OHL, GOJHL delay seasons indefinitely

Progressive Auto Sales Arena (BlackburnNews.com photo by Melanie Irwin)

Members of the Sarnia Sting and Sarnia Legionnaires will have to wait even longer to drop the puck on a new season with a provincial lockdown set to take effect December 26.

On Wednesday, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) both announced the start of play has been delayed indefinitely as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the province.

The OHL had set a target date of February 4 with training camps scheduled to begin in mid-January.

“The safety of all of our stakeholders and communities is our priority and we are committed to starting the 2020-21 season when it is safe to do so,” said Commissioner David Branch in a statement. “We know that this is difficult news for many of our players, fans, billets, parents, staff, and teams. However, the restrictions both provincially in Ontario as well as nationally with regards to cross-border travel have informed our decision.”

Sting General Manager Dylan Seca says it’s not the news anyone wanted to hear.

“Our players have dedicated themselves this off-season and throughout the pause to their development on the ice and becoming the best versions of themselves off the ice, exemplifying what it means to be a part of the Sarnia Sting, I am extremely proud of how they have stepped up during these difficult times.”

The OHL said “it will continue to consult and work closely with governments and health authorities to determine potential start dates in the new year.”

The GOJHL had initially proposed a start date of January 15.

In a statement the league said “moving forward, the GOJHL will continue to work closely with local public health units and facilities to develop a new plan, which will focus on continuing development and game play once it is safe to do so.”

Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that, as of 12:01 a.m. on Boxing Day, Ontario will be in lockdown for 28 days in the southern portion of the province, while the north will be in lockdown for 14 days.