The lone American team in a junior B hockey league based in British Columbia is pulling out of the upcoming season because it can’t find enough players vaccinated against COVID-19 to fill its roster.
Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced last week that the Spokane Braves will not participate in its 2022-23 season.
Commissioner Jeff Dubois said in a statement that the Braves found it challenging to fill a roster “despite their best efforts,” and will miss what would have been the franchise’s 50th anniversary season.
Dubois said the Braves will be welcomed to rejoin the league when able to do so.
Canadian COVID-19 protocols require visitors to be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country. Canadian players on the league’s 19 B.C.-based teams would also have to be vaccinated to enter the United States for road games in Spokane.
The league said it will go on with 19 teams this season, and teams that were scheduled to face the Chiefs will make up those games against other opponents.