Maritime Junior A Hockey League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2014-15 MHL season
|No. of teams||12|
|Headquarters||Fredericton, New Brunswick|
|Most recent champion(s)||Truro Bearcats (2014)|
|Most titles||(Jr. A) Pictou County Crushers (10)
(Jr. B) Truro Bearcats (5)
The Maritime Junior A Hockey League (MHL) is a Junior A ice hockey league under Hockey Canada, a part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. It consists of five teams from New Brunswick and one team from Prince Edward Island, which make up the Roger Meek Division, and six teams from Nova Scotia which make up the Eastlink Division. The winner of the MHL playoffs competes for the Fred Page Cup against the winners of the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League and the Central Junior A Hockey League. The winner of the Fred Page Cup then moves on to compete for the Canadian National Junior A Championships, the Royal Bank Cup.
Originally known as the Metro Valley Junior Hockey League, the league was founded in 1967 by Fred McGillivray and Louie Lewis of Halifax, Nova Scotia and Don Stewart of Berwick, Nova Scotia as a Junior "B" level hockey league. Originally an exclusively Nova Scotia hockey league, it included six teams: East Hants Junior Penguins, Halifax Colonels, Dartmouth Hoyts, Windsor Royals, Kentville Riteways, and Berwick Shell Juniors. 1968 saw the Truro Bearcats and Amherst Ramblers replace the teams from Kentville and Berwick. In 1971–72 the New Glasgow Bombers and the Pictou Maripacs entered the league. Stellarton and a new Kentville franchise entered the league in 1973 and 1974 respectively.
In 1977, still known as the "Metro Valley", the league entered into the Tier II Junior "A" level. The jump to Junior "A" was, in theory, to be a catalyst for the development of the league. However The budgets necessary to play at the Jr. 'A' level resulted in the immediate withdrawal of the Chester Ravens and the East Hants Penguins. The Cole Harbour Colts (Scotia Colts), who entered the league in 1976, became the first team in league history to host the national championship, then known as the Centennial Cup, in 1980.
The 1983 season saw the expansion of the Moncton Midland Hawks of Moncton, New Brunswick, the league's first non-Nova Scotia team. The Hawks came from the New Brunswick Junior Hockey League and are now known as the Dieppe Commandos. In 1986, the league expanded to Antigonish and the Scotia Colts, again, hosted the Centennial Cup. The Summerside Western Capitals of the Island Junior Hockey League, Prince Edward Island's junior hockey league, hosted the 1989 Centennial Cup.
In 1991, Summerside and Charlottetown of Prince Edward Island left the IJHL and joined the newly dubbed "Maritime Junior A Hockey League". The IJHL is still PEI's premier Junior league, but now is only a Junior "B" league. The winner of the IJHL's playoffs compete for the Don Johnson Cup, the Maritime Junior "B" Championship.
For the 1996-97 season, the league added the Cape Breton Islanders and Restigouche River Rats. In 1996–97 the league consisted of the Amherst Ramblers, Antigonish Bulldogs, Charlottetown Abbies, East Hants Penguins, Dartmouth Oland Exports, Moncton Gagnon Beavers, Saint John Alpines, and Summerside Western Capitals. Unfortunately the Saint John Alpines, folded in January. With financial losses totalling $40,000 and an additional $50,000 shortfall projected should the team finish the season, they simply ran out of money. The league should have pride in this season as the Summerside Western Capitals won the leagues first ever National Title. The Summerside Western Capitals hosted the Royal Bank Cup and on the home ice of the Cahill Stadium, won the 1997 Royal Bank Cup championship game by a score 4–3 against the South Surrey Eagles.
Truro and Bathurst received approval for new teams to start in 1997-98 but due to the relocation of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Laval Titan to Bathurst, the Truro Bearcats would be the sole new team. The Cape Breton Islanders moved to Glace Bay and became the Glace Bay Miners, but with the arrival of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, they folded in December of that season, leaving the league with nine teams again.
During the 1998–99 season two teams changed their names. The first was the Dartmouth Oland Exports when they moved to the Halifax Forum to become the Halifax Oland Exports. The second was the 1998–99 MJAHL champions, Restigouche River Rats, as they changed their name to the Campbellton Tigers.
