Instead of heading west to Manitoba to open up the second half of their season, the Kenora U18 AAA Thistles (2-25-1) are stuck waiting as their season is paused after recent restrictions came into effect on Wednesday (January 5, 2022).

The new restrictions closed all indoor sport and recreational facilities, leaving the Thistles along with many other teams the inability to play or practice for at least 21 days.

“It’s disappointing, everybody wanted to continue playing. At this point now we’re just stuck in limbo and waiting until then,” said head coach Scott Parsons.

Though the Thistles play in a Manitoba hockey league, they are still governed by Hockey Northwestern Ontario, which had to pause all programming due to the restrictions.

“With that, all of our travel permits are null and void, even just traveling to Manitoba in order to play games, and even if we were to try and schedule a practice ahead of time we wouldn’t even be able to do that because of the travel permits being lifted.”

Now the team is forced to forfeit all nine of the games they would’ve played during that three-week restriction period.

“It’s taken away the opportunities for the kids that we had. I feel for the kids especially the kids that are in their third year, where they've taken away a large chunk of their season.”

Parsons noted that the morale within the team is still high and they are hopeful their season will return.

The Thistles would have opened up their up second half of the season this weekend against the Interlake Lightning (8-20-1).

Kenora finished the first half of the season with only two wins, and three points, which came against the Southwest Cougars (16-12-1), Interlake Lightning, and an overtime loss to the Norman Northstars (9-19-3).