BCHL – Milestone celebration planned

The B.C. Hockey League held its AGM on the weekend and despite a half-century of sometimes turbulent hockey under its belt, the league is looking pretty good for its age.

The BCHL celebrates its 50th anniversary this season and while the Trail Smoke Eaters have been skating in the league for only15 years, they’ll do their part to commemorate the event.

“We’re going to try and put together a big weekend at the end of November, a home-and-home weekend with every team in the league playing,” said Smokies president Tom Gawryletz.

The league is on solid footing as far as its talent base is concerned.

This past season, the BCHL set a record for scholarships by sending 113 players and counting on to University, as well as showcasing a quorum of BCHL alumni in the Stanley Cup final: Tanner Glass from Nanaimo Clippers, Jeff Tambellini from the Chilliwack Chiefs, Milan Lucic, Coquitlam Express, and Mark Recchi from the Langley Eagles.

But talent and celebrations aside, the league office is still getting grief over a dozen recent rule changes that altered the schedule, reduced the size of rosters and cut the number of playoff teams from 12 to eight.

“There were some negative criticisms . . . but at the same time, the league is adamant that we are going to try it for a year and see what happens,” said Garwryletz

Also, the schedule for the upcoming season has been delayed a month but the Smoke Eaters do know who they will be playing and how many times, it’s just a matter of the league working out the dates.

The league is also considering implementing the four-man referee system adopted by the NHL, with each game having two officials and two linesmen.

It will start on a trial basis with each team employing the system in about a dozen home games. However an ongoing shortage of referees will be an obstacle, says Gawryletz.

Overall, the meeting was one of the best Gawryletz has seen in years, and with a positive fiscal outlook, the next 50 years looks promising.

“We had a very good year financially, money in the bank from operations,” he said. “I think money-wise the league is in great shape.”