Ontario Hockey League players react to cancelled season

It sure felt like hockey season, waking up to snow in southern Ontario Wednesday, but less than 24 hours earlier, the Ontario Hockey League cancelled its return to play.

The OHL said in a statement that the provincial stay-at-home order and climbing COVID-19 case count made it impossible to go ahead with the season.

“Everyone still had their hopes up, hoping that… (we could have) a shortened season (and) still get in some games, show off how we trained,” said Brenden Sirizzotti, Ottawa 67’s forward.

It’s a crushing blow for Sirizzotti, who is eligible to be drafted into the NHL this summer.

“There’s no ice anywhere right now, but going for runs and rollerblades and stuff like that, but I feel like there’s no need to take an off-season because of how short this turnaround is going to be, if we start up again in early August for training camp,” said Sirizzotti.

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As for Ethan Keppen, he saw the writing on the wall.

The Flint Firebird is now in Utica on an amateur tryout contract with the Vancouver Canucks affiliate.

“I’m pretty fortunate for myself to be here right now and getting a shot,” said Keppen.

The 20-year-old, who joined the Comets earlier this month, went 15 months between game action.

“Just seeing other leagues play — like Quebec league and the WHL, even Junior A leagues — it’s pretty frustrating. Like, the OHL was the only league not playing… So, mentally, it was really tough,” said Keppen.

The 2020-2021 OHL season was supposed to be Carson Christy’s rookie year with the Mississauga Steelheads.

“I was just hoping for, like, 20 games,” said Christie.

Read more: Ontario Hockey League players and team executives reflect on March 2020 pause

Oshawa Generals GM Roger Hunt says while the line has been drawn in the sand, they came close to getting on the ice.

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“It’s disappointing knowing that only a few weeks ago the government and the league came to an agreement to get a shortened season in and then within a matter of hours the variants and the cases skyrocketed,” said Hunt.

While it’s been a tough pill to swallow for many around the league, they’re setting their sights on next season — hoping not only to have one, but also for it to start on time.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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