The 2020 Monctonian Challenge has been officially cancelled.
One of the longest running showcase tournaments in Atlantic Canada was going to celebrate its 40th Anniversary this year.
Tournament Chairman and President of the Moncton AAA Flyers Blair Brooks said the decision was inevitable.
”Absolutely,” Brooks said when asked if he was disappointed with the cancellation.
“The Monctonian has been a household thing for forty years, the tournament is a staple in the hockey world,” Brooks said proudly.
Obviously with all the uncertainty and unknown given the horrific COVID-19 pandemic hosting a tournament of this magnitude with teams coming in from all across Canada was next too impossible.
“The Monctonian is the place to be in November,” confessed Brooks.
The Monctonian is the first major showcase tournament of the season with every QMJHL team and various US Colleges in attendance.
The economic spin offs for City of Moncton and the region is truly remarkable.
Brooks admitted to being in talks with Hockey New Brunswick several times over the past few weeks.
“We can’t commit to hockey as we knew it,” Brooks said.
“Body contact, shoulder to shoulder in the dressing room. The COVID-19 criteria and protocol is foremost.”
“If you look at the protocols you just can’t play hockey under those conditions,” Brooks said regrettably.
“We would have been in same window as the past few years, probably around the sixty five range,” Brooks said when asked how many teams would have attended the tournament this year.
Obviously countless hockey fans from this region are desperate to see hockey return, but at what cost?
Brooks doesn’t see the game returning any time soon.
“I don’t see it returning by the Fall, but by late November or early December we could possibly see some three on three activity or that type of thing.”
“It’s hard to forecast when a real hockey game will be played,” Brooks said.
The Moncton AAA Flyers are still holding their annual summer camp under very strict guidelines set out by the province and the Superior Propane Centre.
“It’s all skills and drills, we can only have a group of five skills stations on the ice and we have to exercise physical distancing,” explained Brooks.
“There’s no dressing rooms and no showers. Players have to come to rink with their gear on and enter a designated area to put your skates on.”
Players can only arrive 15 mins before their assigned ice time and stay 10 mins after their practice before exiting the rink.
“It’s a totally different world, it’s a tough situation,” admitted Brooks.
“We will get through it,” Brooks said.
“The health and well-being of everyone is a lot more important than a hockey game.”
“We will follow the COVID-19 rules and regulations and we will go back to playing hockey when they think it’s safe,” stressed Brooks.