The West Coast League’s northern push will hold off a year.
Longtime WCL club the Victoria HarbourCats, along with three Canadian teams set to debut this summer — Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws, and Nanaimo NightOwls — have joined the Kelowna Falcons in the decision to withdraw from league play. The five teams plan to play in 2022.
“We’re definitely disappointed to not begin play in 2021,” Jon Pankuch, a member of the NorthPaws’ ownership group, said in a league release, “but we’re still ecstatic about bringing the NorthPaws and the West Coast League to Kamloops. The pandemic has stalled us from starting, but it hasn’t deterred us.”
The moves follow the announcement late last month that the 10 U.S.-based teams — including the Yakima Valley Pippins — won’t be traveling across the border this regular season because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 48-game schedule also will replace the initially announced 54-game schedule.
The Pippins were scheduled to open the 2021 season June 4 by hosting the Kamloops NorthPaws.
COVID-19 regulations forced the league to cancel its 2020 season on June 5, the day the Pippins were supposed to begin play.