After months off the ice, the Flin Flon Minor Hockey Association (FFMHA) has officially shut down the rest of the 2020/21 season.
The association had been holding out hope that COVID-19 and related restrictions would relax to the point where kids' hockey programs could operate. The association has not officially held on-ice training since Manitoba health orders shut down public recreation facilites, including arenas, in November.
"It has always been the hope of Flin Flon Minor Hockey to return to scheduled league play. However, with current restrictions this is not feasible at this time," reads a statement from the FFMHA board of directors sent out Feb. 16.
The association has not shut the door completely on programming in 2021 - only for the 2020-21 season. In the statement, the FFMHA states they may be able to have some local-only programs later in the year if rules allow.
"This decision is not closing the door on hockey this year - just the Flin Flon minor hockey regular season. This may allow for local programming for the balance of the season as per public health restrictions may allow," reads the FFMHA statement.
With no full play in the short-term, the FFMHA will now work to provide parents with refunds over the winter and spring, as soon as directives for refund procedures come from Hockey Manitoba. Refunds won't be issued until team jerseys for all divisions - except for the U11 division - are returned to league coordinators. Not all fees will be refunded - money allocated to tryout fees and Hockey Manitoba insurance will not be recouped.
"The board of directors and executive members of the Flin Flon Minor Hockey Association did not take this decision lightly and it is with heavy hearts and after lengthy discussion that we share this directive," reads the FFMHA board statement.
"We would like to thank our members for being patient throughout this trying 2020/21 season and look forward to seeing our players back next season."
The FFMHA is not the first Manitoba-based hockey group to recently announce a season cancellation.
Health orders in Manitoba, as of Feb. 12, allow for teams and individual players to play games and practice, but only on outdoor rinks. Indoor rinks will only be open to individual players for one-on-one instruction.
"The health and safety of our community and Hockey Manitoba members is of utmost importance and we will return to play when it is safe to do so," reads the Hockey Manitoba return-to-play guidelines.
"Physical distancing, mask wearing, proper hygiene, and screening are necessary steps that must be practiced in order to return to hockey safely and will assist in reducing the risk to the hockey community."