Central Canada Hockey League
|Current season or competition:
2013–14 CCHL season
|No. of teams||12|
|Recent Champions||Cornwall Colts (2013)|
The Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) is a Canadian Junior "A" ice hockey league operating in eastern Ontario, Canada. The league is sanctioned by the Ottawa District Hockey Association and Hockey Canada and is a member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The winner of the CCHL playoffs competes for the Fred Page Cup—the "Eastern Zone" championship of the Canadian Junior Hockey League—with the winners of the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League and the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. The winner of the Fred Page Cup then moves on to compete for the national Royal Bank Cup.
The league started in 1961 as the "Ottawa-Hull District Junior Hockey League", under the sponsorship of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League, in hope of a better development program. The league has featured such NHL stars as Steve Yzerman and Larry Robinson, for which its two divisions are named. As this league was for the Ottawa District, teams out of the area were not allowed to compete, with one exemption - Pembroke. In the early years, any player in the league was automatically a member of the Montreal Canadiens, and were forced into a contract which would disallow them to sign with any other National Hockey League team if they were ever to achieve such greatness. The Canadiens also wanted the league to be strictly for development, allowing 4 19-year-olds and 5 18-year-olds per team with the rest of the players being 17 or younger. This was met with much anger and disappointment with players who had just reached their 20's, but the league substantially gained in popularity, and they were ignored. A remarkable alumnus of the league is 4-time Stanley Cup Champion Billy Smith of New York Islanders fame, a former member of the Smiths Falls Bears. In 1963, the Montreal Canadiens allowed the Chicago Blackhawks-sponsored Brockville Braves into the league.
In the late 1960s, the Cornwall Royals applied to enter into what is now the Ontario Hockey League, when they were turned away, they applied to join the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and were accepted. In 1973, the Hull Hawks, also departed for the QMJHL. In 1975, the Canadian Hockey Association informed the league that they had to allow 20-year-olds into their league, as all other leagues of their calibre already were doing.
In February 1966, players from the Hawkesbury Braves went on strike over coaching issues. The Braves brought in replacement players from midget and Jr. B leagues for a game against the Cornwall Royals. The Royals went on to win 43-0. It still stands as the highest margin of victory in the league to date.
In 1976, Bryan Murray, now General Manager of the NHL's Ottawa Senators, took over as head coach of the Rockland Nationals. With Murray at the wheel, the Nationals won the leagues, the region, and then went on to win the National Championship as Centennial Cup Champions. The financial cost of the playoff run was too much for the team's backers to handle and they declared bankruptcy one disappointing season after winning it all. The Nationals have resurrected since then as a member of the Eastern Ontario Junior C Hockey League.
After the ruling that allowed 20-year-olds to play in the league, teams began attempting to "buy" championship teams by going after former Major Junior players. The effect of this resulted in the labeling of the league as a "goon league" or "bush league" as the league got more violent. The fan base dwindled, and by 1984 there were only 5 teams left in the league, all on the verge of bankruptcy. The owners of the five teams approached the owners of Ottawa's Talisman Hotel and asked them to purchase the league. Through new management and rule changes, the league barred 20-year-olds from the Major Junior ranks, created a limit of 5 20-year-olds (homegrown from the CJHL), and banned the paying of players. The new rules worked, and the league was once again successful. The league then approached the Canadian Hockey Association, and requested a new system. After the fall of the Rockland Nationals, the league realized there was a revenue problem amongst its teams. The league demanded longer regular seasons and a shorter National playdown schedule to determine the National Champion. This new system was guaranteed to increase revenue amongst all teams nation-wide as they were allowed to have more home games, increasing revenue through ticket sales, and decreased the travel expenditures that forced the Rockland Nationals to fold soon after they won the National Championship.
The league began flourishing, and by the early 90's, had expanded over 2-fold. Teams that had folded during the "dark days" of the late 70's and early 80's came back. The league even allowed for the expansion of their first American hockey team, the Massena Americans. Also, now a member of the OHL, the Cornwall Royals moved from Cornwall. In response, the CJHL allowed the Messena Americans to move to Cornwall, hoping the Cornwall Colts could help the city fill its competitive hockey "void".
