PJHL set to resume play in late September

The Pacific Junior Hockey League — that includes the Port Moody Panthers — will forge ahead with a 44-game regular season beginning Sept. 29.

The league also announced Tuesday its two-game Winter Classic will be played Jan. 1 to 3 at Minor Arena in Richmond. Other special events, like the annual prospects and all-star games, will be announced at a later date.

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“Both league and team return to play plans are in place and being monitored,” league commissioner Trevor Alto said in a press release. “With the increased opening of facilities, we are confident we can execute these plans and return to the ice safely.”

That return will look slightly different, as the Chilliwack Jets join the circuit as an expansion franchise and the league adopts the National Hockey League’s overtime format for deciding regular season games. Teams that are tied at the end of regulation time will play three-on-three for five minutes, and if the score is still tied, a winner will be determined by a shootout.

The PJHL was forced to cancel its championship final last March between the Aldergrove Kodiaks and North Vancouver Wolf Pack because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 17, the BC Hockey League, whose playoffs were also scuttled by the public health emergency, announced it will hold off starting its season until at least Dec. 1. But teams will be allowed to convene training camps as early as Sept. 8, provided they conform to any restrictions on large gathering in place.

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