With the BCHL regular season poised to face off on Friday, the league has injected new life into the upcoming season with more events and initiatives sure to engage hockey fans across the province.
“The main pillars of the BCHL are player safety and speed and skill, but we also want to emphasize community involvement and education,” said BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb. “With things like player safety initiatives and our emphasis on education and college commitments, we think that this season will reinforce those pillars and give us something to build on in the years to come.”
In July, the league unveiled two new events on the calendar for the 2019-20 season. The first is the relaunch of the BCHL Showcase Festival presented by Bauer from Oct. 2 to 5, which now includes a second venue in Penticton, along with longtime host Chilliwack.
The event will also include a Hockey Festival in Penticton with a Kids Zone, activities for BCHL parents and a Showcase Panel featuring NHL legends Scott Niedermayer, Mike Richter and Doug Weight, alongside BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb. Matt Sekeres and Blake Price from TSN 1040 radio will also broadcast live from the event on Thursday, Oct. 3 in Chilliwack and Friday, Oct. 4 in Penticton.
The second new event on the schedule is the BCHL Road Show where the defending-champion Prince George Spruce Kings will take on their division-rivals the Langley Rivermen in two regular-season games played in Kitimat on Feb. 15 and 16. On top of the two games, other festivities will include community activities involving the two BCHL teams as well as Vancouver Canucks alumni players.
The BCHL is continuing to align with the NHL by changing the rules for faceoffs following a penalty or an icing call. The attacking team will now have the choice of what side of the ice they want to take the draw in the offensive zone.
The idea behind the change is to give the attacking team another strategic advantage in the offensive zone. The BCHL is the first and only Junior A league in Canada to adopt this rule so far.
The league has made a commitment to strengthen their stance on player safety by expanding the criteria for supplemental discipline.
“No matter the outcome, if there is a dangerous play in a BCHL game, we want to make sure it is properly addressed,” said Steven Cocker, BCHL Executive Director of Competition & Events. “The league has made a commitment to player safety and this is another step forward in our mission to protect our players.”
In another effort to emphasize player safety, the league has also renewed its partnership with Head Check Health, which is an app designed to allow doctors to access the concussion history of a specific player and help create a return-to-play plan with the team. Non-medical team staff can also use the app to document suspected concussions, identify red flags and collect key symptom information that can be instantly transferred to a medical professional.
This season, the BCHL has also renewed its partnership with GradeSlam, which provides players with one-on-one online tutoring and academic support at any time of day. Sessions are conducted via chat, email, text or call, creating a learning environment that allows students to interact freely and personally with their tutor.