Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a Junior A ice hockey league under Hockey Canada, a part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Open to North American-born players 20 years of age or younger, the SJHL's 12 teams play in three divisions: the Olympic Buildings, Sherwood and Viterra Divisions. A major attraction in Saskatchewan, the SJHL draws 400,000 fans each season. The winner of the SJHL playoffs continues on to play in the ANAVET Cup against the champion from the MJHL, for the right to represent the Western region at the Centennial Cup, the national Junior A championship.
|Formerly||Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League (1968-1973)|
|No. of teams||12|
|Battlefords North Stars (3rd)|
|Most titles||Humboldt Broncos (10)|
The SJHL was formed in July 1968 as a result of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) splitting away from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) and affiliating with the rival Canadian Hockey Association led by Ron Butlin. CAHA president Lloyd Pollock helped to set up meetings across Western Canada to outline the CAHA's development plan for teams which had remained within the CAHA. Later that month, he approved a series of exhibition games for teams in the Ontario Hockey Association to play the Regina Pats and Weyburn Red Wings, after Regina and Weyburn had asked for assistance in forming a new Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Pollock also laid out plans to make player transfers easier between provinces to support the Saskatchewan teams.
The league was originally known as the Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League until 1973. They re-adopted the "Amateur" in their name in 1980 and carried it until the 1987–88 season, when they dropped the "Amateur" again. They were one of the original Tier II Junior A leagues in the realignment of 1970. Their first two seasons they were eligible for the Memorial Cup.
Humboldt Broncos bus crashEdit
On April 6, 2018 the Humboldt Broncos team bus suffered a fatal crash on their way to the team's semi-final playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks. Ten players, two coaches, an athletic therapist, two employees of a local radio station, and the bus driver were killed in the collision. The remaining passengers were injured, some critically. The SJHL playoffs were postponed as a result (the Hawks were leading the series 3–1 and the Estevan Bruins waiting to play the winner in the finals). SJHL President Bill Chow called the incident the league's "worst nightmare".
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemicEdit
On March 13, 2020, pursuant to the suspension of all sanctioned activity by Hockey Canada and the CJHL due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remainder of the 2019–20 SJHL season and all associated championships were suspended until further notice. The league championship was not awarded.
The league resumed play for a 2020–21 season in November 2020, with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) allowing for limited in-person attendance (150 spectators). However, the Flin Flon Bombers were forced to suspend operations on November 12, 2020 until at least the new year, after Manitoba issued a "Code Red" circuit breaker that ordered the closure of non-essential businesses and recreational facilities. The team considered the possibility of conducting all hockey operations out of nearby Creighton, Saskatchewan, but were unable to reach agreements with the SHA and Manitoba Health that would allow them to resume operations. In turn, the SJHL was forced to suspend play on November 27, as Saskatchewan ordered the suspension of all group and team sports activities.
In February 2021, the league submitted a return-to-play proposal to the Saskatchewan government that would have involved as many as three hub cities. Despite other provinces such as Alberta having allowed their Junior A leagues to continue, Saskatchewan continued to maintain its prohibitions on sport. The SJHL and its teams have faced growing financial issues due to cancelled games and other events, prompting the provincial government to provide a $1 million relief package to be divided between its teams. On March 23, 2021, the SJHL announced that its return-to-play proposal had been rejected, citing concerns surrounding the current state of the pandemic in Saskatchewan. The SJHL therefore announced that the 2020–21 season had been cancelled and will not be resumed. The league championship was not awarded for the second season in a row.
