The Kenai River Brown Bears players were released to return home after the North American Hockey League canceled the rest of its regular season Monday due to the new coronavirus.
The Bears already had missed home games Friday and Saturday against the Northeast (Massachusetts) Generals. The remaining canceled games were all against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs — Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and March 26, 27 and 28 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks.
“We understand that this is a very difficult time for our hockey community and we are working on all options to conclude the season with a Robertson Cup Championship,” Mark Frankenfeld, NAHL commissioner, said in a released statement.
Frankenfeld added the league is monitoring a very difficult situation in order to make the right decision for everyone involved.
“With the league canceling the end of the regular season and the future of the playoffs up in the air, we have released the players to go home,” Chris Hedlund, general manager for the Bears, wrote in a text message. “With the state of affairs and our concern for players, coaches and parents health, we felt it best to release them and let them be with family.”
Also due to the new coronavirus, the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex is closed for the rest of this month.
“Besides the safety, the sports center is closed for a period of time, impacting any practice opportunity,” Hedlund wrote.
The regular season closes with the Brown Bears in third place in the Midwest Division. Fairbanks takes the top spot at 38-11-1-2, the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel are second at 29-18-3-1, the Bears are third at 27-19-3-3 and the Minnesota Magicians have the fourth and final playoff spot at 21-23-6-3.
The Bears are in a position to be in the playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season, but the future of those playoffs is up in the air. Hedlund said other teams in the league also have released players to go home.
“We will wait to see if there is still an opportunity for any playoffs for league and address it at that time,” Hedlund wrote. “We are proud of this group of players on capturing a playoff spot regardless of the upcoming decision on playoffs by the NAHL.”
ASAA ceases all spring activities
After canceling the state basketball tournament Saturday, the Alaska School Activities Association, due to the new coronavirus, stopped all spring activities in a press release Sunday.
The release said the ASAA Board of Directors has changed the dates for first practices, first contests and championships to “to be determined.” According to the release, ASAA activities are to cease for all ASAA schools until allowed to resume by Billy Strickland, executive director.
The release said the stopping of spring activities comes after a mandate from the state that said students will not be attending school from March 16 to 30. All after-school activities also are suspended during that time period.
Kachemak Nordic Ski Club cancels events
The Kachemak Nordic Ski Club has announced the Kachemak Nordic Ski Marathon on Saturday and 2020 Sea to Ski Triathlon on March 29 have been canceled.