The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced a new regional playoff format Monday, changing the postseason landscape for teams in the four western provinces.
Starting in 2013, the BCHL, AJHL (Alberta), SJHL (Saskatchewan) and MJHL (Manitoba) will move to a five-team tournament format, crowning the first ever Western Canadian champion.
The Western Canadian Championship will include a host team (Nanaimo Clippers in 2013) and the champion from each of the four leagues. The 13-game tournament will include a round-robin schedule followed by two semifinal games and a championship game.
The Western Canadian Champion and runner-up will both represent the region at the RBC Cup National Junior A Championship.
“The new championship format will create a tremendous opportunity to showcase our players, teams and communities and is yet another example of the strengthening relationship among Junior A leagues in Canada,” said CJHL chairman Kirk Lamb in a news release. “I commend the four western leagues on partnering together in the development of this initiative.”
The 2013 Western Canadian Championship will be held April 26 to May 5 and Nanaimo Clippers owner Ken Wagner is happy to host the inaugural tourney during the team’s 40th anniversary season.
“Hosting the Western Canadian Championship in conjunction with our 40th anniversary is a great way for the team and community to celebrate,” he said. “I believe the Clippers are a flagship franchise in the CJHL and it is a true honour to be selected as the host city for the first-time event. Nanaimo offers the ultimate in hospitality, beautiful scenery and a strong volunteer base, which will result in a successful experience for everyone involved.”
Following 2013, the tournament site will rotate to the MJHL (2014), AJHL (2015) and SJHL (2016).
A Site Selection Committee will be responsible for selecting a host team annually, based upon the recommendation of the host league.