / COVID-19 AND RINK PHASE 2 RE-OPENING, JUNE 28TH, 2020

Hello Shark Families ,

I have several important updates and reminders for all of us to be aware of:

1. Our new ice schedule and new rink operating parameters will go into effect tomorrow.  These are available on the COVID tab at our website.  Please take the time to review them.

2. Beginning tomorrow, masks will be required for everyone in the Shark Tank, with the exception of those on the ice:

- Players should wear a mask when they are not participating on the ice.

- Coaches must wear a mask while coaching on the bench.  Coaches may remove their masks when participating in activities on the ice.

3. Earlier in the week, I communicated that our Bantam and Midget 4v4 League would be non-checking. After meeting with MIHOA officials on Friday evening, this decision has changed. Our Bantam and Midget games will all be checking games.  For those that still need a checking clinic, there was an E-mail sent out and also a Facebook post this past week with the dates and specifics on that clinic.  If you have questions about that clinic, please check the E-mail / Facebook post for contact information on where to send your questions.

4. This week we will be allowing two (2) family members per player to observe hockey activities. All family members observing rink activities must wear a mask.  Please bring your own mask, as they will not be provided by MHC.  We ask that all observers sit in the bleachers and observe social distancing. Because of the potential numbers of family members at 6U and 8U 4v4 games, it may be necessary to social distance while standing along the glass.  Please use the bleachers first, and only use the areas along the glass if the bleachers are filled.

5. Finally, I would like to clarify entry times to our hockey activities. Please keep in mind, that it is still required for us to socially distance in the rink, as well as to ensure that appropriate sanitization procedures are accomplished.  To enable this, we have established the following entry times in order to minimize and de-conflict traffic:

- Coaches and Goalies may enter the rink 20 minutes prior to their ice time.

- All other players may enter the rink 10 minutes prior to their ice time.

- All family members who wish to observe will be allowed to enter at the start of the ice time, and move directly to the bleachers. This will allow family members from the previous session to depart the bleachers and allow the bleachers to be sanitized. For our younger players who need assistance, we ask that only one family member go to the locker room areas.  After activities conclude, we ask that family members remain in the bleachers and meet departing players there as they make their way out of the rink.  Again, if younger players require assistance, one family member should go to the locker room area at the end of the ice time to assist.  All departing players and family members must exit via the bleachers.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation and patience as we enter our next phase of reopening.

See you at the Tank!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

Update to MHC Operations concerning a new change in St. Louis County COVID Guidelines, 24 JUN 2020

Good Evening All ,

Last Saturday we disseminated our ice schedule for Phase 2 of our return to hockey operations.  In our last weekly update, I advised that there was a possibility that the schedule could change based on potential changes to St. Louis County guidelines.  This week the guidelines did change.  The changes were significant, and we have made changes to our Phase 2 schedule accordingly.  The new revised ice schedule can be found in the PDF documents on the right hand side of this page.

In addition, changes to the guidelines have also resulted in changes to our rink operating parameters.  The new parameters for Phase 2 and new  St. Louis County Guidelines are also posted in the right hand column of this web page for your information.

The County Guidelines expanded our on-ice activities significantly.  Beginning on Monday, June 29th, we will be able to resume our 4v4 league play.  All 4v4 activities will be as originally planned, and will consist of games.  The games will consist of three running 12 minute periods, with no stops except for injury.  The only exception is that our Bantam and Midget will be non-check games.  This is in accordance with the MIHOA interpretation of the County Guidelines, and we will comply.  Our Select Camps will now be able to include more competitive drills as well.

With regard to our rink operating parameters, there were some elements that were relaxed, but others became a little more restrictive.  Please take the time to read the new parameters completely.  To make it easier to identify some of the differences, we have used strike-through text as well as highlighting in areas that have changed.  Among the changes to note is that beginning on June 29th, up to two (2) family members for each player will now be able to observe hockey activities while observing social distancing.  However, masks will now be mandatory for all of those inside the Tank, with the exception of those on the ice.  

I recognize that changes in scheduling can create an inconvenience.  But, I hope you share my enthusiasm about these changes as it is a great progression. I also want to advise all that we are continuing our planning for a Summer Skills Camp.  Details are forthcoming.  Priority for that camp will be given to those players who were registered for the canceled Synergy Skills Camp.  Please take the time to review the new schedule and rink parameters. 

