More than a full calendar year after the 2019-20 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC Hockey League is set to drop the puck on the 2020-21 season in five pods around the province.
The season includes 16 teams participating, as the Wenatchee Wild and Langley Rivermen both announced a hiatus due to various factors related to the pandemic.
Participating teams are allowed to have up to 25 players signed for the upcoming pod season, which starts this Friday with 10 teams in action. The normal roster number is 23, but because of the pandemic teams are allowed to carry two extra players into their cohort to allow for flexibility in case of injury or suspension.
Rules not that different from previous seasons
A number of the roster rules for the upcoming season are the same as they were during the 2019-20 season.
Teams are required to have a minimum of four rookie players on their roster, which is defined as those entering the season with less than 30 games of junior A experience.
You’ll notice no fewer than 32 under-17 players in the BCHL this season as it is a requirement that each team carries a minimum of two on its roster. For this pod season, a U17 player is one born in 2003 or 2004, even if he has turned 17 or 18 already.
Although the number of import players is much lower in comparison to previous seasons due to the closure of the US-Canada border to non-essential travel, teams are still permitted to have imports on their rosters as long as they’ve followed the protocols in place in terms of arriving in Canada.
As a result, the roster import rules remain the same as previous seasons – each team is allowed no more than six import players at any one time. An import player is defined as an American-born player, Canadian-born players or Canadian citizens who are age-eligible to play in any Canadian junior A league aren’t considered imports.
Rules as they related to overage players are also unchanged from past seasons. Teams are allowed a maximum of six 20-year-olds, which are defined as players born in the year 2000, at any one time.
Teams are allowed a maximum of two 2000-born major junior players and a maximum of two U20 major junior players. Major junior players who previously played in the BCHL on an active Hockey Canada Registry card don’t count in either of the totals.
Bauer equipment only
The BC Hockey League has renewed its agreement with Bauer, which means teams must be compliant as it relates to pants, gloves, helmets, visors, game jerseys, practice jerseys, socks, and off-ice apparel. Players are also required to use a Bauer Supreme Team stick for the season.
The trade deadline was Thursday, Feb, 25 with 15 trades occurring in the 24 hours leading up to it. No trades are permitted at this point heading into the pod season.