The North Okanagan Knights were eliminated from the KIJHL playoffs after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Kelowna Chiefs Thursday, March 5, 2020. (Steve Dunsmoor photo)

‘All of a sudden, it’s done’: Kelowna Chiefs accept somber end to season

The Junior B league season ended during division finals series

In the midst of league playoff action, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League cancelled the remainder of its postseason as well as the 2020 Cyclone Taylor Cup.

The Kelowna Chiefs were mid-series with the Princeton Posse but had the season cut short on March 13, after the Junior B league was advised by Hockey Canada and B.C. Hockey that the hockey season would not resume after being suspended just a day earlier.

“We got the news on the bus to the game,” said Chiefs game day manager Alex Draper.

“It was a weird feeling. All of a sudden, it’s done. You got to do what everyone else it and know that it’s right but I can’t help but feel sorry for the 20-year-old players who didn’t know that (the March 10 win) was going to be their last game of their junior hockey careers.”

READ MORE: West Kelowna Warriors add depth with two off-season signings

Draper said that the ripple effect of the coronavirus’ spread can be felt in the locker room and the organization as the somber realization of the Chiefs’ finished season sets in throughtout the Rutland community.

Chiefs fan and usual anthem singer Scotty Berg was scheduled to sing O Canada at the Vancouver Canucks games on March 15, but with the NHL season indefinitely suspended, the 12-year-old missed this year’s chance.

“That’s the collateral damage,” said Draper.

“Our fans love him and we were so behind him and to have that opportunity at 12 years old, it’s tough.”

The Chiefs were once again having a top-notch season and were tied 1-1 in the series with the Posse as the two teams battled for the Bill Ohlhausen Division crown.

Draper noted that the call was a tough one for the fans, but that the KIJHL made the right call.

“This decision was made with the health and safety of our players, coaches, volunteers, billets and fans as the sole consideration,” the KIJHL said in a statement. “We share your disappointment at this news, and thank all those who contributed to an exciting and entertaining 2019 to 2020 hockey season.”

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