QMJHL hopes to start playoffs later this month, two WHL teams press pause

MONTREAL -- The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced a playoff plan in the midst of a COVID-19 suspension for all Quebec-based teams on Friday, while two teams in the Western Hockey League are halting activities following a positive test.

The QMJHL says the playoffs will start on April 23 with all teams qualifying.

The QMJHL postponed the start of the playoffs on April 3 after the Gatineau Olympiques and Quebec Remparts each recorded a positive test and suspended activities. Three other teams that played the Olympiques and Remparts shortly before April 3 also suspended activities.

The first round for the 12 Quebec teams will be best-of-five with lengths of subsequent series to be determined.

The three second-round winners in Quebec will join the winner of the Maritime Division playoffs for the league semifinals and final, which is scheduled to be concluded no later than June 20.

The sixth seed in the Maritimes will play the fifth seed on May 4 a single-elimination game. The winner of that game will play the fourth seed the next day. The survivor advances to the best-of-five Maritime semifinals.

Meanwhile, the WHL's Calgary Hitmen have suspended all activities after a player tested positive. The Medicine Hat Tigers have also suspended activities after playing the Hitmen on Monday.

The WHL also announced the discovery of two other positive tests for COVID-19 -- one for the Kelowna Rockets and one for the Vancouver Giants.

The Rockets are currently are in a COVID pause, while the league says the Giants player was undergoing a mandatory quarantine and has not had any contact with teammates.

The Ontario Hockey League, the other Canadian major junior hockey circuit, has not started a 2021 season.

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