Early this week, the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League made the decision to cancel the remainder of the 2020-21 hockey season, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the current provincial public health order.
“The MMJHL would like to thank the communities that we represent, the rinks for their support, our fans, and our sponsors,” read a league statement posted on the MMJHL website. “We understand the economic impact that COVID has had on our Province and know that our member teams, sponsors, and fans have been impacted as well.”
Calling it a “difficult” decision, MMJHL President Kerry Lines knows that the writing was on the wall for some time.
“The MMJHL would like to thank the communities that we represent, the rinks for their support, our fans, and our sponsors,” the statement continued. “We understand the economic impact that COVID has had on our Province and know that our member teams, sponsors, and fans have been impacted as well.”
“These are unprecedented times and the events around COVID have impacted so many lives and families. Our priority as a league is to be compliant with the health orders and respect and support the decisions that are made to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk.”
The MMJHL did see 22 regular season games played from October 13 through 29 prior to the league-wide shutdown as ‘Code Red’ was announced for the beginning of November.
The Transcona Railer Express saw Conner Grunsten (five goals, 14 points) finish atop the league leaders, while teammate Mattie Boonstra finished second in scoring with nine goals (league high) and 13 points. With a perfect 5-0-0 record, Transcona finished in first place with the Stonewall Jets (3-0-1) and the Pembina Valley Hawks (3-1-0) not far behind.
“I would like to extend a special thank you to our players, support staff, team ownership, and management,” Lines wrote. “Thank you for your dedication to the MMJHL and the communities that you serve. To our graduating players, thanks for being part of our great league and your place in our MMJHL history.”
Despite a long, drawn-out suspension-postponement-cancellation process, the league does have much faith in a safe and effective return-to-play framework in the fall of 2021.
“We look to next season with great optimism and are hopeful we will return to the ice for training camps in September,” the statement concluded. “Please check our MMJHL web page for updates in the upcoming weeks for MMJHL league and team updates.”