Thanks – See you at the Tank!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

MHC UPDATE / COVID-19 AND RINK PHASE 1 OPENING, JUNE 20th, 2020

Hello Shark Families ,

It was really nice to see our players return to the ice this week.  By the end of the week, more than 500 players have returned to hockey.  I want to thank all of you for your patience and cooperation during this first week back.  The restrictions put in place are certainly not convenient, but please remember that they are intended to minimize potential exposure and limit the potential spread of the virus.  With the safety of our players and families in mind, and in our efforts to comply with applicable guidelines, we will continue to maintain all of the same operating parameters in the coming week.  

We are entering our second week of our already published Phase 1 schedule.  All Phase 1 ice times and activities remain as scheduled.  In addition, we are also publishing the ice schedule for Phase 2 of our reopening which will begin on Monday, June 29th, and last for a two week period. This is being provided as early as possible for your planning purposes.  Please note that it is possible for the schedule to change. We will continue to monitor the guidelines provided by St. Louis County, and make changes to our operating parameters and on-ice activities accordingly.

Once again, I thank you all for your patience and ask for your continued cooperation as we progress through the phases of reopening.  I hope all the players are enjoying their return to hockey.  To all – please continue to stay safe and healthy, and to all of our

Shark Dads – Happy Father’s Day!

See you at the Tank!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

MHC UPDATE / COVID-19 AND RINK RE-OPENING, JUNE 14, 2020

Hello Shark Families ,

Tomorrow is a big day, as we will reopen our facility after our long wait.  We sent out a lot of information in the last week including the summary of program changes, the ice schedule for the first two weeks, ice purchase information, and our rink operating parameters.  All of the information is important, and I hope you have taken a few minutes to review it.  

The rink operating parameters were distributed yesterday via our website, social media outlets, and email.  The safety of our players and families is our top priority. Please remember that while we are reopening, our operations are still limited by guidelines provided by St. Louis County.  The Rink Parameters were established to comply with the guidelines and provide a safe environment for our return to hockey activities.  The parameters are not optional.  Members who do not adhere to the published parameters will not be allowed to participate in activities at the Shark Tank. Please take the time to read the parameters, and follow the procedures explained in them.

As described in previous updates, our hockey activities were modified to fit within the County guidelines for a four-phased, controlled return.  If COVID-19 statistics continue to improve, we should be able to move to a new phase every two weeks. The first phase is a very controlled environment.  Each successive phase enables more activity.  It is very important to note that these controls apply to all activities that occur at the Tank, including privately purchased ice.  We have asked each purchaser to include a named Meramec Coach and roster of players with each sheet of ice purchased.  The Coach is responsible to ensure activities on the ice are appropriate to the phase of reopening.  Our Rink Manager, Lance Kammien, will be able to answer any questions each respective Coach may have, and he will be monitoring on-ice activities to ensure  activities are consistent with the guidelines.  

Operating in this type of controlled environment is certainly not ideal.  Please understand that any potential  inconvenience created is a result of our Club following guidelines that were developed to produce the safest environment possible for our return.  As we progress through each phase, we will gradually return to a less controlled, and increasingly normal way of operating.  I thank each of you in advance for your continued patience, and cooperation. 

A review of the parameters can be found below.

See you at the Tank!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

FSI Shark Tank COVID-19 Phase I Parameters

Everyone is excited to be able to get back to the rink and get back on the ice.  However, in order to do this in a responsible way, there are several parameters all members must follow during this Phase I of opening.  These guidelines are all specifically laid out in St. Louis County’s Department of Public Health Youth Sport Guidelines:

 If you are or your player is sick or running a temperature, you are not permitted to enter the building.  Furthermore, if anyone is sick in your household, we ask that your player not parcipate in events at FSI Shark Tank.  Anyone who enters FSI Shark Tank will receive a health screening, including temperature reading and health questioning.

