Will this be another season where the hockey record books have a blank entry in the “champion” column?
The Ford government’s announcement on Monday, January 3, about closures in the province included indoor sport and recreational facilities.
Almost immediately, games started showing up as “postponed” in hockey schedules around the province for dates from January 5 – the day the new rules went into effect.
There is no indication how long the situation will last, however, the government said the restrictions will be in place for at least 21 days, until January 26.
Not only will arena closures affect hockey league operations, it has forced many leagues to pull the plug on planned tournaments.
“Ford’s announcement today has solidified that we will be cancelling our Sweetheart Tournament as well as our Winter Classic Tournament,” said Michelle Whyte, President of the Orangeville Girl’s Hockey Association. “This is absolutely devastating news for us as we rely on our tournaments for fundraising. We had 100 teams scheduled to play in seven different rinks this year for our Sweetheart Tournament. It was going to be one of our largest tournaments ever.”
Most hockey leagues in province are at the halfway mark of their 2021/22 schedule. T
he Greater Metro Hockey League announced immediately that although they plan to continue with the season, the season is “paused” until January 26.
The Tottenham Thunder already had to give up their last game scheduled for Monday, January 3, when the team from Plattsville called it off because of a COVID outbreak on that team.
The Provincial Junior C Hockey League started listing postponed games on Monday evening. The postponement noticed seemed to be going by division rather than by the League.
By 9:00 p.m., over 50 scheduled games had a “postponed” flag inserted in the “game time” column.
The Alliston Hornets Sunday, January 2, game against the Orillia Terrier was cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions.
The Hornets were slated to play again on Friday night. There was no champion in last year’s Junior C Hockey as there was no real season.
The previous year, the entire League was shut-down in playoffs.
The Hornets were given the championship that season based on their first-place finish in the standings, but they were unable to complete their final championships series against the Stayner Siskins.
As of Monday night, minor hockey in the region had not posted a statement regarding the cancellation of practices or games.
No doubt the Minor Hockey Executive were the situation and determining how to proceed given the fact that the 21-day cancellation is only an estimate at this point in time.
The Town of New Tecumseth issued a statement that all recreation centres will be closed to the public along with fitness centres. That announcement means absolutely no hockey activities will be taking place.
When, and if, hockey does return the cancellations will have a huge impact on League schedules.
With so many games being missed, teams will either have a scorching schedule to play to make up for lost games or the leagues must adjust the schedule to eliminate the missed games and base standings on games played.
Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times