Island Division makes its return

The B.C. Hockey League's board of governors made decisions on realignment and schedule changes this week.

The Island Division is making a comeback.

The B.C. Hockey League’s board of governors made major decisions on divisional realignment and schedule changes this week at meetings in Richmond.

Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley, Victoria, Alberni Valley and Powell River will make up the Island Division in the Coastal Conference and Chilliwack, Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam and Prince George will make up the Mainland Division.

Merritt, Trail, Vernon, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Westside make up the Interior Conference. Prince George will have the option to return to the Interior Conference for 2013-14.

The other major change from this week’s meetings is the number of games that make up the regular season. Governors voted to reduce the schedule from 60 games to 56.

Two games for each team will take place at showcase event Sept. 7-9, 2012, so each team will get only 27 home games. The regular season won’t end until March 10, 2013, so with fewer games spread out over a longer period, there will be fewer midweek games. According to a press release from the league office, one of the reasons for these changes is because midweek games tend to attract fewer fans than games on Fridays and Saturdays.

“These decisions were not made in haste and came only after lengthy debate by our governors,” said John Grisdale, commissioner of the BCHL, in a press release. “The BCHL considers itself an innovator and model for junior A hockey in Canada and these decisions, not all of them unanimous, have been made with the intention of ensuring the long-term viability of our league.”

Look for more on this story next week in the News Bulletin.