Eight Langley Rivermen players have tested positive for the Omicron variant, head coach and general manager Burt Henderson confirmed on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
As a result, the BCHL has postponed at least three scheduled games for the Junior A team, as well as four other teams in the league with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“We had a few positive tests, so we had to shut it down,” Henderson told the Langley Advance Times.
Henderson said the affected players were in quarantine, and most appear to have relatively minor symptoms.
“It’s unbelievable,” Henderson commented.
“It [Omicron] seems to be everywhere.”
As of Wednesday, the league had also “paused” the playing schedules of the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Penticton Vees, Trail Smoke Eaters and Victoria Grizzlies for five days, citing COVID-19 protocols and provincial health regulations.
The last time the Rivermen played was Saturday, Jan. 1, a 4-3 loss to Chilliwack on home ice at George Preston arena in Langley.
Rivermen games set for Thursday Jan. 6 against Cowichan Valley , Friday, Jan. 7 against Nanaimo, and Sunday, Jan. 9, against Victoria, have been postponed by the league.
The BCHL shutdowns come in the wake of an Omicron outbreak at the Junior B Langley Trappers hockey team, who had to drop out of the PJHL Winter Classic that ran from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2 as a result.
Last month, the league announced the postponement of the BCHL’s 60th anniversary event, to January 2023, “due to increased provincial restrictions around events and a spike in COVID cases.”
The event, featuring an outdoor three-on-three all-star series, skills competition and alumni game, as well as a top Prospects game, was set to take place Jan. 14 to 16 in Penticton.
Langley Rivermen goaltender Ajeet Gundarah and head coach Burt Henderson were selected for the top prospects game, but would have been playing on opposite sides at the BCHL showcase, with Gundarah in the net for the Interior team and Henderson behind the bench for the Coastal Conference team.
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