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High school hockey follows the trend, cancels season


After the Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled its season, Feb. 12, the Westman High School Hockey League followed suit, last week.
League co-president Jason Alf said it was a disappointing, but inevitable decision.
“The further along we went without any kind of information, the more the light of hope became more and more dim. We had talked about holding out longer and longer and it just didn’t seem like it was going to work out,” he said, adding there was uncertainty surrounding ice availability, as well.
Of the eight teams committed to playing this season, a couple had decided to pull out before the league’s decision to cancel.
“It was an announcement everyone knew was coming, just waiting for it officially,” Alf said.
As of now, the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League is the only organized league in the province not to have cancelled its season yet.
“We didn’t have to (cancel the season). I think a lot were waiting for Hockey Manitoba to make the announcement (for people) and I think in some ways, I wish they had. This is terrible for kids that they’re not playing. We get that. We understand that. But this yo-yo of hope was getting to be a little much, too,” Alf said.
“So we decided to make the decision. It really wasn’t a decision that had to be made. It just had to be stated. Last year at this time we were starting playoffs. And we haven’t even started a league yet.”
Had it received permission to play, the earliest the league could have started was early March, which would have resulted in a conflict surrounding spring break, as well as other factors to take into account.
With last year’s league final being cancelled and now with this season gone, a lot of players ended their high school playing careers on a sour note.
“Last year, our team had a chance to win a championship. We needed three games at the most. Didn’t get it. So those Grades 12s missed out,” Alf said.
“My Grade 12s this year, who were going to be the leaders, got a game in, so not only did they lose a chance at a championship, they lost a chance at a season. And trickles down to everyone. The (Dauphin) Kings looked like they were going to have a good year. The (Parkland) Rangers were having a great year. Minor hockey in general. Kids just want to skate.”
With the disappointment of losing the season, Alf wishes the thank the players, especially the veterans who are moving on, the parents, sponsors, coaching staff and media for supporting the team and the league.
“I hope that next year, we’ll have some bigger and better things.”

Doug Zywina