UPDATED: Games cancelled for Alberta teams joining BCHL
The Alberta Junior Hockey League is putting the hammer down on the five teams joining the independent, British Columbia Hockey League for 2024-25 season.
The AJHL said in a statement Thursday on its website that the league has “cancelled all upcoming games scheduled to be played between these five defecting teams and the remaining eleven teams at the core of our league.”
Last Saturday (January 20, 2024), the BCHL announced that Blackfalds Bulldogs, Brooks Bandits, Okotoks Oilers, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints were going to join the league next season.
The AJHL said games among the 11 remaining teams will continue while the five defecting teams will be allowed to schedule games among these clubs to proceed.
“We are working diligently with our partners — including the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CHJL), Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada to find a resolution to this unusual situation created by the five defecting teams and the BCHL and will provide further updates as decisions are made,” the AJHL said.
The AJHL went on to say the vision is to create an environment that inspire trust and confidence among everyone involved wit the league.
“We continue to be the premier developmental league in Canada for student-athletes striving to capitalize on their athletic and academic abilities,” the AJHL said.
“We are disappointed by the recent announcement but look forward to providing our fans with more exciting AJHL hockey in the months and years ahead.”
Shakeup in Junior Hockey as five Alberta teams join BCHL for 2024-25 season
The independent, British Columbia Hockey League, is expanding.
The BCHL announced on its website that five Alberta-based teams to join the league for the 2024-25 season.
The league announcement said teams that have committed to terms include, the Blackfalds Bulldogs, Brooks Bandits, Okotoks Oilers, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints.
All teams are currently playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
In May of 2023, the BCHL announced the league was going leave the umbrella of Hockey Canada, taking a new past to continue its mission to build a world class college-track junior league for players seeking NCAA and U Sports Scholarships and to establish a tier of hockey that to date has not been seen in Canada.
At the time of the decision, the BCHL’s Board of Governors voted to not renew the league’s agreement with Hockey Canada, meaning its 18 franchises will operate outside Hockey Canada’s system as of June 1, 2023.
“The BCHL sends more players to NCAA Division I teams than all other junior hockey leagues in Canada combined,” said BCHL Chairman Graham Fraser in a statement on the BCHL website in May of 2023.
“During the past season there were 411 BCHL alumni on NCAA rosters, making up nearly a quarter of all Division I college hockey. That is exciting, but we aspire to do more for players and to provide a higher level of hockey for our fans. Under the current system, that’s just not possible.”
The AJHL said in a statement on its website that the league was informed of the decision through the BCHL announcement.
At the time of the statement, the AJHL said that no official notice has been provided by the respective teams.
“As a league we are assessing the next steps and schedule implications,” the AJHL said.
“The AJHL will continue to provide unprecedented development opportunities for our athletes without our valuable communities.”
After hearing the news, the league said four games during the weekend were cancelled.
Brooks, Sherwood Park, Okotoks, Blackfalds and Spruce Grove currently occupy first, second, third, fourth and 12th spots in the AJHL standings.
Brooks is the defending AJHL champion, winning the title six of the past eight seasons — there were no playoffs in 2021. The Bandits are also national junior champions in 2013, 2019, 2022 and 2023.
The BCHL said that further information, such as league structure, will be announced in the coming weeks.