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WHL cancels remainder of regular season, playoffs still in question

The Western Hockey League regular season has been canceled due to concerns over COVID-19. (Brian Liesse/Thunderbirds)

After a week of deliberation, the Western Hockey League announced Tuesday that the remainder of the regular season has been canceled due to concerns around the COVID-19 disease.

The announcement comes a day after the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League made a similar decision. With 63 games in the books, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ regular season has come to an end.

The league had previously announced that the season was on pause which came a few days after the Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips had planned on playing their remaining home games in empty arenas.

No further information on when or what conditions were needed for the playoffs to move forward were detailed by the league in its release. On Tuesday the Thunderbirds announced that they were closing their offices and that all their players had returned to their homes.

Seattle ends the year with a 24-32-4-3 record with five games to go in the regular season. The Thunderbirds were in fourth place in the U.S. Division but on the verge of clinching a wild card berth in the Western Conference.

Holding a seven-point lead in the standings over the Prince George Cougars, the playoffs were close to a sure thing this season, despite the club rebuilding and relying on a young and inexperienced roster.

The league also finalized its standings that saw the Portland Winterhawks with the league’s best overall record and Seattle in 16th place. These standings will most likely be used to formalize the selection order of the league’s May Bantam Draft but no further information was provided.

Reports on Wednesday claimed that the QMJHL would be holding its Entry Draft online and it would be safe to assume that the WHL would follow suit.