As the coronavirus pandemic surges into its second wave, the fate of the 2020-2021 high school hockey season is seriously in question.
Last week River East Transcona and Louis Riel school divisions announced they were cancelling all competitive sports and outside-of-school activities for the first semester due to COVID-19 concerns.
Thursday, the Winnipeg School Division made a similar announcement, which had many wondering out loud if that was the final straw for the Winnipeg High School Hockey League to still have a viable season.
WHSHL President Dana Gordon of River East Collegiate says the current season still has a heartbeat, but admits it’s only a faint one at best. Or in hockey terms, it’s down to the final minute of play, trailing by one, the goalie has been pulled, and there are two players in the box.
“It’s going to be very challenging to move forward. We’re hoping to go ahead with 13 teams that have committed,” said Gordon Thursday afternoon.
“We have now given those 13 teams until Friday at noon to make a decision as to whether or not they’re going to move forward.”
“We’re hoping no other teams opt-out.”
There are nine city teams and four from the rural area who remained eligible or committed to play as of Oct. 1. Gordon says travel restrictions and maintaining some semblance of competitive balance just add to the degree of difficulty. “The traditional seeding of divisions, and how we have usually run our league is probably not going to be feasible due to the low numbers we have.
“We have teams that have committed, from all three divisions and we have to see what’s the best way — what’s the safest way.
“Because although we want kids to play hockey, we also want them all to be safe.”