Big changes coming in BCHL

The junior A BCHL announced several changes at a board of governors meeting last week.

The BCHL landscape will change significantly next season, with the league’s board of governors passing several motions at their semi-annual meeting in Richmond last week.

The governors voted to cut the regular season from 60 games to 56, which they hope will give overall attendance a boost.

“This will decrease the number of mid-week games when fans are less able to attend,” a BCHL news release noted. “Now, a greater percentage of home dates can be held on the prime nights of Friday and Saturday.”

The BCHL plans to launch a showcase event in 2012.

From Sept. 7-9 at a site to be determined, the Chilliwack Chiefs  and every other team in the league will gather in one spot.

Each team will play two games, with the results counting towards the regular season standings.

The showcase is similar to events held in the Alberta and Saskatchewan junior hockey leagues where college and professional scouts are invited.

The ‘official’ start of the regular season will be Sept. 14.

The regular season will end Mar. 10, making the whole season two weeks longer than normal.

Finally, the governors decided on a realignment plan for next season, one that will land the Chiefs in the new-look Coastal conference.

The Coastal conference will be split into two divisions, the Island and Mainland divisions. 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.

PG’s presence in a mainland division seems odd, but the Spruce Kings will be given the option to return to the Interior Conference after the conclusion of the 2013 playoffs.

The new-look 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.

Teams have until the same date to submit bids to host the showcase event.

After that, decisions will be made and announced.