The Pacific Junior Hockey League is getting ready for a return to the ice, setting a Sept. 15 deadline for teams to finalize a roster of 25 carded players. After that date, any player signing with one of the junior B league’s 13 teams will have to spend 14 days in quarantine before getting into action.
“A roster date of Sept. 15 allows our teams enough time to practice, quarantine as a team and understand the new league and facility protocols that will be in place in preparation to join their identified cohort at season start,” said PJHL boss Trevor Alto. “This will also allow flexibility with our start date, should we need to make adjustments.”
The league is targeting a date of Sept. 29 for the start of the season, though that is not chiselled in stone.
Teams are working to make sure their facilities will be available, and they’ll be able to safely play games during the pandemic.
In Chilliwack, where the expansion Jets are set to hit the ice for their inaugural season, hockey boss Clayton Robinson said there are still discussions ongoing with the City of Chilliwack about the Sardis Sports Complex.
While Phase 3 of the province’s re-opening plan allows for gatherings of 50, the city is sticking with a lower number.
“We can (use the facility) but right now we are only allowed 18 skaters and two coaches which is tough because we have a 25 man roster,” Robinson noted. “In order to get a season going we need at minimum to allow 50 people in building so we can get two teams of players. So right now things are a bit of a struggle but we are hopeful that things will open up shortly.”
Alto said the PJHL’s planning has allowed the league to be “flexible yet prepared.”
“All 13 member teams have done an excellent job and worked extremely hard to get us in a position where we are able to make decisions that will allow us to return to competition,” he said. “Throughout this process, our plans have included the key themes of safety, communication and flexibility. In order for us to return to the ice, we need to work diligently with our facilities so that all 13 venues are prepared for Phase 3 competition. Once we confirm all our facilities are available, we will then be able to provide a firm schedule.”
When the PJHL returns to the ice in 2020-21, the league will take on a much different look then in years past.
Following viaSport’s Phase 3 guidelines, PJHL teams will be placed in cohort divisions consisting of a maximum of four teams rather than the traditional two conference format.
The Jets will be in a group that hasn’t been announced, but is likely to include their closest geographical rivals, the Abbotsford Pilots and Mission City Outlaws.
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