Junior B hockey on Vancouver Island could start up as soon as the third week of September, the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) announced last week.
“Team owners and coaches are working hard to finalize a start date for this coming VIJHL season,” a Sept. 4 update to the league’s website said. “Once all COVID-19 restrictions determined by both viaSport and BC Hockey/Hockey Canada have been applied, this season won’t look like a usual season.”
Teams will only be allowed to play in the VIJHL this year if they become part of a cohort – or group of teams – currently capped at four.
Because the VIJHL has nine teams (four in the north division and five in the south division), the idea of a cohort of four teams gets complicated. The league says it has “been a struggle” to decide how those cohort groups should look.
Once a team is part of a cohort, they can only play other teams within the same cohort. Teams can’t play anyone outside the cohort unless the whole team goes into quarantine. For players that would want to play for a team in another cohort, they will have to self-quarantine for 14 days before they could join the new team.
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The league said it hopes to have a start date and schedule for the first four to five weeks of the season within two weeks.
“The schedule will be a limited version at this time as we hope to have the capability of rearranging the cohort groupings after this period and as always, things could change and there may be new restrictions to adhere to,” it said.
With all the teams’ facilities each having their own rules, the VIJHL isn’t sure if fans will be able to attend games this year, but if they are, it will be at reduced capacity. The league said all games will be streamed live on HockeyTV.
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