The Gloucester Rangers hosted the last Centennial Cup tournament in 1995 before it was transformed into the Royal Bank Cup. The Rangers boosted NHL stars like Mathieu Dandenault and Robert Esche. The Gloucester Rangers were seconds away from defeating the Calgary Canucks in the final, until the Canucks scored a last-minute goal and won it all in overtime, to continue the drought of a CJHL team winning the National Junior "A" Championship.
In 2004-05, the Central Junior Hockey League saw higher attendance figures in all arenas with the NHL lockout. All teams in the CJHL had doubled their attendance.
The Cornwall Colts became the 4th team in CJHL history to play host to a Centennial/Royal Bank Cup tournament in 2008. The Colts managed to qualify for the semi-finals, but were ousted 7-1 by the Humboldt Broncos.
In 2009, the Carleton Place Canadians, another former EOJBHL team, was announced as the league's 12th franchise. They began play during the 2009-10 season. At the beginning of the 2009-10 season, the league dropped the "A" from their name, switching to the Central Junior Hockey League.
In February 2010, it was announced that the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre - one of the leagues oldest facilities and home to the Smiths Falls Bears was staging its final home game of the 2009-10 season. The Bears will be moving into a brand-new multipurpose facility for that fall. The Memorial Centre was demolished to accommodate parking spaces for the new facility.
In April 2010, the Pembroke Lumber Kings made CJHL history by winning four-consecutive Art Bogart Cup championships, which is now the most-consecutive championships won by a CJHL team, however the Pembroke Lumber Kings qualified for the Fred Page Cup for the fifth consecutive year, but lost the finals to the Brockville Braves, who advanced to the Royal Bank Cup in Dauphin, Manitoba. The 2012 Fred Page Cup was awarded to the Kanata Stallions to commemorate their 25 years of Jr. A hockey in Kanata.
On April 26, 2010, the league rebranded by changing their league to the Central Hockey League, from the Central Junior Hockey League. A league, by the same name "Central Hockey League" already exists, which is a minor professional league below the East Coast Hockey League, which is 15 teams throughout the mid-western United States. In January 2011, the league rebranded itself again the Central Canada Hockey League.
On May 8, 2011, at the 2011 Royal Bank Cup in Camrose, Alberta, the Pembroke Lumber Kings defeated the BCHL's Vernon Vipers 2-0 to win the CCHL's second ever National Title during the league's 50th anniversary season.
David Frost incident
David Frost, the agent of jailed former NHL player for the St. Louis Blues Mike Danton was banned from all Central Junior "A" Hockey League games and events in fall 2005 after Frost entered an off limits to fans area at the Jim Durrell Arena, home to the Ottawa Jr. Senators, in which Frost "accosted, harassed and threatened an official of the CJHL". League commissioner Mac MacLean stated "We don't want him around period". The Lumber Kings were fined $1000 for David Frost's actions, because the league considered Frost to be associated with owner Sheldon Keefe. MacLean sent posters to each league arena to help security staff identify Frost if he were to show up at games, and to refuse entry to Frost. Weeks later, the ban was lifted after Mac MacLean was relieved of his duties of CJHL commissioner. Newly appointed commissioner John Comerford lifted the ban, stating "We can't stop David Frost from entering the rink and I haven't received any complaints from anybody about him". League's former vice president, who was fired tried to extend the ban throughout the 2005-06 season. David Frost had no affiliation with the Pembroke Lumber Kings hockey organization. He was allowed to attend league games, but was barred from restricted areas. Frost disregarded the advisement not to entire restricted areas, and was seen getting off the Lumber Kings team bus by CBC Fifth Estate film crew, and was filmed following the team to dressing room during a playoff game in Nepean. At the end of the season, David Frost severed un-affiliated ties with the league and informed that he would not attend any more league games or events.
Record is broken down by Win-Loss-Overtime Loss-Shootout Loss.
Regular Season Champions
Bogart Cup Champions
Please note: In chart, league champions are bolded.
