Manitoba AAA League Confirms Start Date
After receiving approval from Hockey Manitoba, the Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League has officially been given the green light.
That means the 2020-2021 season will begin on Friday, October 16 with all member teams returning for the upcoming season. There are; however, some changes that come into effect this season with the first being the number of games played.
The Parkland Rangers and all other teams will play 36 games -- compared to the normal 48 -- which are played in a normal season.
Levi Taylor is the Commissioner of the league and he says 36 games is the perfect number.
"Based on the number of the weekends we have in a year, our season is somewhat congested because have to take in the Telus west regionals which we hope take place this year," said Taylor. "We only have so many weekends and looking how we wanted to structure the schedule, 36 games is what we are comfortable with."
The Southwest Cougars were to host the Telus regionals last year at Tundra Oil & Gas Place before it was cancelled because of the novel coronavirus. Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Canada haven't yet confirmed if this year's event will take place, but if it does, Taylor believes Southwest would play host.
Another change this season is the league will be using a division format. The Rangers will play in the West Division alongside the Yellowhead Chiefs, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Southwest Cougars. The Central Division will feature the Central Plains Capitals, Pembina Valley Hawks, Interlake Lightning, and the Eastman Selects. The one other division is the East which has the Winnipeg Bruins paired with the Winnipeg Thrashers, Winnipeg Wild, and Kenora Thistles.
The MJHL was the first elite league in Manitoba to announce that they would use divisions this season and the AAA league has followed suit.
"We looked at what would happen if there were outbreaks in certain regions," said Taylor. "For instance in the West Division, if there is an outbreak in Prairie Mountain, we hope that we can just stop play for that division, but the other two divisions can continue with their seasons."
The Rangers will begin their 36 game slate on Saturday, October 17 when they're in Thompson to play the Norman Northstars. The team will play Norman again on Sunday afternoon to wrap up the league's first weekend of play. The next update we are now waiting for from the league is what playoff format will be used. In a normal year, 1st plays 8th, 2nd plays 7th, 3rd plays 6th, and 4th plays 5th. Taylor didn't say that format wouldn't be used; however, he didn't confirm that it would, either.
"We formed a Task Force to get the season going and we’ve gone through various playoff formats," ended Taylor. "We're looking at a few options at this point and we do hope to have a decision made by the start of the regular season which is coming up in a couple of weeks."
The Rangers will have two ice sessions tonight ahead of their intrasquad game on Thursday. After that, the team is in Swan River this weekend for two games against Norman before they play a home preseason game next week at Credit Union Place.
Originally posted by Darnell Duff