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BCHL  

The BCHL has confirmed it will ice a shortened season this year

BCHL confirms it's back

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.

In a statement announcing the return to play of the BC Hockey League, Premier John Horgan announced the five cities scheduled to serve as hub cities when play begins.

According to the premier, Penticton, Vernon, Chilliwack, Coquitlam and Port Alberni will serve as host cities.

The league did not announce the five hubs, choosing to wait until it's determined how many of the 17 B.C.-based teams will indeed take part in the shortened, five-week season.

Teams have 48 hours to decide whether to play, or opt out. League officials say no team has opted out at the moment.

It's believed Trail and Cranbrook will be part of a Penticton hub, while West Kelowna and Salmon Arm would join the Vipers in the Vernon hub.

That is expected to be made official in the coming days.

A schedule is expected to be released shortly.

Players are now expected to quarantine at their homes, or with their billet families for 14 days before returning to the ice.

Horgan says the revised BCHL plan has improved safety protocols in place including health screening and testing and limited travel along with the hub cities and pre season quarantine.

The season is expected to begin the first week of April.


ORIGINAL STORY: 11 a.m.

The BC Hockey League has confirmed it will ice a shortened season after the provincial health office accepted the league's return-to-play plan.

The news from the league confirms information Thursday that a return was about to be announced.

The league plans to operate with five hub cities, each hosting three or four teams.

Teams have 48-hours in which to opt out of the return-to-play plan. At that time, the makeup and location of the hubs will be announced.

No team has yet indicated it will be opting out, however, it should be noted the Wenatchee Wild, the only U.S.-based team in the BCHL will not be participating due to border restrictions.

League commissioner Chris Hebb says Friday's official announcement comes after months of work behind the scenes by the league's return-to-play task force.

“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," says Hebb.

Teams have been practicing for the most part since the end of the Christmas break, however, players now must undergo a strict two-week quarantine before the expected start of the abbreviated season the first week of April.

Board of governors chair Graham Fraser says the league proved over the course of its extended exhibition season last fall that its COVID-19 safety plan was effective.

The league played 89 games over that span without any transmissions.

“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," says Fraser.

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.

The season will last just five weeks, however, the league says it will explore a possible post season if protocols are relaxed and travel restrictions are lifted.

The province has not yet made any announcements concerning a $9.5 million aid request put forward by the BCHL and the five BC-based WHL teams.

With fans not allowed in the building for the five-week season, the BCHL and member teams are financing the five week season.

More information is expected in the coming days.



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