Coquitlam Express set to launch extended exhibition season

The new coach of the Coquitlam Express, Dan Cioffi, will be able to put the pylons away beginning Oct. 2.

The Express will host the Langley Rivermen at Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex at 7 p.m. It’s the team’s first of 18 exhibition games that are part of the BC Hockey League’s extended training camp schedule leading up to an anticipate resumption of a regular season beginning Dec. 1.

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“We believe it’s important to have our players play meaningful games during this extended period before the start of our regular season, in order to stay engaged and game-ready leading into December,” said BCHL executive director Steve Cocker in a press release.

The Express will play all of its games in a regional cohort that includes the Rivermen, Surrey Eagles and the Chilliwack Chiefs. Spectators will not be permitted. Similar cohorts have been established for the rest of the league as well.

On Sept. 11, the BCHL announced plans to forge ahead with its 2020/’21 season even if ongoing public health regulations to control transmission of the COVID-19 viral infection won’t permit fans in arenas. Teams in the Tier II junior league rely on ticket revenue, in addition to corporate sponsorships, to cover their operating expenses.

Instead, the league said it could implement a play-to-play model that would require its players to pay a fee to secure their position. Such fees are common in the lower tiers of junior hockey, like the Pacific Junior Hockey League.

The exhibition opener between the Express and Rivermen will be a rematch of the teams’ opening round series in last spring’s BCHL playoffs. Coquitlam, which finished atop the regular season standings, dispatched Langley in four straight games. The post-season was then cancelled because of the public health crisis.

Click here to see the whole exhibition schedule for the Express.

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