The Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League have both been ready to start their seasons for weeks. In fact, both leagues are well into the pre-season and the MJHL will begin regular-season play on Friday, Oct. 9.
Meanwhile, on Monday night, the executive of the five-team Capital Region Junior B Hockey League agreed to a 32-game 2020-21 schedule that will also start this Friday night, Oct. As a result, all of the junior leagues in Southern Manitoba have their new schedules and are ready to get started. Despite the ongoing would-wide pandemic, hockey’s back in Manitoba.
There is one game on the CRJHL schedule on Friday night as the North Winnipeg Satellites journey to Arborg to take on the IceDawgs at 8 p.m. On Saturday, last year’s top two teams, the St. Malo Warriors and Selkirk Fishermen (the 2018-19 – and still defending – champions) will battle in Selkirk at 7:30. On Tuesday night, North Winnipeg will open its home season by playing host to the St. Malo Warriors at Billy Mosienko Arena at 8 p.m.
“It’s great to get back at it,” said James Worthing, the head coach and general manager of the Lundar Falcons, who will start their season on Friday, Oct. 16, by playing host to the Arborg IceDawgs at 8 p.m. “It’s exciting because last year we got into our new arena, but this year we’ll play the whole season in the new building. We’re just about to go into our new dressing room and the gym is new and ready for us. We’ve got a young team and everybody is excited to get started.”
It’s bittersweet for the Falcons who lost long-time general manager Neil Thage in the summer. Thage passed away at age 67. There will be a special presentation made by the club to Neil’s family on Oct. 16.
The last league to get going, the Keystone Junior B Hockey League, will get started on Nov. 7, so it won’t be long before all of Manitoba’s Jr. A and Jr. B leagues will be operating again.
However, the head coach and GM of the Fishermen, Chris Poponick noted that the situation in Manitoba is not necessarily written in stone.
“Yeah, I’m excited but cautious,” he said. “At any point the season can come to a pause or halt.”
And that’s just the world we’re living in today.