FARGO — The American Hockey League suspended its season in the middle of March, but it took until Monday morning for the league to decide that the remainder of the season was cancelled. That news hit hard for two local players who were in the playoff push.
“I kind of felt it coming but it was still disappointing that it happened,” said Moorhead native Will Borgen.
It’s been nearly two months since Borgen was on the ice with his teammates in Rochester, New York.
“We were in top one or two in our division most of the year and we were looking to clinch playoffs soon near the end of the regular season and go from there. When it comes to pro hockey it’s not like college or high school or anything like that. So it sucks that it ends that way because you want to make a run at the playoffs when we were probably going to make it with those guys, but it is what it is,” said Borgen.
The Rochester Americans who are an affiliate team to the Buffalo Sabres had 15 regular season games remaining before the AHL season was suspended March 12th.
”I think there was still some hope. I think we thought it might be a long break but there might be potential for playoffs or finish the season in the summer,” said Borgen.
After the finish to Will’s second season goes unwritten, he and the rest of the league look to 2021. Meanwhile, Grand Forks native Jon Lizotte was in his first full season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“We found out the night before, after we got off the ice playing and the next day we were all kind of on eggshells not really knowing what was going to happen. So that was a little weird 24 hours we had,” said Lizotte.
Lizotte who is with the Pittsburgh Penguins affiliate also had his eyes set on playing into May.
“It’s definitely kind of a bummer that we weren't able to give it our last push since we were coming together pretty well at the end. So it definitely kind of rubs you in the wrong way for a bit but some things are just kind of bigger right now,” said Lizotte.
This defenseman faces another hurdle heading into the off-season as his rookie contract now expires.
“I don’t really even know when the season will even start next year. I think everyone is sweating at the palms a little bit not really knowing what’s going on. So I just gotta make the best out of it and hopefully things come around full circle,” said Lizotte.
Borgen and Lizotte were teammates at St. Cloud State, now they’re starting their off seasons earlier than usual as they try to find some normalcy in an abnormal time.
“I kind of just miss skating right now, I kind of want to get back out on the ice since most places are shut down right now,” said Borgen.
”I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but hopefully sometime in the near future hockey is going again,” said Lizotte.
Despite the cancellation of the AHL season, the NHL has not made an official decision about where the future sits with their 2020 season.