The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League made the decision earlier in the week to finally cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 hockey season.
The league issued the following statement: “The PIHL regretfully must announce that the remainder of its 2019-20 season is now canceled. This includes all unplayed games in the Varsity playoffs. Thank you to all of the players, coaches, managers, administrators, and game staff for their valuable contributions to another great year of high school hockey in the PIHL!”
Ringgold was scheduled to defend its Class B division title against Carrick on March 17 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Ringgold coach Rick Kalinowski was not surprised by the decision.
“The decision came out on Sunday. It was awful news, but it was the best thing they could do,” said Kalinowski. “Holding off the decision, I think it gave hope to the kids.
“(The cancellation), that’s the bad part of it all. They put time and focus into it, and they didn’t have a chance to play.
“It’s not fun being a kid right now.”
The Rams’ last game was a stirring 6-5 overtime victory over rival Elizabeth Forward in the semifinals at RMU Island Sports Center. Nathan Boulanger scored the game-winner on a breakaway for Ringgold’s final goal of the 2019-20 season.
Kalinowski has been in communication with Carrick coach Chris Seratowski about still playing a game of some type should doing so be permitted.
“The Carrick coach wants to play a game. He’s up for it,” explained Kalinowski. “He suggested the kids all throw their sticks together at mid-ice and pick teams, just have fun with it and then declare co-champs and make a T-shirt, Ringgold-Carrick co-champs.
“We’d play anywhere (including a dek hockey rink).”
Carrick handed Ringgold its only loss of the season when it defeated the Rams in overtime in the regular season finale.
“(Seratowski) really felt they had a chance for it (in the title game),” said Kalinowski.
Also cancelled was the opportunity for Kalinowski to bid farewell to his squad.
“We had nine seniors. We had the talent possibly to go back-to-back,” said Kalinowski. “There’s no graduation and probably no graduation parties. We didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. The sad part is I didn’t get to say that one final goodbye.”
The Rams will look a lot different next season.
“We graduate nine seniors, so I don’t know how we’ll fare next year,” said Kalinowski. “Brad Bujdos and Justin Day are playing at Cal U, so they’ll still play at Rostraver. Hunter Suarez is playing juniors in New Jersey next year. Evan Eberlein was drafted by a Tier III team in the supplementary draft (by the Louisiana Drilliers in the fifth round with a pick obtained from the Milwaukee Power).”