British Columbia Hockey League
In British Columbia, players between the ages of sixteen and twenty can play hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League. But at what tier is this hockey league?
The British Columbia Hockey League is one of the top amateur Tier II hockey leagues in North America. It consists of seventeen teams throughout the British Columbia region and one team from Washington, United States. It is one of ten leagues under the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
This article will look at the history and current situation of the British Columbia Hockey League and what championships these leagues qualify to play.
The British Columbia Hockey League was founded in 1961 in Vernon. It was the first Junior A league in British Columbia history.
Before being named the British Columbia Hockey League, it was the Okanagan-Mainline Junior A Hockey League (OMJHL) and only consisted of four teams.
In 1967, two new teams outside of the Okanagan region were added to the roster. This move influenced the league’s decision to change the name from Okanagan to the British Columbia Junior Hockey League (BCJHL) since they had teams from all over BC.
By 1972, the league consisted of eight separate teams, which caused the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to separate Junior A hockey into different tiers.
This led the British Columbia Junior Hockey League to be demoted to a Tier II team, excluding them from competing for the Memorial Cup, the National Junior A Championship trophy.
This league underwent another name change in 1995 to become the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) instead of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League (BCJHL).
The British Columbia Hockey League falls under Tier II of the Junior “A” league in the region of British Columbia. The Junior “A” league is the second tier of three (Major Junior, Junior “A” and Junior “B”).
It is a member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, which includes amateur players aged 16 to 21. Junior hockey is higher than minor ice hockey (played by youth). In America, it would be referred to as youth hockey.
In the 1970s, Junior “A” was called Tier II Junior “A” until the Major Junior A division separated from the Junior “A” tier to form the Canadian Hockey League. Tier II dropped from the Junior “A” name.
Most kids who play in the Junior A league have plans to attend an American university instead of playing in the Canadian Hockey League.
But some players go into major junior leagues to attempt professional rankings in the American Hockey League (AHL) or the National Hockey League (NHL).
The British Columbia Hockey League has multiple divisions and teams. Before 2020, these teams were divided into three divisions: Island, Coastal, and Interior.
But since COVID-19, safety regulations have caused the BCHL to combine the teams into two conferences, the Interior Conference and the Coastal Conference.
The Coastal Conference now includes nine teams from the Coastal and Island divisions and consists of:
- Alberni Valley Bulldogs - Port Alberni, British Columbia
- Chilliwack Chiefs - Chilliwack, British Columbia
- Coquitlam Express - Coquitlam, British Columbia
- Cowichan Valley Capitals - Duncan, British Columbia
- Langley Rivermen - Langley, British Columbia
- Nanaimo Clippers - Nanaimo, British Columbia
- Victoria Grizzlies - Victoria, British Columbia
- Powell River Kings - Powell River, British Columbia
- Surrey Eagles - Surrey, British Columbia
The Interior Division of the British Columbia Hockey League now includes the former Interior Division teams and two teams who previously played in the Coastal Conference:
- Cranbrook Bucks - Cranbrook, British Columbia (former Coastal)
- Merritt Centennials - Merritt, British Columbia
- Penticton Vees - Penticton, British Columbia
- Prince George Spruce Kings - Penticton, British Columbia (former Coastal)
- Salmon Arm Silverbacks - Salmon Arms, British Columbia
- Trail Smoke Eaters - Trail, British Columbia
- Vernon Vipers - Vernon, British Columbia
- Wenatchee Wild - Wenatchee, Washington
- West Kelowna Warriors - West Kelowna, British Columbia
The British Columbia Hockey League has multiple championships that the teams can compete against each other to enter.
Each won championship advances the team to the next level of competition. The winners of the team get a specific trophy and bragging rights.
The BCHL has two conferences, the Coastal and the Interior. These teams compete against each other to play in the playoffs, known as the Fred Page Cup. Represented in the FPC are teams from:
- Maritime Hockey League Champions (winners of the Kent Cup)
- The Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Québec Champions (Napa Cup)
- The Ottawa District champions of the Central Canada Hockey League (Bogart-Nielsen Cup)
- A host team is chosen two years before the tournament.
The Fred Page Cup is the ice hockey championship for the Eastern Canada Junior “A” hockey league. It was established in 1995 to form an Eastern Canadian Championship. The name pays respect to Fred Page, former Canadian Amateur Hockey Association President.
The way the Fred Page Playoffs work is the top four teams from the Mainland and Island divisions enter the playoffs and the top six teams from the Inland division.
