The Summerland Steam will play their first exhibition game of the season on Friday, Oct. 23. Unlike previous years, there will be no spectators allowed in the stands this year in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
(Brennan Phillips - Black Press Media)

The Summerland Steam will play their first exhibition game of the season on Friday, Oct. 23. Unlike previous years, there will be no spectators allowed in the stands this year in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brennan Phillips - Black Press Media)

Junior B hockey teams to play in empty arenas

Summerland Steam and other teams affected by recommendation to close facilities to fans

The Summerland Steam and other junior hockey teams will play in empty arenas in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The B.C. Recreation and Parks Association, working with viaSport, BC Hockey and the Recreation Facilities Association of B.C., will focus on the safe return of sport activities in the province.

At this time, and for the remainder of 2020, the association is recommending municipalities focus on supporting event participants until facility protocols and sport user groups can be established to accommodate spectators.

Nick Deschenes, coach of the Summerland Steam, said the regulation change will affect Junior B players as they begin their exhibition season.

READ ALSO: Spectators no longer allowed at B.C. indoor sporting facilities

READ ALSO: Kootenay International Junior Hockey League to begin season Nov. 13

“It’s going to be a bit strange not to have anyone in the building,” he said.

In order to conform with COVID-19 regulations, the arena will be limited to players, coaches, officials, scorekeepers and official videographers.

The Steam’s first exhibition game of the season will be on Friday, Oct. 23, against the Kelowna Chiefs. The game at the Rutland Arena begins at 7 p.m.

Deschenes said the game will serve as a test for the teams as they adjust to playing without fans present.

This year, the Steam has four returning players and six who have been on junior level hockey teams in the past.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s regular season begins Friday, Nov. 13.

The Summerland Steam’s first home game is on Sunday, Nov. 15, against the Princeton Posse.

The regular season will be shorter than in previous years, with teams playing 30 games in the regular season.

In March, when COVID-19 restrictions were first being introduced in Canada, the Junior B hockey league cancelled its playoff season.

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