New roster rules kick in June 1 when the BCHL officially becomes an independent league

BCHL officially go it alone

The BC Hockey League will begin operating under a new set of rules when the new "league year" kicks in Thursday.

That's when the league's status as an independent league kicks in following its decision earlier this month to break away from Hockey Canada.

The new rules announced Wednesday centre around roster construction and key dates.

Some of the key changes pertain to player eligibility most notably opening roster to out-of-province players under the age of 18 while also requiring the 17 Canadian-based teams to still carry a minimum of five B.C. born players.

“During this process, it has always been extremely important to us to maintain our connection with young athletes in British Columbia and to continue prioritizing their development,” said BCHL commissioner Steven Cocker.

“We committed to keeping the same roster minimums around B.C. based players and to strengthen the definition of who qualifies as a homegrown player.

"We are excited to open up our rosters to 16 and 17-year-olds from out of province, as well as international athletes, but the BCHL will always remain committed to B.C. born and raised players.”

Because the league is no longer under the Hockey Canada banner, players in other leagues such as Junior B, the BC Major Midget or sport school leagues which are registered with Hockey Canada, will no longer be eligible to serve as affiliated players.

Instead, the league will expand rosters to 25 from the present 22 with an additional spot available for teams wishing to carry three goaltenders.

A maximum of eight affiliated registrations are also permitted per team from any independent minor, youth or high school league in North America.

Teams will also be able to dress a maximum of 21 players per game including 19 skaters and two goaltenders.

Another major change will give teams the ability to roster up to two players from outside of North America. Those players have previously not been allowed to play in the BCHL.

However, players from Russia and Belarus are not allowed to play at the present time due to the political situation in Russia.

Along with five B.C. players, teams will be required to carry a minimum of 13 Canadian players while U.S. teams will be required to carry 13 Americans.

Teams must also roster at least three players under the age of 18 and four rookies.

The trade deadline has also been moved from Jan. 10 to Feb. 10. The signing deadline is March 1.

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