DOMINION, N.S. -- The ice is in, and hockey is back, but fewer minor hockey players are lacing up their skates this season.

Some minor hockey associations say their registration numbers are down and they're blaming the pandemic.

As minor hockey players in Glace Bay, N.S., are stepping on the ice for the first time since mid-March, the rules and regulations between the boards are the same, but much has changed off the ice since the pandemic hit.

"I think part of the joy we get out of having our children play hockey is to be able to watch them play hockey," said parent Geoff Oliver. "So that will be a little different."

Parents are only allowed inside to tie skates, and help with equipment, but then have to leave.

James Edwards is the president of Glace Bay Minor Hockey. He says COVID-19 has played a role in keeping enrollment down this year.

"Our numbers are down a little bit, but every day people seem to be trickling in and we hope to get back to our normal numbers," Edwards says.

Rink manager John Wadden is tasked with enforcing the new rules, as parents and players enter the arena for the first time during the pandemic.

"It's a small building and it's easy to see who's coming and who's going," Wadden said. "Glace Bay minor hockey have rules, we have our rules, and so between us we will enforce the rules."

But with restrictions easing Oct. 1, minor hockey associations are hoping they will see a boost in numbers. Right now, parents for most age groups are not allowed in the rink, but that could soon change.

"We know how much our children love playing sports and know how important it is for them to be playing sports, so we're really happy to be back into the swing of things," Oliver said.

For Edwards, and the coaches. It's important to find a balance between following the rules, and creating an environment everyone feels comfortable in.

"The kids have already bought in to the safety plan," Edwards says. "I'm a school bus driver and the kids are no problem. They're wearing their masks and social distancing. So it will be no different here."

Edwards says all minor hockey associations plan to meet with Hockey Nova Scotia to hear how restrictions will ease for both players and parents after Oct. 1.