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Islanders, Storm players heading home as leagues suspend operations due to coronavirus

Robbie Robinson, left, speaks with his Island Storm teammates earlier this year during a National Basketball League of Canada contest at the Eastlink Centre.
Robbie Robinson, left, speaks with his Island Storm teammates earlier this year during a National Basketball League of Canada contest at the Eastlink Centre. - Jason Malloy
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Many of the Charlottetown Islanders have returned home, and the Island Storm will soon follow suit.

Jim Hulton, head coach and general manager of the Isles, said Tuesday morning about three-quarters of the players had already returned home or were in the midst of doing so. Storm owner Duncan Shaw said his players would leave the Island by week’s end.

Both the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the National Basketball League of Canada have suspended operations due to the coronavirus.

“The basketball world is a microcosm of the regular world (and) is shut down,” Shaw said Tuesday morning. “There is some discussion, no different than every other league, of hopefully it passes quickly and we can come back and finish the season, but nobody knows.”

The Storm (6-17) had played 23 of its 36-game regular season. It had six home games among its 13 remaining contests.

“The world at large made it impossible to run (the league), so we’re trying to get the players taken care of as best as we can,” Shaw said.

The Storm has five players going to other communities in Canada and five heading to the United States. Shaw said team owners have had numerous conference calls as the league has explored all options.

“It’s unchartered water,” he said. “We’re all leaning on each other.”

Hulton said Gaetan Jobin was scheduled to fly home to Switzerland on Tuesday while Nikita Alexandrov was staying in Charlottetown after discussions with him and his family in Germany deemed it was the best situation for the St. Louis Blues’ draft pick.

The Islanders (33-26-5-0) have four games remaining in their 68-game regular season. They were on the road to Sydney, N.S., Thursday for two weekend games with the Cape Breton Eagles when they were told by league officials to turn around and head back to Charlottetown.

The league also announced the cancellation of the golden puck awards, the New England Showcase, the Gatorade Excellence Challenge and the goaltenders’ development camp on Tuesday.

Hockey P.E.I. had players preparing for the Gatorade Excellence Challenge, which is a scouting event for players eligible for the QMJHL draft.
“Our team truly enjoyed following the players this winter and were looking forward to the team we were going to select to compete in Montreal," said Hockey P.E.I. technical director Connor Cameron.

The Holland College Hurricanes announced Tuesday it was cancelling its 16th annual award gala that was scheduled for April 3.

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