THUNDER BAY, Ont. — The Superior International Junior Hockey League Board of Governors officially announced Monday its decision to discontinue its efforts to resume play in the 2020-21 SIJHL season, effective immediately.
Throughout the entire return to play process, the league has never sought exemptions from public health guidelines and recommendations. The stark reality is that the Thunder Bay District and Northwestern region is currently amongst the hardest hit in the province – perhaps even the country – with virus activity and trending in the wrong direction.
The SIJHL is confident that its strict safety protocols mitigated risk and ensured the league has not contributed to the spread of the virus, it is simply no longer reasonable to hold out hopes that the region will revert to an environment that permits return to play in time to resume any sort of meaningful competition this season.
SIJHL Commissioner Darrin Nicholas reflected on the situation: “The 20-21 SIJHL season will be remembered as a roller-coaster of emotions. From fear we wouldn’t even be able to start, to joy when a pathway back to the ice was available, to optimism that as we progressed conditions might allow for a return to more ‘normal’ hockey, to hope that we might just be able to continue in any fashion and now finally sadness in facing the reality of where we are today.”
Nicholas offered praise to all who strove to get the SIJHL season off the ground. “I would like to personally commend our entire group of team administrators, staff, players and Hockey Northwestern Ontario for the efforts and commitment to provide a safe and positive experience this season.”
To the 2000 birth-year players who will be graduating from junior hockey, Nicholas offered a special acknowledgment: “You are without doubt part of a graduating class that has endured the most challenging time in junior hockey history. With the loss of the playoffs last season, and then the minimal return to action this year, I certainly feel your pain. Please know we did everything within our means to try and get you back on the ice. Always remember: tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
The league now shifts its focus to planning for the 2021-22 season will mark the 20th Anniversary of the SIJHL.
Darrin Nicholas, Commissioner