SIJHL Announces National Championship 2022 Structure

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THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – The Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL), in conjunction with HOCKEY CANADA and the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) is announcing a revised format for the Centennial Cup national championship tournament and the qualification requirements for entry into the tournament. 

The Centennial Cup (previously referred to as the RBC Cup), is emblematic of Canadian hockey supremacy at the Junior A level. 

The 2022 edition of the tournament – set to begin on March 19th in Estevan, Saskatchewan (SJHL) – will now feature the playoff champions of all 9 CJHL member leagues, plus the host Estevan Bruins of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. 

As a result, traditional CJHL regional championships – including the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, previously scheduled to be hosted by the Red Lake Miners (SIJHL) – will not be contested this season. 

“After having to cancel our spring national championships in 2020 and 2021, we are excited that today’s announcement is one step closer to crowning national champions in May,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of events and properties for Hockey Canada. 

The change was necessitated largely as a result of the January pause to schedules that occurred in Ontario as well as challenges the eastern leagues endured with their schedule as a result of public health restrictions. With the lost time, and leagues prioritizing completion of their own regular season and full playoff schedules, multiple leagues were indicating the impossibility of finishing their playoffs in time to send a champion to the various CJHL regionals. 

“We just weren’t sure what the traditional format would look like in this environment,” said SIJHL Commissioner Darrin Nicholas. “With leagues giving indications they weren’t going to be able to participate in regionals this season as a result in the delays in completing their schedules, I think the CJHL board recognized it needed to find a way to relieve some pressure and uncertainty from the host committees.” 

Nicholas continued: “Mr. McIntosh sort of floated the idea for a 10-team Centennial Cup as an alternative in front of the CJHL almost as an afterthought, but it quickly caught our attention. After some discussions with the Estevan host committee, they were receptive to the idea and it just grew from there, finally getting Hockey Canada approval late last week.” 

Of the Red Lake Miners’ efforts to host the 2022 Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Nicholas had this to say: “If there’s one disappointment to come from this, the postponement of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup in Red Lake is it. They’re a proud community and were looking forward to showcasing it by hosting such a prestigious event. The fact that they even stepped up to tackle an event of this magnitude still in the throes of the pandemic speaks volumes about the type of people involved and their belief in Red Lake. The whole host committee is owed a debt of gratitude for the work they’ve put in to try and make this a reality.” 

As of now, there is no plan for a 10-team national championship beyond this year, and Red Lake would have the first right-of-refusal to host a rescheduled Dudley-Hewitt Cup in May of 2023. 

“Certainly, there’s a hypothesis that a 10-team Centennial Cup may be amongst the best events in all of hockey,” Nicholas explained. “Having said that, we did not feel comfortable committing to this format long-term, until we had a chance to experience it and evaluate it. So, Estevan 2022 will be a bit of an experiment, and we’ll use it to quickly determine if this is something we’d like to see continue beyond this season or whether the regional format is preferred.” 

Schedules and ticket information for the spring 2022 national championships will be announced at a later date. 

The 2022 SIJHL playoffs are set to begin on Tuesday March 29th.

Stay tuned for schedule announcements. 

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