 Players must fully dress, excluding helmets and skates, at home or in the car.  Players must undress, excluding helmets and skates, at home or in the car.  Hockey bags will not be permitted in the building.  When putting on and taking off skates, we ask that players maintain a 6’ buffer from each other.  Benches in locker rooms will be marked for 6’ spacing.  Goaltenders can fully dress and undress at FSI Shark Tank but must maintain 6’ spacing from other players. One family member may enter with younger players that require assistance to e skates and put on helmets. After assisting their player, parents will exit the facility. (See next bullet concerning 6U and 8U parents)

 Due to the age of our 6U and 8U players, one unaccompanied parent or designated guardian may remain in the bleachers to observe practice.  No siblings or other children will be allowed in the bleacher area. All 6U/8U parents who choose to remain, will stay in the bleacher area only and observe 6’ social distancing.

 Coaches may carry one bag with them into the facility.

 Players must bring their own, specifically marked, water bottle to each practice.  Sharing of water bottles will not be permitted.

 Players are not permitted to enter FSI Shark Tank more than 10 minutes before their scheduled event.  Likewise, players must exit FSI Shark Tank within 10 minutes of their event ending.  This excludes goaltenders. Goaltenders are permitted to enter 20 minutes before their scheduled event and exit within 20 minutes. It is our goal to minimize the amount of overlap between consecutive events and those attending.  There will be separate entrance pathways and exit pathways marked within the Rink.

 Masks will not be mandatory, but strongly encouraged, while at FSI Shark Tank.

 Gloves (non-playing) will not be permitted to be worn inside FSI Shark Tank.  Hand sanitizing stations will be placed at entry and exit as well as all locker room doors.  Members must maintain proper hand cleanliness while utilizing FSI Shark Tank.

 While at FSI Shark Tank all non-family members must maintain 6’ spacing.

 During Phase I, parents may not stay in FSI Shark Tank while their player is participating. They may re-enter the building to use the restroom and upon completion of the ice time to help remove skates. (one, unaccompanied 6U/8U parent, as described above, is the the exception.)


We know that some of these parameters are not ideal and may be inconvenient.  However, it beats the alternative which would be the continued closure of FSI Shark Tank.  It is important to set up this environment in a way that puts our players and their families’ health first and foremost.  If anyone is found to not follow these parameters during Phase 1, their associated player can be removed from the balance of the program they are participating in without refund.  We appreciate everyone’s best efforts to adhere to these guidelines.

MHC Update / COVID-19 and Rink Operations, June 7, 2020

Hello Shark Families -

We are almost a week away from our reopening on June 15th.  Today, we will disseminate two important documents.  The first is MHC’s Program Modification Summary.  The second is the MHC ice schedule for the first two weeks of our return.

The MHC Program Modification Summary details the changes we made to our existing spring programs, outlines how the programs will be conducted in each phase of reopening, and provides information regarding the time-frame for an on-time start to evaluations for our fall season.  

The Ice Schedule will provide details for the first two weeks of our return.  The County Guidelines provide a structure for a four-phased return.  If COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease, we will be enabled to move to each successive phase in two week intervals.  Because of the possibility of changes, we will finalize on-ice schedules every two weeks.   This week provided a great example of a late change that impacted our scheduling efforts.  An initial ice schedule was completed by mid-week, but late changes to the County guidelines enabled us to fit more players on the ice, and thus, we reconstructed the two week schedule.   

Our priority in scheduling was to kick-off our modified programs and get as many Shark players on the ice as possible while complying with the County guidelines and restrictions.  It is also important to note that we honored several contractual agreements.  3E Goaltending, Synergy Hockey (for their Daytime Camp, not the Shark Development Program), and LP’s Filthy Animals were provided their contracted ice during the first two weeks.  These ice times were accommodated after the County expanded its guidance, and after we had appropriately scheduled our Modified Spring Select and 4v4 Programs.  Each of the contracted vendors provides a program that caters to our Shark players, and fulfills a training need that complements our modified spring programs.  We also provided two hours per week to our Central States Pod for training sessions that support the new partnerships we are developing with Affton and the Ice Hawks for our AA pilot program. Details regarding the pilot program will be communicated at a later date.  

In consideration of the late start, the existing restrictions, and the finite number of days we have until an on-time start to fall season, I think we are providing modifications and a schedule that enables the most players possible to jump into a productive environment and continue their individual development where it left off when we suspended operations.  

More information will follow through the course of the week and will include specific guidelines for our rink activities.  If further modifications are necessary, we will communicate them as promptly as possible.  This week we will also disseminate details regarding private ice purchases.

