CCHL Showcase

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CCHL showcase – Four leagues, 15 games, three days

The Central Canada Hockey League – well, actually, junior A hockey in general – is always looking for ways to reinvent itself.

In 2006, the world junior A challenge was created and modelled after the wildly successful world junior hockey championship, which began Boxing Day in Alberta.

At about the same time, the CCHL introduced it seasonopening showcase during which all 12 league teams play two regular-season games at the same venue over a threeday period. The idea is to kickstart interest in the league and provide one-stop shopping for recruiters from U.S. and Canadian universities.

Soon after, the league came up with the "holiday" showcase, a similar idea, but played in mid-December to give those same college scouts and coaches a chance to see the players after a few months of play and polish.

Now the ante has been upped again. Today at the new Bear’s Den arena in Smiths Falls, all-star teams from the CCHL’s two divisions – the Robinson and Yzerman – face off in the inaugural game of what’s being called the Central Canada All-Star Challenge.

The eight-team event, conceived earlier this year, will feature squads of all-stars from four leagues – four from the Toronto-area Ontario Junior Hockey League, one each from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and League de Hockey Junior AAA du Quebec, plus the two CCHL teams.

"We talked with the other leagues to try to come up with a way to revamp the traditional all-star format," says CCHL president Kevin Abrams, explaining that the model was a so-called Battle of Ontario game from years ago that featured a CCHL team against one from the OJHL.

"We took it from there and tried to find a way to make it broader and to have more teams from more leagues."

The teams are split into two divisions and will play a round-robin format over two days. But there will be a twist: each game will be made up of two 20-minute halves instead of three periods. On Thursday, there will be two semifinal games, each with two halves, and then a regulation three-period final to award the first championship.

The format is a bit of a work in progress, Abrams concedes. "We decided to go with the shortened games so we could accommodate more teams, but also not make it longer than the three days, " he says. "We’ll look at it afterward and see where to go from here, but hopefully it will be an annual event."

Pembroke Lumber Kings coach Sheldon Keefe will guide the Robinson Division while the Yzerman Division has Ian MacInnis of the Cornwall Colts as its head coach.

"I think it’s a great idea and a great event to be a part of," says MacInnis. "We’ll both (he and Keefe) be going in to win – hopefully. That’s my plan."

Players from the CCHL who have committed to NCAA schools for next season and those who played in the world junior A challenge in the fall automatically made the league all-star teams. The remainder of the rosters are filled with the best from the league so far this season. Teams are also allowed no more than five 20-year olds.

Games start at 12: 30 all three days. Six games are scheduled for today and Wednesday. Thursday will have two semifinal games and the championship game, along with an all-star game between the CCHL’s top 16-year olds.

Darren Desaulniers

AROUND THE LEAGUE

After a week off, the CCHL season starts up again on Friday with two games. Kemptville is in Brockville and Carleton Place will be in Pembroke.

Contact Darren Desaulniers at darrendes@rogers.com.

TOURNAMENT GAMES

TODAY

12: 30: QJAAAHL vs. OJHL East

2: 15: OJHL South vs. CCHL Robinson

4: 00: OJHL West vs. NOJHL

5: 45: OJHL North vs. CCHL Yzerman

7: 30: OJHL East vs. OJHL South

9: 15: CCHL Robinson vs. QJAAAHL

WEDNESDAY

12: 30: OJHL North vs. OJHL West

2: 15: CCHL Yzerman vs. NOJHL

4: 00: OJHL East vs. CCHL Robinson

5: 45: QJAAAHL vs. OJHL South

7: 30: OJHL West vs. CCHL Yzerman

9: 15: NOJHL vs. OJHL North

THURSDAY

12: 30: Second Group B vs. first Group A

2: 30: Second Group A vs. first Group B

4: 30: Yzerman 95s vs. Robinson 95s

7: 00: Championship final

Ticket prices: Adult, $20, senior/student, $10, under 13, $5, after 6 p.m., adult, $15, others, $5. On Thursday, the price reductions on tickets will go into effect after 4 p.m.

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