The Ridge Meadows Flames are still working toward a Junior B season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will look different.
With the Return to Play guidelines, leagues are supposed to play in a cohort of a maximum of four teams. General Manager Derek Bedard noted that with 13 teams in the league the Flames will likely be in a cohort of three teams. The cohorts can be changed after a 14-day quarantine period, Bedard noted.
But exactly what will happen, and even whether the league will start on its Sept. 29 target date to resume the season, remains to be seen, said Bedard. But he said the teams are working hard to bring their league back.
“I think there’s value in having athletics in people’s lives,” said Bedard. “And when things go dark, it’s hard to get them up and running again.”
The Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) recently held a special meeting to continue to plan a return to the ice for the 2020-21 season. All 13 PJHL member clubs are actively working with their facilities and common user groups to ensure a safe return to sport for all participants.
“With viaSport’s announcement to move into Phase 3 Return to Play guidelines, it was appropriate to discuss in-depth and understand what this move would look like for our league,” said PJHL commissioner Trevor Alto.
“After such a difficult number of months since last season was cancelled, I feel this was a very positive meeting for the league. All 13 member teams have done an excellent job and worked extremely hard to get us in a position where we are able to make decisions that will allow us to return to competition.”
The league has also instituted a roster deadline of Sept. 15. As of this date, all teams must be down to a maximum of 25 carded players. Furthermore from this date forward, the league will require all players wishing to join a PJHL roster to quarantine for 14 days prior to participating in Phase 3 competition.
The Flames roster is taking shape, and Bedard noted there are now 12 returning players and six rookies on the roster.
There is also a lot of local flavour, with seven of the returnees calling Maple Ridge their home town.
More news regarding the 2020/21 PJHL season will be announced in the coming weeks.