The British Columbia Hockey League passed a number of significant motions last week at the league’s semi-annual governors meeting in Richmond.
The BCHL Board of Governors voted to reduce the number of regular-season games by cutting mid-week matchups but extended the length of the season by increasing the number of weekend games, as well as re-align the Coastal Conference.
The league will lower the number of regular season games from 60 to 56 reflecting the reduction in games scheduled during the week.
“As far as the schedule, we are all for it,” said Trail Smoke Eaters president Tom Gawryletz. “I mean we have Tuesday, Wednesday games here where we can’t pay the bills.”
Lower attendance plagues mid-week games and limiting them will mean players also will not have to miss school due to road games during the week, he added.
A showcase event will be held Sept. 7 to 9 to kick off the season. The showcase is similar to events held in the Alberta and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey leagues where college and professional scouts are invited.
Each BCHL team will play two games at the event meaning all teams, except the host of the showcase, will then have 27 home dates in the 2012-13 season.
Any revenues from the showcase will be split up amongst the league’s 16 clubs. Teams are being asked to submit their bids by Feb. 1 to host the event.
The regular season will start on Sept. 14 and extend to Mar. 10, 2013, making the coming season two weeks longer in order to accommodate more weekend games.
“These decisions were not made in haste and came only after lengthy debate by our governors,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale in a release. “The BCHL considers itself an innovator and model for Junior A hockey in Canada and these decisions, not all of them unanimous, have been made with the intention of ensuring the long-term viability of our league.”
Re-alignment will see the 10 teams in the Coastal Conference split into two divisions, the Island and Mainland Division.
The Island Division will include Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Alberni Valley and Powell River. The Mainland Division will include Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Chilliwack and Prince George.
Prince George will be given the option to return to the Interior Conference at the end of the 2013 campaign.
With Prince George and Chilliwack set to join the Coastal Conference, the new Interior Conference will include the remaining teams: Merritt, Trail, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Westside.
“I think it will cut down on the road trips, and it will have a full interlocking schedule which we’re in favour of,” said Gawryletz. “It means we’ll play everyone on the road and everyone’s going to come to Trail.”
As far as playoffs go, each club has been asked to submit new playoff format ideas to the BCHL office by Feb. 1. The league reduced the number of playoff teams advancing in each division from six to four this season.
“It’s all based on trying to save a little bit of money, and at the same time still give every community the same amount of games and play the same amount of teams.”