While there have been tons of sports postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19 over the past year, there haven’t been many playoff schedule alterations since the initial wave of shutdowns last March. That’s what’s now happened with the National Women’s Hockey League, however. The league’s season in Lake Placid, NY has been facing COVID-19 challenges, with the Metropolitan Riveters withdrawing last week and the Connecticut Whale exiting Monday (which led to a change in the playoff qualification procedure). And now, just ahead of the Isobel Cup semifinals and final (which were set to be played Thursday and Friday respectively, and were set to be shown on NBCSN in the U.S. and Twitch internationally), the league has announced a suspension of its season, with Marisa Ingemi first breaking that news (she’d later write about this at NBC) and the NWHL confirming it shortly afterwards:
Sources: The NWHL will be announcing suspension of the season due to Covid.
— Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi) February 3, 2021
The NWHL and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) have agreed, due to new positive COVID-19 tests and the resulting safety concerns for the players, their respective staff & the community that the remainder of the 2021 NWHL Season in Lake Placid have been suspended.
— NWHL (@NWHL) February 3, 2021
Here’s more from Ingemi’s coverage on this at NBC Sports:
After, according to sources in Lake Placid, “several” new positive tests last night and this morning, the league made the decision to shut it down.
Connecticut pulled out of the season prior to its game with Minnesota on Monday evening and at the time, had no new positive tests following one the week before.
That changed, quickly, and the league made the tough decision to pull the plug right ahead of its semi-finals, which would have aired on NBCSN Thursday night.
…The league released in a statement there would be a press conference later to field questions about what is next. Though the language coming from the NWHL is of the season being suspended, multiple sources in Lake Placid have said “it’s done.”
This feels like a significant blow for the league, as they had seemed all set for some high-exposure playoff games on NBCSN (and had also just announced an Isobel Cup presenting sponsor deal with Dick’s Sporting Goods). It’s unclear how long this suspension will be for, but it’s certainly not ideal in any case to have a suspension immediately ahead of playoff games. And if this season is in fact “done,” that will mark the second-straight NWHL season that has ended without the Isobel Cup being presented (the league called off its fifth season last March ahead of the championship game).