The 2020-21 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season has nearly completed its second weekend of play. Yes, the weekend is over, but not all scheduled weekend games came to a close. With a revamped schedule, three divisions and series styled weekend matchups, commissioner Kevin Saurette and the MJHL took all the precautions necessary to ensure a 2020-21 season could be played, despite the ongoing global pandemic.
Although never able to account for the weather, travel or playing conditions, the league did a phenomenal job setting up the 2020-21 season for significant success. Opening weekend saw each team play twice (from Friday, October 9 to Sunday, October 11), before week two began this past Friday (October 16) and saw the same teams face-off once again against each other in back-to-back styled matchups.
All went without a hitch until Sunday’s afternoon contest between the freshly minted Winnipeg Freeze and the Steinbach Pistons. After seeing the Pistons pound the league’s newest club by scores of 2-0 and 8-0 last weekend, the teams played a significantly more competitive game on Saturday in Steinbach, to which the home team won 5-4 in a shootout in front of 407 spectators at the T.G. Smith Centre.
The Pistons then packed up first thing on Sunday morning and drove to Manitoba’s capital for their fourth game against Winnipeg in a matter of 10 days. The 2:00 PM afternoon matinee started on time, however it didn’t take much time for officials to blow play dead. With 5:20 left to play in a scoreless opening period, the officiating crew determined that the ice surface and playing conditions were deemed ‘unsafe to play’ and the game was suspended.
Tied 0-0, the teams left The RINK facility and will be forced to pick back up at a later date and time. Information on the rescheduling of the game will be announced by the MJHL in the coming weeks. Interestingly enough, at the time of the announced suspension, Freeze winger Jonathan Hertzsprung found himself in the penalty box with 57 seconds remaining on a two-minute hooking infraction.
Whenever it is that the teams pick back up to complete the game, that 57-second power play will be how the game begins – thus providing a penalty significantly longer than even Hertzsprung imagined… maybe even the longest in MJHL history. There has yet to be any announcement as to if the teams will be required to dress the exact same lineups for the resumption of the game, or if each club will be allowed to pursue transactions in the time period leading up to the completion of Sunday’s contest.
Either way, it will most certainly be a hooking minor that most may never forget.