The KIJHL returns to the ice Nov. 13, albeit without the Spokane Braves, Beaver Valley Nitehawks and 100 Mile House Wranglers. Photo: Tyler Harper

KIJHL delays season to Nov. 13; three teams opt out

The league will play a 30-game season without 100 Mile House, Spokane and Beaver Valley

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has delayed the start of its season to Nov. 13 when it plans to run a 30-game campaign with three teams opting out and no fans in the stands.

The Junior B league announced Thursday it would move forward with just 17 teams competing after the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Spokane Braves decided to take the season off.

KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois said the Canada-United States border closure keeps Spokane from taking part, while the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial impact on teams was a factor in Beaver Valley and 100 Mile House deciding to sit out the season.

“We’re playing hockey,” said Dubois. “That’s the good news and hopefully things in the province here improve to the point where some of the restrictions in place now can ease up over the course of the season and we’ll get fans.”

Dubois said the absence of three teams plus provincial restrictions on the number of players who can compete will change the KIJHL’s structure of five teams playing in four divisions.

Instead, the league will have two cohorts of four teams and three cohorts of three teams playing each other. Dubois said the league is planning to have teams change opponents during the Christmas break and at the end of January following a required 14-day quarantine break.

“It won’t be the divisional play that teams are used to,” said Dubois, who added the league is still working on a schedule set to be released Sept. 25. The regular season will end Feb. 26, 2021, to be followed by playoffs.

The KIJHL was among the sports leagues that had to cancel its season mid-playoffs in March when B.C. entered its pandemic lockdown. The league typically starts its regular season in early September, but had planned for an Oct. 2 start this year.

Dubois said the league has told teams to plan for no fans in the stands this season, but he’s hopeful that provincial restrictions ease to allow for it at some point.

“The big thing for us is we’d really like to be in a position to get fans back in our rinks,” he said. “Obviously we’re hoping not to play a full year in front of empty buildings but that’s up to everybody in terms of how that goes over the next few months.”

If those fans do return, Dubois said they will likely notice small changes to the on-ice action.

Crackdowns on scrums around the nets, officials who steer clear of players and measures to prevent fights are being considered by BC Hockey and Hockey Canada, according to Dubois.

Meanwhile, if a player or team staff member tests positive for COVID-19 then tests would be administered to everyone within that team’s cohort. Dubois said a positive test would also shut down the cohort for 14 days without a negative tests.

“That’s one where it’s not a decision we’re making,” he said. “We will follow the guidance of the province and the regional health authority.”

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Junior B Hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Membership drive launched to attract input for new Creston Discovery Centre

For more than 40 years, environmental awareness and educational programs were offered at the Creston Valley Wildlife Area’s original Interpretive Centre

Rossland resident Aerin Bowers completes 19-km swim along Christina Lake

Bowers said her dad inspired her to complete the epic adventure

NDP acclaims Brittny Anderson as Nelson-Creston candidate

The provincial election will be held on Oct. 24

Lit Health Column: Health Benefits of Green Smoothies

“There are quite a number of health benefits to drinking green smoothies, and the ingredients that you can use are limitless.”

Restoring wetlands, restoring culture

“As the community planner for the Yaqan Nukiy, Norm Allard is currently managing a large-scale wetland restoration project on Band land in the Creston Valley; an ecological revitalization of the area that he considers to be wholly interlinked with the cultural revitalization of the local First Nations.”

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Totem pole considered cultural appropriation removed from Nelson’s Hume School

The pole had also become rotted and was seen as dangerous to students

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Most Read