Five Alberta Junior Hockey League teams are officially settled to play in the BCHL.
The Blackfalds Bulldogs, Brooks Bandits, Okotoks Oilers, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints have immediately become members of the BCHL.
In a news release, Chris Hebb, chief executive officer of the BCHL, said that the league is pleased to welcome the five Alberta teams into the league.
“All five are strong organizations from great communities and we look forward to the immediate boost they will give our league,” he said. “We were encouraged by their belief in our model and think that adding these teams will strengthen the development of all our players.”
For now, the five Alberta-based teams will compete against each other for the remainder of the season and eventually crown an Alberta champion.
At the end of BCHL playoffs, both Alberta and BCHL champions will square off a year-end competition.
Steven Cocker, BCHL commissioner, added that the five-team schedule and postseason will give them the chance to get in a full set of games.
“With the unfortunate situation the Alberta teams have faced in recent weeks with having games cancelled in their previous league, it was imperative to us to get these players back on the ice in meaningful competition,” he said.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) cancelled all the games involving the five teams on the day that BCHL announced their move to the league.
Today, Feb. 1, the AJHL released a statement in which they said “we are disappointed – but not surprised – that the five defecting clubs now intend to drop out of the AJHL to immediately participate in an unsanctioned exhibition series.”
“The full impact of this decision on our ongoing investigation remains to be determined, as the teams have now eliminated a route back to the AJHL for their players this season,” the statement reads.
The Alberta-based teams’ games schedule for the BCHL is set to start tomorrow, Feb. 2, when Spruce Grove Saints hosts Sherwood Park Crusaders at Grant Fuhr Arena at 7 p.m. (mountain standard time) and the Blackfalds Bulldogs will be hosting the Okotoks Oilers at the Eagle Builders Centre, at 7 p.m. (mountain standard time).