Saanich jr. B team to change logo, nickname . . . Hockey problems down under . . . U.S. conferences, schools start reacting to pandemic

Owners of the Saanich Junior Braves, who play in the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, are changing the team’s nickname and logo. . . . In a news release, owners Edward Geric and Norm Kelly said: “The Saanich Junior Braves name is not respectful to our First Nations and does not reflect the value relationships we hold with local First Nations communities or with our First Nations players. We have decided to rename the team and have started a process to develop a name that upholds our core values.” . . . The nickname and logo have been in use since 1967. . . . The team is open to feedback and questions at SaanichJrBHockey@gmail.com.


The City of Red Deer decided Wednesday to give Westerner Park as much as $2 million to allow it to operate until November. The hope is that things will have gotten better by then, in terms of the pandemic, meaning the park will be able to play host to events including WHL games. The Centrium, home to the Red Deer Rebels, is part of Westerner Park. . . . Lana Michelin of the Red Deer Advocate has a terrific story right here that explains the situation.


The Grand Slam of Curling, which is owned and televised by Sportsnet, has dropped four events from its next season, which leaves it with two competitions on its schedule. . . . The season was to have started in Sarnia, Ont., Oct. 20-25. Also gone are events in Grande Prairie (Nov. 3-8) and Chestermere, Alta. (Dec. 8-13), and Las Vegas (Jan. 12-17). . . . Now the season is to open in Toronto (April 13-18), with the final event in Olds, Alta., April 27 through May 2.


The Augustana Vikings, who play out of the U of Alberta’s Camrose campus, won’t be playing hockey this season, but they’ll be back for 2021-22. And that’s great news! . . . In February, it seemed that the program was kaput due to financial reasons, but the U of A and Vikings’ alumni got together and came up with a plan. . . . Robert Tychowski of Postmedia has more right here.


Testing


The Melbourne Mustangs of the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) revealed Wednesday that their season is over. The AIHL season was to have opened on April 18. . . . Melbourne was put into a six-week lockdown earlier in the week. . . . The Mustangs wrote on their Facebook page: “It is with much sadness that we today announce the cancellation of the 2020 season. We were holding onto the slim chance we might get to see a modified competition, but the current situation in Victoria makes this all but impossible. Thank you to our tireless supporters. Rest assured we will be back next year stronger than ever.” . . . On Thursday, the AIHL responded with this: “We’ve got an active Return To Play (RTP) committee which continues to closely follow COVID-19 updates. While the current outbreak and border closures are making it increasingly unlikely, the RTP committee remains hopeful of having a substantially condensed 2020 schedule when the situation improves in Melbourne.” . . . Interestingly, the Melbourne Ice, the second AIHL team in that city, has yet to comment on its immediate future. . . .

New Zealand’s dream of having teams compete for IIHF championships has been set back at least a year. The country’s ice hockey federation has withdrawn its teams from the men’s U-20 World Championship Division III in Mexico, and has taken its women’s team out of the U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group B in Turkey. . . . From a news release: “The NZIHF Management Committee met and discussed the two team’s attendance at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and after reviewing the situation, unanimously agreed that putting forward teams for these age groups to compete in the 2021 World Championships was not possible due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 in New Zealand and internationally.”


Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, has decided that contact sports at the high school level won’t be allowed this fall. That includes football and soccer, with some non-contact sports, like cross-country and volleyball, under review. . . .

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The Ivy League has cancelled all sports, including football and hockey, through Dec. 31 due to the pandemic. It is the first NCAA Division I conference to cancel fall sports. . . . The Ivy schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale. . . . The Ivy League includes six schools with hockey teams — Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Without those teams, the ECAC is down to six teams, but Colgate, RPI and Union are expected to follow the Ivy League’s lead because they won’t have all students on campus in the fall. . . . From an Associated Press story by Doug Feinberg and Jimmy Golen: “Ivy League schools are spread across seven Northeastern states that, as of mid-July, have seen some success at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. But most of those states still ban large gatherings; under the Massachusetts reopening plan, Harvard would not be allowed to have fans in the stands until a vaccine is developed.” . . .

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On Thursday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that its Olympic sports will be kept from competition until at least Sept. 1. That covers men’s a women’s cross-country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s volleyball. . . .

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The National Junior College Athletic Association, the second-largest collegiate athletic association in the U.S., recommended Thursday that its members move a majority of its competitions to the spring. . . . From a statement: “Individual NJCAA regions will discuss the recommended changes prior to the NJCAA board of regents’ meeting on Monday, July 13, where an official plan of action will be decided.” . . . The NJCAA encompasses 525 schools in 24 regions of the U.S. . . .

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Meanwhile, the Big 10 issued a news release on Thursday that included this: “We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our No. 1 priority. To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.” . . . There is a mighty big “IF” in the second sentence of that statement. . . .

There is a look right here at all the non-conference football games that the Big 10’s decision killed . . .

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Stanford announced Wednesday that it will be cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports once the 2020-21 season is over. Men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling will be going by the wayside. . . . In making the decision, the school cited the pandemic and the cost of operating a total of 36 varsity sports. . . . “These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches,” read a statement released by the school. “They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements. Each of the individuals associated with these programs will forever have a place in Stanford’s history.”


The MLS is Back tournament lost another team on Thursday as Nashville SC pulled out have having nine players test positive. FC Dallas had been taken out of the tournament prior to its start after 10 players and a coach tested positive. . . . Nashville had one p[layer test positive when the team arrived in Orlando, Fla., on July 1, then had eight more come up positive after the arrival.



Bob Tasca, who drives the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang Funny Car, will miss this weekend’s E3 Spark Plugs Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Why? You guess it. Tasca, 44, tested positive for the coronavirus. . . . He caught the virus at a family gathering on Father’s Day, as did seven other family members. . . . Tasca shares his experience right here.


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