Nova Scotia, with virus numbers rising, pulls plug on Women’s Worlds . . . WHL adjusts schedule; some teams won’t get in 24 games . . . CFL provides an update

It sure looked as though the IIHF Women’s World Championship was going to start in Halifax and Truro on May 6. But that’s before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and said: “Not so fast.”

On Wednesday, with Team Canada already training in Halifax and one day WomenHockeybefore nine other teams were to begin arriving for their quarantine sessions, the Nova Scotian government chose to inform the IIHF and Hockey Canada that the tournament was off.

In a statement, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO, said: “While we are disappointed with the cancellation, we understand the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants and the community at large as the top priority.”

René Fasel, the IIHF president, said: “This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin. We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia reported 25 new COVID-19 cases, which, according to CBC News, is “the highest daily total since November 24 when 37 cases were diagnosed. It pushes the province’s seven-day average to 10, which is the first time it has been in double digits since early December.”

On April 15, Nova Scotia had 42 active cases; on Wednesday, it announced that it now had 79.

In a news release, Premier Iain Rankin admitted to being “very concerned” about the rising number.

“We are seeing early signs of community spread and we must strictly follow all public health protocols to get back on track, especially in the greater Halifax region,” Rankin said.

CBC News reported that “19 of the new cases are in the central health zone, which includes the Halifax area. Four cases are related to travel outside the region.”

Canada’s Atlantic provinces have done better than the rest of the country — the far north excluded — at keeping COVID-19 at bay and one of the major weapons has been travel restrictions. So with the numbers threatening to keep going up, the province chose the health of its citizens over playing host to an international tournament.

Really, it’s hard to argue with the decision.

The IIHF and Hockey Canada are still hopeful of holding the tournament at some point during the summer. There also were reports later Wednesday that the Dallas Stars and USA Hockey are exploring the possibility of playing it in Texas, perhaps in Frisco and Plano, where the U18 IIHF World championship is to open on Monday.

But, at least for now, the Women’s world championship has been scrubbed for a second straight year. The tournament also was to have been held in Halifax and Truro a year ago.


The WHL announced a number of schedule changes on Wednesday, all of them WHL2necessitated by teams having missed games because of positive tests. . . . The end result is that without any more postponements a number of teams won’t play 24 games in this developmental season as was originally hoped. . . . Two of the teams that have experienced positive tests, the Calgary Hitmen and Kelowna Rockets, will play 21 and 16 games respectively. . . . The Hitmen, by the way, have completed their 14-day isolation period and have been cleared to resume team activities. They now are scheduled to return to game action on Friday afternoon against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The WHL’s news release on the schedule changes is right here. . . .


Meanwhile, there were three WHL games played on Wednesday and PP goals were the hot item. All told, the six teams involved struck for 26 goals, with 13 of them coming with the man advantage. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored twice to help the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-2 victory Brandonover the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Wheat Kings (16-3-2), who have won five straight, now hold a three-point lead over the idle Saskatoon Blades (14-3-3) and the Winnipeg Ice (15-5-1), which beat the Moose Jaw Warriors last night, atop the Regina hub standings. . . . The Broncos (4-16-1) have lost two in a row. . . . F Lynden McCallum (13) gave Brandon a 1-0 first-period lead, with Ritchie, who has 10 goals, making it 2-0 at 14:49 of the second. . . . D Mat Ward (5) scored for the Broncos, on a PP, at 16:39. . . . Ritchie got that one back at 17:33 and D Rylan Thiessen (1) added another at 19:04. . . . F Brett Hyland (3) and D Vince Iorio (5) added PP goals for Brandon in the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings were 3-for-6 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-for-6. . . . Brandon held a 33-18 edge in shots. . . .

F Jakin Smallwood opened and closed the scoring as the Winnipeg Ice got past Winnipegthe Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-5 in OT, in the Regina hub. . . . The Ice (15-5-1) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Warriors are 8-11-2. . . . F Cade Hayes (4) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead with a PP goal at 14:38 of the third period. . . . F Peyton Krebs (13), who now has points in 20 straight games, tied the game at 18:48 with G Carl Stankowski on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Smallwood, who had opened the scoring at 1:08 of the first period, won it with his 13th goal at 1:46 of OT. . . . The Ice erased deficits of 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 to win this one. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 2-for-3. . . . Krebs finished with two goals. After being blanked in his first game, he’s got 13 goals and 26 assists in his 20-game streak. Last season, he scored 12 times in 38 games. . . . The Ice also got two goals from F Skyler Bruce. He has three on the season. . . . Hayes finished with two goals and an assist. . . .

F Justin Sourdif and D Alex Kannok Leipert each scored once and added two Vancouverassists to help the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 lead over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . The Giants (9-3-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Royals (1-10-1) have lost seven straight. . . . The game’s first five goals came via the PP. . . . F Brayden Tracey (8) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the first period. . . . Kannok Leipert (4) tied it at 15:32. . . . Victoria went back out front on a goal by F Tarun Fizer (3) at 2:58 of the second period. . . . The Giants took control with the next three goals — from F Eric Florchuk (4), at 14:58, Sourdif (5), at 16:21, and F Zack Ostapchuk (4), at 3:18 of the third. . . . F Ty Yoder (3) got Victoria to within a goal at 4:57, but F Justin Lies (2) restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead at 13:47. . . . The Giants finished 3-for-9 on the PP; the Royals were 2-for-5. . . . Vancouver had a 38-20 edge in shots, including 11-5 in the first period and 12-5 in the second.


The CFL said Wednesday that it hopes to open its 2021 season on Aug. 5, which CFLwould be almost two months later than the June 10 opening date at which it once was aiming. . . . The plan is to open training camps in late June, have each team play 14 games, down from the normal 18, and hold the Grey Cup game in Hamilton on Dec. 12 instead of Nov. 21. . . . Here’s Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner: “We will play CFL football in 2021.” . . . He then admitted that it all hinges on getting approval from public health officials in various jurisdictions and getting the OK from government and health officials to have “a significant number of fans in the stands, in a significant number of venues at the start of the season, and in the rest of our venues soon after that, so a 2021 season is financially tenable for our clubs.” . . . In the end, like so many other things, the CFL will go ahead if the virus allows it. . . . In the meantime, get vaccinated so that we can get all sports back and with fans in the stands. . . .

In Regina, Jeremy O’Day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager, informed players that the reporting date is July 2, followed by a seven-day quarantine period. Training camp is set to open on July 10. . . . O’Day also had this message for players: “We know these have been challenging times. One major way to help us with our return to play and getting fans in the stands is by getting vaccinated. Our medical professionals are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and are critical to getting our team back on the field. If you would like to speak to one of the Roughrider doctors about the vaccine, please let me know and we will arrange that.” . . . Justin Dunk of 3Down Nation has more right here.

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was to have opened its 2021 season on June 5. It announced on Wednesday that it has moved opening day of its 14-game season to June 24. Under normal circumstances, teams each would play 20 games. . . . The CEBL spent its 2020 season in a bubble in St. Catharines, Ont., but says it won’t be playing in that environment this season.


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JUST NOTES: The Regina Pats unveiled their player card sets on Wednesday morning and sold out the first printing — 500 sets — in fewer than three hours. It wasn’t long before there was a Connor Bedard card available on eBay for $100, and a complete set — including “Connor Bedard Official WHL Rookie Card” — for $149.95 or best offer. . . . The AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs, who are to being their first season in the fall, have added Brady Bakke to their coaching staff. He spent two seasons (2017-18) as an assistant coach with the U18 AAA St. Albert Raiders, and then two seasons as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Bakke, 27, is from Red Deer.



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