The start of a Vancouver Island Junior Hockey league playoff series has been postponed four days, with league officials citing concern over the ongoing “health situation” involving COVID-19.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven North Division final playoff series between the Oceanside Generals and the Campbell River Storm was scheduled to go tonight in Parksville. It has been moved to Saturday, March 14. Game 2, which was scheduled for Friday, March 13 in Campbell River has also been postponed, though no dates past Saturday’s Game 1 have been announced.
BC Hockey CEO Barry Petrachenko said that at this time, the postponement of the games is precautionary.
“With the ongoing international health situation involving COVID-19, extra precaution is being administered,” he said in a statement on behalf of BC Hockey and the VIJHL. “The VIJHL, in consultation with BC Hockey and the Island Health Authority are taking the measures to be extremely cautious in situations with any illnesses. The health and safety of our participants is our priority.”
Neither the Campbell River Storm nor the Oceanside Generals have players or staff that have been diagnosed with COVID-19, said Petrachenko, but “several players are self-isolating for influenza-like symptoms on the recommendation of public health officials.”
Oceanside Generals President Gerry Bickerton said his team’s players “are 100 per cent healthy.”
According to the joint statement, no other league playoff games or BC Hockey Championships have been postponed.
The other two teams left in the VIJHL post-season, the Peninsula Panthers and the Victoria Cougars, have already played Game 1 of their South Division best-of-seven final. Game 2 is scheduled for March 11 at 8:30 p.m. at Victoria’s Archie Browning Arena.
“BC Hockey is working closely with Hockey Canada and the provincial and regional health authorities to monitor all situations daily,” said Petrachenko.
The VIJHL said that both teams are working together to reschedule the rest of the series and that dates and times “should be out shortly.”
BC Hockey published a list of recommendations on March 10 relating to COVID-19. Among them, players and staff should have their own water bottles and towels and officials should avoid the practice of drinking from a goaltender’s bottle. Players are being encouraged to “fist bump with hockey gloves on instead of shaking hands” and coaches and officials will not be required to shake hands.
– With files from Michael Briones