Teams that can compete in the Fred Page Playoffs include Maritime champions, Quebec champions, and the Ottawa District champions from the Central Canada Hockey League.
Wild card spots are filled by the top two teams from the regular season to compete in the Interior Division bracket.
There are four rounds, with the best of seven games to determine the winner. The Island and Mainland playoff champions compete in the league semifinals.
And the last two teams from the Interior bracket compete in the semifinals. The winner of the Fred Page Cup will advance to compete in the Doyle Cup.
The Doyle Cup is an annual ice hockey competition hosted by the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The outcome of other games decides teams that play in the Doyle Cup.
The winners of the Fred Page Cup from the BCHL play against the winners of the Enerflex Cup (Alberta Junior Hockey League Champions) to win the Doyle Cup trophy.
The champions of the Doyle Cup then move on to represent the Pacific region in the Centennial Cup, which is the national Junior “A” championship.
The winner of the Doyle Cup is determined through a round-robin game where the best out of seven games wins the tournament.
The Centennial Cup is the final championship of ice hockey and determines the Canadian Junior “A” champions.
Before being called the Centennial Cup, it was known as the National Junior “A” Championship (2019), the Royal Bank Cup (1996-2018), and the Manitoba Centennial Cup (1971 to 1995).
This championship started in 1970 when the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) was divided into two separate groups, Major Junior and Junior “A.”
The major junior teams became members of the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL). And the Junior A tier became the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL).
The Centennial Cup structure has a five-team round-robin competition, which results in a playoff between the top two contenders. The participating teams consist of the four cup winners and the host team. The four winners include:
- Fred Page Cup - Eastern Division
- Dudley Hewitt Cup - Central Division
- ANAVET Cup - Western Division
- Doyle Cup - Pacific Division
- Host team (chosen by Canadian Junior Hockey League two years before the game)
In addition to the British Columbia Hockey League, other Junior A hockey leagues compete in the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The Canadian Junior Hockey League was formed in 1993 from the Canada West Association of Junior ‘A’ Hockey.
The CJHL covers most of Canada from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast. The other leagues that compete include:
- Pacific Zone: British Columbia Hockey League (17 teams) and Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) (16 teams)
- Western Zone: Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) (12 teams) and Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) (11 teams)
- Central Zone: Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) (6 teams), Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) (12 teams), and Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) (22 teams).
- Eastern Zone: Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) (12 teams), Quebec Junior Hockey League (LHJQ) (12 teams), and Maritime Junior A Hockey League (MHL) (12 teams).
The Alberta Junior Hockey League started as a league with five teams in 1964. Currently, sixteen teams make up this conference. These teams compete against each other for the Dave Duchak Trophy.
For the playoffs, the teams compete for the Inter Pipeline Cup, previously called the Carling O’Keefe trophy and the Gas Drive Cup. The winner of this playoff competes in the Doyle Cup against the British Columbia Hockey League champions.
The current teams that compete in the AJHL are:
- Bonnyville Pontiacs - Bonnyville, Alberta
- Drayton Valley Thunder - Drayton Valley, Alberta
- Fort McMurray Oil Barons - Fort McMurray, Alberta
- Grande Prairie Storm - Grande Prairie, Alberta
- Lloydminster Bobcats - Lloydminster, Saskatchewan
- Sherwood Park Crusaders - Sherwood Park, Alberta
- Spruce Grove Saints - Spruce Grove, Alberta
- Wolverines - Whitecourt, Alberta
- Brooks Bandits - Brooks, Alberta
- Calgary Canucks - Calgary, Alberta
- Camrose Kodiaks - Camrose, Alberta
- Canmore Eagles - Canmore, Alberta
- Drumheller Dragons - Drumheller, Alberta
- Okotoks Oilers - Okotoks, Alberta
- Olds Grizzlys - Olds, Alberta
In the 2021-2022 season, the Blackfalds Bulldogs from Blackfalds will join the South Division roster. This team is formerly the Calgary Mustangs.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League falls under Hockey Canada, part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. This league has twelve teams in three divisions, open to anyone under the age of twenty.
The SJHL playoffs winner moves on to compete in the ANAVET Cup against the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) championship winners. The winners of the ANAVET cup represent the Western Region in the Centennial Cup.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League was formed in 1968 when the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) split from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) to combine with the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA).
