It’s game on for the BC Hockey League.

The junior A league’s board of governors have approved a shortened 2021 season.

This comes after the Provincial Health Office (PHO) accepted the league’s proposal for a safe return to play under its COVID-19 Safety Plan.

The league will operate in a “pod” model where three to four teams will play each other in five different locations across BC.

A condensed season will begin the first week of April. 

A full schedule will be released in the coming weeks along with details on the pod locations.

“After months and months of hard work behind the scenes by the league’s Return-to-Play Task Force, we are pleased to make the announcement today that the BCHL will be back on the ice to play the 2020-21 season,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb. 

“This entire process has always been about our players and giving them the best chance to get back to playing games and showcasing their skills, and we have accomplished that today.”

The BCHL has hired a Chief Medical Officer who will oversee all COVID-19 safety protocols for the five-week season, including testing and a quarantine period for players and team staff.

“At the end of the day, our league is all about getting players scholarships and moving them on to the next level to allow them to pursue their athletic and educational goals,” said BCHL executive director Steven Cocker. 

“With no games since November, it has been difficult for these players to get noticed by college programs and, as a result, we’ve seen a significant effect on the number of college commitments in the league this year. With a shortened season now in place, we are thrilled to get our players back in the spotlight and give them the attention they deserve.”

Further information will be provided this weekend as the BCHL works out the final details with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the Regional Chief Medical Health Officers.

The league includes Vancouver Island teams Nanaimo Clippers, Cowichan Valley Capitals, Victoria Grizzlies, Alberni Valley Bulldogs and over on the Sunshine Coast, the Powell River Kings.