DANVILLE — The Danville Dashers’ season was supposed to start going into a new level.
With the team in third place in the Federal Professional Hockey League’s West Division, the Dashers were gearing up for a run in the playoffs.
But after the FPHL suspended games on March 13 and cancelled the rest of the season on March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the season abruptly ended.
“It’s really unfortunate how everything ended, I felt we were trending in the right direction,” Dashers coach Ray Tremblay said. “We just found our identity and were playing well and was gearing up for a long playoff run. Coming from where we were last year to where we finished up, we had a lot of work left. It was unfortunate, but the whole world is dealing with it.”
The Dashers improved from a 16-36 record last season to a 24-18 record this season and after the suspension of the season, Dashers General Manager Diane Short said that some players were already going home.
“When we were suspended, we didn’t know what was going on because it came at us so quickly,” Short said. “We were actually going to take a two-week break. Our Canadian players went home because they wanted to see their families, but the season was cancelled. When it was going to be cancelled, slowly the rest of the players started to go home, the last of the players went home a few days ago.
“Like the NHL announced when they were suspending the league and on Thursday, the league was suspended,” Tremblay said. “The guys stuck around and it was four-five days before we found out we were done for the season after leagues like the East Coast Hockey league announced they were cancelling.”
Tremblay said that the sudden season ending was off-putting for him and the players.
“It’s a weird feeling to be honest in just that we were playing and doing do well and then ending , it is an empty feeling,” Tremblay said. “To have all that hard work throughout the season and to have it end abruptly was odd. We are done a little bit earlier and to take advantage of the time now will be the best advantage for us.”
“They were upset because they felt that had a strong chance to go far or take the championship, so they were bummed,” Short said. “I was disappointed and coach was disappointed. I have kept in touch with the players and I talk to coach every day and we feel that we have a shot next season. We had a younger team and coming back, we feel we have a strong chance.”
While the players are now all back at home, Short is still working to end this season and get things ready for next season.
“We are wrapping up this past season and doing end-of-season paperwork. We still need to get everything out the apartments, so things haven’t changed for us,” Short said. “As soon as that is over, I start thinking about next season and what promotions we can do. It will be our 10th season and we have to be bigger and better next season.”
Short also says the fans support has not wavered and she will keep that bond going during the summer.
“Because I actually live in Danville, I have a little bit of a different situation than most GMs,” Short said. “I have become friends with a lot of the fans and we have kept in touch the last few weeks and everyone is looking forward to the next season because there was no closure to the season. And I have kept everyone informed on social media, so we have been doing a lot on our Facebook page.”