The Manitoba Junior Hockey League has officially announced its modified schedule for the upcoming 2020-21 Manitoba Junior ‘A’ hockey season. After months of deliberation due to the current COVID-19 global pandemic, it has been deemed safe to return to sport throughout the province, including the participation of all 12 MJHL league teams in a set season schedule.
Although appearing different than past seasons, many key elements will remain for 2020-21, as teams, owners, coaches, managers, fans and players adapt to the ever-changing world during this pandemic.
Beginning on Friday, October 9, the season will run 22 weeks, finishing on March 13, in time for the MJHL postseason, which will have its own layout provided at a later date. The season schedule will be broken down into four five-week chunks, with three set breaks throughout the 22 week schedule (November, Christmas, February) which will allow teams time for recovery pending any COVID-19 related illnesses etc.
“In the course of our planning for the upcoming season, it became clear that we had to further self-impose schedule modifications and restrictions to ensure that we were moving forward in a safe, structured and responsible manner.” MJHL Commissioner Kevin Saurette said in a league-issued press release Thursday. “Each organization is to be commended for their absolute commitment to providing players with a safe development opportunity on and off the ice in the face of the difficult challenges ahead.”
With the expansion Winnipeg Freeze entering the picture for 2020-21, the now 12-team league will be broken up into three geographical divisions: the Northwest Division (Dauphin, OCN, Swan Valley, Waywayseecappo), the Interior Division (Neepawa, Portage, Virden, Winkler) and the Southeast Division (Selkirk, Steinbach, Winnipeg Blues, Winnipeg Freeze). This will limit travel, player interactions, contacts and exposure, while hoping to see a minimal amount of game postponements due to the coronavirus.
Schedule Beakdown and Format:
Each team will play the other three teams within their division eight times during the regular season (Four Home/Four Away).
Each team will play the eight teams outside of their division twice during the season.
Each team will play a 40-game regular season schedule which has been significantly reduced from the standard 60-game regular season schedule (20 Home, 20 Away).
Each team will play two games a week and will only face one team each week.
Each team will play all of their games almost exclusively during the weekend this season (Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday).
Games scheduled within a team’s own division are almost exclusively arranged in four-game, two-week blocks.