The BCHL is following the WHL lead.

In the 2018-19 season, the WHL reduced its regular-season schedule by four games from 72 to 68.

The reason behind the move was less travel for teams and fewer midweek games.

The BCHL has decided that starting in the 2020-21 season, the league will reduce its regular-season schedule by four games from 58 to 54.

“The decision to reduce our games next season to 54 was a difficult move but, with our league mandate around player safety, we see this as what’s best for the development of our players,” said BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker in a news release. “This will also result in fewer 3-in-3 weekends and proper rest between games in order to maximize time for practice and recovery.”

“Another important component of the schedule was getting out of the month of August, our camps will now open in early September with season openers at the end of the month. We feel this will best serve our athletes in their out-of-season development.”

There is no perfect schedule and no perfect set amount of games but junior hockey in many markets is suffering at the gate.

Having fewer games to market and a lighter schedule on Tuesday and Wednesday seems to be beneficial to all concerned.

I am not aware of any complaints the WHL has received after they chopped four games.

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While reducing a schedule isn’t a big deal, neither is the Prince George Spruce Kings move from the Coastal Conference (Mainland Division) to the Interior Conference.

The Spruce Kings have not built up any rivalry with Coquitlam, Chilliwack, Surrey or Langley.

Those four Lower Mainland teams much prefer to play each other and make fewer trips up north.

The Spruce Kings are going back to the Conference that they started with when they joined the BCHL in 1996.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet for us in the sense that we really enjoyed our time in the Mainland Division. I think that division really worked well for us for many reasons, the level of competition plus we get a lot of kids from the Lower Mainland so that was good for a lot of players on our team,” said Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes to MyPGNow.com.

With the addition of the expansion Cranbrook Bucks, the BCHL Board of Governors has voted to change to a two-conference system with nine teams on each side.

Both the Spruce Kings and Bucks will play in the Interior, joining Penticton, Vernon, West Kelowna, Trail, Salmon Arm, Merritt and Wenatchee.

The league has not announced a playoff format for next year but I would guess that 16 teams will make the post-season, the top 8 of 9 from each Conference.

The Spruce Kings are fortunate that 16 of 17 get in this season (Merritt will be the odd team odd) since they are last in the Mainland Division and 15th in the overall standings.

Prince George will move over to the Interior Conference as a wild-card this year which gives them a preview of what’s ahead.

Their opponent is still to be determined.

Going by today’s standings, they would play second-place Trail, a distance of 648 miles (1,042.85 kilometres) between the two cities.

Not exactly a dream match-up from a travel perspective but at least the Spruce Kings get a chance to defend their title.

Last year, #16 Cowichan upset #1 Penticton in the first round.

This year, the Spruce Kings, with a vastly different line-up from the 2018-19 season, are hoping to embrace the role of underdogs.

Whether they have any success or not, the Spruce Kings are playing with house money with little to no pressure or expectations placed upon them.

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This is season two of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that primarily features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest on the 21st Cat Scan in year two is the original voice of the PG Cougars Glen Dufresne.

In this episode, Glen talks about the Cougars moving from Victoria to Prince George, his recollection of the 1997 playoff run and the reasons why he left the play-by-play booth to join Shaw in 2003.

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FROM THE QUOTE RACK:  

Hoarders panicking over the coronavirus outbreak are exhausting the public supply of face masks. Sort of like NY Knicks fans and clothespins.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky has surgery on non-throwing arm. That still doesn’t tell us which arm.

Fark.com

Super Bowl LIV is finally over.   Super Bowl LV pregame show starts tomorrow.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

The Super Bowl Halftime Show should’ve featured Kanye West and Brittney Spears—-it would’ve prepared us more for the 49er fourth-quarter meltdown

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

The Chiefs Derrick Nnadi picked up all the dog adoption fees at a shelter after their Super Bowl win. If nothing else, he can always end up an honorary member of the Browns “Dawg Pound.”

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Jeep paid $5.6 million for a 30-second ad during the Chiefs 31-20 Super Bowl victory over the 49’ers. Hence the old adage: talk is not Jeep?

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca