Ronnie Paterson (left) with son, Troy, before Troy officiated an American Hockey League game between the Hershey Bears and Springfield Thunderbirds Wednesday night. (Contributed photo)

PJHL cancels rest of its junior ‘B’ hockey season

‘Everyone did all that they could do’ to save season, said White Rock Whalers owner

The Pacific Junior Hockey League has cancelled the rest of its 2020-21 season, following a Monday night conference call with its teams.

The Lower Mainland-based junior B circuit – which includes the White Rock Whalers, Surrey Knights and Delta Ice Hawks – had, like other junior leagues across the province, been in a holding pattern since the fall, with most waiting for a change in provincial health restrictions that would allow teams to play.

Since November, teams have only been allowed to practice. Prior to the shutdown, PJHL teams all played between two and eight regular-season games, all within cohort groups, though not every team played in their home arena; the Ridge Meadows Flames played in Abbotsford while the Whalers played home games in Richmond, as a result of restrictions at White Rock’s Centennial Arena.

“We’ve decided to shut it down for the year. We battled through some issues… but we just felt in fairness to the athletes and all the programs, we would show some leadership in the hockey community and shut it down, and then hopefully we can start our spring and summer programs at some point, and just focus on having a successful 2021-22 season,” Whalers owner Ronnie Paterson told Peace Arch News Tuesday morning.

“Everyone was in agreement” to cancel the season, he added.

• READ ALSO: Whalers waiting to hear on dressing-room availability as PJHL home-opener looms

Paterson said Feb. 6 served as something of a choke point in the league’s continued attempts to restart its regular season. Had provincial restrictions eased at that point “we could have had time to get a good season in.” When that date came and went, things got dicier, he said.

One team, the Langley Trappers, had already opted out of the season in advance of this week’s league-wide announcement, stating back in mid-February that the team would not return for the rest of the season.

Many reasons went into the decision, Paterson noted – everything from uncertainty over when restrictions may change, to ice availability.

“A lot of arenas are (taking the ice out) soon for lacrosse,” he said. “Everybody persevered and we all made so many sacrifices, but there are a lot of reasons why (the decision was made). Everyone did all that they could do but at the end of the day, the pandemic just didn’t go away.”

Paterson noted the Whalers will be OK financially despite the shutdown – “Our league is pay-to-play and our business model is one we are proud of, and is resilient,” he said – he does feel bad for the players, especially the 20-year-olds who will not be eligible to return next season.

“It’s devastating for them,” he said, noting that the Whalers hoped to “do something special” for those graduating players at some point in the future.

However, Paterson did admit that Monday night’s decision was “a relief” in that everyone involved in the league – from players to coaches to team staff and owners – can now move forward without constantly wondering if the season would restart.

Like their junior ‘B’ counterparts, the junior ‘A’ B.C. Hockey League – of which Paterson used to be a part, as co-owner of the Surrey Eagles – has pushed back the start of its season numerous times.

It has not made an announcement on whether or not it will continue play this season, as league officials continue discussions with the province and health authorities.



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Junior B Hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Residents of Golf Lane say they are tired of their houses and vehicles being hit by golf balls from the nearby Maple Ridge Golf Course, and worry someone is going to get killed by a wayward drive. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Maple Ridge Golf Course neighbours say they need protection

City willing to explore solutions says director of parks

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Ineke Boekhorst with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association says Sparkle has been a huge hit with downtown businesses. (The News files)
Maple Ridge business to get free Earth Day window cleaning

Event put on by the Downtown Maple Ridge BIA and Christian Life Assembly

Allen, Mel, and Trevor Leung pose on the Whitecaps field in Vancouver. (Special to The News)
Community rallies to support Maple Ridge man suffering from paralysis, kidney issues

GoFundMe set up to help Allen Leung and his family during difficult times

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Most Read