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Junior Hockey’s Return To Play

Photo Credit Prospera Place Kelowna (photo /Kelowna Rockets)

We listened to the recent announcement regarding the return to play following the recent announcement by the PHO for the return to play for the BCHL under the COVID-19 safety plans.

The league Board of Governors approved a shortened season and will work or operate in what some call a “pod model” where three or four teams will play each other in five different locations across the province.

We are hearing of the return to play for Junior A, but not Junior B and you have to ask why not and if not does the Provincial Government consider Junior B an inferior league.

Sad to even think or ponder that thought as many of the players that advance to Junior A develop and perfect their skills on one of the three Junior B leagues in the Province.

If  you look at the three different and distinct leagues the KIJHL bring players in and are forced to billet players as does the VIJHL, while the PJHL mainly uses players that live in the lower mainland.

Junior B it should be noted that they are no longer referred to as “Jungle B” hockey as it was in the late 70ties and 80ties but rather a more of a developmental league.

Teams in Junior B are not allowed to be considered a “farm team” for a BCHL club but the players are permitted to be called up for a specific number of games.

While the teams are allowed to play no one has yet to mention what is happening with the officials who will be officiating the games, in which there will be four working each game.

Total number of officials are yet to be determined and I am hearing that the officials used will be from the area the games are played in.

So if games are being played in Penticton officials from that area will be used and will be staying in their own home and not require hotels which also cuts the cost to the league, which from a business point of view makes sense.

Turing our attention to the WHL we have received the following press release, which set out their operational perspective on the return to play.

Enjoy the read.

The Western Hockey League released today the following statement on COVID-19 testing results from March 6 through March 12, 2021.

The WHL released a statement mentioning that they have completed the fifth week in its return to play with no positive test results for COVID-19 among the 395 tests administered. 

In the Central Division, a total of 160 tests were administered for the Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels from March 6 through March 12. 

Using private PCR testing provided by DynaLIFE, testing was administered once to all members of the team delegations in the Central Division.

In the East Division, a total of 218 tests were administered for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos, and Winnipeg ICE.

Using private PCR testing provided by DynaLIFE, testing was administered twice to all members of the team delegations of players and staff. 

To date, the WHL has administered a total of 1,949 tests for COVID-19 from February 12 through March 12, 2021, with no positive test results.

The WHL will continue to provide regular updates on COVID-19 testing results. The WHL will not be providing information on the identity of any individuals.

Regardless of your point of view, the main concern for both leagues is safety.

We wish them all the best moving forward on their shortened return to play and we’ll have more in the next short while.