Even with the Pacific Junior Hockey League season officially cancelled, the Delta Ice Hawks will keep on skating.
On Monday, the 2020-21 PJHL campaign officially came to an end following a board of governors meeting.
No games have been played since early November when tighter COVID-19 health restrictions came into effect with rising daily case numbers. The hope was Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry would ease those restrictions at the end of last month. The Langley Trappers had already opted out of a potential re-start and now other clubs agreed time has run out.
“There was no drop dead date. It was basically based on every team’s feedback and what state they are in. Teams have done everything possible and waited as long as possible. I give everyone a big thank-you for going this far. I guess the conclusion was we went as far as we could and now teams are losing ice (to dry floor) and players are moving on,” said Ice Hawks owner and team president Eduard Epshtein.
The Ice Hawks have lost just two players since November, team captain Michael Farren and rookie Matthew Ward, who have both joined the Swift Current Broncos for the abbreviated Western Hockey League season. The PJHL is allowing teams to continue practicing and arrange potential exhibition series if health restrictions are eased.
“Our team's plan is to continue skating until the end of the month and hopefully we will know more if we are allowed to resume games or not,” continued Epshtein. “We need to be out of Ladner (Leisure Centre) in a couple of weeks, then we will keep skating at Tilbury and we will look for other ice if games resume. The number of games would depend on the format and how many teams are still running.”
The 2021-22 season starting next fall at least looks promising with the vaccine roll out underway. The Ice Hawks are considered the frontrunners to host the 2022 Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial junior championships.
“Overall, I’m very optimistic by the time next season starts we will be in a much better position,” added Epshtein. “Maybe not 100 percent normal but optimistic we will be able to play games.”