Bombers postpone weekend road games, work on building Sask.-based player bubble

Plan includes moving players en masse to Sask., practices in Creighton, only road games, waiting for Sask Health approval

No play for the Bombers this weekend - the team will be staying up north for the second straight week. Team officials are working on moving players, personnel and practices to Saskatchewan to keep the season going.

Flin Flon was set to travel to North Battleford for a pair of games against the Battlefords North Stars Nov. 20-21, but both games have been postponed. A pair of games for the Bombers in Kindersley Nov. 13-14, originally scheduled as home games but moved to Kindersley, were also postponed.

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Another game, between La Ronge and the Bombers originally set for Nov. 27, was previously announced as postponed. The Bombers' next scheduled game, according to the SJHL website, will be in La Ronge Nov. 28 - it is unknown if that game will be allowed to go ahead as planned.

The club has submitted a plan to Saskatchewan Health to continue play, including billeting all players in Saskatchewan, playing all games on the road and practicing at the Creighton Sportex, but the plan hasn't yet been approved. While news outlets and sports commentators have referred to the Bombers moving the entire franchise into Saskatchewan or the team suspending their season entirely, neither of these is the case.

"There's nothing new. The games have been postponed until Tuesday or Wednesday, but we're still waiting on the green light from Sask Health," said Bombers team president Travis Rideout.

The team's home rink, the Whitney Forum, and all other team facilities were shut down last week when the province moved to "red" on the provincial pandemic response system. Under the new "red" rule, no public recreation facilities or arenas can open, nor can any retail business considered "non-essential", until next month - shutting down not only the Whitney Forum, but also the team's office on Main Street.

In the meantime, with the arena closed, the team hasn't played or practiced since the "red" rule went into effect Nov. 12. If the Bombers' plan passes muster with Sask Health, Bomber players - mostly billeted with Manitoba families - will be moved, likely on a temporary basis, to homes and families in Flin Flon, Sask., Creighton and Denare Beach. If the plan is approved soon, the weekend games scheduled to be played in North Battleford this weekend will be played Nov. 24-25.

Rideout said the team has found enough host families and areas in Saskatchewan to host the team's entire roster, currently listed as 31 players on the SJHL's website.

"We should be good. As of right now, when we get approved to move, we'll have enough places for all," he said.

While all of Manitoba is listed as "red" under the pandemic response system, the Flin Flon/Snow Lake/Cranberry Portage/Sherridon district has one active case remaining, thought to be in the Snow Lake area. The far north east 2 health zone, which covers Saskatchewan communities near Flin Flon including Creighton, Denare Beach, Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay, has six active cases of Nov. 19.

The Bombers played two games this season - a pair of losses against the Melfort Mustangs Nov. 6 and 10 - before the team's season was paused.

Manitoba will remain under the "red" restrictions until Dec. 10.

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