Thunder Bay

SIJHL officially cancels 2020-21 season

The Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) has officially cancelled its 2020-21 season, citing a rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario.

Decision comes due to COVID-19 case numbers in northwestern Ontario

The Superior International Junior Hockey League has announced the cancellation of the 2020-21 season. (SIJHL)

The Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) has officially cancelled its 2020-21 season, citing a rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario.

"We said all along that we would continue to try and find any way we could to resume play this year," said SIJHL commissioner Darrin Nicholas. "With the way things are trending not only in Thunder Bay, but northwestern Ontario, it just became clear that we were going to run out of time before we get a chance to play any meaningful hockey."

"We really had that in our definition," he said. "We didn't want to come back just for the sake of playing a handful of games, or have one team play against the same team. We wanted to try and run a schedule. And that's just not a possibility anymore."

Nicholas said the league informed its teams prior to making a public announcement on Monday.

"We arrived at the decision late last week and gave the teams the ability to communicate with their players directly over the course of the weekend," he said. "We felt it was important that they heard directly from them, as opposed to hearing it through the grapevine or social media."

Nicholas said the decision is particularly difficult for those players who would be aging out of the SIJHL after this season.

"We're going to facilitate what we can here," he said. "There is a handful of leagues that are playing, so we're going to see if there's any need for those players in those leagues."

"Unfortunately, I'm not anticipating a whole lot of player movement here," Nicholas said. "But we thought we'd give them the opportunity."

In a media release, the league said it's now turning its attention to planning for 2021-22, which will be the SIJHL's 20th season.

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