A tenth team was added for the 2000–2001 season, the Miramichi Timberwolves. At the same time the East Hants Penguins moved to Dartmouth and became the Scotia Dairy Queen Blizzard. At the end of the 2001–02 season the league approved the transfer of the Blizzard to Yarmouth. The Yarmouth Motormart Mariners began play in September 2002. In early 2003 the league governors approved expansion into Woodstock, N.B. with the Slammers beginning play in the 2003–04 season.
The league got their second national Championship when the Halifax Oland Exports won the 2002 Royal Bank Cup on home ice. One year later, after financial trouble with Oland Brewery, the franchise's name was changed to Halifax Team Pepsi. In the spring of 2004, the Weeks Hockey Organization bought the club, moved it to New Glasgow and renamed it the Pictou County Weeks Crushers. On that same day Halifax got a new team as they were granted an expansion franchise, the Halifax Wolverines.
In the spring of 2008, the MJAHL had some big changes.
On 15 April, the Antigonish Bulldogs announced that they were applying for a leave of absence for one year. On 26 April, the Bulldogs had to choose between two groups trying to buy the team and relocate it. The first group would move the franchise to New Richmond, Quebec. The other was a group based in Halifax and they would relocate the team to the Halifax area. At the Board of Governors meeting that day, the proposal to relocate the Antigonish franchise to New Richmond, Quebec was not considered to be in the best interests of the league and its members. The Goverors did leave the door open to the sale to a Halifax group and a move to Metro Halifax. The sale and relocation of the franchise to Halifax was later approved.
At the same Governors meeting, in response to the decision to leave the door open on the sale of the Bulldogs, the owners of the Halifax Wolverines announced their plans to move to Bridgewater. The Governors voted on the decision and it was approved. Following a name the team contest, the franchise was dubbed the Bridgewater Lumberjacks.
Later that week on 29 April, the Moncton Beavers announced that they had failed to come to terms on a new lease for the Tim Hortons 4-Ice centre and had subsequently moved themselves to the neighboring city of Dieppe. The team was renamed the Dieppe Commandos.
In 2011 the Halifax Lions moved to Dartmouth and were renamed the Metro Marauders. Two years later the Marauders were renamed the Metro Shipbuilders for the 2012-2013 season. That season was a disaster for the Shipbuilders only recording 4 wins in their 52 games schedule and only averaging 232 fans per game. The relocation rumours were making them move back to Halifax after 3 years in Dartmouth but they finally moved to Kentville and renamed the Valley Wildcats. After one season in Kentville they moved to Berwick.
In 2014 the League approved to add an expansion team in St. Stephen named the St. Stephen County Aces. As a result of the expansion the league was back up to 12 teams for the first time since the folding of the Charlottetown Abbies in April 2008
The current MHL has twelve teams, 6 in each division. The league has hosted the Royal Bank Cup and Centennial Cup seven times, winning twice. MHL teams have also won seven Fred Page Cups as the Junior "A" Eastern Canadian Champions to earn the right to compete for the Royal Bank Cup.
In November 2014 the league took over the ownership of the Bridgewater Lumberjacks after the owner Ken Petrie left the team because of financial trouble. The team was sold two weeks later to a local businessman and the team was renamed the South Shore Lumberjacks.
The league hired its first professional full-time League President in 2003, Vernon Doyle. In 2010, the league dropped the "A" from their name and changed their abbreviation to "MHL".
In 2013 the league picked the "A" back up to become once again the Maritime Junior "A" Hockey League.
From the 1970s until 1991, the Callaghan Cup was the Atlantic Junior A Championship of Canada. The winners of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland would playdown for this trophy during the Dudley Hewitt Cup and Manitoba Centennial Cup playdowns.
