QMJHL pauses all activity until January

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has shut down all hockey activities until Jan. 3.

The QMJHL announced the decision in a press release on Monday afternoon, which came after a meeting with league members and general managers earlier in the day.

“The current situation with the pandemic in the regions in which we operate makes it extremely difficult to play games,” Commissioner Gilles Courteau said in a prepared statement.

“With the holidays just around the corner, the provinces in the Maritimes have restricted access and travel, while red zone restrictions in Quebec do not permit us to play.”

Courteau is expected to hold a press conference on Tuesday morning.

The QMJHL started their campaign on Oct. 2 but has had to postpone games over the last two months due to COVID-19 restrictions in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, in addition to outbreaks within the league.

As of Monday night, the Maritime Hockey League, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and Superior International Junior Hockey League are the only leagues in Canada that are currently playing regular season contests.

The Alberta Junior Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League have all paused their regular season schedules due to COVID-19 restrictions in their provinces.

The British Columbia Hockey League has delayed the start of their season until Dec. 8, while the Central Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Junior Hockey League and Quebec Junior Hockey League have yet to finalize their regular season slates.

The Western Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League are both projecting to start their campaigns on Jan. 8 and Feb. 4 respectively.

In the pro ranks, the ECHL is expected to start on Dec. 11, the AHL is targeting a Feb. 5 opening date and the NHL has yet to announce when their season will begin.

Meanwhile, the North American Hockey League, National Collegiate Athletic Association and United States Hockey League are all playing regular season games south of the border.

The only league that has cancelled play is U Sports, who will not be holding their national championships this year.

Memorial eCup

Former Prince Albert Minto and current Portland Winterhawks forward Kishaun Gervais was knocked out in the opening round of the Memorial eCup tournament on Monday night, as he lost a dramatic 3-2 overtime contest to Ty Yoder of the Victoria Royals.

Yoder has advanced to the second round to face Carter Murchison of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who cruised to a 7-2 win over Carson Denomie of the Regina Pats.

Meanwhile, former Prince Albert Raider and current Saskatoon Blades defenceman Rhett Rhinehart kept his tournament hopes alive with a narrow 3-2 win over Simon Lavigne of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Saturday.

Rhinehart’s next opponent is Lukas Svejkovsky of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who advanced with a 7-1 rout over Zach Hodder of the WHL.

Former Prince Albert Raiders captain Zack Hayes will be taking on Charlottetown Islanders rookie defenceman Ryan Maynard in his opening round matchup, which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.

Kamloops Blazers forward and Mintos alumni Kyrell Sopotyk will go up against Moose Jaw Warriors blueliner Cory King on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 4:40 p.m.

The 64-team tournament on NHL 21, which is being broadcast on Facebook Live and Twitch, runs until Dec. 17.