BCHL announces divisional realignment

B.C. Hockey League announces changes following AGM last weekend in Richmond.

The B.C. Hockey League is bringing about some new changes for the coming season.

At the league AGM last weekend in Richmond, governors approved a number of changes that will take effect in 2012-13.

First, the new BCHL will go to a three-division alignment, with the Coastal Conference now comprising an Island Division and Mainland Division.

The top four of the five teams in each division will qualify for the post-season (No. 1 vs. No. 4, No. 2 vs. No. 3). Best-of-five series will be played in each the first two rounds, with the Coastal final expanding to a best-of-seven.

Both the Chilliwack Chiefs and Prince George Spruce Kings will transfer to the Mainland Division.

The top four in the six-team Interior Division – Vernon Vipers, Penticton Vees, Salmon Arm SilverBacks, Westside Warriors, Trail Smoke Eaters and Merritt Centennials – will also qualify for playoffs. Two rounds, each a best-of-seven, will be played to determine a conference champion. The Fred Page Cup finals will also be a best-of-seven series.

Other significant changes include player rosters being bumped from 21 to 22 players (teams were allowed 23 in 2010-11); the affiliate draft of 15-year-old players has been discontinued; coaches will now be allowed to place an injured player on long-term injured reserve, which would free up a spot on the 22-man roster; and players can  now be assessed penalties for wearing damaged pants.

The Junior A Supplement initiative, begun in the 2010-11 season to curb fighting and checking-from-behind infractions, was also extended for two more seasons.

Finally, a sub-committee comprising BCHL coaches was officially approved. This body, which brings concerns from among the league’s coaching ranks to the board, is co-chaired by the Vipers’ Jason Williamson and Nanaimo’s Mike Vandekamp.