After the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 playoffs and the 2020-21 regular season, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is gearing up for a return to action.
The league announced on Tuesday morning that they have received approval to begin their 2021-22 campaign on Friday, Sept. 24.
That date was mentioned as a tentative start date by Nipawin Hawks head coach and general manager Doug Johnston during an interview with Mat Barrett of Northeast Now on Monday following a league-wide coaches meeting in Nipawin last weekend.
“The SJHL and the Saskatchewan Government thank the efforts of Saskatchewan people to follow the rules of the provincial health order and to get vaccinated. We are moving forward in our roadmap to get back to normal, which includes SJHL hockey starting this fall,” Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said in a prepared statement.
“Hockey has always been a key part of our culture and economy in Saskatchewan communities and we look forward to working with the league to see the players back on the ice.”
In addition to a full regular season slate, which will be finalized at the league’s annual general meeting later this month, the league also announced that their annual showcase event will be held in Warman from Oct. 4-6.
The SJHL vs. MJHL showcase event will return next season, as it will take place on Jan. 25 and 26 in Winnipeg.
The 2022 playoffs are scheduled to begin on March 4 with the finals slated to start on April 8.
The league champion will then square with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League title holder for the Anavet Cup, which will begin on April 29.
The winner of that event will then go this year’s Centennial Cup tournament, which will be hosted by the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins and run from May 20-29.
One major difference in this year’s National Junior A Championship is the Alberta Junior Hockey League champion will earn a direct berth to the tournament.
That is because the British Columbia Hockey League, who traditionally face the AJHL champion in the Doyle Cup, have pulled out of the Canadian Junior Hockey League for the upcoming season.