It was sudden and it was final.
The word came down from Hockey Canada Thursday evening that there will be no hockey for the Trail Smoke Eaters or the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the forseeable future.
Hockey Canada announced the cancellation that affected all minor hockey and CJHL teams, including the BCHL and KIJHL playoffs, as well as all Greater Trail minor hockey teams set for provincial championships.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Nelson Leafs were poised to resume their best-of-seven Murdoch Division playoff Thursday in Nelson at 7 p.m. Just hours before the puck drop , a notification from the KIJHL head office initially suspended play due to the COVID-19 scare, but they sent out a release Friday cancelling the season altogether.
“The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) has announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019/20 postseason, as well as the 2020 Cyclone Taylor Cup in 100 Mile House, KIJHL teams that were still participating in the league playoffs will cease all on-ice operations and end their seasons,” read the release.
“This development comes after the KIJHL was advised by Hockey Canada and BC Hockey this morning that the 2019/20 hockey season will not resume at a later date.”
Similarly, the Smoke Eaters were hoping to start their Round 2 Interior Division semifinal against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday, but that was not to be.
“Given the growing trend associated with the virus, we are supporting Hockey Canada’s recommendation,” said Graham Fraser, Chairman of the BCHL Board of Governors. “We believe it is in everyone’s best interest to follow their lead in this situation.”
The second round of the BCHL Playoffs was slated for this weekend with all four series starting on Friday night.
“This unprecedented situation is not something any of us thought we would be dealing with, but unfortunately it’s now a reality,” said BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb. “In the interest of public safety, we believe this was the only choice that could be made and we fully support Hockey Canada’s decision to suspend operations. We wish our players, staff and fans all the best during this difficult time.”
The announcement comes directly on the heels of the CHL announcing the suspension of play of the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior League, and after the NHL suspended play earlier in the day.
Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association’s Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget teams were set to travel to Quesnel, Williams Lake, and Summerland this weekend to compete in the provincial championships, but those too have been called off.
“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 immediately,” said the Hockey Canada release.
“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 in keeping our country safe.”