Dozens of fans took to the ice at George Preston arena Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, for a traditional post-game skate with the Langley Rivermen (Langley Advance Times file )

Dozens of fans took to the ice at George Preston arena Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, for a traditional post-game skate with the Langley Rivermen (Langley Advance Times file )

Putting their season on pause: why the Langley Rivermen aren’t playing

Provincial COVID order limiting play to 18 and under would keep many players off the ice

Right about now is when the Langley Rivermen were expecting to resume their interrupted season.

Instead, there will be another interruption.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, the BC Hockey League (BCHL) team announced it was putting its season on “pause” until at least January, “pending further news from the government of British Columbia.”

“For the health and safety of our players, staff, and families, we have decided to take a pause in our operations due to Covid-19” said Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson.

Another issue is the the provincial announcement that banned indoor and outdoor sports for anyone over 18, which would keep older players off the ice.

“Being that we are a team, we also choose to stand in solidarity with out 19 and 20-year-old players, who under the current orders, are unable to participate as members of our club,” Henderson said.

The club is aiming for a return to play in the new year.

“We’re clinging to hope that we can provide the kids some version of a season,” Henderson told the Langley Advance Times.

Since the pandemic began, only 0ne player has tested positive for COVID, he advised.

The player, who has since made a full recovery, was quickly isolated and no one else contracted the virus, Henderson said.

All other BCHL teams are also on hold, the league announced.

It said that under the recent order that was extended this week by the Provincial Health Office (PHO), BCHL players age 19 or older are not permitted to engage in any team activities, while players 18 or younger may participate in limited team activities under Phase 2 of viaSPORT BC’s return to play.

An estimated 48 percent of the league is currently made up of players 19 or older, which means nearly half of the BCHL’s players are currently ineligible to practice with their team under the order.

READ ALSO: Langley Rivermen go with all-Canadian roster during pandemic

BCHL chairman Graham Fraser said the league successfully trained and played exhibition games from September to November, completing 90 games without a transmission, but will be allowed to start our regular season in December.”

“For the past nine months, the Board of Governors, the League Office and the Return-to-Play Task Force have done everything possible to do right by our players and the public,” Fraser said.

READ ALSO: Rivermen are raring to go back on the ice

BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb was “disappointed that our 19 and 20-year-old players are not able to join their teammates in on-ice activities.

“We are working diligently with BC Hockey, viaSPORT BC, and the PHO to get our older players on the ice, but at the moment we must follow the PHO’s order as written,” Hebb said.

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