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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 83 will see another teacher reduction, this one expected at South Broadview Elementary come Monday, Oct. 26. (File photo)
Union objects to reductions in teaching positions in North Okanagan-Shuswap

South Broadview Elementary expected to see reduction of kindergarten teacher on Oct. 26

Salmon Arm resident Baillie Bridle turned an 80 cent spin of an online slot machine into almost $800,000. (BCL photo)
Salmon Arm woman hits online jackpot, winning close to $800,000

Winner says money may be used to purchase boat

Sorrento Food Bank Manager Tina Hyssop and treasurer Carmen Burt receive a $1,000 from Joyce Adrian Sotski of The Third House and Shuswap Association of Writers president Debra Turner. The money was raised through the sale of Celebration of Creativity, a collection of works by local writers and artists. (Shirley Bigelow DeKelver photo)
Collection of creative works by Shuswap artists benefits food banks

Sorrento and Second Harvest food banks receive $1,000 donations

An investigation is underway after reports of individuals linked to the sex trade were spotted near the notorious Salmon River Road property that was the subject of an extensive search in 2017 (pictured) that uncovered the remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux. (Jim Elliot - Salmon Arm Observer file)
Sex workers called out to area near Sagmoen farm: Vernon Mounties

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

Working smoothly together on May 11, 2020, health minister Adrian Dix, B.C. Liberal health critic Norm Letnick, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and sign language interpreter Nigel Howard. (B.C. government video)
COVID-19 co-operation a casualty of B.C.’s pandemic election

NDP’s Horgan weaponizes senior care, B.C. Liberal Wilkinson calls for ‘wartime economy’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island residents warned to watch livestock, pets after bear kills llama

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

One of the chairs that was damaged in Peachland. (Brad Johnson - Facebook)
Peachland staff, ArtWalk hopeful art chairs will be back after vandalism

The ArtWalk chairs were found damaged less than a week after installation

Lumby is proceeding with Halloween fireworks for 2020, but encouraging everyone to stay in their cars or watch from home. (Dale Eurich Photography - 2019)
Halloween fireworks curbed in all but two North Okanagan communities

COVID-19 forces Lake Country, Coldstream, BX, Armstrong to cancel events

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

A male deer was spotted with an arrow through its back near a Columbia Street home Oct. 19, 2020 in Penticton. (Dave Katt / Facebook)
Deer with arrow through back spotted roaming Penticton

Conservation officers are searching for the animal

Most Read