Monday, July 9, 2012

Waiting for the Schedule

In essence the BCHL 2012-13 schedule is done but it does require final approval from the sixteen teams and the League before it can be released. That should happen in the next few to 48 hours. I thought I would take this time to throw around a couple of thoughts to get you ready for what will be the Spruce Kings 17th season in the British Columbia Hockey League.

For the first time since joining the premiere Junior 'A' hockey league in Canada, the Spruce Kings will play out of the Coastal Conference. I'm not opposed to this because, given the current map of the BCHL, the only question that the team had to ask itself is whether to turn left at Cache Creek or drive straight through. The latter seems as likely an option as the former. The Spruce Kings will have their four divisional rivals strategically placed within an hour's driving time of each other between Chilliwack and Coquitlam.

The BCHL has reduced the number of games in a regular season by four to 56 and also brought back a full interlock schedule. The 2012-13 games will break down into eight games against divisional opponents and two games against the other teams. There will also be a pair of games played on the League's opening weekend now dubbed the BCHL Showcase where all sixteen teams will play twice in Chilliwack over the three day weekend September 7-9, 2012.

The BCHL Showcase schedule has already been released and has the Spruce Kings playing the Merritt Centennials at noon on Saturday September 8th and then the Langley Rivermen at 6pm on Sunday September 9th. After those two games, the League has worked at balancing out the remaining 54 games with a high priority being placed on playing games on the prime nights of Friday and Saturday.

Those remaining games will feature four home and four away games against the Coastal Conference Mainland Division teams - Chilliwack Chiefs, Langley Rivermen, Surrey Eagles and Coquitlam Express - for a total of 32 games. Ten games will be home and home pairs against the Island Division teams - Nanaimo Clippers, Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Victoria Grizzlies, Cowichan Valley Capitals and Powell River Kings. The remaining 12 games will be a single home and away pair against the more familiar teams of the Interior Conference - Merritt Centennials, Penticton Vees, Vernon Vipers, Westside Warriors, Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Trail Smoke Eaters.

Given the travel demands put on the Spruce Kings, it should come as no surprise to see a few games scheduled on Sundays. There will also be a need to have some mid-week games thrown in there to accommodate other team's travel requirements. I don't think anybody will be surprised by the number of those particular games.

Hockey fans in Prince George can also expect to see a lot more hockey in the city. With Kin I closed for renovations, the BC Major Midget Cariboo Cougars will be playing at earlier times on Saturdays and you may be able to see them at the Coliseum prior to enjoying a Spruce Kings game. The WHL Prince George Cougars schedule was released earlier and this season could see the lowest number of overlapping games between them and the Spruce Kings.

A press release with a PDF version of the schedule is expected to be released and posted here and on the Spruce Kings website either Tuesday or Wednesday.

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