B.C. Hockey League shifts Prince George to Coast

Prince George heading to Coastal Conference; five Alberta teams joining Cranbrook in Interior Conference East; playoff format stays same
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The B.C. Hockey League has moved the Prince George Spruce Kings to the Coastal Conference after accepting five teams from the Alberta Junior Hockey League into the Interior Conference, and following the loss of the Merritt Centennials to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

The addition of five new teams, and loss of one, has resulted in some juggling of the two conferences in the B.C. Hockey League.

The league held its annual general meeting in late May in Richmond, and one of the items of note resulting from the gathering was a shift of the Prince George Spruce Kings from the Interior to the Coastal Conference.

Prince George will be part of the conference's Coastal East Division with the reigning league champion Surrey Eagles, Langley Rivermen, Chilliwack Chiefs, and Coquitlam Express.

The Coastal West Division will feature the four Vancouver Island teams – Victoria Grizzlies, Nanaimo Clippers, Cowichan Valley Capitals and Alberni Valley Bulldogs – along with the Powell River Kings.

Joining the Interior Conference, as part of the Interior East Division will be the five teams who left the Alberta Junior Hockey League – the Brooks Bandits, Okotoks Oilers, Blackfalds Bulldogs, Sherwood Park Crusaders, and Spruce Grove Saints – along with the Cranbrook Bucks.

The Interior West Division includes the Trail Smoke Eaters, Penticton Vees, Vernon Vipers, West Kelowna Warriors and Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

The Merritt Centennials, which had been the league's longest running franchise, left the BCHL to join the Kootenay International Junior A Hockey League.

"The league will continue with its existing playoff structure with the first seed in each conference playing the eighth seed in the first round, the second playing the seventh seed, and so on," said the BCHL in a release Friday, June 14. "Five teams will not make the playoffs – two from the Coastal and three from the Interior."

The regular season will continue to consist of 54 games.

The board of governors voted in favour of adding universal affiliates going forward, meaning that affiliate players from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) and Junior Prospects Hockey League (JPHL - includes teams in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan) may dress for any BCHL team during the year.

"This new system will allow them to experience different league markets and organizations to better help them make a decision should they play in the BCHL full time in the future," said the league.

Trail Smoke Eaters owner Rick Murphy was elected as the new chair for the league's Board of Governors. He takes over from Graham Fraser, Penticton Vees owner, who stepped down after six years in the position.



Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with ctbizmag.
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