The BCHL regular season begins Friday with a slate of six games that will kick off action around the 17-team league.
With new events and initiatives from the league, the upcoming season is sure to engage hockey fans across the province.
“The main pillars of the BCHL are player safety and speed and skill, but it’s also important for us to emphasize community involvement and education,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb. “With our player safety initiatives and our emphasis on education and college commitments, we think that this season will reinforce those pillars and give us something to build on in the years to come.”
BCHL Events: In July, the league unveiled two new events on the calendar for the 2019-20 season. The first is the relaunch of the BCHL Showcase Festival presented by Bauer from Oct. 2-5, which now includes a second venue in Penticton who will host the event along with long-time host Chilliwack.
The event will also include a Hockey Festival in Penticton with a Kids Zone, activities for BCHL parents and a Showcase Panel featuring NHL legends Scott Niedermayer, Mike Richter and Doug Weight alongside Hebb. Matt Sekeres and Blake Price from TSN 1040 radio will also broadcast live from the event on Thursday, Oct. 3 in Chilliwack and Friday, Oct. 4 in Penticton.
The second new event on the schedule is the LNG Canada BCHL Road Show where the defending-champion Prince George Spruce Kings will take on their division-rivals the Langley Rivermen in two regular-season games played in Kitimat, B.C. on Feb. 15-16. On top of the two games, there will also be community activities involving the two BCHL teams as well as Vancouver Canucks alumni players.
Rule Changes: The BCHL is continuing to align with the NHL by changing the rules for faceoffs following a penalty or an icing call. The attacking team will now have the choice of what side of the ice they want to take the draw in the offensive zone.
The idea behind the change is to give the attacking team another strategic advantage in the offensive zone. The BCHL is one of the first Junior-A leagues in Canada to adopt this rule.
Player Safety Initiatives: The league has made a commitment to strengthen their stance on player safety by expanding the criteria for supplemental discipline.
“No matter the outcome, if there is a dangerous play in a BCHL game, we want to make sure it is properly addressed,” said Steven Cocker, BCHL executive director of competition and events. “The league has made a commitment to player safety and this is another step forward in our mission to protect our players.”