MHL Adopts New Return to Play Format

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Truro, N.S. (January 27, 2021) – The Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL) is announcing changes to the 2020-21 regular season in order to adapt to the evolving challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

The MHL’s twelve teams began the season on October 30th in mini-divisions that focused on reducing travel and enhancing regional rivalries. The schedule has been adjusted since that time as public health restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic have left teams unable to practice, play games, or both. Cross-divisional play, games between the Eastlink North (New Brunswick/P.E.I.) and Eastlink South (Nova Scotia) divisions, were due to begin this weekend. The MHL’s Board of Governors recently voted to eliminate these games for this season and have teams play within their divisions for the remainder of the regular season.

Last week, the Nova Scotia government announced that games can resume, but without spectators. The MHL has remained committed to the 2020-21 season and maintained the importance of having our players get back on the ice in a safe environment. Teams are adhering to strong operational plans, which include specific rules and procedures required by public health officials in the Maritime provinces. This has added extra financial pressure across the board. Teams are trying to find ways of making things happen with the help of our fans and sponsors, who have been placed in an unfair position as games have been postponed, moved, or cut back from the league’s original plans. Unfortunately, there is a point that some teams might not be able to continue the 2020-21 season, knowing that any cuts regarding safety are simply not an option.

Teams in the Eastlink South have agreed to move forward in the short term without fans in order to resume the season. This will be reassessed on a weekly basis. The MHL is confident, given the status of the COVID-19 numbers in the province in recent weeks, that we will soon be able to welcome fans back to their local rink in Nova Scotia to watch our exciting brand of hockey and give better visibility to all our sponsors.

The Summerside Western Capitals began the season against the Eastlink South, with the hope of rejoining their Eastlink North counterparts in January. Due to the current health restrictions in New Brunswick, Summerside will join the Eastlink South teams for the rest of the regular season. Discussions continue with stakeholders in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia to allow teams to be allowed to play between the two provinces, following all necessary public health directives. The MHL will continue to monitor the situation and make any adjustments necessary in the weeks and months ahead.

As a result of these decisions, major changes have been made to the 2020-21 regular season. The mini-divisions will be eliminated and standings will revert back to the standard format. The MHL realizes that teams may not have an equal number of games played so points percentage, shown in the league standings as PCT, will be used to determine the regular season standings. The playoff format will be announced when finalized.

The MHL website will soon be updated with the new regular season schedule. The league has set a target to return to action in the Eastlink North of the week of February 8th which will be adjusted, as needed based, on public health restrictions.

The league and Return to Play committee continue to speak with public health officials and various stakeholders about the COVID-19 pandemic and a resumption of the current season. The MHL remains committed to the safety of players, staff, and fans during this time, with a goal of reaching the Canadian Tire Cup Final and giving a fair opportunity to all our sponsors.

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Media Contact:
James Faulkner
Director of Communications
Maritime Hockey League
jfaulkner@themhl.ca