Junior B hockey awaiting word

The Nanaimo Buccaneers will find out in a couple of weeks if their ship is going to set sail, or sink.

The prospective junior B hockey club has made application for a Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League franchise and will now wait for B.C. Hockey to make a decision.

Bonnie Unwin, coordinator of registration with B.C. Hockey, confirmed that her association received Nanaimo’s bid by the April 1 deadline. Phil and Brenda Levesque are the owners of the Buccaneers; Brad Knight would be coach and general manager.

Unwin said the application is expected to be tabled at a B.C. Hockey executive meeting in Vancouver the first weekend of May.

VIJHL president Greg Batters hopes for a positive outcome; in the meantime, he’s anxious.

“We can’t do our schedule; it hamstrings us a little bit,” he said.

He envisions a waiver draft to help Nanaimo and Westshore, another new team, flesh out their rosters. But again, he can’t proceed until B.C. Hockey gives the Bucs the go-ahead.

Batters said he loves the idea of a junior B hockey team in Nanaimo.

“I think the Nanaimo franchise will bring more stability to our league and it will help with our northern teams’ sustainability because of the travel,” he said.

One more team in the VIJHL’s North Division, to join Oceanside, Comox Valley and Campbell River, would allow Kerry Park to remain in the South Division. Victoria, Saanich, Peninsula and Westshore are the other teams in the league.

“This is a great league. It’s high calibre, there’s very little goofy stuff,” said Batters. “These kids, it keeps them playing the game they love.”

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