By Woodard, Dale on March 13, 2020.
The Canadian Hockey League has been put on pause.
Following consultation with medical professionals and meetings Thursday with the Canadian Hockey League board of directors in regards ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, it was determined all hockey activity in the Western Hockey League will be paused until further notice.
The Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League also announced Thursday they were pausing operations.
On the local front, that puts the brakes on the Lethbridge Hurricanes Central Division battle with the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Medicine Hat Tigers.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Canes were at 37-19-2-5, good for third place in the Central Division and four points behind the 41-19-2-1 Tigers.
The Hurricanes were scheduled to play the Oil Kings – who lead the Central Division at 42-12-6-4 – tonight at 7 p.m. at the Enmax Centre.
However, Thursday’s announcement put the freeze on major junior hockey from coast-to-coast.
“Following a conference call with the WHL Board of Governors, the Western Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019-20 WHL season, effective immediately,” said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison in a statement. “The WHL takes the safety of our players, officials, staff, fans, and everyone associated with the WHL very seriously. We will continue to monitor ongoing public health developments regarding COVID-19. Our goal is to return to play when it is safe and reasonable to do so.
“We thank WHL fans and partners for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unprecedented time.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Hurricanes issued a statement in regards to the season suspension.
“The Lethbridge Hurricanes support the decision made today by the Western Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League to suspend the 2019-2020 season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hurricanes hold the health and safety of all players, staff, fans and community as a top priority. As a result of the suspension, the Hurricanes will not play their previously scheduled game against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday, March 13th at the Enmax Centre. The Hurricanes organization is currently working with the league on providing information regarding season tickets, previously sold game tickets and sponsorships along with any other concerns that may arise in this evolving situation.
“We thank fans for their support and appreciate their cooperation and understanding during this extraordinary time.”
After tonight’s game, the Hurricanes had four games left on their regular-season schedule, including a rematch with the Oil Kings Sunday in Edmonton.
They were to host the Swift Current Broncos Wednesday and the Tigers March 20 before ending regular season March 21 in Medicine Hat.
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