For this month at least, the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League will play within a schedule that involves eight of its teams in four cohort brackets.
The NOJHL’s regular season slate will be played in monthly match-ups that, after November’s activity, will see games in December and beyond being scheduled dependent upon the changing scenarios relative to the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, through until the end of November, the four-bracket set-ups will feature home and home games featuring Soo Thunderbirds v. Blind River Beavers, Espanola Express v. French River Rapids, Rayside Balfour Canadians v. Timmins Rock and Cochrane Crunch v. Hearst Lumberjacks.
As for the other teams in the league, Kirkland Lake Gold Miners continue to work with local health officials in an effort to return to game action as soon as it is deemed safe to do so, the Powassan Voodoos are currently not in a position to compete due to current arena restrictions in the municipality, and with the continued closure of the Canada/United States border, the Michigan Soo Eagles will not be able to take to the ice for league games until such a time where travel and health restrictions are lifted.
Earlier, the Elliot Lake Wildcats took a one-year leave of absence and will not participate in NOJHL activity this season.
“The NOJHL fully supports each of the communities and their extensive efforts in dealing with this pandemic,” relayed NOJHL commissioner Rob Mazzuca.
“We are in an ever-fluctuating scenario here and things are changing daily,” added the NOJHL’s commander in chief. “Constant communication and guidance from everyone involved, including the provincial, regional and municipal health authorities, along with our hockey clubs and member partners and our communities have been and remain diligent as we all look to have a safe return to on-ice action.
“These are trying times for everyone … and we strongly believe all the current restrictions and protocols that are currently in place are making it safer for everyone, be it at the various league venues and each of the respective communities.”
“I personally would like to thank our teams, players, staff members, officials, fans and everyone associated with the NOJHL for their dedication and vigilance during these trying times,” summed up Mazzuca, who is in his 11th season as NOJHL commissioner.