Current teams in the SJHL include:
- Estevan Bruins - Estevan, Saskatchewan
- Melville Millionaires - Melville, Saskatchewan
- Weyburn Red Wings - Weyburn, Saskatchewan
- Yorkton Terriers - Yorkton, Saskatchewan
- Battlefords North Stars - North Battleford, Saskatchewan
- Humboldt Broncos - Humboldt, Saskatchewan
- Kindersley Klippers - Kindersley, Saskatchewan
- Notre Dame Hounds - Wilcox, Saskatchewan
- Flin Flon Bombers - Flin Flon, Manitoba
- La Ronge Ice Wolves - La Ronge, Saskatchewan
- Melfort Mustangs - Melfort, Saskatchewan
- Nipawin Hawks - Nipawin, Saskatchewan
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) consists of eleven teams over Manitoba, Canada. After a 60-game schedule, the top eight teams proceed to the playoffs.
A best-of-seven series determines the winners of the quarter-finals, semifinals, and final playoffs. The championship game wins the Turnbull Cup.
This winner competes in the ANAVET Cup against the Saskatchewan champions. If the team advances past the ANAVET Cup, they can compete for the Centennial Cup.
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League started in 1918, making it the oldest Canadian junior league, originally known as the Winnipeg and District League. In 1931, the name changed to the MJHL.
Current teams in the MJHL include:
- Dauphin Kings - Dauphin, Manitoba
- Neepawa Natives - Neepawa, Manitoba
- OCN Blizzard - The Pas, Manitoba
- Portage Terriers - Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
- Selkirk Steelers - Selkirk, Manitoba
- Steinbach Pistons - Steinback, Manitoba
- Swan Valley Stampeders - Swan River, Manitoba
- Virden Oil Capitals - Virden, Manitoba
- Waywayseecappo Wolverines - Waywayseecappo, Manitoba
- Winkler Flyers - Winkler, Manitoba
- Winnipeg Blues - Oak Bluff, Manitoba
The Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) belongs to Hockey Canada, a part of the CJHL. This league covers the province of Ontario, as well as the American states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The teams in this league compete for the Dudley Hewitt Cup against winners of the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. The winner of the Dudley Hewitt Cup then competes for the Centennial Cup.
This league started in 2001 as former Thunder Bay junior A hockey league teams. The teams under the SIJHL include:
- Dryden Ice Dogs - Dryden, Ontario
- Fort Frances Lakers - Fort Frances, Ontario
- Red Lake Miners - Red Lake, Ontario
- Thief River Falls Norskies - Thief River Falls, Minnesota
- Thunder Bay North Stars - Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Wisconsin Lumberjacks - Spooner, Wisconsin
The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) belongs to the Northern Ontario Hockey Association and the CJHL.
The teams of the NOJHL compete for the Dudley Hewitt Cup, along with the champions of the Superior International Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey League. The winners of the Dudley Hewitt Cup compete to win the Royal Bank Cup.
There are twelve teams in the NOJHL, along Ontario and Michigan (in the US). This league started in 1970 but didn’t become a Tier II Junior “A” as the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League until 1978.
Teams of the NOJHL include:
- Cochrane Crunch - Cochrane, Ontario
- French River Rapids - Noelville, Ontario
- Heart Lumberjacks - Hearst, Ontario
- Kirkland Lake Gold Miners - Kirkland Lake, Ontario
- Powassan Voodoos - Powassan, Ontario
- Timmins Rock - Timmins, Ontario
- Blind River Beavers - Blind River, Ontario
- Elliot Lake Wildcats - Elliot Lake, Ontario
- Espanola Express - Espanola, Ontario
- Rayside-Balfour Canadians - Rayside-Balfour, Ontario
- Soo Eagles - Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
- Soo Thunderbirds - Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) falls under the supervision of the Ontario Hockey Association and the CJHL. It started in 1954 as the Central Junior B Hockey League.
In 1993, it became the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League. It then became the Ontario Junior Hockey League and got its current name in 2010.
The teams in the OJHL compete in the OJHL playoffs for the Frank L. Buckland Trophy. And the winners move on to the Dudley Hewitt Cup and finally the Centennial Cup.
The current teams for the Ontario Junior Hockey League include:
- Brampton Admirals - Brampton, Ontario
- Mississauga Chargers - Mississauga, Ontario
- North York Rangers - Toronto, Ontario
- St. Michael’s Buzzers - Toronto, Ontario
- Toronto Jr. Canadiens - Toronto, Ontario
- Toronto Patriots - Toronto, Ontario
- Cobourg Cougars - Cobourg, Ontario
- Lindsay Muskies - Lindsay, Ontario
- Trenton Golden Hawks - Trenton, Ontario
- Wellington Dukes - Wellington, Ontario
- Whitby Fury - Whitby, Ontario
- Aurora Tigers - Aurora, Ontario
- Collingwood Blues - Collingwood, Ontario
- Markham Royals - Markham, Ontario
- Pickering Panthers - Pickering, Ontario
- Stouffville Spirit - Stouffville, Ontario
- Brantford 99ers - Brantford, Ontario
- Buffalo Jr. Sabres - Buffalo, New York
- Burlington Cougars - Burlington, Ontario
- Georgetown Raiders - Georgetown, Ontario
- Milton Menace - Milton, Ontario
- Oakville Blades - Oakville, Ontario
The Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) is the Junior “A” hockey league in Canada, sanctioned by Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The winner of the CCHL competes for the Fred Page Cup and then on to the Royal Bank Cup.
