After the latest update from the Provincial Health Authority, which among other things limits sports activities and travel, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) has had to postpone all regular season games until Feb. 5.
In a press release issued Jan. 8, the league states they’re still holding out hope of resuming regular season play following that date and they are still preparing to award the Teck Cup to a league champion this spring.
“I would like to acknowledge the patience and resiliency of our athletes, team staff, billet families, volunteers, sponsors and fans as we continue to navigate a challenging season,” said KIJHL Commissioner Jeff Dubois. “Our goal is to return to competitive play as soon as the provincial guidelines allow us to do so. In the meantime, our member clubs are working hard to maximize development opportunities for their players in a structured team environment while following all relevant health and safety protocols.”
Kimberley Dynamiters general manager and head coach Derek Stuart explained that his 19 and 20 year old players were allowed to return to the team on Dec. 8, after the PHO revised their previously mandated age restrictions for sports.
Since then, the Nitros have been running skill-based ice times and focusing on individual player development, as per ViaSport’s Phase 2 guidelines, Stuart added.
“We do conditioning skates during our ice times and the players are still able to go the gym on their own as long as they follow the gym’s COVID protocols,” he said.
“I don’t think I am allowed to honestly answer how the players spirits are doing without getting fined. I’m pretty sure people can guess how this is affecting their mental health.”
The KIJHL said in their release that the league is going to continue to monitor new information as it becomes available and will communicate with BC Hockey and ViaSport regarding a safe return to play, and will make a further update when possible.