A change of heart by the provincial government means Langley Rivermen are back on the ice again.
Junior players aged 19-21 had been forbidden from playing with younger teammates under COVID-19 restrictions imposed in November, which meant about half the players in the BC Hockey League (BCHL) couldn’t practice with the other half.
An estimated 48 percent of the league is currently made up of players 19 or older.
As a result, the team had to shut down, announcing it was putting the season “on page.”
With the change, announced in late December, Rivermen head coach and GM Bobby Henderson said players are still limited to “phase two” activities that restrict contact, but it is still a welcome change.
“We’re grateful,” Henderson told the Langley Advance Times.
“Guys are able to practice and be around their peers, which is huge.”
Late last month, viaSport announced that the province has modified its rules around adult sports, allowing junior hockey players 22 and under to practise together. Under the previous rules, junior players aged 19-21 had been banned from training with their younger teammates, as the November-issued health order lumped those older players in with other adults playing recreational sports, which were suspended under the order.
The revised rules have changed “adult team sport” – which previously lumped in the older juniors – to now read as “group sport” and does not include “sport for children or youth, varsity sport or high-performance athlete sport.”
“Group sport (i.e. sport for those 22 years of age or older) is only permitted in groups of up to two people (e.g. singles tennis or an athlete and a coach training session). Outdoor group sport is only permitted in groups of up to four people (e.g. four individuals may run together or four individuals could run soccer drills),” the statement from viaSport reads.