Thanks again for your cooperation and patience.   

Stay healthy and stay safe!

 

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

Update to MHC Operations concerning a new change in St. Louis County COVID Guidelines, 4 May 2020

Hello Shark Families ,

In my weekly update sent out this past Sunday, I stated that our goal regarding our return to the ice was to provide a tentative detailed ice schedule of the first two weeks as well a summary of our program changes by Thursday of this week.

Because of a late change in the St. Louis County guidelines, the publication of the two-week ice schedule and the program changes will be delayed.  Yesterday, the County made a change to the guidelines that actually expanded the number of players that we will be able to allow on the ice.  This was welcome news, and affords us more flexibility with our ice schedule.  Subsequently, the schedule that we originally created is being modified to take advantage of this change, as is the summary of our program modifications.

Our return to ice date remains June 15th.  Unless there are additional changes to the County guidelines, you can expect a two week ice schedule and a summary of program changes to be disseminated this weekend. 

Thank you for your understanding,

Larry Borkowski

President. MHC

 

 

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, 31 May 2020,

Hello Shark Families,

Our hockey activities remain suspended.  This week, St. Louis County published Youth and Adult Sports Guidelines that will enable the resumption of controlled hockey activities on June 15th.  The guidelines published this week provide guiding principles, requirements, and details regarding permitted activities during this phase of a return to activities. St. Louis County is following recommendations created on May 15th, that resulted from collaboration among sports medicine and pediatric infectious disease professionals in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. SSM Health, BJC HealthCare and Mercy collaborated to provide recommendations as it relates to the resocialization of both youth and high school sports during the COVID-19 pandemic in the St. Louis region.  The recommendation outlines a four-phased approach for a safe return to sports.  The guidelines published by the County this week represent the guidance for the first phase. We anticipate that we will progress through the respective phases in two week intervals as long as our community progress regarding COVID-19 is maintained.

In the past week, members of your Board of Directors began the detailed work of reformatting and fitting our programs against the requirements outlined in the County guidance.  In the upcoming week, we will continue to refine potential ice schedules as well as create complete guidance for safe rink operations that will detail player, parent, coach, and volunteer requirements.  I hope to be able to share details with you as soon as possible, but ask you to remain patient. The COVID-19 virus has created an extremely challenging environment for us.  We will not short-cut safety, and we will be compliant with guidance provided by the County and recommended by medical experts.  There are many facets to restructuring activities in the fairest way possible while complying with strict limitations and diverse safety requirements.  Our goal is to provide a tentative detailed ice schedule of the first two weeks as well a summary of our program changes by Thursday of this week.  It is also very important for us to recognize that the guidance could change. On behalf of your Board of Directors, I will advise you soonest if there are changes that will effect the June 15th start date. 

This week, we received questions regarding published activities of other clubs in our area.  I do not have insight regarding the decisions or decision making processes of other hockey clubs.  My insights and priorities are focused on MHC. Our focus has been to understand the County guidance and panel recommendations that I previously described. I have twice corresponded directly with the Office of the St. Louis County Executive to clarify the guidance, and that office confirmed that June 15th was the date that gyms, pools, and sporting venues such as ours would be allowed to open.  Since the day that we suspended our hockey activities, I have emphasized to you that the safety of our players and families is our first priority.  That has not changed, and it will not change in the future.   The phased approach to the return of sports activities is intended to provide the safest environment possible, and was recommended by medical experts.  We will continue to comply with the guidelines provided.  

Please stay healthy and safe!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC      

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, response to new STL County guidelines, 25 May 2020,

Hello Shark Families,

I hope you are all well, and enjoying the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend.  While our operations remain suspended, new St. Louis County announcements indicate that we will be able to resume some operations on June 15th.  Based on recommendations made to the County by a panel of experts, it appears that MHC’s reopening will occur in a series of controlled phases, with conditions intended to mitigate risk to our players and families. At this time, we do not know the full details of what the County will provide.

In the next few weeks, please expect to see more communications that will include a modified program schedule as well as rink operating procedures. It is very important for all of us to recognize that the transition to resuming on-ice activities will be slow, and we will be compliant with the standards and orders provided by St. Louis County.  We will not immediately return to our full scope of operations and activities.  Things will certainly look different.  The safety of our players and families will continue to be our highest priority. We will do our best to execute our delayed spring programs while making ice available for our players.  Our priority for scheduling ice will be our MHC programs.  It is very likely that we will have some ice times that will be available for private sale.  When those times are known, we will publish the available times along with the process to make ice purchases. 

