The BCHL Board of Governors held its semi-annual meeting on Jan. 23 and approved a new configuration for the 2020-21 season.
With the expansion Cranbrook Bucks beginning their inaugural campaign next year, the Board voted in favour of changing to a two-conference system with nine teams on each side.
The Coastal Conference will consist of the current Island and Mainland Division teams, minus the Prince George Spruce Kings, while the Interior Conference will see Cranbrook added as well as Prince George.
The breakdown is as follows:
|Coastal Conference||Interior Conference|
|Alberni Valley Bulldogs||Cranbrook Bucks|
|Chilliwack Chiefs||Merritt Centennials|
|Coquitlam Express||Penticton Vees|
|Cowichan Valley Capitals||Prince George Spruce Kings|
|Langley Rivermen||Salmon Arm Silverbacks|
|Nanaimo Clippers||Trail Smoke Eaters|
|Powell River Kings||Vernon Vipers|
|Surrey Eagles||Wenatchee Wild|
|Victoria Grizzlies||West Kelowna Warriors|
“With Cranbrook coming into the league next year, the league and the Board recognized the need to alter our current divisional alignment,” said BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker. “The new format makes the most sense geographically and is a logical step for the future of the BCHL.”
The league has also announced that it is moving from a 58-game schedule to 54, as well as a later start date in September.
“The decision to reduce our games next season to 54 was a difficult move, but with our league mandate around player safety, we see this as what’s best for the development of our players,” said Cocker. “This will also result in fewer three-in-three weekends and proper rest between games in order to maximize time for practice and recovery.
“Another important component of the schedule was getting out of the month of August. Our camps will now open in early September with season openers at the end of the month. We feel this will best serve our athletes in their out-of-season development.”
On top of the changes to next season, the Board also voted to slightly alter the playoff format for this season by having the two crossover teams re-seed in the Interior Division based on their point totals, rather than being put into the seventh and eight slots automatically.