The BC Hockey League announced several new initiatives that were approved by the League’s Board of Governors.
Most notably, BCHL officials said they now have the stiffest rules against fighting in North American junior hockey.
Several motions to strengthen player safety were approved by the Board, including the ability for the Department of Player Safety (DOPS) to correct calls at ice level. One of the motions allowed DOPS to add an instigator or aggressor penalty to a fighting major upon review. BCHL officials said the old rule made it difficult when reviewing fights because they had to rely on the on-ice call.
Nathan Lieuwen, President and owner of the Cranbrook Bucks said he was glad to see the extra steps taken by the BCHL.
“I think our league has tried hard to be progressive when it comes to player safety, it’s something I obviously care about quite a bit,” said Lieuwen. “You hate seeing anyone, for any team, get hurt in any situation. Anything the league does to keep players safe is something I would be all for.”
Players will receive a suspension after they receive their second fighting major of the season and will continue to receive increased discipline the more fighting majors they accrue.
The BCHL also announced the league schedule will go back to its regular format for the 2021-22 season. BCHL officials said the league will be split into two conferences, each comprised of nine teams. The top-eight teams from the Coastal and Interior Conferences will make the playoffs and each team will play 54 games.
“We’re really excited. We didn’t get that opportunity yet as a franchise to go through what we would consider a normal season,” said Lieuwen. “We’re very excited to have that chance to participate in a normal environment and get fans hopefully back in the building.”
Below are some key dates for the BCHL 2021-22 season. The regular season is set to begin on Friday, Oct. 8th and will conclude on Sunday, Mar. 20th.
Sep. 17 – Opening of BCHL training camps
Oct. 20-24 – BCHL Showcase
Feb. 19-20 – BCHL Road Show
Mar. 25 – BCHL Playoffs begin
“We are excited to turn the page and get back to competing for a Fred Page Cup in 2021-22,” said BCHL Deputy Commissioner Steven Cocker. “With our schedule now out, players, as well as fans, will have the opportunity to look ahead to key dates and get excited for our 60th Anniversary season.”
BCHL officials also said each team will be appointing a live-scoring staff member to provide the most accurate in-game statistics possible. The new motion will allow staff members to double-check scoring plays during the games on BCHL TV and make changes to the online box score when a goal has been incorrectly scored. Officials said the changes will help box scores be more accurate, which will help scouts as well as fans.
**Story by Josiah Spyker**