Alberta Junior Hockey League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alberta Junior Hockey League
AJHL Logo.svg
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1964
No. of teams 16
Country  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 Gas Drive Cup (the Carling O'Keefe trophy before 1998). The winner of the AJHL playoffs continues on to play in the Western Canada Cup in a round robin tournament with the MJHL SJHL AJHL and BCHL. The winner of the Western Canada Cup competes in the Junior "A" National Championship for the Royal Bank Cup.

History[edit]

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 Edmonton Safeway Canadians and Maple Leafs later merged in 1971 to become the Edmonton Mets, then moved 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 known as the Royal Bank Cup.

After a game on February 21, 1980, the AJHL was shaken by a tragedy. Twenty-year-old Trevor Elton, Captain of the Sherwood Park Crusaders was hit cleanly along the boards by a player on the St. Albert Saints in St. Albert, Alberta. Elton landed and went into convulsions and died later that night while in hospital.[4]

On November 26, 2010, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Drayton Valley Thunder played the first ever modern era regulation outdoor junior hockey game at MacDonald Island in Fort McMurray. The game was known as the "Northern Classic".[5] The 5,000 tickets available for the game sold out in less than an hour, and consequently broke the league attendance record of 4,400.[6]

On May 2, 2012, the AJHL announced its approval of a request from the St. Albert Steel to relocate the team from St. Albert to Whitecourt to become the Whitecourt Wolverines.[7]

Current teams[edit]

Locations of AJHL teams (North Division teams in red; South Division teams in blue)
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 Canada Games Arena 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)
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 Foothills 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)

Royal Bank Cup champions[edit]

Eight 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:

  • 2013: Brooks Bandits
  • 2001: Camrose Kodiaks
  • 2000: Fort McMurray Oil Barons
  • 1995: Calgary Canucks
  • 1994: Olds Grizzlys
  • 1980: Red Deer Rustlers
  • 1975: Spruce Grove Mets
  • 1971: Red Deer Rustlers

Playoff champions[edit]

For the Western Regional playoffs, see Western Canada Cup.
For the National Championship, see 2014 Royal Bank Cup.
  • Carling O'Keefe Cup was presented 1965–1997
  • Rogers Wireless Cup presented since 1997

Please note: In chart, league champions are bolded.

Year League Champion League Runner-up
Memorial Cup Era
1965 Calgary Buffaloes Calgary Cowboys
1966 Calgary Buffaloes Edmonton Canadians
1967 Edmonton Western Movers
1968 Edmonton Western Movers
1969 Lethbridge Sugar Kings
1970 Red Deer Rustlers
Centennial Cup Era
1971 Red Deer Rustlers Lethbridge Sugar Kings
1972 Red Deer Rustlers Calgary Canucks
1973 Calgary Canucks Red Deer Rustlers
1974 Red Deer Rustlers The Pass Red Devils
1975 Spruce Grove Mets Drumheller Falcons
1976 Spruce Grove Mets Taber Golden Suns
1977 Calgary Canucks Taber Golden Suns
1978 Calgary Canucks Fort Saskatchewan Traders
1979 Fort Saskatchewan Traders Calgary Canucks
1980 Red Deer Rustlers Calgary Canucks
1981 St. Albert Saints Taber Golden Suns
1982 St. Albert Saints Calgary Spurs
1983 Calgary Canucks Fort McMurray Oil Barons
1984 Fort Saskatchewan Traders Red Deer Rustlers
1985 Red Deer Rustlers Sherwood Park Crusaders
1986 Calgary Canucks Sherwood Park Crusaders
1987 Red Deer Rustlers St. Albert Saints
1988 Calgary Canucks St. Albert Saints
1989 Red Deer Rustlers Fort Saskatchewan Traders
1990 Calgary Canucks Sherwood Park Crusaders
1991 Calgary Royals Fort Saskatchewan Traders
1992 Olds Grizzlys Fort McMurray Oil Barons
1993 Olds Grizzlys Fort Saskatchewan Traders
1994 Olds Grizzlys Fort McMurray Oil Barons
1995 Calgary Canucks Olds Grizzlys
1996 St. Albert Saints Fort McMurray Oil Barons
1997 Fort McMurray Oil Barons Calgary Canucks
1998 St. Albert Saints Fort Saskatchewan Traders
1999 Calgary Canucks St. Albert Saints
2000 Fort McMurray Oil Barons Camrose Kodiaks
2001 Camrose Kodiaks Drayton Valley Thunder
2002 Drayton Valley Thunder Grande Prairie Storm
2003 Camrose Kodiaks St. Albert Saints
2004 Grande Prairie Storm Fort McMurray Oil Barons
2005 Camrose Kodiaks Fort McMurray Oil Barons
2006 Fort McMurray Oil Barons Camrose Kodiaks
2007 Camrose Kodiaks Fort Saskatchewan Traders
2008 Camrose Kodiaks Fort McMurray Oil Barons
2009 Grande Prairie Storm Spruce Grove Saints
2010 Spruce Grove Saints Fort McMurray Oil Barons
2011 Spruce Grove Saints Camrose Kodiaks
2012 Brooks Bandits Fort McMurray Oil Barons
2013 Brooks Bandits Spruce Grove Saints
2014 Spruce Grove Saints Drumheller Dragons

NHL alumni[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b AJHL Annual Guide & Record Book 2006–07, pg. 98
  2. ^ AJHL history—1960s, ajhl.ca
  3. ^ AJHL history—1980s
  4. ^ Junior player dies after game. Regina Leader-Post, February 21, 1980, Pg. 20.
  5. ^ http://cjhlhockey.com/news/news_detail.html?newsID=180
  6. ^ "Junior outdoor hockey game tickets a hot sell". Calgary Herald. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  7. ^ "AJHL Moving to Whitecourt, Alberta". Alberta Junior Hockey League. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 

External links[edit]