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MJHL cancels remainder of season and playoffs

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The Manitoba Junior Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of the 2020-21 regular season and playoffs.
The decision was made after multiple discussions with public health officials, the provincial government, facility managers and stakeholders.
Dauphin Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said the decision was disappointing to say the least.
“Frustrating and utterly disappointing. We had a good hockey club this year. We thought we could do some good things. The first thing you get sick about is the 20-year-olds, because they lost last year’s playoff season and a full season this year,” he said.
“The playoffs are huge. They’re like a second half of a season. For those guys to lose playoffs and then lose a full season, you feel for those kids.”
Hedley hopes Hockey Canada allows overage players to play as 21-year-olds, even if it is a limited number.
“Even if it’s three a team, as long as they’re on your roster the year before, maybe three kids could actually play as 21-year-olds for one year and give them an opportunity,” he said.
Hedley noted there is a domino effect when NCAA schools extend a year of eligibility. Players that were supposed to graduate last year, get an extra year, he said, pushing everything back.
“Where kids that have scholarships lined up now have no place to go because seniors are staying,” he said.
Hedley pointed out the MJHL and its member teams were following all the guidelines established by public health officials and the provincial government. The only hockey-related cases of COVID were associated with Rink Hockey Academy (RHA).
“Every trace case that started with the COVID virus went back to the RHA. Whether it was in Yellowhead bantam, that was RHA. Whether it was OCN with the kid training at RHA. The cases came out of RHA. So the MJHL basically had a perfect record and then we get shutdown,” he said.
Teams will have the option to continue to provide training and development opportunities and exhibition games based on their individual circumstances and facility availability under the current public health orders and Hockey Manitoba directives.
Hedley said there are four or five teams that are willing to do that as long as there is ice available.
“A lot is going to depend on what happens on Mar. 5, what kind of measures are in place. I’d like to get some exhibition games for our guys, for sure. And we’re definitely willing to run practices and line up games if we can. You have to use your roster guys, so we’re not allowed to bring anybody in after Feb. 25. It’s players that are on your roster at the time,” he said.
As for what this means for the Kings off the ice, team president Ashley Shaw said it will be hard from a financial standpoint.
“Because we’re losing revenue from being able to play games and having fans in the stands and things like that. But going forward, we just have to follow the restrictions and hope that, come September, we can ice a team again,” she said.
When it comes to possibly playing exhibition games, Shaw said the organization is willing to do whatever it can to help its players, but it all comes down to the restrictions.
“We just have to wait and see what’s listed. But we’re definitely talking about all of that right now. We definitely want to do what’s best for our players,” she added.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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