Centennial Cup/Royal Bank Cup championships
Former member teams
- Arnprior Packers, became members of the Eastern Ontario Jr. B Hockey League
- Cornwall Royals, became members of the QMJHL in 1972
- Eastview Astros, franchise lasted only one season in the 1960s
- Gatineau Actionaires
- Hull Hawks, became members of the QMJHL in 1972
- Rockland Nationals, folded due to bankruptcy in 1977
- Thurso Lions
Notable players who have played or are playing in the NHL:
- Best record: 1972-73 Pembroke Lumber Kings (47-4-4)
- Worst record: 1987-88 Smiths Falls Bears (4-52-0)
- Most Wins in a Season: 2009-10 Brockville Braves(52), 2009-10 Pembroke Lumber Kings(52)
- Most Points in a Season: 2009-10 Brockville Braves (106)
- Most Consecutive Wins: 2009-10 Brockville Braves (26)
- Largest margin of victory: Cornwall Royals 43 - Hawkesbury Braves 0 in February 1966
- Most goals, one season: Luc Chabot (101) -- 1985-86 Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most assists, one season: Peter White (136) -- 1987-88 Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most points, one season: Peter White (226) -- 1987-88 Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most penalty minutes, one season: Frank Manson (416) -- 1992-93 Ottawa Senators
- Most goals, career: Luc Chabot (255) -- Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most assists, career: George Dupont (332) -- Nepean Raiders/Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most points, career: Luc Chabot (490) -- Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most penalty minutes, career: Travis Albers (942) -- Nepean/Cornwall/Kanata/Brockville
- Most minutes played, one season: Christian Soucy (3109) -- 1990-91 Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most wins, one season: Grant Robb (36) -- 1987-88 Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Lowest goals against average, one season: Ian Dams (2.24) -- 2004-05 Nepean Raiders
- Highest percentage, one season: Jean-Pascal Lemelin (0.929) -- 1990-91 Hawkesbury Hawks
- Most shutouts, one season: Scott Zacharias (7) -- 2009-10 Pembroke Lumber Kings
- Most minutes played, career: Mark Byrne (11,143) -- Nepean Raiders
- Most wins, career: Grant Robb (87) -- Pembroke Lumber Kings
Timeline of teams in the CJHL
- 1963 - Brockville Braves join league and are sponsored by the Chicago Blackhawks
- 1968 - Eastview Astros join league and fold after one season
- 1972 - Hull Hawks and Cornwall Royals leave league to join Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
- 1972 - Nepean Raiders join league
- 1973 - Ottawa M.&W. Rangers become Gloucester Rangers
- 1974 - Hawkesbury Hawks join league
- 1976 - Smiths Falls Bears leave league
- 1977 - Rockland Nationals leave league
- 1987 - Kanata Valley Lasers join league
- 1987 - Smiths Falls Bears rejoin league
- 1988 - Massena Turbines join league
- 1990 - Massena Turbines become Massena Americans
- 1991 - Cumberland Grads join league from Eastern Ontario Junior B Hockey League
- 1992 - Massena Americans relocated to Cornwall to become the Cornwall Colts to fill in the void for the Cornwall Royals, who moved to Newmarket
- 1992 - Ottawa Senators become Ottawa Jr. Senators because of the NHL expansion team Ottawa Senators
- 2000 - Smiths Falls Bears relocate to Perth, Ontario and become the Lanark Thunder
- 2002 - Kanata Valley Lasers become Kanata Stallions
- 2002 - Lanark Thunder suspends operations and team is returned to Smiths Falls as the Smiths Falls Bears
- 2005 - Gloucester Rangers become the Orleans Blues
- 2007 - Kemptville 73's join league from Eastern Ontario Junior B Hockey League
- 2008 - Orleans Blues become Gloucester Rangers after league refuses permit to move team to Orleans
- 2009 - Carleton Place Jr. A Canadians join league from Eastern Ontario Junior B Hockey League
- "League History". Central Junior Hockey League.
- The CHL no longer competes in the Central Zone of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. They now compete for the Fred Page Cup in the Eastern Zone.
- The George Richardson Memorial Trophy was the Eastern Junior A championship for what became Major Junior. The league competed for it from 1961 until 1970.
- The Memorial Cup is the Canadian Junior A championship for what became Major Junior. The league competed for it from 1961 until 1970.