The Prince Rupert Rampage are guaranteed to make the playoffs in the 2015-16 season.
After the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) held its annual general meeting (AGM) in May, the playoff format was changed to allow all seven CIHL teams to enter the playoffs, which is a change from last season, when the bottom two West Division teams and the bottom East Division team didn’t make the post-season.
The Rampage failed to qualify in 2014-15 after a 2-13-1 season.
The top team in the east, out of Williams Lake, Quesnel and Lac La Hache will receive a first-round bye and then face the winner of the second and third seed in the second round.
In the west between Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers, the first seed will play the fourth and the second will play the third in the first round. The winning teams from those two matches then play each other and the emerging two teams from the second round division finals will then face off in the CIHL final.
“All the teams are coming back,” said Rampage general manager Ron German.
“There are no new teams and the CIHL has a new president – [Terrace River Kings manager] Ray Hallock.”
Hallock takes over presidential duties from past-president J.C. Brown.
“The vice-president is going to be Cliff Madsen from Kitimat,” said German, adding the league is still looking for a treasurer and league sponsor.
The Williams Lake Stampeders will be recognized for its 80th season of existence and the number of regular season games played will remain at 16.
All teams also now have the option of icing two referees and two linesmen.
Two referees were usually iced at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre last year in Prince Rupert.
The Rampage kick off their training camp schedule during the Lou Lemire Hockey Skills Camp, starting Aug. 17.