Posted by sean @ CTCHS

Came across this news story on my Facebook in June. A weekly outdoor ball hockey group in Montreal, Quebec making hockey happen with physical distancing guidelines being followed.

Physically distanced ball hockey becomes reality thanks to innovative rules


Find a way

As someone who organizes games for a group, I tuned in and was fired up. Totally creative solution to one of the biggest threats hockey has seen!

There are a ton of people that would balk at this idea of hockey, as the organizer explains, but in the end, I think if a player is faced with NEW HOCKEY vs NO HOCKEY, the choice is obvious to them... and I agree. Let's play.

Lots of players are forced to adapt to a new style of game, with reduced team size, increase of rules and guidelines. I see this 'real life Table Top hockey' as one new clever way to play.

I was thinking how this idea can be applied to situations outside of a pandemic like beginner hockey, special needs players or those with reduced or no mobility.

As I watched this clip and heard the organizer talk, I realized, I know this guy somehow! Scanned back for his name, looked back through my email and remembered our chat about Mission skates a couple years back. Small world!


Following up

I messaged him to say I saw his story on the news and congratulate him on the execution! Certainly the first person I have seen to come out with a safe solution for hockey after everything hockey related had closed down due to Covid.

He replied back with his drawings (looks to be cleverly drawn up in an Excel spreadsheet... awesome, use what you have, now!) of how the spacing worked out in his rink.

If you were thinking about doing it, but didn't want to spend the time planning, no worries, Brent has done it for you!


Brent's Notes:

  • Wingers get super-wide slots, as they are the furthest from the net
  • Defencemen get bump-in zones at the net, in order to corral rebounds
  • The effort was made to have forwards be able to go into the corners for the ball on one side, and defencemen on the other, so as to allow for diversity of play (depending on where the ball goes).
  • Most everywhere there is a 6-foot gap between players
  • Players' feet must stay in their zone. Any step outside the boundary means a change of possession (although players may lunge / poke check into the zone of an opponent)
  • Changes on the fly or stoppages, but the onus is on the players changing to avoid the ball and the other players
  • Balls frozen by goaltender is given to nearest defender, and ball is in play
  • Face-offs after goals, at center


More Wisdom from Brent:

  1. When playing on asphalt, the goalies said their pads would be torn apart, so I bought two packs of 12 inch x 12 inch plastic hockey tiles at Canadian Tire (12 per pack) for each crease. Easy to assemble. Standard hockey nets.
  2. Players do take a few shifts to get used to it, and it ain't perfect; it took heaps of player comments to get it to this. A few suggested a basketball-like shot clock (given the defenders cannot rush in on an attacker, sometimes the wingers and centerman wait for the perfect pass, and it can be annoying), but nobody offers to OPERATE the shot clock!


Signing out

Most would agree to hope this doesn't become the new normal, but I am super grateful for guys like Brent who attempt to make the new normal bearable. Better than sitting on the couch and waiting for something better to come along. (In my opinion).

Whether it was just 10 people who benefit from it or 100. I think Brent deserves major props for executing and making hockey happen in a period of time where hardly anyone else could or was scared to try.

If someone was thinking about it but didn't believe it can be done, here's proof. Maybe someone else brings this idea further and comes up with something else. Lots of reasons why I'm sharing this and I hope it will benefit a hockey group somewhere!


You can find Brent Schiess on Facebook if you care to reach out for more info or if you want to play real life Table Top hockey in Montreal! Or message me and I can pass on his email.


sean @ coast to coast