The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) is pleased to announce that its 2020/21 regular season will begin on Friday, November 13th with 17 teams participating in a 30-game regular-season schedule.
“We’re excited to be able to confirm a start date and season format as we solidify our preparations to drop the puck in November,” says KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois. “The current restrictions on sport have presented a number of difficult, but necessary hurdles as we all work towards being able to provide a safe and healthy environment for our players, staff, volunteers and fans.”
Current provincial government guidelines state that no more than 50 people can be present in an arena, including players, coaches and officials, making it impossible to have fans in our buildings. KIJHL teams have had to plan for a season that will begin without spectators.
“There have been, and continue to be, a number of circumstances that have put significant financial pressure on our clubs, but our goal throughout this process has been to do everything within our control to ensure that KIJHL hockey can return safely this fall,” says Dubois. “Keeping on that track has required a great deal of patience, flexibility and creativity from our member clubs. I’m very appreciative of all the work that’s been put in by so many around our league to get us to this point.”
WRANGLERS, NITEHAWKS & BRAVES TO TAKE YEAR OFF
The 2019/20 KIJHL season will proceed without the 100 Mile House Wranglers, Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Spokane Braves. The Wranglers and Nitehawks have opted to take a one-year leave of absence while the Braves are unable to compete due to ongoing travel restrictions between Canada and the United States.
“The boards of the 100 Mile House Wranglers and Beaver Valley Nitehawks have made the difficult decision to go dark for the year due to the financial impact and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, and we respect their decisions,” says Dubois. “The situation in Spokane is unfortunate because the Braves were fully committed to competing in their 50th KIJHL season, but ultimately it was determined between the club and league to suspend operations.”
NO SHORTAGE OF REGULAR-SEASON CHANGES
Due to provincial health regulations and sport-specific protocols put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this KIJHL season will look different from others.
Rather than competing in the league’s four traditional divisions, member clubs will play in cohorts consisting of a maximum of four teams. The teams within each cohort will change at various points over three stages, with the regular season ending Saturday, February 26th. The 2021 postseason format for the Teck Cup will be announced at a later date.
With the delayed season start date, KIJHL teams have the option of holding extended development camps to help their players prepare for the season in a structured team environment. These camps may begin immediately under Viasport’s Phase 3 “Return to Play” guidelines.
With the format and structure of the 2020/21 regular season now confirmed, the league will now begin development of its schedule, which will be released on September 25th.
Originally, the KIJHL planned to start October 3. The original 49-game schedule has now been cut to 30 games.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) held a dispersal draft in order for the league’s 17 active teams to select players from the 100 Mile House Wranglers, Beaver Valley (Fruitvale) Nitehawks and Spokane Braves.
Canadian players who completed the previous season with 100 Mile House, Beaver Valley or Spokane and have remaining junior hockey eligibility were available for selection. Also, players who competed at the junior A level in 2019/20, but whose KIJHL rights are held by one of those three clubs were eligible. Due to the restrictions currently in place surrounding cross-border travel, American players were not eligible to be selected.
The draft order occurred in reverse order of the KIJHL’s 2019/20 regular-season standings, with the Osoyoos Coyotes having the first overall selection.
A total of 44 players were selected in the draft.
Hockey Canada also announced cancelation of three events:
• 2020 World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 13-20 in Cornwall, Ont.
• 2020 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, Nov. 2-8 in Dawson Creek, B.C.
• 2020 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 6-12 in Bridgewater, N.S.
The three events will take place in 2021 in the same locations they were originally supposed to this year.
On the CHL front, nothing has been yet announced on the Portland Winterhawks sale. There are rumors that an owner has been selected, but nothing official or otherwise has been announced. With uncertainty as to when a season or what would constitute a season would start, everyone remains tight lipped about anything these days.
Spokane Chiefs have brought in Adam Maglio as their 14th head coach in franchise history with Manny Viveiros accepting a job as the head coach of the AHL Henderson (NV) Silver Knights. Maglio was the assistant coach for the team and is very young having just six years of coaching experience. His strength has been in moving teams to the top. His last stint was as Head Coach of the Prince George(BC) Spruce Kings where they narrowly lost in the finals to the host Brooks(AB) Bandits. The team had earlier beaten the Bandits in a series 4-2 to capture the Doyle Cup but the loss was in the National Junior A Finals. With the move, the Chiefs will now search for another Assistant Coach.
The WHL has taken to posting Stanley Cup events with ties to the WHL as filler on their website.
The OHL has featured Future stars on their website with the one news piece put out by the Oshawa Generals. That piece is on the creation of the Oshawa Generals Foundation to assist community organizations from a grassroot level that need it. More information will be announced soon through their website.
The QMJHL has been posting up quizzes between players and just posted their schedule to start on October 2 with an end date of April 3, 2021. As they don’t have any US teams competing, they would be looking at inter-provincial games instead. They have posted a 540-game schedule, which would work out to 30 games per team. They have listed the games being played without fans which is in stark contrast to the OHL and WHL which have looked at 64 and 68 game schedules respectively with fans in attendance. The QMJHL has announced that 83% of the games played would be scheduled Friday to Sunday. The QMJHL has announced that the playoff format will be announced in December and has posted on their website how fans can watch the games via webcast. That information is still to come.
In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how the three leagues will combine with one Memorial Cup. The WHL and OHL announced their playoffs would start at the end of April with the Memorial Cup in June. With the Q ending its season at the beginning of April, there would be a gap of at least a month for the Q before the Memorial Cup playoffs began.