I realize that many of you have questions about what lies ahead.  Your Board of Director’s will be working together to answer those questions in the coming weeks.  I also realize that many of us have varying opinions regarding the actions taken by the County in response to the virus, and how that has impacted our activities.  I recognize the frustration, and understand that this has been a difficult time for many reasons.  It is in the best interest of our hockey club, our players, and our families to comply with and follow the County orders. St. Louis County will provide details for a phased return to our activities.  MO Hockey has accepted the guidance, and is formulating a summer schedule that should result in an on-time start to our fall season.  Our club will also adhere to the guidance.

Please be patient as we balance our scheduling activities against the coming County guidance.  We will continue to communicate, and provide as much detail that we can, as early as possible, to assist you in planning your family activities.

 

Please continue to stay safe and healthy!

 

Thank you,

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, response to STL County guidelines, 17 May 2020,

Hello Shark Families,

I hope you are safe and staying healthy.  There is no change to our operating status since last week’s update. All MHC hockey activities remain suspended.  

I want to take this opportunity to advise all of you that after the new County guidance was published last week, I sent a note to Dr. Page, the St. Louis County Executive.  The intent of the communication was to clarify the County guidance, to emphasize the negative impact the prolonged closure has on our business, and to query when we may be able to resume hockey activities in our facility.  In the note, I stressed that our organization was aware that risks would require mitigation, and we planned to move forward with safety conditions in place.

I received a reply from Dr. Page’s office this week. The reply confirmed that sporting events and activities, including hockey, will not be able to open with other businesses tomorrow.  As data demonstrates the ability to control the spread of the virus, more openings will be phased in. That could include hockey activities.  However, no definitive date was provided, and the reply stated that when we do have the opportunity to reopen, there will certainly be significant social distancing requirements. The Office of the County Executive expressed appreciation for the thought we are putting into the safety of our players and families.

Your Board of Directors will continue to keep safety as our priority. We realize our role in the community, and we will remain compliant with the County guidance.  While the reply I received from Dr. Page did not provide a change to our current status, I wanted all of you to know that while we fully understand the potential dangers of this virus, we are also not sitting idly.  We will continue to seek clarification when appropriate, and we will continue to plan to resume activities as soon as possible while setting conditions in our facility that will mitigate risks to our players and families.

Please continue to be patient.  On behalf of your Board of Directors, I thank you for your cooperation. 

Stay healthy and stay safe!

Thanks,

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

 

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, response to new STL County guidelines, 08 May 2020,

Hello Shark Families ,

Based on the release of new St. Louis County guidance, it seems appropriate to provide an update a little earlier this week than I have in past weeks. It is exciting to see the County relaxing restrictions set in place in response to COVID-19. Unfortunately, after review of the new St. Louis County policy, it is clear that our hockey operations and activities will remain in a suspended status.

There is no indication of how long this first phase of reduced restrictions will last. However, please know that your Board of Directors continues to plan and consider potential ways forward when we do eventually return. As I have communicated in prior updates, it is clear that our planned programs will be modified. But, specific details cannot be determined due to the uncertainty of when we will be cleared to open, and what social distancing requirements will be in place at that time.

Regarding a related topic, our Rink Manager, Lance Kammien, has been contacted many times regarding whether sheets of ice can be purchased for use. At this time, and for the duration of our suspended operations, MHC is not making any ice available for sale or use. When we resume operations, our priority will be to use our ice to move our planned programs forward. At that time, there may be sheets of ice that will be available for purchase. When we have determined that we have ice available, MHC will make an announcement, and provide details regarding what is available, and how it can be purchased.

Hopefully, the restrictions will be further reduced soon, and we will be able to resume hockey activities. Thanks you for your patience.

Please stay safe and healthy!

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, 03 May 2020

Hello Shark Families,

            MHC operations remain suspended. This week, a sub-group of your Board of Directors will discuss potential scenarios and program modifications that may be feasible when St. Louis County re-opens. Our intent is to be prepared to adapt our spring programs to the social distancing and gathering limits we will likely be constrained by. 

