GOJHL season over; OHL suspends operations (updated)
The GOJHL season is over.
About an hour after the Caledonia Corvairs defeated the Hamilton Kilty B’s 3-2 in Game 2 of their Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference semifinal Thursday night in Hamilton, the GOJHL issued a press release confirming their season has come to an end after receiving a directive from Hockey Canada.
“Due to the ongoing health concerns related to the COVID-19, Hockey Canada has recommended to suspend all play within the organization across Canada,” the release read. “The GOJHL supports the decision of Hockey Canada and has suspended play in the 2020 GOJHL playoffs.”
St. Catharines Falcons general manager Frank Girhiny confirmed the season was indeed cancelled and that there was no discussion about postponing the playoffs until later.
“After much consultation with the Hockey Canada membership, our chief medical officer and public health officials, the Hockey Canada Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including our national championships, until further notice, effective Friday, March 13, 2020,” the release said.
“We recognize the tremendous effort that has been put forth all year by individuals across the country as they participate in Canada’s game. Although it is difficult to process the hockey season ending abruptly, we feel this is the best course of action in order to do our part to keep the country safe.”
Girhiny understood the reasoning.
“As an organization, we work hard to get to the playoffs and everyone is excited, but more importantly, it’s that everybody is in a safe environment, especially after the news of the last 48 hours,” he said. “This is the right thing to do.
“It’s heartbreaking, especially for our 20-year-olds who are graduating, but safety comes first.”
Earlier in the day, the Ontario Hockey League joined virtually every other sports league and organization across North America by announcing it is pausing operations immediately due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Niagara IceDogs were slated to play three games this week — Friday in Mississauga, Saturday at home to Sudbury and Sunday in Oshawa.
The Canadian Hockey League made the decision Thursday afternoon and issued the following statement:
The Canadian Hockey League and its three regional leagues, the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League, take the health and safety of our players, fans, volunteers, staff, and general public very seriously. CHL President Dan MacKenzie with Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison have been monitoring the situation in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) including what local, provincial, and federal health agencies have recommended. Following consultation with medical professionals and meetings today among the CHL Executive Council, and regional league Board of Governors, the CHL announces that the balance of the 2019-20 season and all hockey activity shall be paused immediately until further notice.
IceDogs general manager Joey Burke said the organization fully supported the decision.
“Certainly the health, safety and welfare of the players and fans and staff and public is of the utmost importance for sure,” he said. “It’s an awful situation that everyone needs to be aware of.”
Burke said the league will update the teams in two weeks as to the next course of action.
“We’re not sure how the standings are going to work, how the playoffs are going to work, if the regular season games are going to be made up,” he said. “We’re still kind of waiting on all that direction.”
Burke indicated the players are scheduled to go home Tuesday night.
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