The league began in 1961 as the Ottawa-Hull District Junior Hockey League by the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The teams of the Central Canadian Hockey League include:
- Brockville Braves - Brockville, Ontario
- Carleton Place Canadians - Carleton Place, Ontario
- Renfrew Wolves - Renfrew, Ontario
- Kemptville 73’s - Kemptville, Ontario
- Pembroke Lumber Kings - Pembroke, Ontario
- Smiths Falls Bears - Smiths Falls, Ontario
- Cornwall Colts - Cornwall, Ontario
- Hawkesbury Hawks - Hawkesbury, Ontario
- Navan Grads - Navan, Ontario
- Nepean Raiders - Nepean, Ontario
- Ottawa Jr. Senators - Ottawa, Ontario
- Rockland Nationals - Rockland, Ontario
The Quebec Junior Hockey League is part of Hockey Quebec, Hockey Canada, and CJHL. This conference covers teams from Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
The teams of the QMJHL compete for the Fred Page Cup trophy against the champs of the Central Junior A Hockey League and the Maritime Hockey League, plus a host team. The winner goes on to compete for the Centennial cup.
The QMJHL started in 1988 from the Quebec Junior A Hockey League that ran from 1972 to 1982.
- Gatineau Flames - Buckingham (Gatineau), Quebec
- St-Gabriel-de-Brandon Prédateurs - Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon, Quebec
- St-Jérôme Panthers - Saint-Jérôme, Quebec
- Terrebonne Cobras - Terrebonne, Quebec
- Chambly Forts - Chambly, Quebec
- Granby Inouk - Granby, Quebec
- Côte-du-Sud Everest - Montmagny, Quebec
- Longueuil Collège Français - Longueuil, Quebec
- Princeville Titans - Princeville, Quebec
- Valleyfield Braves - Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec
- West Island Shamrocks - Pierrefonds, Quebec
The final Junior A hockey league that competes against the British Columbia Hockey League is the Maritime Junior Hockey League (MJHL). This league falls under Hockey Canada.
It consists of five teams from New Brunswick and one team from Prince Edward Island to make up the EastLink North Division. There are also six teams from Nova Scotia that make up the Eastlink South Division.
These teams compete in the playoffs to determine who plays for the Fred Page Cup against the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League champions and the Central Junior A Hockey League winners.
The Fred Page winners advance to the Canadian National Junior A Championship (formerly Royal Bank Cup).
The MJHL started as the Metro Valley Junior Hockey League in 1967. It joined the Tier II Junior A level in 1977, still under the former name. But the league didn’t become the Maritime Junior Hockey League until 2010.
- Campbellton Tigers - Campbellton, New Brunswick
- Fredericton Red Wings - Fredericton, New Brunswick
- Edmundston Blizzard - Edmundston, New Brunswick
- Grand Falls Rapids - Grand Falls, New Brunswick
- Miramichi Timberwolves - Miramichi, New Brunswick
- Summerside Western Capitals - Summerside, Prince Edward Island
- Amherst Ramblers - Amherst, Nova Scotia
- Pictou County Crushers - New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
- South Shore Lumberjacks - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia
- Truro Bearcats - Truro, Nova Scotia
- Valley Wildcats - Berwick, Nova Scotia
- Yarmouth Mariners - Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Players in Canada who want to join American universities or want a chance to play in the professional league usually play in the British Columbia Hockey League between sixteen and twenty. Teams who compete in the BCHL compete against each other to win the Centennial Cup, which is the National Junior “A” Championship game.
- Point Streak Sites: About the FPC
- The Hockey Writers: A Dive Into the BCHL
- Wikipedia: Alberta Junior Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Centennial Cup
- Wikipedia: Central Canada Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Doyle Cup
- Wikipedia: Fred Page Cup
- Wikipedia: Manitoba Junior Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Maritime Junior Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Ontario Junior Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League
- Wikipedia: Superior International Junior Hockey League