We hope this preparation will enable us to safely start hockey activities as soon as possible. As the county will almost certainly open in a phased approach, you can expect hockey activities to do the same.  Not all programs will begin immediately. We will make every effort to provide the most workable return to the ice that is possible. Please be patient, and flexible. On behalf of your Board of Directors, I will continue to communicate the latest developments to ensure our entire club is aware of our way forward. 

Please stay safe and healthy!

Thanks,

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC 

 

 

 

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, 26 April 2020

Hello Shark Families,

The MHC operating status has not changed. All MHC operations and programs remain suspended. 

There are signs that we may be able to resume operations in the near future as the Missouri Governor has announced some businesses will soon be able to open. Ultimately, our County guidance will be the key factor in determining when we can resume operations, and under what conditions. St.  Louis County remains under a stay at home ordinance until mid-May. We will closely monitor any change or developments to our County guidance. 

I have previously communicated that MHC intends to run the spring programs in their entirety. That has not changed. When all State and County guidance allows, we will run our spring programs. The format and timing of some aspects of the programs may require modification.  Depending on the conditions outlined in future State and County guidance, there is likely to be social distancing requirements and gathering limitations that we will comply with. Based on these potential conditions, some programs may be more conducive to operating. Please expect us to operate as soon as it is safe and within published guidance. To accomplish this, we may start some programs before others. Your Board of Directors will remain flexible and consider all options to resume our hockey activities. All future ice schedules and updates regarding our programs will be communicated via the channels that you have been seeing these updates. 

Finally, I think it is important to note that when we are able to resume operations, it is likely that we will publish specific parameters regarding our rink operations. For example, these parameters could set limits on the numbers of players in locker rooms, or physical distance between parents observing hockey activities. Please expect to see this guidance when we eventually resume operations. It is likely that these operating parameters will be necessary for MHC to comply with State and County guidance. Cooperation and patience will be essential. 

Safety of our Shark players and families will remain our highest priority. Hopefully, our players will be back on the ice soon. In the meantime, please stay safe and stay healthy!

Thanks,

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

 

 

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, 19 April 2020

Hello Shark Families,

I hope that you are all doing well and staying healthy! MHC’s operations remain suspended. Hopefully we will be back on the ice soon. We will continue to monitor all guidance provided by our federal, state, and county governments. When the guidance allows us to do so, we intend to start our postponed spring programs in their entirety. Depending on the actual start date, some scheduling modifications may be necessary. These potential changes, and any impact on registration fees, will be communicated to all before we commence the programs. 

The Board of Directors has received questions regarding volunteer hours. When we resume operations, there will be opportunities to complete volunteer requirements. We will not keep any volunteer deposit checks from those members who make an honest effort to fulfill their volunteer requirements. No action on any checks will be taken while our operations are suspended. Our Volunteer Director, Mike Reuss, is tracking all volunteer time and will communicate with all members who have an outstanding volunteer hour balance once we resume operations. 

I also want to take a moment to highlight that while our operations have been suspended, we have utilized this time to effectively improve the Shark Tank. Our rink manager, Lance Kammien, and his staff have ensured the completion of painting of walls, stripping and waxing floors, installation of additional handrails on steps, cleaning of all rink glass, the bleachers have been pulled out and thoroughly cleaned, the locker room walls have been scrubbed, and the entire facility has been cleaned several times.  We also had numerous parent volunteers assist with some of these projects before the quarantine direction from St. Louis County.  More improvements are planned. When we resume operations, the Tank will be like new and ready for our players to get back to hockey. 

Please take care and stay healthy!

Thanks,

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

 

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, 5 April 2020

Hello Shark Families,

I hope this update finds you all well as we continue to cope with the circumstances that the Corona Virus outbreak created. The MHC operating status remains suspended. All spring programs remain in a postponed status. 

I want to clarify that our spring programs are not cancelled. Our hope and intent is to run all our spring programs in their entirety, or with the least modification possible. Based on the current environment, it is not possible to provide any potential dates when MHC will be able to resume our activities and programs. 

We will continue to monitor developments regarding the virus with the intent to begin our hockey operations as soon as it is safely possible, and in a manner that is fully compliant and consistent with the guidance that is made available to us. While we all miss hockey, the most important thing for our players and families is to stay safe, comply with all guidance, and remain healthy. Thanks for your patience - please stay well!

