Junior Hockey / News

David Branch issues statement on OHL season

David Branch addresses the crowd at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup. (Photo by Rob Wallator / CHL Images)

Officials with the Ontario Hockey League announced Thursday that the season will be put on pause until further notice.

“Following consultation with medical professionals, the National Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, Hockey Canada, the CHL Board of Directors as well as the OHL Board of Governors, it was determined that all hockey activity in the OHL be paused until further notice as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said David Branch, Commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League.

The decision follows a meeting Thursday afternoon between Canadian Hockey League President Dan MacKenzie and the three regional league Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison, to evaluate next steps for the league and teams in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the best interest of the health of our players, member team staff, billets, on and off-ice officials, our great fans as well as the general public, we deemed this to be the best course of action, effective immediately,” Branch said through a league statement.

“We will continue to monitor ongoing public health developments regarding COVID-19 in the hope of continuing play at a point when it is safe to do so.”

The decision to pause the season came just hours before puck drop of three games Thursday night, Sudbury was playing in Peterborough, Mississauga was in North Bay, and Saginaw was crossing the boarding for a game in Windsor.

“We thank all Ontario Hockey League players and their families as well as staff and fans from across the League for their patience and encourage everyone to take the necessary precautions to ensure continued health and wellness.”

The WHL and QMJHL have also paused their seasons. There is no word on how this will impact the Memorial Cup, which is scheduled to be played in Kelown, BC in May.

The OHL Cup has also been cancelled. The annual tournament featuring top minor midget talent ahead of the OHL draft was scheduled to get underway next week.

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