BC Hockey will welcome a new high-performance team this spring.
On Oct. 23, the organization introduced a new U15 program and a restructuring of its U16 program. In a release, BC Hockey explained the changes were necessary because Hockey Canada was moving the U17 program to its jurisdiction.
The first run of the U15 program will be in April, when regional camps open across the province. Any player eligible to attend one of BC Hockey's provincial championships in Tiers 1 through 4 will be eligible to attend one of the regional camps. From there, the top 160 players will be selected to take part in a provincial tournament in May. More details on the regional camps will be released at a later date.
Meanwhile, there will no longer be regional camps for the U16 program, as players will be evaluated with their club teams. The top 120 players will take part in the Male U16 BC Cup, and from there, players will be invited to the Male U16 Provincial Camp in July.
In terms of the U17 approach, players in the running for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will be invited to a national camp over the summer. It's part of a major change for Hockey Canada, which had traditionally sent five regional teams to the tournament. This year, Canada is entering three teams with no regional divisions for the tournament, which runs in Sarnia and Lambton, Ont. from Nov. 2 to 8.
Whistler Minor Hockey Association administrator Sandi Wentzel said in an email the changes won't make any difference.
"These changes only refer to the U16 High Performance program, which takes the top U16 players in each zone and makes up a High Performance rep team," Wentzel noted. "No impact on WMHA."
RPM/Pacific Rim Hockey Academy founder Craig Millin, whose company runs the Whistler Secondary Hockey Academy and the Howe Sound Hockey Academy, said the changes won't affect his approach, as BC Hockey programs run outside school hours.
For more information, visit www.bchockey.net.