The Manitoba Moose will likely have rookie forward Cole Perfetti in the lineup for the rest of the 2020-21 season. Already operating under special circumstances to allow the 19-year-old to dress in the North American professional league this season as an underage player, the American Hockey League is expected to retain its Ontario Hockey League players for the remainder of the scheduled calendar year.
On Thursday morning, it was announced that OHL would likely not see an official return-to-play for the 2020-21 Candian Hockey League season. This announcement came just a day after the CHL pulled the plug on its second-straight Memorial Cup, due to the rather uncontrollable spread of COVID-19.
Les discussions entre la OHL et le gouvernement de l'Ontario se poursuivent, dit la ministre du Sport de la province, Lisa MacLeod.
Elle était optimiste à la fin mars, mais la recrudescence des cas et l'ordre de rester à la maison en Ontario ont changé la donne, dit-elle. #onrc
— Raphaël Guillemette (@raphael_SRC) April 15, 2021
Ontario’s Minister of Sport Lisa MacLeod called the idea of starting up a OHL season, “irresponsible”, while further adding that Ontario “will not be putting young athletes at risk”.
Although not officially calling off the 2020-21 season, MacLeod said the option remains to keep striving towards a healthy return-to-play when the time is right. There was not a specific set of numbers or health guidelines given as to what would be required for the OHL to return.
That said, it certainly will not occur before the end of the 2020-21 AHL regular season (May 16).
Under typical circumstances, players eligible for the AHL include CHL graduates aged 21+ or import players from overseas that have not been drafted to one of the CHL’s three leagues. Perfetti is one of the youngest players participating in an AHL season in the league’s long history, and has performed exceptionally well in his role with the Moose.
Currently leading the team in power play goals, while sitting third in points-per-game, Perfetti’s recent tear has seen multi-point performances in three-straight outings, while most importantly helping his team to three victories in a row as Manitoba enters the final third of the season.
“This isn’t a 19-year-old’s league; this is a man’s league,” Perfetti said this past week. “So it still is very fast and there isn’t a lot of time and space. I’m still adjusting to the game, but it’s starting to slow down a little bit. I’m starting to get more confidence and have kind of been able to bring the play to me. I think I’ve been getting a lot of quality chances this year and have been able to set guys up well.”
Currently sitting second in points on the Moose, the Jets’ 2020 first round draft selection also finds himself near the top of the list in terms of rookie point production league-wide. His four power play goals are second-best amongst rookies, while his 11 points on the man advantage is tops in the league amongst all players.
Manitoba next sees action on Thursday, April 22, as the Moose host the visiting Stockton Heat for a five-game set to conclude the AHL-record 17-game homestand. Currently sitting second in the Canadian Division with an 11-11-2 record, Manitoba will look to keep the ball rolling in its final third of the season.