Hawks go ahead, Mustangs on hold

The Hawks are going forward while the Mustangs take a forced break.

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Playing an organized sport in the midst of a pandemic is balancing act and the Nipawin Hawks at least have found some balance, winning 50 per cent of the six games they have played so far.

In their most recent game on November 21, the team saw a 2-1 loss to Kindersley, with their only goal credited to Michael Makarenko, a consistent scorer for the team.

That game was in Nipawin in front of the maximum capacity crowd of 150. With attendance restricted by COVID guidelines, groups of fans (who must remain in their bubble) are placed at intervals throughout the arena, with every second row of seats empty and staggered positions on the rows that do have people.

Coming and going from seats is restricted and each section is assigned an exit and entry door.

Melfort’s arena holds twice as many people as Centennial Arena, making it easier to space the fans, but the team is still controlling how the crowd moves.

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Masks are mandatory for all fans, staff and even ice officials.

The Mustangs play was stopped temporarily after a player was exposed to COVID-19, but on their final game beforehand, they posted a 3-1 loss to the La Ronge Ice Wolves, who also beat the Hawks in a previous game.

Ty Albrecht netted the Mustangs only goal in the November 20 match and that was in the first period.

The Ice Wolves have had a good start to the season and currently sit at the top of the Sherwood Division standings, followed by the Hawks, then the Mustangs and trailed in fourth by the Flin Flon Bombers.

The Bombers are facing an extended break after Manitoba’s COVID-19 status hit red. Part of that includes restrictions on out of province travel.

The province, team and SJHL could to not reach an agreement that would allow the Bombers to play out their season in the SJHL.

“Keeping the health of their players and communities in mind, the Bombers have exhausted all avenues to finding a solution to play, which included alternative venues for them to practice and play. With that, the Flin Flon Bombers have decided to pause their season and resume play after the Christmas break,” the SJHL announced on November 23.

Even with two teams on the bench, albeit briefly, the Hawks were set to go ahead with their season, taking on Kindersley again on November 27 in Nipawin and the following night in Kindersley.

Humboldt fans will also still get to watch the Broncos as they host Melville on November 27 before going on the road the following night.

In order to accommodate the times needed to isolate between matchups, many of this year’s games are happening in four-game series, rather than the two back-to-back games fans are used to.