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KIJHL remains committed to Hockey Canada, BC Hockey

Lone Sheep Publishing
By Lone Sheep Publishing
April 30th, 2024

The British Columbia Hockey Conference (BCHC) and its members, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) and the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL), remain committed to being sanctioned members of Hockey Canada and BC Hockey and work together to offer the best development pathway for players — and especially B.C. athletes — who are seeking opportunities to compete within the scope of sanctioned junior hockey.

The announcement comes after the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League said the teams will no longer operate under the sanctioning of Hockey Canada and BC Hockey and will instead move forward as an independent Junior B-style feeder program to higher non-sanctioned leagues.

“The BCHC and its member leagues are fully committed to operating under the Hockey Canada and BC Hockey umbrella,” says KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois in a statement on the KIJHL website.

“Over the past year, we have been making the necessary efforts and investments to elevate to the Junior A level, with the ultimate goal of providing our players with a pathway to compete in the Centennial Cup, Canada’s national Junior A championship.”

In 2022, the KIJHL and PJHL formed the BCHC to advance their level of junior hockey in B.C. and provide enhanced opportunities for athletes. BCHC initiatives over the past two seasons have included the creation of a Department of Player Safety and the establishment of a Top Prospects Game, which has directly led to three recent participants signing in the Western Hockey League.

“The BCHC, the PJHL and the KIJHL are well-established and provide exceptional value to our participants, fans and sponsors,” says PJHL commissioner Trevor Alto.

“We look forward to this reputation being further solidified as the impact of today’s announcement is felt throughout the sanctioned Junior A landscape in our province.”

While the KIJHL, PJHL and VIJHL have traditionally been designated at the same level of junior hockey, it is important that players, families, and fans have a clear and accurate understanding of the difference in competitive levels between the three leagues.

Since 1981, the KIJHL, PJHL and VIJHL champions, along with a rotating host team, have participated in a Provincial Junior Championship tournament known previously as the Cyclone Taylor Cup (to 2023) and now known as the Mowat Cup (2024-onwards), with the following results:

  • KIJHL and PJHL representatives have a cumulative record of 16 wins and 6 losses against VIJHL competition over the past five championships contested by the three leagues.
  • KIJHL and PJHL representatives have combined to win the last seven championships contested by the three leagues, including six Cyclone Taylor Cup gold medals (2016-2023) and one Mowat Cup gold medal (2024).
  • KIJHL and PJHL representatives have combined to win 38 of the 42 championships that have taken place since the three-league format was adopted.

“We are very pleased with the progression of the KIJHL and PJHL as they move forward toward a strengthened Junior A in our province,” BC Hockey CEO Cameron Hope says.

“These leagues have shown a clear, ongoing commitment to prioritizing the safety, development and playing experience of B.C. and Yukon players. We are disappointed with the decision of the VIJHL team owners to operate outside the safe and organized community sport model of sanctioned hockey, but we wish them well.”

In December 2023, the BCHC engaged with Blackfin Sports Group, which is led by three former Canucks Sports & Entertainment executives, to develop an application and assessment process for KIJHL and PJHL teams to take the next step to full-fledged Junior A hockey.

The May 1 application deadline is fast approaching, and the BCHC expects to make an announcement regarding next steps for its member leagues in early 2025.

— with files from KIJHL

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