Peninsula Panthers' owner and general manager Pete Zubersky questions the decision-making process leading to the suspension of play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL). (Black Press Media File)

Peninsula Panthers’ owner questions process behind suspension of Junior B hockey action

Pete Zubersky does not understand actions of provincial body administering amateur sports

The general manager and owner of the Peninsula Panthers is raising questions about the process that led to the suspension of play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL).

“I would love to see how decisions are made by the various government agencies,” said Pete Zubersky in a message posted to the team’s website. He also expressed concerns about the mental health of players.

The league’s decision came after the Panthers had split two games against the Kerry Park Islanders.

Zubersky called these results “inconsequential” and instead focused on the decision-making process on the actions of viaSport, the non-profit organization administrating amateur sports.

He said the organization put out a statement that “seemed to shut down all games” which Zubersky calls contrary to the guidance that the provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued on Nov. 19.

“We all left Dr. Henry’s address on Thursday happy that we would continue to play in our (communities and region),” he said. “And then on Friday we are told that viaSport has gone in a different direction and shut us all down.”

On Nov. 20 ViaSport called on member organizations to “err on the side of caution and stay close to home for now” following the public health order effective until Dec. 7.

The release also noted that “(games), competitions, training and practice, such as those outlined in the viaSport Phase 3 Guidelines can continue without spectators and restricted to your local community.”

RELATED: Vancouver Island Junior Hockey suspends play following new COVID-19 restrictions

The league suspended play on Saturday, with a statement: “Due to the new restrictions posted by the BC Public Health Officer and the information supplied by BC Hockey, the League has declared that ALL games will be postponed starting November 21, 2020 while the situation is being evaluated and the League receives instructions to proceed again,” it reads.

Zubersky appears to be especially concerned about the disconnect between what the public had heard from the province and the actions of viaSport.

Zubersky said he could not agree more with Henry’s comments concerning sports-related travel between communities in the southern region and northern region of Vancouver Island.

“In fact, our (league) made this choice back in October, when we split the VIJHL into two divisions and decided to mitigate risk and the spreading of the virus by only playing in our respective regions,” he said pointing to geographic proximity between arenas. Archie Browning Arena, home of the Victoria Cougars, and George Pearkes Arena where the Saanich Predators play, are probably only three to four kilometers apart.


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