The British Columbia Hockey League is a Junior A ice hockey league from British Columbia under Hockey Canada, a subsection of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Founded in Vernon in 1961, the BCHL now includes 17 teams. These teams play in three divisions, known as the Interior, Island and Mainland divisions. The winner of the BCHL playoffs (Fred Page Cup) continues on to play the Alberta Junior Hockey League champion in the Doyle Cup for the right to compete in the Junior "A" National Championship for the Royal Bank Cup.
|British Columbia Hockey League|
Current season, competition or edition:|
2017–18 BCHL season
|No. of teams||17|
|Wenatchee Wild (1st title)|
|Most titles||Penticton Vees, Vernon Vipers (12 each)|
In 1961, the heads of four junior "B" hockey teams in the Okanagan region of British Columbia got together and formed the first ever Junior "A" league in British Columbia's history. The Okanagan-Mainline Junior "A" Hockey League, the precursor to the BCHL, was comprised originally of the Kamloops Jr. Rockets, the Kelowna Buckaroos, the Penticton Jr. Vees, and the Vernon Jr. Canadians.
In 1967, the league expanded out of the Okanagan region, bringing in the New Westminster Royals and the Victoria Cougars. With the expansion, the league decided that since it had stretched out of the Okanagan region, that it need a new name - The British Columbia Junior Hockey League. A year later, the Vancouver Centennials joined the league as well. In the 1970s, the Victoria Cougars jumped to the Western Hockey League and the New Westminster team was forced to fold due to the invasion of the Estevan Bruins into their arena. In 1972, the Bellingham Blazers and the Nanaimo Clippers expanded the league to 8 teams.
On a side note, in the early 1970s the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association separated the two tiers of Junior "A" hockey. The BCJHL, being a Tier II league, was disallowed from competing for the Memorial Cup. Therefore, the variety of Tier II Junior "A" leagues across Canada agreed to compete for a new trophy called the Centennial Cup. The '70s also saw the rise of a rival league for the BCJHL. The Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League (PCJHL), which briefly existed in the 1960s, was resurrected by Fred Page for the 1971-72 season. Page had deep roots in managing junior hockey leagues, and today there are two championship trophies named for him – the Eastern Champion Junior "A" Fred Page Cup and the BCHL Championship trophy. The PCJHL was elevated to a Junior "A" league for the 1973-74 season, adjusting its name to the Pacific Junior A Hockey League (PJHL). The PJHL champion would compete with the BCJHL champion in the BC Championship, the Mowat Cup, with the winner moving on to what was the precursor to the Doyle Cup. The PJHL's Nor'Wes Caps won the 1976 Mowat Cup, while the PJHL's Richmond Sockeyes won the 1977 and 1979 Mowat Cups. Fred Page agreed to allow a merger between his PJHL and the BCJHL for the 1979-1980 season.
The existence of the two Junior "A" leagues in British Columbia had caused an unusual turn of events in the 1977-78 season postseason. The BCJHL sent their regular season champion, the Merritt Centennials, to play as the BC representative in the Pacific region (BC and Alberta) interprovincial Doyle Cup, excusing them from the BCJHL playoffs. The BCJHL continued their league playoffs without them, crowning Nanaimo as the playoff champion after Penticton refused to finish the playoff finals due to a series of brawls in the third game of the series. Meanwhile, the Merritt Centennials won the Doyle Cup and advanced to the Abbott Cup (the Western Canada Championship) against the winner of the ANAVET Cup, the Western region champion Prince Albert Raiders of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The Centennials lost to the Raiders, 4 games to 1.
In 1986, Penticton won the BCJHL's first-ever Junior "A" national championship, defeating the Metro Valley Junior Hockey League's Cole Harbour Colts by a score of 7–4 to win the Centennial Cup. A year later, the BCJHL's Richmond Sockeyes won the league's second consecutive national title.
In 1990, the BCJHL was renamed to its current name, British Columbia Hockey League, and changed its logo twice, in 1990 and 2000, continues to expand with new teams and young players.
The most notable star to come from the BCHL is Olympian and National Hockey League hall of famer Brett Hull who played for Penticton. Hull holds the BCHL record for most goals in a season (105), which he set in 1983-84, a record that still stands today. Other NHLers who once played in the BCHL include Chuck Kobasew of the Colorado Avalanche who played for the since-renamed Penticton Panthers, Scott Gomez of the Montreal Canadiens, who played for South Surrey, and Carey Price of Montreal Canadiens who played for the Quesnel Millionaires. Willie Mitchell of the Los Angeles Kings is a native of British Columbia and played in the BCHL, as a member of the Kelowna Spartans, in 1994-95.
The Wenatchee Wild, previously of the North American Hockey League had been attempting to get into the BCHL since 2012. On June 1, 2015 it was announced that they would be joining for the 2015-16 season, marking the league's return to the US after a twenty-year absence.
|Alberni Valley Bulldogs||Port Alberni, British Columbia||Weyerhaeuser Arena||1998|
|Cowichan Valley Capitals||Duncan, British Columbia||Island Savings Centre||1980|
|Nanaimo Clippers||Nanaimo, British Columbia||Frank Crane Arena||1972|
|Victoria Grizzlies||Victoria, British Columbia||The Q Centre||1967|
|Powell River Kings||Powell River, British Columbia||Hap Parker Arena||1988|
|Chilliwack Chiefs||Chilliwack, British Columbia||Prospera Centre||1996|
|Coquitlam Express||Coquitlam, British Columbia||Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex||2001|
|Langley Rivermen||Langley, British Columbia||George Preston Recreation Centre||1990|
|Prince George Spruce Kings||Prince George, British Columbia||Prince George Coliseum||1972|
|Surrey Eagles||Surrey, British Columbia||South Surrey Arena||1976|
|Merritt Centennials||Merritt, British Columbia||Nicola Valley Memorial Arena||1961|
|Penticton Vees||Penticton, British Columbia||South Okanagan Events Centre||1961|
|Salmon Arm Silverbacks||Salmon Arm, British Columbia||Shaw Centre||2001|
|Trail Smoke Eaters||Trail, British Columbia||Cominco Arena||1987|
|Vernon Vipers||Vernon, British Columbia||Kal Tire Place||1961|
|Wenatchee Wild||Wenatchee, Washington||Town Toyota Center||2015|
|West Kelowna Warriors||West Kelowna, British Columbia||Royal Lepage Place||1994|
The Royal Bank Cup has been captured by a BCHL team nine times since the trophy's founding:
Please note: In chart, league champions are bolded.
|Year||League champion||League runner-up|
|Memorial Cup era|
|1962||Kamloops Rockets||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1963||Kamloops Rockets||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1964||Kamloops Rockets||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1965||Kelowna Buckaroos||Kamloops Kraft Kings|
|1966||Kamloops Kraft Kings||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1967||Penticton Broncos||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1968||Penticton Broncos||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1969||Victoria Cougars||Penticton Broncos|
|1970||Vernon Essos||Victoria Cougars|
|1971||Kamloops Rockets||Vancouver Centennials|
|1972||Vernon Essos||Penticton Broncos|
|1973||Penticton Broncos||Chilliwack Bruins|
|1974||Kelowna Buckaroos||Langley Lords|
|1975||Bellingham Blazers||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1976||Nanaimo Clippers||Penticton Vees|
|1977||Nanaimo Clippers||Penticton Vees|
|1978||Merritt Centennials||Penticton Vees|
|1979||Bellingham Blazers||Kamloops Rockets|
|1980||Penticton Knights||Nanaimo Clippers|
|1981||Penticton Knights||Abbotsford Flyers|
|1982||Penticton Knights||New Westminster Royals|
|1983||Abbotsford Flyers||Kelowna Buckaroos|
|1984||Langley Eagles||Penticton Knights|
|1985||Penticton Knights||Burnaby Blue Hawks|
|1986||Penticton Knights||Richmond Sockeyes|
|1987||Richmond Sockeyes||Kelowna Packers|
|1988||Vernon Lakers||Richmond Sockeyes|
|1989||Vernon Lakers||New Westminster Royals|
|1990||New Westminster Royals||Vernon Lakers|
|1991||Vernon Lakers||Powell River Paper Kings|
|1992||Vernon Lakers||Bellingham Ice Hawks|
|1993||Kelowna Spartans||Powell River Paper Kings|
|1994||Kelowna Spartans||Cowichan Valley Capitals|
|1995||Chilliwack Chiefs||Powell River Paper Kings|
|1996||Vernon Vipers||Langley Thunder|
|1997||South Surrey Eagles||Vernon Vipers|
|1998||South Surrey Eagles||Penticton Panthers|
|1999||Vernon Vipers||Chilliwack Chiefs|
|2000||Chilliwack Chiefs||Vernon Vipers|
|2001||Victoria Salsa||Merritt Centennials|
|2002||Chilliwack Chiefs||Vernon Vipers|
|2003||Vernon Vipers||Chilliwack Chiefs|
|2004||Nanaimo Clippers||Salmon Arm Silverbacks|
|2005||Surrey Eagles||Vernon Vipers|
|2006||Burnaby Express||Penticton Vees|
|2007||Nanaimo Clippers||Vernon Vipers|
|2008||Penticton Vees||Nanaimo Clippers|
|2009||Vernon Vipers||Powell River Kings|
|2010||Vernon Vipers||Powell River Kings|
|2011||Vernon Vipers||Powell River Kings|
|2012||Penticton Vees||Powell River Kings|
|2013||Surrey Eagles||Penticton Vees|
|2014||Coquitlam Express||Vernon Vipers|
|2015||Penticton Vees||Nanaimo Clippers|
|2016||West Kelowna Warriors||Chilliwack Chiefs|
|2017||Penticton Vees||Chilliwack Chiefs|
|2018||Wenatchee Wild||Prince George Spruce Kings|
For 2017, the top four teams from the Island and Mainland divisions advance to the playoffs, along with the top six Inland division teams, with a chance for the 5th place Mainland division team to take the spot of the 6th place Inland team if they finish higher in the regular season standings. The post-season consists of four rounds, all consisting of a series of best-of-seven games, and the top two teams in the Inland division receive a bye to the second round. The team that wins the Fred Page Cup championship advances to the 2017 Western Canada Cup in Pentiction, British Columbia.
See 2016–17 BCHL season for detailed playoff results.