BCHL shortens playoffs

Junior hockey league adjusts season schedule

The B.C. Hockey League is shortening both its playoff format and team rosters.

The changes were announced following a meeting of the Junior A league’s board of governors.

The 60-game regular season won’t begin until Sept. 23 next fall, two weeks later than usual. League play will end March 11 to “coincide with the more traditional hockey season” the league said in a press release.

Moving the regular season two weeks later will allow the BCHL to reduce the number of playoff teams from 14 to eight, needing just three rounds in the postseason to determine a champion for interprovincial play. Only the top four teams in each of the Coastal and Interior conferences will qualify for the postseason, as opposed to the top seven in recent seasons.

The league will also reduce roster sizes from 23 players to 21, a decision made to “promote player development and ensure more players dress for more games.”

Each of the 16 teams, including the Surrey Eagles, will also be required to carry at least one 16-year-old and one 17-year-old player.

“This is an effort to develop homegrown B.C. players as with the reduced roster size, these younger players are guaranteed to dress for games,” said the BCHL release.