Eight more teams in the Maritime Junior Hockey League have made the decision to end their 2020-21 seasons due to COVID-19 restrictions in their respective provinces. Those teams are the Grand Falls Rapids in the Eastlink North Division and the seven teams competing in the Eastlink South: the Amherst Ramblers, Pictou County Weeks Crushers, South Shore Lumberjacks, Summerside Western Capitals, Truro Bearcats, Valley Wildcats, and Yarmouth Mariners.
“This was not an easy decision for any of our clubs. We have tried throughout the season to keep teams playing when we can do so in a safe manner,” says MHL President Steve Dykeman. “After discussions with stakeholders and public health officials, we must, unfortunately, bring an end to the season for teams in the Eastlink South. The MHL will continue to support these eight teams when and where possible as planning continues for the 2021-22 season. Thank you to players and team staff for their sacrifices and commitment to make this season happen.”
The MHL announced on Monday that all hockey activities for its six Nova Scotia teams would be postponed until further notice, due to COVID-19 restrictions and decisions by the province of Nova Scotia and Hockey Nova Scotia. This also affected Summerside, who have been playing in that division this season. Nova Scotia announced further restrictions on Tuesday to stop the spread of COVID-19, which includes a ban on sports events and practices. These restrictions are expected to remain in place for at least two weeks. As such, the seven teams in the Eastlink South made their decision to end their respective seasons Tuesday evening.
The Grand Falls region remains in the Orange phase of COVID-19 recovery and the Rapids informed the league’s Board of Governors of their intention to withdraw from the season on Tuesday. They join the Edmundston Blizzard as having withdrawn from the current season from the Eastlink North.
The Canadian Tire Cup Eastlink North Playoff Round-Robin will continue for Campbellton Tigers, Fredericton Red Wings, and Miramichi Timberwolves, following a discussion by the league and the respective team governors. This means the round-robin will wrap up on Sunday, May 2nd. The first-place team will get a bye to the division final, while the 2nd and 3rd seeds will play in a divisional semifinal beginning Wednesday, May 5th. The round-robin tie-breakers, should they be needed, are wins, then head-to-head record, and then goal differential.
The division semis and final will be best-of-five series. As the season for the Eastlink South is ending, the Canadian Tire Cup will not be awarded in 2020-21.