The suspension of many indoor activities in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions for two weeks, including sports, wasn’t supposed to affect the Island. But the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division, specifically the Powell River Kings and Cowichan Valley Capitals, have become collaterally entangled.
The Kings, who are in the Vancouver Coastal region, were forced to postpone their pre-season game Sunday at the Cowichan Community Centre against the Capitals. Powell River was originally thought to be exempt from the restrictions but then that came into doubt.
“The team and league are hoping for clarification on the ruling,” said the BCHL, in a statement.
What is for sure is that Mainland Division teams Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen and Surrey Eagles have been taken off the ice until Nov. 21. It was thought the Island and Interior division teams in the BCHL would not be affected. But the Powell River situation remained undefined by press time Monday. The Kings and Cowichan Valley were set to finish off the preseason with six consecutive games against each other. That was thrown into turmoil by Saturday’s health order, aimed at the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions, but which has ensnared the BCHL Island Division. The unusual scheduling is because provincial sport guidelines currently allow a maximum of four teams per cohort group. The teams can rotate into new cohort groups of up to four teams after a two-week quarantine break.
There are five teams in the BCHL Island Division. So the Island Cup preseason tournament began last month with the Capitals, Victoria Grizzlies, Nanaimo Clippers and Alberni Valley Bulldogs in a four-team cohort. The Grizzlies (7-1-3), Clippers (7-4) and Bulldogs (5-5-2) have now hived off into a three-team cohort while Cowichan Valley (2-5-1), which sat out the last two weeks in a quarantine break, and Powell River, which has yet to play, were set to settle into a two-team cohort until Saturday’s ruling.
“We’ve heard conflicting reports about whether [Powell River is in or out]. Our hands are tied and our fingers are crossed as we are awaiting direction,” said Shari Paterson, governor of the Capitals club.
The postponement of Sunday’s game in Duncan came just after the Cowichan Valley team sat out its two-week quarantine before joining Powell River in a new two-team cohort.
“We’re getting really good at practising,” said Paterson.
It continues a tumultuous year for the Capitals. Cowichan Valley was about to play Nanaimo in the 2020 Island Division final in March when the remainder of the BCHL playoffs were cancelled due to COVID. Head coach and GM Mike Vandekamp then departed to coach and manage the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League after two seasons turning the fortunes of the Capitals. New GM and head coach Geoff Grimwood resigned last month, on the eve of the preseason, “over ethical and philosophical differences with ownership.” Brian Passmore, who has previously guided the Caps, became the interim head coach and GM.
The next scheduled Capitals-Kings game is Saturday in Powell River. Travel into the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions to play sports is, however, suspended until Nov. 21 unless a special dispensation is made in the meantime for Powell River.
A 32-game BCHL regular season is proposed to start in December and run to March.
ICE CHIPS: The Grizzlies, 4-3 shootout losers to the Bulldogs on Saturday night at The Q Centre, play the Clippers on Wednesday afternoon in preseason action at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo … The Clippers and Bulldogs, meanwhile, meet tonight in Port Alberni.