The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Flin Flon Bombers have been unsuccessful in their pursuit of being granted temporary relocation to Creighton, SK. for the immediate future. After a forced season pause due to the growing COVID-19 concerns within Manitoba, the only Manitoba-based SJHL team will have an early Christmas break, effective immediately, with hopes of returning to action in the new year.
“The SJHL and the Flin Flon Bombers have been having discussions with Health Authorities in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan along with representatives of the Saskatchewan Government since Manitoba was deemed a Red Zone due to the increasing numbers of COVID-19,” the SJHL tweeted Monday evening.
“These discussions included finding alternatives for the Bombers to practice and play,” the statement continued. “A solution to date has been unable to be found due to the daily increases of COVID-19. The Bombers have exhausted all avenues in the process while keeping the health of their players and communities in mind. With that the Flin Flon Bombers have decided to pause their season and resume play after the Christmas break.”
Although considered a ‘border town’, Flin Flon’s Whitney Forum is located within Manitoba – just 700 metres from its western border – and saw its operation put on hold with the latest full-province ‘Code Red’ lockdown on Thursday, November 12. With Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin putting the entire province into the restricted level, hockey leagues across the province that had not shut down competition before the 12th ensured that all sanctioned hockey activities were put on pause for the foreseeable future – including that of the Bombers.
Currently sitting at 0-2-0 and having already seen four games postponed, the team will watch as its remaining two November matchups are scrapped, while its eight December contests will go to the wayside. The next scheduled game that the Bombers may be eligible to participate in would be on Friday, January 1, when the team is set to host La Ronge.
After attempting to put the wheels in motion on a movement that would see the team host practices and workout sessions in Creighton, while having each of its players live with billet families within Saskatchewan, and play each of its games as visitors on the road, the motion fell short with governing bodies, forcing the Bombers to pull the plug on the remaining first half schedule. Manitoba’s current COVID-19 protocols are in effect until December 18, 2020.
Following the widely-documented tale of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues and Freeze blatantly disregarding the health directive as to only essential services being allowed to operate during ‘Code Red’, the Bombers were under high scrutiny with their plan of attack moving forward following the province’s orders.
A string of bad luck saw Flin Flin’s home opener cancelled, as poor weather near Melfort kept the Mustangs from venturing out on the road for their scheduled Saturday, November 7 showdown. Following Flin Flon’s 3-1 loss in Melfort on Friday, the second half of the home-and-home was rescheduled for Tuesday, November 10. It was a game that the Bombers probably would have preferred not to have played. The home team lost 8-3 and will now have that faint final memory of hockey moving forward.
Although already playing the game following Dr. Roussin’s Tuesday morning announcement, the team did have its SJHL schedule to follow. A decision was quickly made on November 11 to play the team’s back-to-back home games on November 13 and 14 against the Klippers in Kindersley, as opposed to hosting them against the province’s orders at home, as originally scheduled.
The decision was put under the public microscope before the club announced that its two weekend games – which had been moved to Kindersley – had then been officially postponed in a vague statement released on Twitter on the afternoon of Thursday, November 12, saying that more details would follow. That news came 11 days later.
Although having plans in place to play on the road against the Battlefords North Stars on November 20 and 21, while rescheduling the first half of a home-and-home against La Ronge on November 27, the team and league made the decision to halt all Flin Flon Bombers activity effective November 12. No activity was planned in Flin Flon through November, while originally considering holding practices in Creighton, the Bombers opted out of that following the province’s guidelines. While the remainder of the SJHL teams carry on with the 2020-21 season, all Bombers activity has been put on pause, making Dr. Roussin very happy. The team will provide further information in the coming weeks.