BCHL Today: League announces massive exhibition schedule and the Cents lose two players to the NAHL


BCHL unveils 2020 pre-season schedule

The BC Hockey League announced details for its 2020 exhibition season schedule on Friday. The schedule has a total of 105 games over 65 days, including four games this month, 63 in October, and 38 in November.

The schedule includes 17 of the league’s 18 teams, with Wenatchee unable to participate due to the closure of the US-Canada border due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also has the BCHL split into three cohorts of four teams each.

One cohort includes Okanagan teams Penticton, Salmon Arm, Vernon, and West Kelowna. Another features Lower Mainland teams Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Langley, and Surrey.

Yet another sees Alberni Valley, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, and Victoria play each other until November 8, which is when Powell River joins the fold. From that point forward, the Kings and Capitals face each other six straight times while the Bulldogs, Clippers, and Grizzlies will form their own mini-cohort.

The last cohort sees Merritt in the middle of Prince George, Trail, and Cranbrook as those four teams will only face each other during the exhibition season.

Two hundred and two days after the final game of the BCHL playoffs was played, the battle for the Fred Page Cup begins in earnest when Penticton hosts Salmon Arm and West Kelowna is home to Vernon in the 2020-21 exhibition season opener on September 25.

Under BC public health regulations, all of the games will be played with no fans, as gatherings over 50 are still banned because of the pandemic.

The 2020-21 BCHL regular season is set to open on December 1.

Matsui and Manty jump from Merritt to NAHL

The Merritt Centennials won’t have two of their top three scorers back for the 2020-21 season. A report in the Aberdeen News mentions 2000-born import forwards Payton Matsui and Thomas Manty are among the “fresh faces” at training camp for the Aberdeen Wings of the North American Hockey League.

Matsui, who’s from Lakeville, Minnesota, was committed to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for this fall, but that’s been deferred to next September. He led the Cents in scoring in 2019-20 with 44 points in 58 games. Matsui had 17 points in 35 games in Merritt as a rookie in 2017-19.

Manty was third in scoring on the Centennials with 34 points in 56 games this past season, his first in the BCHL. The Andover, Maryland product isn’t committed to an NCAA school at this point.