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BCHL receives approval to play shortened season beginning in April

The league will operate in a “pod” model where three to four teams will play each other in five different locations across the province.

The BC Hockey League has been granted permission by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) to play a shortened 2020-21 season beginning the first week of April.

The PHO said it has approved the BCHL’s proposal for a safe return to play under its COVID-19 Safety Plan.

The league will operate in a “pod” model where three to four teams will play each other in five different locations across the province.

The five cities where games will be played include Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon.

“After months and months of hard work behind the scenes by the league’s Return-to-Play Task Force, we are pleased to make the announcement today that the BCHL will be back on the ice to play the 2020-21 season,” said BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb on the league website.

“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.”

The BCHL said the the league 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.

“At the end of the day, our league is all about getting players scholarships and moving them on to the next level to allow them to pursue their athletic and educational goals,” said BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker.

“With no games since November, it has been difficult for these players to get noticed by college programs and, as a result, we’ve seen a significant effect on the number of college commitments in the league this year. With a shortened season now in place, we are thrilled to get our players back in the spotlight and give them the attention they deserve.”

The BCHL will release further information as the BCHL works out the final details with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the Regional Chief Medical Health Officers.