A packed schedule en route to the Cyclone Taylor Cup junior B championship has led to change in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The KIJHL, which held its annual general meeting June 24 to 26 in Osoyoos, is reducing its schedule from 52 to 47 regular season games. That will result in some teams playing one more game on the road than at home, but will switch each year. It is also changing the number of games in a playoff series. Instead of every series being a best-of-seven, only the first and final round will be that format, while the middle will be a best-of-five.
League president Bill Ohlhausen said those changes will help teams be ready for the Cyclone Taylor Cup which starts in early April, and this season will be hosted by the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.
“We had everything jammed up because we have four finals in the KIJHL, then have the Cyclone. It falls within days,” said Ohlhausen.
The Keystone Cup champion 100 Mile House Wranglers, which claimed the league’s 10th Western Canadian championship, played nearly 85 games last season. Once they won the Cyclone Taylor Cup on April 10, the Wranglers had to make their way to Regina for the Keystone Cup on April 14. Clubs also voted for conference-only play this season. Ohlhausen said that will likely create more competition among teams. It will also improve organizations bottom line as Ohlhausen said the cost of expenses is higher
“We have the biggest area I think of any junior B league,” said Ohlhausen.
Creston to 100 Mile House is an eight hour, 32 minute drive.
This year the KIJHL is celebrating its 50th anniversary as its first season was in 1966-67. Ohlhausen said the league has special events planned and hopes each team will do something to commemorate the milestone year.