Hockey players who participate in a league not sanctioned by Hockey Canada will be ineligible to compete in the Canadian Hockey League, Canadian Junior Hockey League or try for a spot Canada’s under-18 club championships for the remainder of the season.
Hockey Canada announced changes to its non-sanctioned leagues policy on Tuesday and said they are in force effective immediately.
The governing body says the restrictions apply to any player participating in a non-sanctioned league after Saturday’s eligibility cut-off date.
The changes come after the British Columbia Hockey League, the former junior A circuit of BC Hockey, broke away from Hockey Canada.
The move allows BCHL teams to recruit 16- and 17-year-olds from other provinces, which is currently against Hockey Canada regulations.
Hockey Canada’s senior vice-president of member engagement, Darren Cossar, says the modifications to the non-sanctioned leagues were not done hastily and were made to benefit players and staff in sanctioned hockey programs.
The BCHL started its 54-game regular season last week, Friday, Sept. 22.
In playing by its own rules, the BCHL refuses to classify itself as junior A, though its goal is to have more of its players recruited by NCAA teams.
“Our goal is to provide a world-class experience to athletes pursuing education and hockey through college,” the league says on its website.
In July, with no provincially sanctioned junior A league, BC Hockey reclassified the three junior B leagues throughout the province to junior A status.
From 2000 to 2020, teams from the BCHL combined to win the national championship tournament six times. Tied at four were Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
In 2021, the national championship tournament in Penticton, B.C., was cancelled due to COVID-19, with the BCHL not competing in the 2022 tournament.
Last season, the Penticton Vees won the BCHL championship after posting a regular-season record of 50 wins, 3 losses and 1 shootout loss.
With files from Global News. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2023.