The American Collegiate Hockey Association is canceling its national tournament, according to a press release Thursday. The announcement comes in response to public health concerns over the coronavirus in the United States.
Executive Director Craig Barnett said public health is of utmost concern for the ACHA, and the association felt canceling the tournament was the best course of action.
“We felt it necessary to be proactive and take this preventative measure to mitigate, suppress, and delay the spread of coronavirus,” Barnett said.
Several teams affiliated with the ACHA, including Stony Brook, had preemptively canceled their trips to Frisco due to pressure from their universities to restrict travel.
The Bobcats didn’t learn about the cancellation until most were heading to Bird Arena for practice Thursday afternoon.
After coach Cole Bell was told about the cancellation, he gathered the Bobcats in the locker room and broke the bad news in person.
It was especially hard for Bell to deliver the news to the seniors, who were the top players for Ohio all season.
“I felt absolutely terrible for them,” Bell said. “I thanked them for all the work they’ve done and for living up to the traditions and expectations of being a Bobcat hockey player.”
The Bobcats’ season has come to an abrupt and unexpected end. As the season winded down, many of the little problems that had plagued the team all season had been corrected. Ohio went 8-2 in its last ten games and its 11 freshmen were becoming more successful on the ice.
Seniors like Tyler Harkins and Gianni Evangelisti have been left frustrated and disappointed that their final season ended so abruptly.
“It’s just sad,” Harkins said. “The season just ends and you don’t even get a f------ chance to win some hardware. We finished top four in the league and we thought we could do something this year.”
Evangelisti said he “wasn’t shocked, only disappointed” after hearing the news. The senior forward had been following along with the news and figured it was only only a matter of time. The NHL announced early Thursday that it will be suspending play for the remainder of the season.
Harkins and Evangelisti have both acknowledged that this measure is for the greater good, but the disappointment of not competing in the national tournament stings. The duo both admit that they haven’t fully digested that their time at Ohio is over so soon.
“Gianni and I both have dreams of going pro after this,” Harkins said. “After the meeting, coach pulled Gianni and I aside and told us ‘We’re not the only league canceling play. So not only are you getting screwed here, but you get screwed on that.’”