Toronto, ON- For one day, U Sports hockey was the only hockey around. By the end of the day, it joined all other North American sports in suspension due to Coronavirus COVID-19.
Both the men’s and women’s tournaments opened on Thursday afternoon with their first set of quarterfinal matchups. There were upsets galore, but that all feels very trivial at this point. The world has changed over these last 48 hours and nobody knows exactly what to do.
Sure the Western Mustangs made a miraculous playoff journey that ended Thursday with them making the final four after beating Saskatchewan. There was also the men’s and women’s OUA champions who were both knocked out in Thursday’s games, but all of that is in the rearview mirror and does not move forward as the focus of the world of sports turns to the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
The tournament was not supposed to be cancelled. On Thursday morning, U sports announced that it was going ahead with the tournament and not following the leads of major American sports leagues in cancelling their events. Fast forward a few hours and U Sports had announced that both the men’s and women’s volleyball tournaments will be played in front of fanless gymnasiums.
The games went on regularly in both Halifax and Charlottetown on Thursday, but those were the last hockey games Canadian fans will experience pre-coronavirus suspensions. At 7:45pmET, Hockey Canada announced that they were going to have an announcement at 8:00pm. That announcement was presumed to be the suspension of all hockey sanctioned under the Hockey Canada umbrella, including minor hockey. By the time 8:15 hit, the presumption proved true.
What followed was a whirlwind of events that is almost too hard to comprehend. From what 49 sports knows, the women’s teams, who were in Charlottetown, had a meeting, but were then released. What was said at the meeting remains undisclosed. Less than 30 minutes later, players and staff were called in once again to be told the women’s tournament had been cancelled.
A similar situation happened with the men, however, all we know is that the coaches met for a meeting with tournament organizers and officials before releasing the information to their players.
U Sports was happy to go on with the tournaments under the guidance of public health specialists, however, Hockey Canada’s decision changed everything. The referees who officiate the U Sports games are all sanctioned by Hockey Canada. Simply, there would be no refs for the games. No refs equal no hockey and that’s where things ended.
It is the first time in the 58 year history of the U Sports men’s hockey championships that no name will be engraved on the David Johnston University Cup while also being the first time in the 22 year existence of the Golden Path Trophy is not awarded.
What has happened to the world of sports over the last few days is truly crushing. The lives of people all around the world are being heavily affected by the virus, but the cancellation of public events such as the U Cup is something that is necessary. In this time of uncertainty, sports must take the backseat as the matter of life and death overshadows any meaning that sport may hold.
Thank you so much for following our hockey and other U Sports coverage this year. We are so happy to be able to provide you with some of the most in-depth coverage out there. While we enter the offseason of U Sports and a nervous time in the world, we will continue to publish as much content as we can. Thank you very much.
The 49 Sport Team