Puck drop for the Napanee Raiders’ 32nd Junior C hockey season will have to wait until at least Dec. 1.
The Provincial Junior Hockey League, to which the Raiders belong, announced last week they were targeting early December for their return, pending the approval of governments, local health officials and Hockey Canada authorities.
The league says its aiming to play at least 24 regular season games to determine who will earn the right to play qualify for the Schmalz Cup playoffs, while adhering to COVID-19 safety requirements.
“Collectively, our members have worked diligently to be prepared for a safe return to competition when possible,” said PJHL chair Sandra Neubauer in a release. “By setting a targeted date, we are supporting our players, teams and communities to effectively plan to resume the game.”
The PJHL says it will continue to finalize return-to-the-rink provisions over the coming weeks. They caution the Dec. 1 date is a fluid one and could be pushed back in accordance to evolving legislation and public health guidance.
In a typical year, the Raiders’ 44 game regular season would begin in the last week of September.
Napanee still remains the reigning Schmalz Cup champions, having won it all in 2019. They were closing in on a second straight league title last March when all play was halted. They held a 2-0 series lead over the Picton Pirates at that time.