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Alberta Junior Hockey League

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Alberta Junior Hockey League
Ajhl
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1964
No. of teams 16
Country(ies) Flag of Canada.svg Canada
Most recent champion(s) Spruce Grove Saints

The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) is an Alberta-based Junior A hockey league that belongs to the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL). It was formed as a five-team league in 1964. There are currently 16 teams in the league. The regular season league champions receive the Dave Duchak Trophy. The playoff champions receive the Enerflex Cup (the Carling O'Keefe Trophy before 1998 and the Rogers Wireless Cup until 2008). The winner of the AJHL playoffs continues on to play in the Doyle Cup in a best-of-seven series against the champion of the British Columbia Hockey League. The winner of the Doyle Cup competes in the Junior "A" National Championship for the Royal Bank Cup.

History Edit

AJHL Logo

Former logo of the AJHL, until 2006

The early 1960s saw a much different junior hockey scenario in Alberta than what currently exists. The Edmonton Oil Kings were the only true Junior-A-calibre team in the province and drew most of the top talent Alberta had to offer. The Oil Kings were the Western Canadian champions from 1962 until 1966, Abbott Cup champions in 1954 and from 1960 to 1966, and Memorial Cup national champions in 1963 and 1966. In 1966, the Oil Kings helped create the Western Hockey League. The issue in 1964 was that there were hundreds of junior-calibre players in the province, but really only one team to play for. A group of business and hockey people got together in 1964 and decided to form a Junior "A" league in an attempt to truly develop Alberta hockey. The original league consisted of the Edmonton Safeway Canadians, the Edmonton Maple Leafs, the Lethbridge Sugar Kings, Calgary Cowboys, and the Calgary Buffaloes

The season prior to establishment of the AJHL the Buffaloes and Oil Kings had played in Intermediate (Senior) level Central Alberta Hockey League while the Cowboys and Sugar Kings played in the mixed level (junior, intermediate, and senior level) Alberta Big Six League and the Canadians appeared to have played an independent schedule.  The 1963-64 Alberta Junior Playoffs were used as the impetus to form the league.

The Edmonton Safeway Canadians and Maple Leafs would later merge in 1971 to become the Edmonton Mets, then move to Spruce Grove to become the Spruce Grove Mets in 1974. They lasted only three seasons in Spruce Grove; however, they won the AJHL title twice, and the Manitoba Centennial Trophy in 1975. In 1976, they moved again to become the St. Albert Saints, where they won three more league titles. In 2004, the team returned to Spruce Grove as the Spruce Grove Saints. This well-travelled franchise has sent over 30 players into the National Hockey League, including Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier.[1]

One of the AJHL's most famous franchises, the Red Deer Rustlers, joined the league in 1967, capturing the championship in their first season. The Rustlers had attempted to join the Western Canada Junior Hockey League, but were blocked by the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association, and instead placed in the AJHL.[2] In 1971, the Rustlers captured the first Manitoba Centennial Trophy as national Junior A champions. The Rustlers, who featured all six Sutter brothers who would go onto the National Hockey League, won eight AJHL titles and two Centennial Trophies during their existence. They were expelled from the league, however, in 1989, and formally folded in 1992 when the Red Deer Rebels joined the WHL.[3]

In 1971, the Calgary Canucks were founded following the demise of the Cowboys and Buffaloes. Today, the Canucks are the oldest franchise still operating in the AJHL. It was founded with a mandate to focus on giving Calgary-area kids a place to play while focusing on their educational needs. The Canucks have captured a league record nine AJHL championships and won the Centennial Cup in 1995, the Canadian Championship of Junior A hockey, now know know as the Royal Bank Cup.

Current teams Edit

AJHL team locations 2014-15

AJHL team locations as of 2014-15 season (North Division in red, South Division in blue)

Viterra North Division
Team City Arena Joined AJHL
Bonnyville Pontiacs Bonnyville, Alberta R. J. Lalonde Arena 1991
Drayton Valley Thunder Drayton Valley, Alberta Drayton Valley Omni-Plex 1998
Fort McMurray Oil Barons Fort McMurray, Alberta Casman Centre 1981
Grande Prairie Storm Grande Prairie, Alberta Revolution Place 1995
Lloydminster Bobcats Lloydminster, Saskatchewan Centennial Civic Centre 1988 (founded in 1982 as SJHL team)
Sherwood Park Crusaders Sherwood Park, Alberta Sherwood Park Arena 1976
Spruce Grove Saints Spruce Grove, Alberta Grant Fuhr Arena 2004 (as Spruce Grove Saints, 1963 originally for franchise as Edmonton Movers)
Whitecourt Wolverines Whitecourt, Alberta Scott Safety Centre 2012 (as Whitecourt Wolverines, 1976 as Fort Saskatchewan Traders)
Viterra South Division
Team City Arena Joined AJHL
Brooks Bandits Brooks, Alberta Centennial Regional Arena 2000
Calgary Canucks Calgary, Alberta Max Bell Centre 1971
Calgary Mustangs Calgary, Alberta Father David Bauer Olympic Arena 2010 (as Calgary Mustangs, originally joined as The Pass Red Devils in 1972)
Camrose Kodiaks Camrose, Alberta Edgeworth Centre 1997
Canmore Eagles Canmore, Alberta Canmore Recreation Centre 2001 (as Canmore Eagles, originally joined 1995 as Bow Valley Eagles)
Drumheller Dragons Drumheller, Alberta Drumheller Memorial Arena 2003
Okotoks Oilers Okotoks, Alberta Pason Centennial Arena 2005 (as Okotoks Oilers, originally joined 1998 as Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves)
Olds Grizzlys Olds, Alberta Olds & District Sports Complex 1981 (as Olds Grizzlys, originally joined 1974 as Taber Golden Suns)

