There has been no official word as of yet, but a published story on the CBC.ca website has the Flin Flon Bombers’ Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season on hold until further notice meaning a doubleheader in the Battlefords this weekend against the North Stars is likely the latest of that northern Manitoba team’s games to be scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Bombers have not played since opening weekend two weeks ago when the province went into a Level Red alert due to increased spreading of the virus. The alert shut down all sporting activities in Manitoba forcing the Bombers to cancel a doubleheader last weekend against the Kindersley Klippers. An attempt to have those games relocated to Kindersley was also shelved leaving the Bombers on the sidelines while the rest of the league continued play.
A tweet on the Bombers’ website late Thursday did confirm that the games against the North Stars are being postponed, but it also indicated that the club is seeking approval from government and health officials to relocate the team within the Saskatchewan borders so that they can resume their SJHL schedule. Flin Flon is located right on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border with the town of Creighton located two kilometres to the west – in Saskatchewan.
While the tweet posted on the Bombers’ website did indicate that approval to relocate is being sought, the provincial chief medical officer said in the CBC.ca story that Manitobans should not be looking for loopholes in the Covid-19 restrictions. Bomber president Travis Rideout acknowledged that by saying, “at the end of the day, we are a hockey team…and I can tell you that we’re never, ever wanting to use the system to our advantage.”
Should negotiations to relocate be successful, the Bombers are hoping to resume play immediately. Until then they are just spectators still looking for their first victory of the season as they were swept by the Melfort Mustangs in their only two games played thus far.
While that situation unfolds, the other 10 SJHL teams return to action this weekend with the two hottest clubs – the La Ronge Ice Wolves and Melville Millionaires – looking to expand on their current three-game winning streaks.
Both the Ice Wolves and Millionaires dropped their season openers before reeling off three straight victories. La Ronge takes on Melfort in a home-and-home set this weekend while the Millionaires will renew their Highway 10 rivalry with the Yorkton Terriers in another home-and-home match-up.
Kindersley finally gets back to work after being sidelined since opening weekend following last weekend’s cancellation with the Bombers and a major winter storm that interrupted their series with the Battlefords two weeks ago. The Klippers, who outscored the defending regular-season champion North Stars 5-2 in their lone start, will play the Nipawin Hawks at home on Friday before playing a return match in Nipawin on Saturday.
The Estevan Bruins will be looking to keep pace with the Millionaires in the Viterra Division race when they face the winless Weyburn Red Wings in another home-and-home series. The Bruins are just one point back of Melville despite having allowed two more goals against than goals scored in their first four starts. While Weyburn has yet to post a victory in three games, two of their setbacks were in extra time while the other was also decided by just a single goal.
The final match-up this weekend has the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division-leading Humboldt Broncos taking on the Notre Dame Hounds. The Broncos rebounded from their first loss of the season with an overtime decision over Estevan last weekend while Notre Dame has surrendered no fewer than four goals in any of its three games played so far, but have still collected points in two of those three matches.
SJHL Notes – Despite the present situation with the Flin Flon Bombers, the SJHL has been one of the fortunate ones to have regular-season action. The British Columbia Hockey League has been in a pre-season format for weeks and with four teams from the lower mainland being forced to suspend all activities for at least two weeks there is no firm date for when league play might begin. The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is in an indefinite shutdown following the provincial alert upgrade two weeks ago and there were reports that two Winnipeg-based clubs were fined this week for violating restriction rules. The Alberta Junior Hockey League just started its regular season last week after having an extended development schedule following training camps. Out east it doesn’t get much better making the likelihood of a Centennial Cup tournament being almost impossible for this season. Things can change, but it will have to be drastic for the entire country to get on the same page. The No. 1 priority right now, however, is the safety for everyone involved and the SJHL will continue to monitor everything closely.
Flin Flon at Battlefords (postponed)
Nipawin at Kindersley
Melfort at La Ronge
Yorkton at Melville
Estevan at Weyburn
Flin Flon at Battlefords (postponed)
Weyburn at Estevan
Notre Dame at Humboldt
La Ronge at Melfort
Kindersley at Nipawin
Melville at Yorkton
Humboldt at Notre Dame