Changes in store for BCHL teams

Making the playoffs in the B.C. Hockey League is no longer a virtual slam dunk.

The league announced it is cutting the playoff field from 14 teams to eight teams, four from each conference, beginning next season.

Under the previous format, only two teams — one from each conference — failed to make the post-season.

The change was one of several announced on Wednesday in an effort to improve cost efficiency and player development for the junior A hockey clubs.

The BCHL has also moved its season start date back a couple weeks as the 2010-11 campaign will begin Sept. 23 and end March 11. There will also be one less round of playoffs.

Regional rivalries will be the focus of the schedule, as teams will play every team but not visit every town in the league.

Another change will be some earlier start times in an effort to increase family attendance.

Team rosters will be reduced from 23 to 21 players in hopes of promoting player development. Each team must also carry one 16-year-old and one 17-year-old on their roster, which should help develop more home-grown talent.

Teams will also have an opportunity to draft 15-year-olds for their affiliate rosters, but those players will only be on the roster for the one season.

Langley’s hockey club has been sold and renamed the Rivermen.

The ownership group officially takes control of the team on June 1 and will likely announce a new head coach.