BARRIE, ONT. -- The Barrie Colts won't be hitting the ice to face off against another team any time soon after the Ontario Hockey League announced the cancellation of the 2020-21 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were committed to return and play this season, but our hopes and desires have been dashed by the cruel realities of COVID-19," said OHL Commissioner David Branch.

In a release Tuesday, Barrie Colts president Howie Campbell stated, "With the loss of a complete season, two playoff rounds, and two cancelled Memorial Cups, the pandemic has been devastating to all of the teams." 

Earlier this month, the OHL reached an agreement on a return-to-play with the Ford government, but in light of the extended stay-at-home order and increasing restrictions across Ontario, the league said it was impossible to have a season.

"We are optimistic that we will be able to start the 2021-2022 season in the fall and get back to having our fans in the building watching their favourite players," Campbell added.

Speaking about the cancellations, Branch said the league owed it "to our players and their families to be definitive."

Campbell thanked season ticket holders and the fans for their continued support.  "We can't tell you how much that means to all of us after what has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone," he concluded.