Langley Trappers players will be back on the ice on Aug. 31 for a training camp at the George Preston arena later this month, as the team prepares for a planned resumption of competitive play set for September.
Burt Henderson, president and head coach of the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) team, said most of the players have assured him they’ve worked to maintain their their fitness levels during the several months of enforced idleness due to the COVID-19 shutdown, but the real test will come over the five-day training camp.
“We’ll find out,” Henderson told the Langley Advance Times.
He said the training camp will sort out the team roster for the coming PJHL season, which is set to begin Tuesday, Sept. 29th
Henderson said the maximum number of players allowed on the ice under current coronavirus restrictions is 12, which will alter the team approach to training camp.
“We’ll have to run or three sessions a day,” Henderson predicted.
In announcing resumption of play, the PJHL said the 2020-21 season will consist of a 44-game regular season schedule, with each team playing a single interlocking game against the opposing conference as well as two games at the 2021 PJHL Winter Classic Showcase scheduled for January at Minoru Arena in Richmond.
As well, the annual Prospects Game and All Star Game in partnership with the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League will take place, but dates have not been set yet.
After their strong showing last season, Henderson said the Trappers team was looking forward to 2020, prior to the pandemic.
“I think this is the year we had our eye on,” Henderson commented.
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Despite losing players to injuries and a suspension, Trappers managed to hang on for a second-place finish in the PJHL playoffs.
Langley Trappers got there by defeating the Abbotsford Pilots in the first rounds, losing the first two games in Abbotsford before taking four straight to advance to the second round.
Langley then faced the defending league champions in the Delta Ice Hawks in round two, losing game one then rebounding with a four-game winning streak to advance to the finals for the first time in the teams two-year history.
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Trappers made the older North Vancouver Wolf Pack work for their win.
Langley dropped the first two games in North Vancouver before returning to George Preston for game three in front of a 500-person crowd.
The game went to double overtime, when the Trappers ran into penalty trouble and the Wolf Pack scored on a 5 on 3 power play to take game three by a score of 5-4.
Wolf Pack went on to take the series in game four and advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
At the time, Trappers GM and assistant coach Thomas Koshman said he was proud with the team performance.
“The boys battled hard every night, usually coming from behind,” Koshman commented.