PJHL still on target for season’s start, but schedule unknown

The Pacific Junior Hockey League still anticipates beginning its season on Sept. 29. But what the league’s 44-game schedule will look like depends on the availability of arenas where its 13 teams — including the Port Moody Panthers — play.

PJHL commissioner Trever Alto said the league, that includes a new expansion franchise in Chilliwack, will be divided into cohort divisions of up to four teams to conform with guidelines set out by viaSport in its phased return to play protocols for amateur sports leagues in British Columbia.

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“Our planning has allowed us to be flexible yet prepared,” Alto said in a press release.

In anticipation of the coming season, teams will have to finalize their 25-player rosters by Sept. 15.

“This allows teams enough time to practice, quarantine as a team and understand the new league and facility protocols that will be in place,” Alto said, adding any new players being added to rosters after next Tuesday will have to quarantine for 14 days prior to participating in games.

“Throughout this process, our plans must have key themes that include safety, communication, and flexibility,” Alto said.

The PJHL was unable to complete its playoffs last season after they were cancelled in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as the league’s championship series between the Aldergrove Kodiaks and North Vancouver Wolf Pack was set to begin.

The Port Moody Panthers missed those playoffs entirely, after finishing the regular season at the bottom of the Tom Shaw conference with just 11 wins and 24 points. The team opened its training camp in August with a number of new players, including 17-year-old right winger Carson Latimer, a prospect of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings.

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