Hockey is being put on ice in the province until Dec. 17, and again the Battlefords North Stars are in the position of having to call off scheduled games.
The province announced Wednesday that all team or group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, and so on are suspended, including amateur and recreational leagues for all age groups. Hockey is included as is curling, racquet sports, cheerleading, dance practices in group setting, and others.
The North Stars had been scheduled to play La Ronge Ice Wolves on Friday on the road and then at home Saturday night. The Ice Wolves were a replacement for the Melfort Mustangs who had pulled out of the weekend games due to a COVID-19 exposure. The North Stars had already seen five games cancelled or postponed this season for various reasons prior to Wednesday’s announcement.
The announcement today means the North Stars season is on hold for the rest of the year, as the league has opted not to proceed with the handful of games still scheduled for Dec. 18-19 before the scheduled holiday break. The league confirmed their season is paused until after Christmas on their website.
"With the announcement today by the Saskatchewan Government and Saskatchewan Health, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League will not be playing any games after Friday at 12:01 a.m. until after Christmas. Once the SJHL receives direction from Saskatchewan Government and Saskatchewan Health as to when we can commence play an announcement will be made."
The North Stars issued this statement immediately after the announcement from the province: “In regards to the updated provincial safety measures announced today by Premier Scott Moe and Dr. Shahab, this has not been easy for our province, our community or any of us, but we must do our part to collectively be the solution, not the problem. More information on our season will be posted as it becomes available.”
Later, after news came down that the season is on hold until the new year, they issued this Tweet: "North Stars Hockey took a hit today and our season will be 'paused' until January. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our fans, supporters and sponsors for being a part of our journey this season. It might be paused, but it isn't over! Stay safe."
On Facebook the club issued a similar statement but added "to say we are disappointed is an understatement. We have done everything required of us and more to ensure the safety of everyone at our games and practices."
The province's announcement of a suspension of team and group sports also impacts all other local teams including the Battlefords AAA Stars, the Battlefords AAA Sharks, and area senior teams including the entire Saskatchewan Prairie Hockey League whose regular season was scheduled to begin this weekend.
In a statement to their membership by Saskatchewan Hockey Association general manager Kelly McClintock, posted on their website, they clarified that athletes 18 and under may continue practising. Practises can continue with eight or fewer players on the ice surface, plus the coach/instructor as long as all have facemasks or coverings, plus helmet and face mask for players, and they must maintain physical distancing of three metres at all times while on the ice and in the dressing room.
McClintock also stated there will be no games of any kind from Nov. 27 onward until the SHA Board of Directors assess the state of the province in consultation with the Provincial Government Business Response Team in December. Also, over the next two days practises cannot be transferred into a game, as these will not be sanctioned by the organization and there will be no insurance coverage.