In 1991, the Callaghan Cup became exclusive to the MJAHL. The Callaghan Cup was their championship trophy until after the 2006 playoffs, when it was replaced by the Kent Cup,
In the Kent Cup era the bold team indicates the Kent Cup winner.
|Metro Valley Jr. B Champions|
|1969||East Hants Penguins|
|1970||Truro Bearcats||East Hants Penguins||4-3|
|1973||New Glasgow Bombers|
|1975||Dartmouth Arrows||Truro Bearcats||4-2|
|1976||Truro Bearcats||Dartmouth Arrows||4-3|
|Metro Valley Jr. A Champions|
|1978||Cole Harbour Colts|
|1980||Cole Harbour Colts|
|1981||Cole Harbour Colts|
|1985||Cole Harbour Colts|
|1987||Dartmouth Fuel Kids|
|1991||Halifax Jr. Canadians|
|Callaghan Cup Champions|
|1992||Halifax Mooseheads||Chalottetown Abbies||4-3|
|1993||Antigonish Bulldogs||Halifax Mooseheads||4-3|
|1994||Antigonish Bulldogs||Halifax Oland Exports||4-3|
|1996||Dartmouth Oland Exports|
|1997||Summerside Western Capitals|
|1998||Restigouche River Rats|
|1999||Charlottetown Abbies||Antigonish Bulldogs||4-3|
|2000||Halifax Oland Exports|
|2002||Halifax Oland Exports|
|2003||Charlottetown Abbies||Amherst Ramblers||4-1|
|2004||Campbellton Tigers||Yarmouth Mariners||4-1|
|2005||Truro Bearcats||Campbellton Tigers||4-1|
|2006||Woodstock Slammers||Amherst Ramblers||4-1|
|Year||Meek Champion||Eastlink Champion||Series|
|Kent Cup Champions|
|2007||Summerside Western Capitals||Truro Bearcats||2-4|
|2008||Woodstock Slammers||Yarmouth Mariners||2-4|
|2009||Summerside Western Capitals||Truro Bearcats||4-1|
|2010||Woodstock Slammers||Pictou County Crushers||4-1|
|2011||Summerside Western Capitals||Pictou County Crushers||4-0|
|2012||Woodstock Slammers||Yarmouth Mariners||4-3|
|2013||Summerside Western Capitals||Truro Bearcats||4-1|
|2014||Dieppe Commandos||Truro Bearcats||2-4|
Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian Champions
All champions in this table are from the Maritime Junior Hockey League
Callaghan Cup MVJHL Champions
All champions in this table are from the Metro Valley Junior Hockey League against interleague opponents.
- Cape Breton Islanders/Glace Bay Miners
- Charlottetown Abbies
- Dartmouth Arrows/Eagles/Fuel Kids/Pepsi
- Kentville Colonels
- Saint John Alpines
- Truro Bearcats (1977–1983) (Joined MJAHL again in 1997 with new franchise)
- Valley Wildcats
- Windsor Royals
Timeline of teams in the MHL
- 1967 – Metro Valley Junior Hockey League is founded at Junior B level
- 1967 - East Hants Junior Penguins, Halifax Colonels, Dartmouth Hoyts Arrows, Windsor Royals, Kentville Riteway Rangers, and Berwick Shell Junior Bruins are founding members of the league.
- 1968 – Kentville Riteway Rangers move to Truro and are renamed the Truro Bearcats
- 1968 - Berwick Shell Junior Bruins move to Amherst and are renamed the Amherst Ramblers
- 1969 - The Halifax Colonels become the Halifax Blazers sometime between the inaugural season and the 1972-73 season.
- 1972 - Chester Ravens enter league?