V/r... Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

MHC Update on Rink Operations and COVID-19, 29 March 2020

Hello Shark Families,

                The operating status of Shark programs and activities remains unchanged. All spring programs remain in a postponed status. 

The Meramec Sharks golf tournament, normally held in late spring, will not take place. We are considering potential dates for that fundraiser in the fall. 

No definitive decisions have been made regarding when our hockey activities will resume.  Decisions concerning MHC’s operating status is dependent on the orders and guidance put in place because of the Corona Virus and social distancing efforts. Ideally, we hope to run our spring programs in their entirety. We recognize that modifications may be necessary, and we will consider these as more information becomes available. 

Please stay safe and healthy!

 

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

 

MHC Update, COVID-19 and Rink Operations, 22 March 2020

Hello Shark Families,

One week ago, we made the decision to suspend MHC Hockey Operations for two weeks. All MHC programs and activities remain suspended. This suspension is further extended until at least April 22, 2020. 

In the last week, the situation created by efforts to control the spread of the Corona Virus made it clear that our pause would be longer than we originally hoped. We will continue to monitor new developments and advise you of our operating status. We have not definitively cancelled any of our planned activities, instead, all spring programs are currently in a postponed status. Additionally, our rink staff has been present conducting deep cleaning as well as making improvements to the rink. You can expect another update on MHC’s status in a week, potentially sooner if there is a major change. 

The crisis created by this virus is effecting all of us. While we are all anxious to resume hockey, MHC will remain compliant with all mandated guidelines and we will stay consistent with the intent of these guidelines and the community efforts to enforce social distancing. On behalf of your Board of Directors I want to thank all of you for your patience and understanding. Please take care, and stay well. 

Thanks again,

Larry Borkowski

President, MHC

MHC Central States Division Announcement 

 

MOHockey has voted to change the structure of AA Hockey.

Missouri Hockey has voted in favor of changing the structure of the AA Division for the Pee Wee and Bantam age groups.  This vote represents the culmination of a coordinated effort and our Club was represented in the process. It is important to note that this plan is not completely finalized.  The Central States League must still vote and accept this way forward.  This plan will be detailed to the Central States League by early next week for their approval. The purpose of this note is to inform you of the intent of this potential action and summarize the changes it entails for our Club and players.

 

The AA environment in Missouri was not healthy.

For several years, MOHockey provided a Tier II AA Division at the Squirt thru Midget age groups, while several Clubs in the area also provided Tier II AA teams that competed outside of the MOHockey division in the Central States League.  Unfortunately, there were noticeable consequences resulting from the number of AA Teams.  MOHockey expressed concerns that AA skill was spread too thin, based on the performance of both MOHockey AA teams in tournament play as well as the performance of the St. Louis based Central States teams in the Central States league.  Worse, the number of teams, and the fact that the CS teams were run by Clubs in a manner independent of MOHockey lead to Clubs, including Meramec, losing players to other Clubs that participated in Central States.  Recruiting, and working around the registration processes became prevalent; creating an environment that was counterproductive to MoHockey families and players  

 

Consolidating MOHockey AA into inclusive Central States teams resolves issues.

MOHockey will provide a governing body for the St. Louis area teams that compete in the Central States Tier II AA league.  The agreement in place is for a two-year pilot program that enables MOHockey to enter three (3) AA teams at the Pee Wee and Bantam age levels. These teams will complete in the 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 birth year groups.   The teams for each birth year group will be fairly drawn from fencing the combination of current Club zip codes.  This fencing will be strictly enforced, with few exceptions.  

 

The fencing structure is expected to provide the most optimal distribution of skill, and the strict adherence to the structure prevents Clubs from losing players.  Narrowing the number of AA teams will provide a higher level of skilled play at the AA level, while also allowing higher levels of play at the respective Club levels as part of MOHockey Travel and House Divisions. 

 

Beginning in the upcoming 2020-2021 Fall season, the respective birth year teams from the three Central States fenced groups will represent MOHockey’s AA Division for Pee Wee and Bantam  and will participate in the Blue Note Cup Playoffs.  There will no longer be a separate Tier II MOHockey AA Division for Pee Wee and Bantam.  A1 will be the highest MOHockey level now at Pee Wee and Bantam.  MOHockey will continue to have a AA Division for Squirt players.  However, no Club will be allowed to enter Squirt teams in Central States play.  Additionally, there will be no changes to the Midget AA structure.  For Midgets, there will be Open District teams competing in the Central States AA League and separate Open District AA teams competing in the MoHockey League.   