|Estevan Bruins||Estevan, Saskatchewan||Affinity Place||1971|
|Melville Millionaires||Melville, Saskatchewan||Horizon Credit Union Centre||1970|
|Weyburn Red Wings||Weyburn, Saskatchewan||Crescent Point Place||1968|
|Yorkton Terriers||Yorkton, Saskatchewan||Farrell Agencies Arena||1972|
|Global Ag Risk Solutions Division|
|Battlefords North Stars||North Battleford, Saskatchewan||North Battleford Civic Centre||1973|
|Humboldt Broncos||Humboldt, Saskatchewan||Elgar Peterson Arena||1970|
|Kindersley Klippers||Kindersley, Saskatchewan||West Central Events Centre||1991|
|Notre Dame Hounds||Wilcox, Saskatchewan||Duncan McNeill Arena||1987|
|Flin Flon Bombers||Flin Flon, Manitoba||Whitney Forum||1984|
|La Ronge Ice Wolves||La Ronge, Saskatchewan||Mel Hegland Arena||1998|
|Melfort Mustangs||Melfort, Saskatchewan||Northern Lights Palace||1988|
|Nipawin Hawks||Nipawin, Saskatchewan||Centennial Arena||1985|
Timeline of teams in the SJHLEdit
- 2001-Lebret Eagles fold
- 1999-Saskatoon Rage fold
- 1998-La Ronge Ice Wolves join league
- 1998-Beardy's Rage relocate to Saskatoon and become Saskatoon Rage
- 1997-Minot Top Guns relocate to Beardy's 97 aboriginal reserve and become Beardy's Rage
- 1994-Minot Americans become Minot Top Guns
- 1993-Lebret Eagles join league
- 1993-Saskatoon Titans relocate to Kindersley and become the Kindersley Klippers
- 1991-Saskatoon Titans join league
- 1988-Melfort Mustangs join league
- 1988-Lloydminster Lancers leave league to join Alberta Junior Hockey League and become the Lloydminster Blazers
- 1987-Minot Americans join league
- 1987-Notre Dame Hounds rejoin league
- 1986-Nipawin Hawks join league
- 1986-Creighton Bombers become the Flin Flon Bombers
- 1986-Swift Current Indians fold to make way for the Western Hockey League franchise Swift Current Broncos
- 1984-Flin Flon Bombers rejoin league as Creighton Bombers
- 1984-Moose Jaw Canucks fold to make way for the Western Hockey League franchise Moose Jaw Warriors
- 1983-Battleford Barons become North Battleford Stars
- 1983-Swift Current Broncos become Swift Current Indians
- 1982-Regina Pat Blues and Saskatoon J's fold
- 1982-Lloydminster Lancers join league
- 1982-Prince Albert Raiders leave league to join Western Hockey League
- 1976-Notre Dame Hounds leave league
- 1974-Swift Current Broncos join league
- 1973-Battleford Barons join league
- 1972-Yorkton Terriers join league
- 1971-Prince Albert Raiders join league
- 1971-Estevan Bruins rejoin league
- 1970-Notre Dame Hounds join league
- 1970-Humboldt Broncos join league
- 1970-Melville Millionaires rejoin league
- 1970-Regina Pat Blues replace Regina Pats who join WCHL
- 1968-Moose Jaw Canucks, Weyburn Red Wings and Regina Pats rejoin league from WCJHL
- 1968-Current version of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is founded
Note: In the chart, league champions are bolded.
|Year||League Champion||League Runner-up|
|Hanbidge Cup (Memorial Cup Era)|
|1969||Regina Pats||Weyburn Red Wings|
|1970||Weyburn Red Wings||Regina Pats|
|Hanbidge Cup (Centennial Cup Era)|
|1971||Weyburn Red Wings||Humboldt Broncos|
|1972||Humboldt Broncos||Melville Millionaires|
|1973||Humboldt Broncos||Estevan Bruins|
|1974||Prince Albert Raiders||Estevan Bruins|
|1975||Swift Current Broncos||Prince Albert Raiders|
|1976||Prince Albert Raiders||Weyburn Red Wings|
|1977||Prince Albert Raiders||Melville Millionaires|
|1978||Prince Albert Raiders||Moose Jaw Canucks|
|1979||Prince Albert Raiders||Moose Jaw Canucks|
|1980||Prince Albert Raiders||Moose Jaw Canucks|
|1981||Prince Albert Raiders||Moose Jaw Canucks|
|1982||Prince Albert Raiders||Yorkton Terriers|
|1983||Yorkton Terriers||Weyburn Red Wings|
|1984||Weyburn Red Wings||Yorkton Terriers|
|1985||Estevan Bruins||Weyburn Red Wings|
|1986||Humboldt Broncos||Estevan Bruins|
|1987||Humboldt Broncos||Lloydminster Lancers|
|1988||Notre Dame Hounds||Yorkton Terriers|
|1989||Humboldt Broncos||Nipawin Hawks|
|1990||Nipawin Hawks||Yorkton Terriers|
|1991||Yorkton Terriers||Humboldt Broncos|
|1992||Melfort Mustangs||Estevan Bruins|
