SAANICHTON, B.C. — BC Hockey is promoting all three of its junior B leagues up to junior A.
The reclassification will create a new junior-A system in time for the 2023-24 season. BC Hockey announced the change on Tuesday after the British Columbia Hockey League, its former junior A circuit, broke away from Hockey Canada.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, the Pacific Junior Hockey League, and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League will all move up one level. Teams will be subject to an internal BC Hockey standards-tiering structure, with all teams starting as Tier 2.
The reclassification of these leagues to junior A was unanimously approved by the BC Hockey Board of Directors.
“We are excited about the opportunities this new pathway will create for junior hockey players in B.C. and Yukon," said Stephanie White, chair of BC Hockey's board of directors. "Having these teams dedicate themselves to raised standards, first to Junior A Tier 2, and eventually Junior A Tier 1 for some, will provide more of our talented players with a better player experience at the highest level in our province.
"BC Hockey is confident that this transformation will strengthen the development pathway immediately, and raise the overall hockey experience for players, coaches, and fans alike."
The new junior A leagues will take their place in Hockey Canada’s Canadian Development Model, which strengthens the game at elite levels, in partnership with the Western Hockey League and the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
"The WHL is very pleased to see the progress BC Hockey and their members are making in building a new junior A opportunity in the province of B.C.," said WHL commissioner Ron Robison. "The WHL looks forward to working closely with BC Hockey and their members as the new junior A pathway is introduced and to the positive impact it will have in strengthening relations with leagues at all levels in the Canadian hockey system."
The BCHL left Hockey Canada to give it more options for players under 18 years old that are looking to compete in college hockey in the United States. There are 18 teams in the BCHL and all of its franchises started operating outside of Hockey Canada's system starting June 1.
The move allows BCHL teams to recruit 16- and 17-year-olds from other provinces, which is currently against Hockey Canada regulations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2023.