The SIJHL is attempting to keep the two teams based in the United States alive. Make no mistake these two teams are definitely on life support.
With Canadian teams unable to cross the border The Wisconsin Lumberjacks and Thief River Falls Norskies can only play each other at home, or go on the road to Canada to play. Either option limits and all but eliminates the opportunity to generate income needed to fund each team.
Take into account that neither team has a full roster in a pay to play league, and you have a bad situation unfolding in the SIJHL.
Officially the SIJHL has announced;
The Superior International Junior Hockey League is announcing the following changes to it’s schedule:
- October 8 & 9 Wisconsin Lumberjacks @ Fort Frances Lakers is POSTPONED;
- October 8 & 9 originally scheduled series between Thief River Falls Norskies at Thunder Bay North Stars is CHANGED to Wisconsin Lumberjacks at Thunder Bay North Stars;
- October 15 & 16 originally scheduled series Fort Frances Lakers at Thief River Falls Norskies is POSTPONED;
- October 15 & 16 Red Lake Miners at Fort Frances Lakers is ADDED.
Stay tuned for additional schedule announcements and make-up dates for postponed games in coming days.
Neither of these teams can afford to play the rest of the season on the road in Canada. Neither of these teams can stand any injuries or any illness that typically comes along in a junior hockey season.
You have to ask, why either of these teams are playing, and you have to ask why the SIJHL would allow these two teams to begin playing when from the very beginning the border issue was going to cause problems.
While every other Canadian league with teams based in the United States has spent a lot of money on finding solutions for teams to play, the SIJHL is not in the same financial position as those leagues, or those team owners.
What happens if the border stays closed? The SIJHL commissioner is already publicly stating that the league can not give the second half of the season to the USA based teams to make up home games.
We are two weeks away from the next border closure announcement and unless a miracle happens, the border will remain closed not just until the end of November, but until the end of the year, and possibly well into 2022.
Eventually, you have to look at the long term viability of these two teams instead of any short term league gains for games being played. Having teams go dark mid season makes them near impossible to bring back the following year.
Two weeks from now teams will run out of ways to reschedule all the games that will need to be rescheduled if the border remains closed. Lets hope players are not left holding the bag if that happens.