NZIHL Announces Cancellation of 2021 Playoffs

NZIHL October 15, 2021  204

Due to the ongoing disruption and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions throughout the country, the New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) has cancelled its 2021 playoff games.

Having already pushed back the dates of the semi-final and grand final games twice in an attempt to see these games played, the New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation (NZIHF) met with team staff and captains earlier in the week to discuss the options available to the league and gather their feedback. 

At the meeting it was agreed that the ongoing restrictions on interregional travel, costs incurred with an additional extension to the playoffs season and uncertainty about when the lockdown restrictions might end, meant it was very unlikely the games could be played in a reasonable timeframe. It was agreed by all teams that the most appropriate decision would be to cancel the playoffs entirely.

Delegates from the NZIHF Management Committee, who are responsible for voting on such decisions affecting the NZIHL, took this feedback from staff and players onboard and met to discuss the options available to extend or cancel the league. At the Management Committee meeting it was unanimously voted by all regional delegates that the NZIHL playoffs be cancelled.

NZIHL General Manager, Andreas Kaisser, said that while this decision was disappointing for fans and players alike, it was the most sensible decision to make given the lockdown uncertainty and financial implications of continually extending the season.

As per section 12.1 (a) of the NZIHL Events Manual, the Birgel Cup will not be awarded to a team for the 2021 Season, as the Events Manual states the Birgel Cup may only be awarded to the winning team of a league final. Because no final took place, the Birgel Cup is unable to be awarded.

Individual awards will be handed out to players, as nominated by team managers, coaches and the points table as at the last completed regular season game.

Queenstown’s Skycity Stampede will retain the Toa Kauhanga Riri Tio challenge trophy, having successfully defended the trophy during all challenges in the 2021 regular season. The Skycity Stampede finished 1st in a dominant regular season performance, winning all of their points eligible games – a feat unseen in the NZIHL’s 17 year history.

The NZIHL would like to acknowledge its fans, volunteers, team staff and players for their efforts and support in the 2021 season. We saw record attendance numbers at all ice rinks throughout New Zealand during this season, and while the season may not have ended the way we wanted it to, we are grateful for your support and the fact we were able to play as many games as we did.

Planning is underway for the 2022 season, and we will share information about this when we can.