While it stings that the Canadian Hockey League has cancelled the junior playoffs and there will be no Memorial Cup champion for the first time in over a century because of the COVID-19 epidemic, it really leaves a hole in the hearts of three Edmonton Oil Kings players who have seen the finish line.
The junior career is are all over for first-line right-shot centre Riley Sawchuk, who led the Eastern Conference champions in scoring with 76 points, top-nine forward Ethan McIndoe and goalie Beck Warm, who came to the Oil Kings at the January trade deadline from Kelly Buchberger’s Tri-City Americans to share duties with rookie Sebastian Cossa.
They’re Western Hockey League over-agers with no junior eligibility left on the Oil Kings, the best team in the Eastern Conference who had a legitimate Memorial Cup shot. They can’t play next season and because there won’t be any playoffs, they’re also losing out on pro teams watching them and perhaps offering free-agent contracts. But they’ve all got college teams knocking down the doors to get them.
“For sure it’s disappointing for them and you do feel for them,” said Oil Kings general manager Kirt Hill. “They’ve all had exceptional careers in the WHL, all three coming from the U.S. division to us. They’ve been pretty impact players in our league and for us acquiring them, they’ve all had good years and provided leadership to our organization.
“They came in and…