The Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) has made some changes to its 2014-15 season and there are no more free passes to the playoffs.
Because of the Houston Luckies’ departure from the league in the upcoming campaign, the Prince Rupert Rampage will occupy one spot in a four-team West division vying for only two playoff spots.
“With the [Houston Forest Products] mill closing, [the team] couldn’t get a player commitment this year to field a team,” said CIHL president J.C. Brown last week.
After the league’s annual general meeting in late May, the now seven-team league will play in one overall division for the regular season but for the purposes of the playoffs, two spots are up for grabs between Rupert, the Terrace River Kings, the Smithers Steelheads and the Kitimat Ice Demons, and two spots can be taken between the eastern teams of the Williams Lake Stampeders, the Quesnel Kangaroos and the Lac La Hache Tomahawks.
The Luckies finished in last place in the West division in 2013-14 and won one game in their first-round playoff series with the Kangaroos before bowing out to them in three games.
“It’s a tougher go to make the playoffs this year so it’ll be interesting,” said Brown.
In addition to Houston’s subtraction, the league will now reduce the number of games for each team to 16 instead of the usual 18 to account for the loss of the Luckies.
As for the technical rules on the ice, there are no changes from last season.
“That stuff’s all per BC Hockey and sometimes as much as we want to change it, we can’t,” said Brown.
“It’s all governed by BC Hockey’s senior men’s rules.”