The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season is set to begin Oct. 1.
After weeks of uncertainty, the league, which includes Mill Bay’s Kerry Park Islanders, announced today that the season would move ahead but with some changes. The league is still awaiting final approval from viaSport and public health authorities for the start.
“In these uncertain times it is important that we try to maintain some parts of our social fabric and hockey provides an avenue for our players to excel at,” said VIJHL President Simon Morgan in a press release. “Our foremost thoughts are towards the safety of our players, volunteers, coaches, bench staff and facility personnel in allowing us to play the game we all can all our own.”
Among the changes from a typical season are the creation of cohorts, the use of face coverings outside the field of play when physical distance can’t be maintained and the possibility of no spectators at certain arenas.
According to a press release, the league will have three cohorts this year. The teams within a cohort will face each other “to reduce the need for travel and to mitigate the extra risk of infection.”
Players will be expected to follow physical distancing guidelines and self-isolation protocols when interacting with anyone outside of their cohort. Players who are entering or leaving a cohort will need to self-isolate for at least 14 days.
If physical distancing can’t be maintained on the bench or in the penalty area, players will be required to wear a gaiter mask.
The league says it will be relying on its partnership with HockeyTV to provide live streaming of games, especially in the event that fan attendance is limited.
Once final approvals are in place, this will mark the 50th consecutive season of the VIJHL.