Canadian Junior B National Championship


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Canadian Junior B National Championship? December 12, 2012 8:04 AM

The Sutherland Cup could be just another step in the quest for something bigger in the next year or two. For those south of the border, the Sutherland Cup is theCup presented to the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Champion, and used to be presented after inter league Ontario Junior B Hockey playoffs.

The Sutherland Cup, and other league championships claimed throughout Canada may soon be the starting point of laying claim to a Canadian Junior B National Chapionship.

Plans are in motion to create a national junior B tournament that would crown a Canadian champion as soon as the 2015-16 season.

Hockey Canada has already developed a working committee to explore logistics like financing, sponsorships and timing.

The Chapionship series would be similar to other Hockey Canada events like the Telus and RBC cups.

Hockey Canada has pledged $50,000 to the event, which would likely include four regional winners and a host.

A motion was passed at the Hockey Canada fall council meeting to explore a national tournament, and a junior B working group committee was created.

Its job has been identifying issues like finance, sponsorships and budget while using existing national tournaments like the RBC and Telus cups as a guideline. With a target date just over two years from now, much work needs to be done.

John Kastner, the Ontario Hockey Association junior chair who is also part of the junior B committee, said he doesn’t believe logistics, financing or timing will be a problem. The main issue will be ensuring a competitive balance between junior B leagues across Canada. Hockey Canada would rely on scouts to help determine if a competitive tournament is worth the time and money. Regional championships would leave four teams and a host.

There are 26 teams in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League and 15 junior B leagues throughout the country. Quebec alone has 125 teams.

The junior B working group will continue to engage teams in advance of its report at the Hockey Canada annual general meeting in Prince Edward Island in May.

Junior B leagues throughout Canada are said to be in support of the idea. More than 200 junior teams competing for a National Championship sounds like a daunting challenge, yet exciting idea. Giving players more to play for and opening the doors to additional scouting by higher level leagues is never a bad thing.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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