Two major hockey championships that Quesnel was set to host this month have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hockey Canada announced Thursday, March 12 it is cancelling all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including its national championships and all BC Hockey provincials and playoffs, until further notice.
This includes the B.C. Tier 3 PeeWee Provincial Championships, which were to begin this Sunday, and the provincial Senior AA Amateur Hockey Championship, the Coy Cup.
On behalf of Hockey Canada, chief executive officer Tom Renney and president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said the difficult decision was made due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision will effectively cancel all BC Hockey operations, including minor hockey provincials, junior playoffs and shut down hockey academies within the province.
“Without question, this is an unprecedented period of difficulty for the sports world,” said Renney. “The health and safety of all participants in sport, including players, coaches, staff, officials, fans, family, volunteers and the general public, is of the utmost importance to Hockey Canada.”
Renney said after much consultation with the Hockey Canada membership, its chief medical officer and public health officials, activities will be shut down beginning Friday, March 13.
“We recognize the tremendous effort that has been put forth all year by individuals across the country as they participate in Canada’s game,” he said. “Although it is difficult to process the hockey season ending abruptly, we feel this is the best course of action in order to do our part in keeping our country safe.”
Barry Petrachenko, chief executive officer with BC Hockey, said its board of directors support the leadership shown by Hockey Canada to suspend all hockey operations in attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The B.C. Tier 3 PeeWee Provincial Championships, hosted by the Quesnel and District Minor Hockey Association and the Quesnel Active Rent-All PeeWee Thunder, were to take place March 15-20 in Quesnel and bring 11 teams from across the province to our city. More than 170 young hockey players and their families were getting ready to come compete in Quesnel, and event co-chair Mike Ernst had said he expected the tournament to bring around $250,000 into the local economy.
The announcement from BC Hockey also means the Coy Cup championship, scheduled for March 24-28, has also been cancelled.
“Confirmation has come from BC Hockey that the Coy Cup, along with all hockey operations have been cancelled,” the Quesnel Kangaroos posted on their Facebook page Thursday night. “We will post updates as we receive them. Please be patient as we work out the details and apologize for the inconvenience. To everyone who purchased tournament ticket packages, we will be in contact with you for your refund, again as soon as we can work out the details. Thank you for your understanding and support.”
The Roos, who won the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) regular-season and playoff championship this year and have won 11 Coy Cups in the past, were set to host the prestigious tournament, which would have seen the Roos, Terrace River Kings, Dawson Creek Canucks and Kelowna Sparta compete for the championship. The Coy Cup is emblematic of the Senior AA Amateur Hockey Championship of BC Hockey.
The City of Quesnel and organizers of the Minerals North conference have also cancelled that event, which was expected to take place in the city April 29 to May 1.
“As a result of the joint statement from the Minister of Health and B.C.’s provincial health officer calling for the cancellation of events over 250 people, the City of Quesnel and Minerals North Conference Association are cancelling Minerals North 2020,” according to a March 13 statement on the City of Quesnel’s website. “Organizers will be reaching out to sponsors, speakers, venues and those already registered as soon as possible to discuss next steps. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work out a process for reimbursement.”
— with files from Greg Sabatino