Members of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) have voted in favour of hosting the championship in Penticton again next year.
Penticton hosted the CSSHL playoffs last March and now it is tentatively scheduled for March 10, 2016.
“I think it’s great. It’s fantastic for the community to get it back,” said Andy Oakes, president of the Okanagan Hockey Group, who was re-elected as chairperson on the CSSHL executive on June 10. “The event is going to grow from 33 teams to over 50. The event is going to grow in size, which is great.”
That growth comes from the addition of the female division, which is expected to have six teams as well as new programs in the Northern Alberta X-Treme and Okanagan Hockey Academy Edmonton.
Oakes said that members were complimentary about the South Okangan Events Centre and the operation of the event.
The championship received exposure from high-level teams from junior B to major junior as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Canadian Internuniversity Sport and the NHL.That attention, Oakes said, was great for the athletes.
“Just the reality of being able to have all of the teams in the league all in one place at one time, it’s a real unique experience,” he said.
In other CSSHL news, work is being done to getting attention on the female division. Oakes said building on the division is important as it adds to the league’s diversity. The Okanagan Hockey Academy Female Prep team will continue playing in the Junior Women’s Hockey League, but will also face some CSSHL teams.
In July, Oakes and two other league reps will be in Toronto meeting with 10 schools from the Maritimes and Ontario to explore the option of having a CSSHL Eastern Division. That would work towards having a national championship.
During the annual general meeting June 9-10 in Tsawwassen, CSSHL members voted unanimously to promote Pacific Coast Hockey Academy and Shawnigan Lake School from associate member status to full membership status.
The league also finalized the schedule format for all male divisions, with the Female Prep Division to be announced at a later time. Each division will play a mix of showcase events and flex games:
Prep Division: 36 games, Varsity: 30 games, Elite 15s: 35 games, Bantam Prep: 24 games and Bantam Varsity: 24 games.