|1993||Flin Flon Bombers||Melville Millionaires|
|1994||Weyburn Red Wings||Melfort Mustangs|
|1995||Weyburn Red Wings||North Battleford Stars|
|1996||Melfort Mustangs||Yorkton Terriers|
|1997||Weyburn Red Wings||North Battleford Stars|
|1998||Weyburn Red Wings||Nipawin Hawks|
|1999||Estevan Bruins||Humboldt Broncos|
|2000||Battlefords North Stars||Weyburn Red Wings|
|2001||Weyburn Red Wings||Nipawin Hawks|
|2002||Kindersley Klippers||Humboldt Broncos|
|2003||Humboldt Broncos||Melville Millionaires|
|2004||Kindersley Klippers||Weyburn Red Wings|
|2005||Yorkton Terriers||Battlefords North Stars|
|2006||Yorkton Terriers||Battlefords North Stars|
|2007||Humboldt Broncos||Melville Millionaires|
|2008||Humboldt Broncos||Kindersley Klippers|
|2009||Humboldt Broncos||Melville Millionaires|
|Credit Union Cup|
|2010||La Ronge Ice Wolves||Yorkton Terriers|
|2011||La Ronge Ice Wolves||Yorkton Terriers|
|2012||Humboldt Broncos||Weyburn Red Wings|
|2013||Yorkton Terriers||Humboldt Broncos|
|2014||Yorkton Terriers||Melville Millionaires|
|2015||Melfort Mustangs||Notre Dame Hounds|
|2016||Melfort Mustangs||Flin Flon Bombers|
|2017||Battlefords North Stars||Flin Flon Bombers|
|2018||Nipawin Hawks||Estevan Bruins|
|2019||Battlefords North Stars||Melfort Mustangs|
|2020||Not awarded due to COVID-19 pandemic|
|2021||Not awarded due to COVID-19 pandemic|
Former member teamsEdit
In January 2019, the league announced a broadcasting deal with SaskTel, under which a game will be carried on its television service per-month for the remainder of the season, as well as coverage of the league final.
- "CAHA, Juniors Meet Sunday". Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Manitoba. July 5, 1968. p. 19.
- "CAHA Gives Special Concessions To West". Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Manitoba. July 13, 1968. p. 49.
- "15 dead in Canadian junior hockey bus crash". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
- "CJHL announces cancellation of 2020 season, until further notice, due to COVID-19 pandemic". SJHL.ca. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- "Sask. Junior Hockey League to continue coronavirus-shortened playoffs via video game simulation". CBC News. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- "The SJHL playoffs suspended following directive from Hockey Canada". Regina. 2020-03-12. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- "'Every team is in a tough spot': SJHL facing financial uncertainty as return to play talks continue". CTV News Regina. 2021-03-03. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- "SJHL season paused until 2021 due to COVID-19". Global News. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
- "Flin Flon Bombers pause season as Manitoba enters code red". CTV News Winnipeg. 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- Westhaver, Eric. "Bombers to pause play, postpone games until New Year: SJHL". Flin Flon Reminder. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- "Coronavirus: New Saskatchewan public health measures for restaurants, sports teams". Global News. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
- "Sask.'s COVID-19 restrictions to remain until March 19". CTV News Regina. 2021-02-16. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
- "Sask. provides $4M to support WHL, SJHL". Regina. 2021-01-15. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
- "SJHL return to play proposal denied by province". CTV News Regina. 2021-03-23. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
- "Humboldt Broncos Home Opener to air live on TSN and CTV Saskatchewan". TSN.ca. 2018-06-22. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
- "In wake of tragic bus crash, the Humboldt Broncos' opener will be broadcast across North America". Awful Announcing. 2018-09-12. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
- Cairns, John. "SJHL coming to SaskTel Max TV". Battlefords News-Optimist. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
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