Junior hockey still eying return to play

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:19 PDT, Fri September 4, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

The Richmond Sockeyes are anxious to return to play, but there are still a few details to iron out.

Along with the other 12 Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) teams, the Sockeyes continue to work with their municipalities and other user groups to ensure a safe return.

“With viaSport’s announcement to move into Phase 3 Return to Play guidelines, it was appropriate to discuss in-depth and understand what this move would look like for our league,” says PJHL commissioner Trevor Alto. “After such a difficult number of months since last season was cancelled, I feel this was a very positive meeting for the league. All 13 member teams have done an excellent job and worked extremely hard to get us in a position where we are able to make decisions that will allow us to return to competition.”

Previously, the league identified plans to begin the 2020/21 season on Sept. 29. 

“Throughout this process, our plans must have key themes that include safety, communication, and flexibility. In order for us to return to the ice, we need to work diligently with our facilities so that all 13 venues are prepared for Phase 3 competition,” says Alto. “Once we confirm all our facilities are available, we will then be able to provide a firm schedule. Our planning has allowed us to be flexible yet prepared.”

But when the PJHL returns to the ice, the league will take on a much different look than in years past. Following viaSport’s Phase 3 guidelines, PJHL teams will begin play assembling in cohort divisions consisting of a maximum of four teams rather than competing in a traditional two conference format. 

The league has also instituted a roster deadline of Sept. 15. As of this date, all teams must be down to a maximum of 25 carded players. Furthermore from this date forward, the league will require all players wishing to join a PJHL roster to quarantine for 14 days prior to participating in Phase 3 competition. 

“By identifying a roster date of Sept. 15, this allows our teams enough time to practice, quarantine as a team and understand the new league and facility protocols that will be in place in preparation to join their identified cohort at season start,” says Alto. “This will also allow flexibility with our start date, should we need to make adjustments.”

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