CHL seasons suspended until further notice due to COVID-19

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald The Art Hauser Centre's last major event came on

Falling in line with many sports leagues in North American and around the World, the Canadian Hockey League announced on Thursday afternoon that the Ontario Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League would be suspending their 2019-20 campaigns until further notice as a result of COVID-19.

The Prince Albert Raiders, who had four games left in their regular season slate, were due to play at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday night against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

They were slated to take on the Warriors again in Moose Jaw on Saturday before a home-and-home series with the Saskatoon Blades next weekend.

“The Prince Albert Raiders are in full support of today’s decision made by the Western Hockey League and the Canadian Hockey League to pause the regular season until further notice,” the club said in a prepared statement. “The health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, volunteers, and fans is our utmost concern. We will continue to monitor information and developments provided by the WHL and the CHL, Saskatchewan Health Authority, as well as other local and national authorities.

“The Raiders will have more information for season ticket holders, ticket buyers, and our corporate partners in the near future. We appreciate your patience and understanding during these extraordinary circumstances.”

On Wednesday it was announced that Everett Silvertips and the Seattle Thunderbirds would be playing their remaining home games behind closed doors, which were the only WHL contests to be affected as league play got underway that evening.

However, things changed rapidly in the ensuing hours when the National Basketball Association suspended their season shortly after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

The United States Hockey League announced the suspension of the 2019-20 campaign late Thursday morning, with the National Hockey League and American Hockey League following suit shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League announced earlier this afternoon that their playoffs would go ahead as planned, with three quarter-final series slated to resume on Friday.

However, the Melfort Mustangs and the Battlefords North Stars both released statements later in the day that their contests with the Estevan Bruins and the Nipawin Hawks had been postponed.