Nine CJHL champions in 10 teams vying for national title in Estevan
We now know the identity of the teams that will compete in the National Junior A Championship of Canada.
An unprecedented ten teams have confirmed their tickets to the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, where the Pickering Panthers inherited the last available spot thanks to their victory against Toronto Jr. Canadiens in game noh 7 of the Ontario Junior Hockey League on Sunday night.
The champions of nine Canadian Junior Hockey League leagues will face off in Estevan, Sask., With the sole goal of winning the national title on May 29th.
Here are the competing teams …
HOST TEAM – ESTEVAN BRUINS
The team that will host the best teams in the country is the SJHL champion team. Estevan outscored Humboldt by just one point in the regular season before diving into the playoff run where he lost just four times in 16 games. Three of those losses came in the SJHL Finals, an intense seven -game series against Flin Flon. The Bruins are built to play at 200 feet: they are the team in the league that has scored the most goals (262) and allowed the fewest (124).
Recent history has favored the Bruins: the last five host teams have reached the Finals, and four of them (including the last three, Cobourg, Chilliwack and Brooks) have won national titles at home.
ALBERTA JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – BROOKS BANDITS
The champions are back (again) … The Bandits continued their dynasty by winning their sixth AJHL title and securing their fifth national appearance in the tournament since 2012. With 52 wins in 60 regular season game, Brooks is tied for the third best record in league history (he also holds the top two spots). In the playoffs, he swept Canmore and Okotoks before beating Spruce Grove in five games in the AJHL Finals.
Three years after capturing the national title in front of their fans, the Bandits will be looking to become only the fourth team to win a consecutive championship and the first since Vernon Vipers in 2009 and 2010.
CENTRAL CANADA HOCKEY LEAGUE – JR. OTTAWA SENATORS
They are back! The Jr. Senators earned their third appearance at Canada’s National Junior A Championship in multiple attempts with dominant performance at CCHL. With the league’s best regular season record (11 points ahead of any other team), Ottawa caused havoc in the playoffs, losing only once in 13 games and ending the round by sweeping Hawkesbury in four game to win his sixth CCHL title.
The Jr. Senators are the first team to qualify for three consecutive national tournaments since their CCHL rivals, the Carleton Place Canadians, took over from 2014-2016. in the final, losing by a single goal in the semi-finals against the host team in 2018 (Chilliwack) and in 2019 (Brooks).
QUEBEC JUNIOR AAA HOCKEY LEAGUE – FRENCH COLLEGE OF LONGUEUIL
Another year, another championship for Collège Français, which won the LHJAAAQ title for the sixth time since 2011. After posting the league’s best record in the regular season (34-4-3), Longueuil needed to face difficulty in the first round of the playoffs, found themselves in a 2-1 deficit against the neglected Inouk de Granby. However, Collège Français bounced back and won 11 of its next 13 playoff games to earn a place in the national championship.
This is only the fifth appearance of a Quebec team in the national championship since 2000. In 1990, the Longueuil team, then called the Sieurs, won the league championship and the regional title before reaching the semi-finals of Centenary Cup.
MANITOBA JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – DOLPHIN KINGS
For most of the season, the Pistons snatched the show from the Kings, who finished second in wins, goals for, goals against and shorthanded. However, Dauphin was able to dominate Steinbach when it mattered most: the team defeated their rivals in the MJHL Finals in a tough seven -game series, in which the teams shared the victories. Brayden Dube was the hero in the final game, rocking the ropes with 8:27 left to give the Kings a 2-1 win and their ticket to Estevan.
This is the third time the Kings have advanced to Canada’s National Junior A Championship; in both 2010 (when they were the host team) and 2014, they finished at the top of the standings in the preliminary round, but lost in the semis.
MARITIME HOCKEY LEAGUE – WESTERN CAPITAL OF SUMMERSIDE
Western Capitals has risen in the MHL all season, losing only four regulatory losses in 38 regular season games and losing only twice – in overtime – in the playoffs. playoffs. The reasons for this dominance are multiple: in 38 games, Summerside scored 206 goals (50 more than any other MHL team), allowed only 101 and posted a 32.6% save rate. in power play.
The 1997 national champions will make their fifth appearance in the tournament, but this is the second time they have played it away from their arena. Western Capitals reached the finals in 1989, 1997 and 2013 (at home) and finished fifth in 2009.
NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – SOO THUNDERBIRDS
The Thunderbirds got their ticket to Estevan via a hockey breakthrough: they came from behind after falling 3-0 in the NOJHL Finals series against Hearst, whom they defeated in overtime in six and seven games. Not surprisingly, however, Soo’s team was crowned champion in Northern Ontario. In fact, the troupe has the best record in the league in the regular season, and they swept Blind River and the Soo Eagles without losing a game in the first two rounds.
This will be the third appearance at Canada’s National Junior A Championship for the Thunderbirds, who lost the semifinals in 2012 in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, and were knocked out of the playoffs in 2015 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – PICKERING PANTHERS
The wait is long, but the Panthers will finally be able to compete for top honors on the Junior A Tour. Pickering had the best regular season in history, finishing just one point behind Toronto Jr. Canadiens then enacted the first three rounds of the playoffs, sweeping Stouffville, Collingwood and Milton. The squad then defeated Jr. Canadiens in Game 7 of the OJHL Finals, earning their ticket to Estevan.
The Panthers will try to end the long drought with CJHL’s biggest league champions. In fact, no OJHL champion team has won Canada’s National Junior A Championship since the Aurora Tigers in 2007.
SASKATCHEWAN JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – FLIN FLON BOMBERS
The Bombers are the only team in Estevan that won’t be champions, but they shouldn’t be underestimated. Despite a difficult end to the season with three wins in its last 12 games, Flin Flon recovered at the right time, knocking Battlefords out in the first round of the playoffs despite two losses raising the curtain. The team went on to beat Humboldt in five games before losing to Estevan in an epic seven -game SJHL Finals encounter.
Few teams have a history similar to the Bombers, which have existed since 1939 and played in many leagues. The current incarnation of the team, born in 1984, participated in the national championship in 1993 and in 2001 (as hosts).
INTERNATIONAL SUPERIOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – RED LAKE MINERS
Due to cancellations due to COVID-19, the Miners were limited to 37 games in the regular season, but the lack of action didn’t seem to hurt their playoff run. After finishing the season with a second-best points percentage at SIJHL, Red Lake outscored the Dryden Ice Dogs in six games in the semifinals and then won its first three games against Kam River Fighting Walleye. Ultimately, the team won its first SIJHL title in six games.
The Miners were the second SIJHL team to compete in the national championship. Fort William North Stars reached the semi-finals in 2006.