- 1972 - New Glasgow Bombers enter league
- 1972 - Pictou Maripacs enter league
- 1973 – Stellarton Spitfires join league
- 1974 – Kentville Colonels join league
- 1975 – Stellarton Spitfires leave league
- 1975 – Pictou Maripacs leave league
- 1975 – Halifax Blazers are renamed Halifax Centennials
- 1976 – Cole Harbour Colts join league
- 1976 – New Glasgow Bombers leave league
- 1977 – League is promoted to Junior A
- 1977 – East Hantz Penguins leave league
- 1977 – Chester Ravens leave league but franchise is demoted to Jr. B in 1980
- 1977 – Halifax Centennials are renamed Halifax Lions
- 1978 – Windsor Royals expelled from league mid-season for short roster
- 1980 – Kentville Colonels leave league
- 1980 – Valley Wildcats join league
- 1983 – Truro Bearcats fold mid-season (November)
- 1983 – Moncton Hawks join league from New Brunswick Junior Hockey League
- 1984 – Valley Wildcats leave league
- 1986 – Antigonish Bulldogs join league
- 1987 – Dartmouth Arrows renamed Dartmouth Fuel Kids
- 1988 – Dartmouth Fuel Kids renamed Dartmouth Eagles
- 1989 – Dartmouth Eagles renamed Dartmouth Pepsis
- 1989 – Halifax Lions renamed Halifax DQ Blizzards
- 1990 – Moncton Hawks renamed Moncton Classics
- 1990 – Halifax DQ Blizzards renamed Halifax Canadians
- 1991 – Metro Valley Junior Hockey League is renamed Maritime Junior A Hockey League
- 1991 – Charlottetown Abbies join league from Island Junior Hockey League
- 1991 - Summerside Western Capitals join league from Island Junior Hockey League
- 1991 – Halifax Canadians renamed Halifax Mooseheads
- 1991 – Moncton Classics renamed Moncton-Dieppe Classics
- 1992 – Dartmouth Pepsis leave league
- 1993 – Moncton-Dieppe Classics become Moncton-Dieppe Beavers
- 1993 – Halifax Mooseheads renamed Halifax Oland Exports
- 1994 – Moncton-Dieppe Beaves renamed Moncton Beavers
- 1994 – Amherst Ramblers renamed Amherst Mooseheads
- 1994 – Charlottetown Abbies take one year leave
- 1995 – Charlottetown Abbies return to league
- 1995 – Saint John Alpines join league
- 1995 – Halifax Oland Exports move to Dartmouth and are renamed Dartmouth Oland Exports
- 1995 – Cole Harbour Colts move to East Hants and are renamed East Hants Penguins
- 1996 – Restigouche River Rats join league
- 1996 – Cape Breton Islanders join league
- 1997 – Saint John Alpines fold mid-season (January)
- 1997 – Truro Bearcats join league
- 1997 – Cape Breton Islanders renamed Glace Bay Miners
- 1997 – Glace Bay Miners fold mid-season (December)
- 1998 – Dartmouth Oland Exports move to Halifax and are renamed Halifax Oland Exports
- 1998 – Amherst Mooseheads renamed Amherst Ramblers
- 1999 – Restigouche River Rats renamed Campbellton Tigers
- 2000 – Miramichi Timberwolves join league
- 2000 – East Hants Penguins move to Darmouth and are renamed Dartmouth DQ Blizzard
- 2002 – Dartmouth DQ Blizzard move from Dartmouth and renamed Yarmouth Mariners
- 2003 – Halifax Oland Exports renamed Halifax Team Pepsi
- 2003 – Woodstock Slammers join league
- 2004 – Halifax Team Pepsi move from Halifax to New Glasgow and renamed Pictou County Weeks Crushers
- 2004 – Halifax Wolverines join league
- 2005 – Campbellton Tigers change their name to Restigouche Tigers
- 2008 – Charlottetown Abbies take one year leave
- 2008 – Halifax Wolverines move from Halifax to Bridgewater and are renamed Bridgewater Lumberjacks
- 2008 – Antigonish Bulldogs move from Antigonish to Halifax and are renamed Halifax Lions
- 2008 – Moncton Beavers move from Moncton to Dieppe and are renamed Dieppe Commandos
- 2009 – Restigouche Tigers renamed Campbellton Tigers
- 2009 – Charlottetown Abbies fail to return to league
- 2010 – Halifax Lions move from Halifax to Darmouth and are renamed Metro Marauders (Dartmouth)
- 2010 – Maritime Junior A Hockey League changes their name to Maritime Junior Hockey League
- 2012 – Metro Marauders renamed the Metro Shipbuilders
- 2013 – Metro Shipbuilders move from Dartmouth to Kentville and renamed the Valley Wildcats
- 2013 – Maritime Junior Hockey League changes name back to Maritime Junior A Hockey League
- 2014 – Valley Wildcats move from Kentville to Berwick
- 2014 – County Aces joined league
- 2014 - Bridgewater Lumberjacks renamed South Shore Lumberjacks
Bolded teams indicate the original names of active franchises.
- Hockeyscene.com – Your Source For Hockey Information In Atlantic Canada
- Hockeyscene.com – Your Source For Hockey Information In Atlantic Canada
- Charlottetown, The Guardian: Sports | Abbies taking break
- Halifax Lions roar into the MJAHL