(Burnaby) The British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) has cut ties with Hockey Canada, a move that will give players under the age of 18 more options to continue their development at the American college level, according to the league.

The BCHL is a Junior A level league with 17 teams in British Columbia and one in Washington State. It said in a statement that it will operate in a system operated outside of Hockey Canada starting June 1.

This decision will allow BCHL teams to recruit 16- and 17-year-old players from other provinces in the country, which is currently prohibited by Hockey Canada rules.

The league believes this will allow players playing in a province where there are no competitive options at the Junior A level to stay in Canada while remaining eligible to play in the NCAA.

According to Hockey Canada rules, a player wishing to play at the Junior A level must do so in his home province.

This rule does not affect teams at the major junior level, which are under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Hockey League, since players playing in this league are not eligible to play in the NCAA. The NCAA treats the Canadian Hockey League as a professional league since it has players in its ranks who have signed contracts with NHL teams.