PJHL hopeful for complete Schmalz Cup playoffs this spring

Rookie Cole Stevenson leads the goal train past the Picton Pirates bench. (Shawna Adams for the Gazette)

The Provincial Junior Hockey League remains hopeful the Schmalz Cup will be competed for in 2022 despite a provincially-mandated pause in play.

The PJHL announced it will follow the provincial mandate and suspend play from January 5th through to the 27th due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“We are very hopeful that we will be able to resume play soon after the 27th,” PJHL Commissioner Terry Whiteside said. “Plans and schedules are being reviewed and amended as required to ensure we are able to complete our season and compete for the Schmalz Cup.”

During this pause, the commission added the league’s number one concern is the mental and physical health of our players, coaches, staff and fans and was referring all to www.ementalhealth.ca/ for resources and support for mental health. 

“All of us want to be able to have a safe return to hockey. As the COVID situation continues to evolve we will be monitoring and preparing ourselves to be ready to return to the game,” Whiteside said.”As the largest Junior Hockey League in the world, the PJHL takes its responsibility very seriously to ensure the safety of all participants and we will continue to work with our governing bodies, local health units and facilities to provide the safest environment possible.”

Picton Pirates General Manager Jason Parks said it was difficult to see the league shutdown but understood the gravity of the situation first hand.

“We are disappointed with the news but we also know first hand that Omicron is making its way through the community as two of our players have tested positive in the last week,” Parks said. “Their health and the health of everyone that supports the team is a priority and we will have to wait and see what hockey will look like on the other side of this wave.”

While a full slate of regular season games might be impossible to cram into the remaining weeks after the league gets the green light, Parks was hopeful for a full Tod Division playoff.

“I’m not sure we will be able to fit a full season in by the time the numbers regress but I think it’s critically important we have some type of playoffs for the Tod Division and then further if the time frame allows. Our graduating players deserve nothing less,” the GM added.