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NOJHL champion to compete in Centennial Cup

SUDBURY, Ont. –  In lieu of the announcement made by Hockey Canada today, regarding its spring championships, this season’s Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff champion will advance directly to compete in the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, May 19-29, in Estevan, Sask.

In fact, the decision was made that all nine Canadian Junior Hockey League winners will take part at the 10-team event, joining the host Estevan Bruins (SJHL), as participants.

With the news, it was also determined there will be no CJHL regional championships held this season, including the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, which was to be hosted by the Red Lake Miners (SIJHL), May 10-14.

“Today’s announcement is a boon for the NOJHL, and for each of the eight leagues that comprise the Canadian Junior Hockey League,” stated league commissioner Robert Mazzuca.

“After having the previous two Centennial Cups cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this will give each league winner a tremendous opportunity to play for a national championship, added Mazzuca, who also serves as chairman of the CJHL.

“While it is disappointing that the NOJHL, OJHL and SIJHL will not vie for the Dudley-Hewitt Cup for a third straight year, we understand the logistics involved in having a 10-team Centennial Cup in Estevan required some adjustments to the overall operational plan.”

“I’d like to commend Hockey Canada, my fellow league commissioners within the CJHL, all of our teams in the NOJHL, as well as the host committee in Estevan for their due diligence, incredible efforts and contributions in putting all of this together. All of which was handled in under less than ideal circumstances, especially when considering what everyone has been through these past two years in dealing with COVID-19,” provided Mazzuca.

The Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian Jr. A championship in Summerside, P.E.I., will also not be held, nor will the ANAVET Cup, which would have decided the Centennial Cup representative between the winners of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Meanwhile the Alberta Junior Hockey League title holder would have received an automatic berth to the national event and would have been awarded the Doyle Cup.

The last time a NOJHL team competed for a national Jr. A championship was the 2014-15 Soo Thunderbirds, who captured the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A crown in Fort Frances, Ont.

The Thunderbirds also advanced to the nationals in 2012 as well after winning the DHC that year.

Prior to that, the then Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats made three trips to the Canadian championship, back in 1997, 2000 and 2002.

“With each of our playoff-bound clubs knowing what’s at stake with that automatic trip to the Centennial Cup on the line for the NOJHL champion, it should make for a great upcoming postseason,” summarized Mazzuca.

Further information, including the NOJHL’s 2022 playoff format and timeline, will be announced by the league in the coming days.