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Coquitlam Express players won't get a chance to shine at all-star weekend after all

Ryan Tattle and Matthew Campbell were set to represent the Coquitlam Express at special BCHL all-star weekend to celebrate its 60th season.
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Matthew Campbell of the Coquitlam Express, along with teammate Ryan Tattle, were scheduled to represent the team at the BC Hockey League's special 60th anniversary all-star weekend in Penticton Jan. 14 to 16. But the event has been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC Hockey League’s (BCHL) 60th anniversary event has been postponed until January 2023.

The gala weekend of festivities that was to include top prospects and alumni games, a skills competition and a three-on-three series to be played on an outdoor rink had been scheduled to take place in Penticton Jan. 14 to 16.

Port Moody’s Ryan Tattle and teammate Matthew Campbell were selected to represent the Coquitlam Express at the outdoor all-star games.

But, in a statement on its website, the BCHL said increased public health restrictions and the spike in COVID-19 outbreaks caused by the highly contagious Omicron strain forced it to put the weekend festivities on ice.

“We are disappointed for our loyal fans that were planning on attending the event, but we feel the worst for the 50 players who were set to participate,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb, adding the plan is to stage the postponed event in Penticton as well.

Meanwhile, the Express is scheduled to play its first game after the holiday break on Sunday (Jan. 2, 2022) against the Nanaimo Clippers.

It will be the team’s first contest at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex since the announcement of new provincial public health orders that limit attendance at indoor venues to no more than 50 per cent capacity.

As well, fans won’t be allowed to stand and they’ll have to keep their masks on unless they’re eating or drinking. Vaccine passports will be scanned at the door.

The restrictions are supposed to remain in place until the end of January and will affect seven Express home games.

Coquitlam general manager Tali Campbell has been outspoken in his cynicism over some of the most recent public health measures, including the gradual rollout of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots which have been touted by scientists and health care officials as a key factor in minimizing illness from the contagion.

On Wednesday (Dec. 29), he even offered to host a pop-up booster vaccine clinic at a future game.

“Best of both worlds. Get the shot. Watch the shots,” Campbell posted on Twitter.