The British Columbia Hockey League passed a number of significant motions Thursday at the league’s semi-annual governors meeting in Richmond. The changes will take effect in the 2012-13 season.
To allow more fans to attend games, governors voted to lower the number of regular season games from 60 to 56. This will decrease the number of mid-week games when fans are less able to attend. Now, a greater percentage of home dates can be held on the prime nights of Friday and Saturday.
Also, a showcase event will be held Sept. 7 to 9 at a site yet to be determined. The showcase is similar to events held in the Alberta and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey leagues where college and professional scouts are invited. Showcase results will count in the regular season standings. Each BCHL team will play two games at the event meaning all teams, except the host of the showcase, will then have 27 home dates in the 2012-13 season. Any revenues from the showcase will be split up amongst the league’s 16 clubs. Teams are being asked to submit by Feb. 1 their bids to host the event.
Another motion that passed was the decision to move the start of the regular season to Sept. 14, 2012. This will mark the date that the standard BCHL regular-season format shall commence though by that point, two regular season games will have been played at the showcase event by each team.
The season will end March 10, 2013 which means the coming season is two weeks longer than normal. This also will allow more games to be scheduled on prime nights rather than mid week.
With respect to the alignment of the conferences, there will be now be 10 teams in the Coastal Conference and it will be split into two groups called the Island Division and Mainland Division. The Island Division will include Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Alberni Valley and Powell River. The Mainland Division will include Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Chilliwack and Prince George.
Prince George will be given the option to return to the Interior Conference after the conclusion of the 2013 playoffs. With Prince George and Chilliwack set to join the Coastal Conference, the new Interior Conference will include the remaining teams: Merritt, Trail, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Westside.
“These decisions were not made in haste and came only after lengthy debate by our governors,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “The BCHL considers itself an innovator and model for Junior A hockey in Canada and these decisions, not all of them unanimous, have been made with the intention of ensuring the long-term viability of our league.”
Each club has been asked to submit new playoff format ideas to the BCHL office by Feb. 1, 2012. After that, a decision will be made and announced.