Peninsula Panthers and Kerry Park Islanders players battle during a Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game in November 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Peninsula Panthers and Kerry Park Islanders players battle during a Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game in November 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

VIJHL pulls plug on 2020-21 season

‘It seemed that this is the time to make this decision’

The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it will not be resuming play this season.

The nine-team junior B circuit remained optimistic that it could get back into action after halting games last November due to COVID-19-related restrictions, but a post to the league website from president Simon Morgan confirmed that the season was officially over, as determined in a unanimous vote by league governors.

“The current Public Health Authority discussions show it is unlikely there will be any changes in their current direction from where we are today,” Morgan stated. “And with the added pressures from facilities comparing the teams’ need for ice usage against the need for the removal of the ice for other sport- or health-related events, it seemed that this is the time to make this decision. Each team will determine their specific end date for their practice times with their players.”

The VIJHL played games in October and November, each team getting between 11 and 13 contests before the season went on hold on Nov. 21. The pause on league play was extended again in December, January and February, and BC Hockey announced the cancellation of the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup — the junior B provincial championship — in early January.

B.C.’s other junior B leagues have also called it quits on 2020-21. The Pacific Junior Hockey League, which operates on the Lower Mainland, also cancelled the rest of its season on Tuesday, and the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League did so in early February.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League remains hopeful about 2020-21 season

Morgan expressed his thanks to coaches, players, volunteers and team executives for their support and use of safe practice during games and practices, to fans for their patience, and to BC Hockey for its support in navigating temporary changes to rules and regulations.

The focus will now turn toward the 2021-22 season.

“We look forward to playing games again in the future and it is starting to look very positive that this will occur in late summer in time for this upcoming season,” Morgan wrote. “The VIJHL Board of Governors is already starting to work on the seeds of next season.”

VIJHL