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

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

Just Posted

The ‘official’ opening of 2nd Edition Coworking in downtown Fernie, a project five years in the making by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. Left to right: Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber Brad Parsell, incoming President of the Fernie Chamber Norm Fraser, outgoing President of the Fernie Chamber Anita Palmer, and Mayor of Fernie Ange Qualizza. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Chamber cuts the ribbon on 2nd Edition

The new coworking space in Fernie is now ‘officially’ open, but has been operating since early 2021

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks with the new AED SaveStation installed at the Sparwood Leisure Centre. (Contributed by District of Sparwood)
Sparwood installs public AED

The SaveStation was installed thanks to a grant from CP Rail

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

(File)
“Gift card scam,” and “grandparent scam” are on the rise, Cranbrook RCMP say

Folks are falling for these scams: “No Government agency or reputable company will ever ask anyone to pay with gift cards in lieu of their fines”

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read