The NAHL announced on Monday that the Jamestown Rebels have suspended operations for the 2020-21 season due to state restrictions regarding COVID-19. The Rebels have set a return date for the 2021-22 season.
Currently, the State of New York does not allow for scrimmages or games to played in the sport of ice hockey, which has been placed in the ‘high risk’ category by the state’s Governor.
“We are disappointed that the Rebels will not be able to participate in the 2020-21 NAHL season,” said Rebels Owner and Govenor Ken Dennis. “We exhausted many options in our attempt return to play, but unfortunately none of them were in the best interest of our players, staff, and fans. We remain fully committed to return to play in the NAHL for the 2021-22 season and look forward to continuing our proud tradition we have established the past six years with our great partners in the East Division. We appreciate the support of the NAHL and specifically Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld, who worked tirelessly to try and keep us playing this season. We are looking forward to our return to the ice in the 2021-22 and wish good luck to our partners in the East Division and all the players in the NAHL this season.”
A dispersal draft will be held in the near future for those players currently on the Rebels 2020-21 Protected List, which includes veteran players, tenders, and draft picks.
“We support the Rebels decision to suspend operations and will continue to work with them to make sure they can make a safe return to play in 2021-22,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld. “The local and state restrictions currently in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic made it very difficult for them to successfully operate.”
The Rebels have been members of the NAHL since the 2015-16 season. Over the course of their five seasons in the East Division, the Rebels have posted a 178-94-22 record in 294 NAHL regular-season games. This past season, the Rebels were in 5th place in the East Division with a 21-30-3 record when the season was canceled.
The Rebels made back-to-back appearances in the Robertson Cup Championships in 2016 and 2017 as the East Division Playoff Champions. Their best season in the NAHL came during the 2016-17 season when the team won the East Division Regular Season and Playoff titles and had the best record in the NAHL during the regular season with a 46-11-3 mark.
The move came on the heels of the Springfield Jr. Blues announcing the suspension of their operations last week.
The State of Illinois is currently in Phase 4 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan which prohibits gatherings of over 50 people, effectively eliminating the ability to play games, regardless of fans.
“It has been a very difficult and trying time for all of the Springfield community and the great businesses that make up the Capital City Area,” said Dan Ferguson, Owner and Governor of the Jr. Blues. “I am extremely saddened by the decision I had to make for the upcoming season, but I feel it is the right decision for the safety of all parties including our staff, players, housing families, and fans.”
“We support the Jr. Blues decision to suspend operations and will continue to work with them to make sure NAHL Hockey returns to Springfield in 2021-22. While we continued to hold out hope until the last minute that local restrictions would change, it became clear that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were going to restrict their operations,” stated NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld.
This decision marks an historic turn in NAHL history as it will be the first season since 1993 that the Jr. Blues will not be on the ice.