It began 40 days ago and ended Tuesday night with five champions around the province.
When the BC Hockey League announced the league’s return to play plan in March, there was a lot of thought about COVID-19 shutting things down. The plan was to start April 2 and finish the marathon of 160 games in 40 days in the second week of May with pods in Port Alberni, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Penticton, and Vernon.
The challenge was monumental, but worth it for the players to open the eyes of college and pro scouts. According to the BCHL, seven players have committed to post-secondary institutions since the pod season started, including four to NCAA Division I schools.
Each game in each pod was permitted to have 20 people in attendance, including scouts and media, which means personnel from NCAA and U SPORTS schools along with National Hockey League teams were able to actually get eyes on any players they were interested in.
They are the champions
The league unveiled the official pod champions on Wednesday.
- Alberni pod champion: Victoria Grizzlies
- Chilliwack pod champion: Prince George Spruce Kings
- Coquitlam pod champion: Surrey Eagles
- Penticton pod champion: Penticton Vees
- Vernon pod champion: Vernon Vipers
The league will announce specific pod-based award winners starting on May 17.
As the weeks rolled along, the BCHL announced its latest round of COVID-19 test results, and in total, around 2,200 tests were given with not one returning positive.
Each pod had a designated compliance officer to make sure everyone was correctly following the protocols in place.
“These were volunteers who were independent of the league and its teams and were tasked with overseeing the health and safety procedures of the season on and off the ice,” the league said in a news release.
A look ahead to 2021-22
The BCHL confirmed that its annual general meeting takes place this month and an announcement on the 2021-22 schedule should come soon as well.
With next season being the 60th in BCHL history, there is sure to be much to celebrate, most notably the return of some sense of normalcy for the teams, their players, stakeholders, and fans.