Coronavirus effect on local sports

Published: Mar. 12, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT
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The ACHA announced the cancellation of the National Championships in Texas for all five divisions due to coronavirus concerns. The Minot State men's hockey team was hoping to defend its Division I title, but now that won't be happening.

"Obviously the team we had this year will never be together on the ice again. [It's a] very tough and an emotional time, especially for the older guys who have been here four or five years. You always want to win your last game in a championship format," said captain Blake Fournier.

"All these guys have put in countless hours over the years... Next year we have to come ready to carry the torch and make that year worthwhile [to] prove that what we had this year was special... If we keep the pieces and keep building like we did this year, it'll also be very positive [for years to come]," said freshman defenseman Eric Soar.

The Minot State women's hockey team was seeded second at Nationals in its first season in ACHA Division I. They will be offering comment on Friday.

The Dakota College at Bottineau Lumberjacks men's hockey team was set to compete in the Division II National Tournament for the very first time. Head Coach Travis Rybchinski had a tough time breaking the news to his players.

"I was a little shocked, and numb is a good word. Knowing that you have to tell the players that there's no tournament... It was very difficult when you tell kids their dreams are dashed. It's a very hard thing to let them know that, [it's] pretty emotional thing to tell them that our season is over. I know it doesn't mean much now, but we'll look back and be very proud of our accomplishments," Rybchinski said.

The NAHL regular season has been paused due to COVID-19. The Tauros were on their way to a weekend series with the Austin Bruins when they heard the news. The league Board of Governors will have a conference call on Friday to "discuss further action." Minot Coach Marty Murray talked about what the key points will be as the league moves forward.

Murray said: "The biggest thing is what do we do with our players. Do we keep them here? Do we send them home? Will we be able to practice? What is the protocol to follow here in the upcoming days, or possibly weeks?"

With Region Championships set for Thursday night and the Class-B State Boys Basketball Tournament scheduled for next week in Bismarck, the North Dakota High School Activities Association had this to say as it communicates with the state Department of Health:

"The NDHSAA is aware that this is a rapidly evolving situation and will continue to monitor events that are happening in our state. At this time, today's State Class A Basketball Tournament and this evening's Class B Boys Basketball Region Tournaments will continue as scheduled with full fan access... Currently there are no recommendations from the Governor's Office or NDDoH that alterations to tournament schedules or fan access are necessary, although it is a fluid situation and may change quickly... Arena staffs are taking extra precautionary measures, including increased hand sanitizer stations and frequent disinfectant of high-touch areas."

The association added that while its wants "all fans to enjoy [the] events, [it encourages] fans who are ill or at higher risk for severe illness to stay home and enjoy the events online or on the television." The State A Tournaments are running the rest of the week in Fargo.

Your News Leader will continue to follow these developments.

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