Story by Jeff Gard/jgsportsmedia.com
While a potential start to the Provincial Junior Hockey League regular season is being pushed back, the Port Hope Panthers are hopeful to begin playing some scrimmage or exhibition games in December.
Dec. 1 was the previous targeted start date for the season, but that won’t happen as the outlook now shifts to the new year.
Still, the Panthers are optimistic about soon playing some games against another team with a cohort framework, similar to what the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Cobourg Cougars are doing with the Whitby Fury.
“While I can’t speak for the entire PJHL, I know that the governors, board and respective committees are working tirelessly to ensure our players play this year,” said Panthers general manager Alex Guiney. “Our team has been in contact with a number of clubs in our division and hope to have an announcement shortly about us playing games in the 2020 calendar year.”
The Panthers have been on the ice twice a week in Port Hope since early November.
Staff at the Jack Burger Sports Complex have “been fantastic to work with on our protocols and policies to ensure we are safe (being on the ice),” Guiney said.
Skill development sessions have been important following an extended off-season during which players didn’t have access to ice time.
“We wanted to get everybody on an equal footing, but we’re progressing into our systems and structure that we intend to implement and execute in game action this year,” Guiney said, adding he expects a competitive season of junior C hockey.
“The interest in junior C is really up this year and the quality of player and recruit I think is really high. This could be one of the best seasons of junior C when we do get going.”