 

This change will have impacts on MHC.

There will be many positive impacts due to this change.  MHC will retain more of our players and will be able to provide a path to Tier I AAA level hockey through our Club.  Players will not have to leave MHC to pursue a high level of play.  This will also create a higher skill level of play amongst the players remaining in MHC programs.  Our Shark AA players will not be playing for another Club.  The AA Central States team for Shark players will be new – and will draw from the zip codes of MHC, Affton, and Southern Illinois.   Representatives from Affton, Southern Illinois, and MHC will form a Committee that will govern these four new teams and share resources, to include ice times and coaching staffs.  The team name and uniform will be new, and not look like any of the existing Affton, Southern Illinois and MHC Club uniforms.   Travel will be decided by each team. But league play will take place with Chicago based teams, and teams may expect to travel to Chicago 4-6 times for league games.  Other tournaments will be decided individually by teams.   

 

In closing:

This transition will likely not be perfect, which is expected when an organization and group of organizations move a program in a different direction.  In many cases, we will learn lessons as we go, and have to apply those lessons learned.  This change of direction is favorable from a development perspective, and over time will provide opportunities for the highest skilled players, and more competitive hockey with higher skill levels in all MOHockey divisions.  The MHC Board will maintain a high level of involvement in this new way forward and ensure the fairest environment for our Club. We will provide more information to our MHC members as specific details about the Central States AA team are developed.

 

Please direct all questions to Don Arias, MHC Director of Player Development, at playerdevelopment@meramecsharks.com

 

Thank you,

                  Larry Borkowski

                  President, MHC

 

Letter from MHC President concerning COVID-19 and Rink Operations

** Corona Virus Update #4

Hello Shark Families ,

On behalf of your Board of Directors, I want to advise you of a change to MHC programs and activities. Starting on Monday, March 16th, MHC will suspend all programs and on-ice activities for a two week period.

There were many factors that infuenced this decision, and I will highlight some of them. Shark Week for our 6U/8U players and families was scheduled for the upcoming week, as was the start of our spring programs. We hoped that we could alter our Shark Week activities in a way that would allow us to safely continue the activites. This effort to modify Shark Week activities, and potentially minimize the number of participants at the rink was well intended, but proved to create an event that actually contradicted the reason we have Shark Week. Shark Week is intended to be family oriented. It is intended for maximum participation, and enjoyment for entire hockey families. While modifications may have enabled compliance with the County group gathering guidance, it stripped away what makes the events that comprise Shark Week memorable. 

With regard to our spring programs, the high degree of uncertainty of what lies ahead in the upcoming weeks factored in greatly. Each day is marked by changes that are intended to create an environment of social distancing. It is truly not clear what restrictions or guidance lie ahead. MHC is at a time on our calendar that we have a definitive break between our fall and spring programs. With many indications suggesting the very strong possibility of the need to suspend operations at some point in the near future, taking advantage of this change in schedules enables us to take a pause very cleanly, with the most flexibility and options when we resume operations.

I want to emphasize that this is a pause in operations. It is not a permanent stoppage, nor have we definitively cancelled any particular activity. Our intention will be to resume our programs and activities as soon as it is prudent and feasible. We will also do our best to re-schedule suspended activities, and run the duration of our planned spring programs in their entirety - if it is possible to do so. 

Your Board of Directors will work together to determine the best way forward for our hockey programs and activites, as well as determining the appropriate time to resume operations. There are many unknowns that complicate this decision making. The safety of our players and families is our priority. Also critical is our role in the community, and our wilingness to support the policies and ongoing efforts to curb the potential spread of the virus with social distancing. Your support and cooperation will be critical as we move forward. While I will not be providing a daily update, you can expect communication within a week regarding the progress we are making with the planning effort, as well as any other factors that may be pertinent to resuming operations. 

Thank you,

Larry Borkowski
President, MHC

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Want to participate in your local community? Become a  sponsor for Meramec Sharks Hockey Club and support youth in your area.