On Friday, the Manitoba government moved the city of Winnipeg’s COVID warning to Code Red as coronavirus cases spiked across the province.
As a result, hockey leagues in the province began shutting down once again.
According to Dr. Brent Roussin, the province (mostly Winnipeg) more than doubled its existing record for the most new COVID-19 cases in a single day — 480 cases on Friday. The announcement came after a terrible week of infections that broke records on an almost daily basis. As of Friday, there were 104 people in hospital with COVID-19 — 79 in Winnipeg.
So, in order to protect players and fans from the virus, the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League was the first to postpone play.
“We are taking a cautious approach due to exposure to COVID-19,” said MMJHL President Kerry Lines, hours before the government announcement came down. “We will reassess the situation on Monday. Games will be re-scheduled.”
Not long after the government made its announcement, other leagues began postponing games.
Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League executive board member Michael Gert announced that the MWJHL was shutting down, moments after True North Sports and Entertainment announced that the Bell MTS Iceplex was closing.
“Bell MTS Iceplex is closing its doors to the public as of 5 p.m. today (Friday),” Gerl wrote. “All games and practices for this weekend are canceled. All MWJHL games are POSTPONED until further notice.”
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League played its games on Friday night outside of Winnipeg. The Blues-Freeze game at the RINK was postponed. The league is studying the situation. While arenas in Winnipeg will officially close on Monday, rinks outside the Capital Region can remain open. It immediately prompted the Selkirk Steelers and Steinbach Pistons to move Sunday night’s game in Selkirk to Steinbach. A game between the two teams in Selkirk will be decided at a later date.
Earlier last week, the Keystone Jr. B Hockey League moved its starting date back a month to Dec. 7. The Capital Region Jr. Hockey League will continue to play its games in Arborg, Lundar and St. Malo and will continue to monitor the situation.