Yes it sure may seem as if the BCHL season just ended. Afterall the RBC Cup was handed out in Vernon just a few weeks ago. But the BCHL’s Annual General Meeting just wrapped up on Saturday with the wheels for the 2014-2015 season already well in motion.
We can’t expect to see too much by way of change for the coming year. The season will start off with the third annual BCHL showcase at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre September 19th to 21st. It’s a later start than last year by about two weeks and while the 58 game regular season will conclude March 1st as was the case this past season, that means a slightly more condensed schedule. We’ll likely see more three game weekends along with an increase in weeknight games league wide. The Board of Governors also chose to keep the same playoff format we saw this past year, including the double round-robin format for the third round ahead of the Fred Page Cup Final.
The final league schedule for the 2014-2015 season likely won’t be out for several more weeks although much of the work has already taken place with tweaks yet to be sorted out over the coming days.
Perhaps the most significant change is the implementation of the Junior A Supplement’s new fight and ejection rule. Any player assessed a fighting major will automatically be ejected from the game instead of the historical five minute major alone. It eliminates the potential for the same player to engage in multiple fights per game (not that that was a regular occurrence by any stretch) and aims to discourage fighting in general. Players will still be subject to a five fight maximum before further disciplinary action will be taken by the league.
Another interesting note announced by the league is the goal of “roster stability and reduction of player transactions”. It’s a little unclear what this means exactly but it likely is a hint at either a reduction in the number of cards eligible to be used by a team in any given season or a cap on the number of player transfers between clubs. Again, the league has not provided any actual explanation so that remains up in the air. This even though last season saw the lowest number or trades and transfers in recent memory. According to BC Hockey’s numbers, a total of 437 different players were registered to play Junior A hockey in the province throughout the season, a sharp decrease from 584 the season before.
Yes the 2013-2014 season officially ended just weeks ago, but we’re now just over three months away from the start of yet another BCHL year.