National Junior A Champions Edit

Seven AJHL teams have captured the Royal Bank Cup, or its predecessor, the Manitoba Centennial Trophy, as Canadian national champions since the tournament was introduced in 1971:

Royal Bank Cup ChampionsEdit

  • 2013: Brooks Bandits
  • 2001: Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2000: Fort McMurray Oil Barons

Manitoba Centennial Cup ChampionsEdit

  • 1995: Calgary Canucks
  • 1994: Olds Grizzlys
  • 1980: Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1975: Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1971: Red Deer Rustlers

Western Canada ChampionshipsEdit

From 1971 to 1989, Pacific Region champions (the Pacific Centennial Cup (1971 to 1984) and Doyle Cup (1985 to 1989)) would advance to the Abbott Cup for a spot in the Manitoba Centennial Cup. Starting in 1990 (and lasting until 1999, when the trophy was retired) the Pacific Region champion and the Western Region champion (Anavet Cup) would advance to the Centennial Cup (then Royal Bank Cup). The winner of the game played in the round robin portion of the tournament between the two champions would be awarded the Abbott Cup.

Abbott Cup ChampionsEdit

  • 1971 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1972 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1975 Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1976 Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1980 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1994 Olds Grizzlys

Regional ChampionshipsEdit

From 1971 to 2012 the champions of Alberta and British Columbia would meet for the Doyle Cup and a birth in the national championship tournament. The tournament was known as the Pacific Centennial Cup from 1971 to 1984 and as the Doyle Cup from 1985 to 2012. The Doyle Cup and Anavet Cup were retired after the 2011-12 season and replaced by the Western Canada Cup as the tournaments were merged into the new tournament which gave two berths in the Royal Bank Cup.

Pacific Centennial Cup ChampionsEdit

  • 1971 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1972 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1975 Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1976 Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1977 Calgary Canucks
  • 1979 Fort Saskatchewan Traders
  • 1980 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1981 St. Albert Saints
  • 1982 St. Albert Saints

Doyle Cup ChampionsEdit

  • 1988 Calgary Canucks
  • 1994 Olds Grizzlys
  • 1995 Calgary Canucks
  • 2000 Fort McMurray Oil Barons
  • 2001 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2003 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2005 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2007 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2008 Camrose Kodiaks

Western Canada Cup ChampionsEdit

  • No AJHL teams have won as of the 2016 tournament

AJHL ChampionsEdit

The cup awarded to the champion of the Alberta Junior Hockey League has gone under four different names, as follows:

Carling O'Keefe Cup champions Edit

  • 1965 Calgary Buffaloes
  • 1966 Calgary Buffaloes
  • 1967 Edmonton Western Movers
  • 1968 Edmonton Western Movers
  • 1969 Lethbridge Sugar Kings
  • 1970 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1971 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1972 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1973 Calgary Canucks
  • 1974 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1975 Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1976 Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1977 Calgary Canucks
  • 1978 Calgary Canucks
  • 1979 Fort Saskatchewan Traders
  • 1980 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1981 St. Albert Saints
  • 1982 St. Albert Saints
  • 1983 Calgary Canucks
  • 1984 Fort Saskatchewan Traders
  • 1985 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1986 Calgary Canucks
  • 1987 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1988 Calgary Canucks
  • 1989 Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1990 Calgary Canucks
  • 1991 Calgary Royals
  • 1992 Olds Grizzlys
  • 1993 Olds Grizzlys
  • 1994 Olds Grizzlys
  • 1995 Calgary Canucks
  • 1996 St. Albert Saints
  • 1997 Fort McMurray Oil Barons

Rogers Wireless Cup champions Edit

  • 1998 St. Albert Saints
  • 1999 Calgary Canucks
  • 2000 Fort McMurray Oil Barons
  • 2001 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2002 Drayton Valley Thunder
  • 2003 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2004 Grande Prairie Storm
  • 2005 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2006 Fort McMurray Oil Barons
  • 2007 Camrose Kodiaks

Enerflex Cup ChampionsEdit

  • 2008 Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2009 Grande Prairie Storm
  • 2010 Spruce Grove Saints
  • 2011 Spruce Grove Saints
  • 2012 Brooks Bandits

Gas Drive Cup ChampionsEdit

  • 2013 Brooks Bandits
  • 2014 Spruce Grove Saints
  • 2015 Spruce Grove Saints
  • 2016 Brooks Bandits

NHL alumni Edit

Nearly 200 AJHL grads have gone on to play in the National Hockey League.[1] Among them:

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 AJHL Annual Guide & Record Book 2006–07, pg. 98
  2. AJHL history—1960s, ajhl.ca
  3. AJHL history—1980s

External links Edit

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