Kerry Park forward Dawson Elzinga slides the puck past a Westshore Wolves defender during a VIJHL game last October. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Kerry Park forward Dawson Elzinga slides the puck past a Westshore Wolves defender during a VIJHL game last October. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League remains hopeful about 2020-21 season

Annual awards are cancelled, but league wants to resume season if possible

One of B.C.’s three junior B hockey leagues has opted to cancel its 2020-21 season entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the other two, including the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, are holding out hope that they can play.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League decided to end its attempts at a season in the wake of last Friday’s extension of health restrictions until at least late February. The other two junior B circuits, the VIJHL and the Lower Mainland’s Pacific Junior Hockey League, have since announced that they still want to resume their seasons if and when restrictions are lifted.

The VIJHL has decided not to had out its annual awards this year, according to a statement posted to the league website on Tuesday.

“Although we continue to hold out hope to continue with a shortened season to compliment the games we have already played, it would be difficult to judge and select specific players within the currently regulated cohort structure,” read the statement, signed by VIJHL president Simon Morgan.

“We want to thank our players and coaches for staying the course and being proactive in protecting our communities and teammates. The continued interest shown by the majority of our athletes in maintaining their focus on development has been nothing short of amazing. For those players that have chosen to leave the League at this time and return home, our positive thoughts are with you, stay safe and thanks for your dedication to our sport and best wishes for your future.”

READ MORE: B.C. junior hockey league cancels season due to extended COVID-19 restrictions

The VIJHL managed to complete more games than the other junior B leagues before all play was halted in November, with most teams playing 11 and 13 games. By contrast, most PJHL clubs played between four and eight games, and most KIJHL teams played two or three. Some KIJHL teams opted out of the season before it even began, and the defending champion Revelstoke Grizzlies announced on Feb. 1 that they would end their season after several players tested positive for COVID-19.

All three junior B leagues had to end their 2019-20 seasons in the middle of the playoffs. The Cyclone Cup provincial junior B championship tournament for 2021 was cancelled by BC Hockey in January.

With files from Black Press Media



kevin.rothbauer@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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