With the Victoria Grizzlies’ season taking a bit of a nose dive, it’s never too early to look ahead at next year.
On Saturday, the Merritt Centennials handed the youthful Grizzlies a 4-1 loss at Bear Mountain Arena. It was the latest hiccup in the team’s ambitious rebuild.
Victoria has lost seven straight, including all five since management traded the majority of the team’s top players to B.C. Hockey League contenders at the Jan. 10 deadline.
While there is little hope for a playoff run this year, the Grizzlies remain a top destination for prospective BCHL players and will likely add some skill and veteran leadership by next fall.
Just as the Grizzlies are working now to be an improved team in the 2012-13 season, big changes are in store for the league as well.
Last week, the BCHL board of governors met in Richmond and worked out a divisional realignment, schedule changes and a new season-opening tournament.
The schedule will be reduced from 60 games to 56, with 27 home games and 29 away.
It will also mark the return of the Island division, made up of the Grizz’, Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley, Alberni Valley and Powell River. The other Coastal Conference division we be made up of Mainland teams Chilliwack, Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam and Prince George.
Merritt, Trail, Vernon, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Westside make up the Interior Conference.
Prince George will have the option to return to the Interior Conference for 2013-14.
The reason for the lesser number of home games is the season features a new dynamic showcase event for Sept. 7 to 9. The tournament is designed to entice college and pro scouts with a chance to see all 16 clubs playing in the same city over a three day span.
Details of the tourney are still being finalized.