Port Alberni, B.C. – Today, the BC Hockey League (BCHL) Board of Governors approved a shortened 2020-21 season after the Provincial Health Office (PHO) accepted the league’s proposal for a safe return to play under its COVID-19 Safety Plan.
The league will operate in a “pod” model where three to four teams will play each other in five different locations across the province. The Bulldogs will play host to the Island Division Pod and will welcome the Victoria Grizzlies, Cowichan Valley Capitals, and the Nanaimo Clippers to the Multiplex.
“After months and months of hard work behind the scenes by the league’s Return-to-Play Task Force, we are pleased to make the announcement today that the BCHL will be back on the ice to play the 2020-21 season,” said BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb. “This entire process has always been about our players and giving them the best chance to get back to playing games and showcasing their skills, and we have accomplished that today.”
The condensed season will begin the first week of April. A full schedule will be released in the coming weeks along with details on the other pod locations.
“We want to thank the PHO, the Chief Medical Health Officers and regional public health staff for working with us on our proposal over the past few weeks and getting it to a point that both sides felt was safe,” said Chairman of the BCHL Board of Governors Graham Fraser. “We proved in our extended exhibition season in the fall that our COVID-19 Safety Plan was effective after playing 89 games with zero transmissions, and we look forward to working within that system again.”
“It’s been a long road for everyone involved with the league since we were shut down in November, but we are grateful that we get a chance to finish what we started and get our young athletes back on the ice.”
The BCHL has hired a Chief Medical Officer who will oversee all COVID-19 safety protocols for the five-week season, including testing and a quarantine period for players and team staff.
“At the end of the day, our league is all about getting players scholarships and moving them on to the next level to allow them to pursue their athletic and educational goals,” said BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker. “With no games since November, it has been difficult for these players to get noticed by college programs and, as a result, we’ve seen a significant effect on the number of college commitments in the league this year. With a shortened season now in place, we are thrilled to get our players back in the spotlight and give them the attention they deserve.”
Bulldogs President David Michaud was thrilled for the players. “Our goal in this season has always been to showcase our players and provide them the opportunity to compete. Having Joe Martin tell our players the good news was really rewarding after all the work that went into to reach this spot. I’d like to personally thank Willa Thorpe and city staff for working with us to facilitate hosting the Island pod here in Port Alberni.”
Further information will be provided this weekend as the BCHL works out the final details with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the Regional Chief Medical Health Officers.