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Manitoba Junior Hockey League
Current season or competition:
2008–09 MJHL season
225
Formerly Winnipeg and District League
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1918
Commissioner Kim Davis
Inaugural season 1918
No. of teams See below
Most recent champion(s) Portage Terriers
Most championships Winnipeg South Blues (16)
Official website MJHLhockey.ca
Related competitions Anavet Cup, Royal Bank Cup

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is a Junior 'A' ice hockey league operating in the Canadian province of Manitoba. The MJHL is one of eleven Junior 'A' Hockey Leagues in Canada and is a member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL).

The MJHL consists of 11 teams in two divisions, five in the Addison Division and six in the Sher-Wood Division. Each team plays 62 games during the regular season and the top four teams in each division qualify for league playoffs. The playoffs are an elimination tournament consisting of three rounds of best-of-seven series. The first two rounds determine which team from each division will advance to the final round. The winner of that series becomes the MJHL and Turnbull Cup champion.

The winner of the MJHL playoffs (Turnbull Cup) continues on to play in the Anavet Cup in a best-of-seven series against the champion of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The winner of the Anavet Cup will compete in the Junior "A" National Championship Tournament for the Royal Bank Cup.

Contents

History

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Early years

The League has a rich tradition, first year of operation was the 1918–19 season, making it the oldest Junior League in Canada. At first the junior league was known as the Winnipeg and District League, until 1931 when it became the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. In its first year, there were nine teams in two divisions. The teams included the Winnipeg Pilgrims, Elmwood, Grand Trunk Pacific, Winnipeg Tigers, Young Men's Lutheran Club, Winnipeg Argonauts, Selkirk Fishermen, Weston, and Winnipeg Monarchs. The first season consisted of each team playing six games. Over the years, more than 200 MJHL players have gone on to the National Hockey League (NHL), and 11 of those MJHL graduates have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame:

Andy Bathgate, Turk Broda, Art Coulter, Bobby Clarke, Charlie Gardiner, Bryan Hextall, Tom Johnson, Harry Oliver, Babe Pratt, Terry Sawchuk, and Jack Stewart.

1950s

In 1955, the brothers Art and Gordon Stratton of the Winnipeg Barons set a league record for most points in a single season with 76 each. In 1957, Ray Brunel of the St. Boniface Canadiens broke it with 105.

1960s

In the early sixties, powerhouse Brandon Wheat Kings, built by Jake Milford won three titles in a row, and four in five years. In 1961, goalie Ernie Wakely of the Winnipeg Braves was named Canada's outstanding junior hockey player for the month of January. In 1962, Clarence Campbell president of the NHL attended inaugural Manitoba–Saskatchewan all-star game in Winnipeg.

In 1963 Jim Irving, captain of the Winnipeg Rangers, was named Manitoba's outstanding junior athlete and received the Carl Pederson Memorial Award.

Goaltender Wayne Stephenson led the Winnipeg Braves to the MJHL Championship in 1965. In 1967, future Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke of the Flin Flon Bombers set league records for most goals (71), assists (112), and points (183), in a single season. Clarke led the Bombers to win the MJHL title.

Modern era

1967 & 1968

During the summer of 1967, the MAHA agreed to allowed three teams to enter the Western Hockey League (WCHL), the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Flin Flon Bombers from the MJHL, and the Ben Hatskin's owned Winnipeg Jets. Hatskin, also owned three MJHL teams. Part of the agreement was the continuation of the MJHL, Hatskin sold his three teams to local interests, and the Winnipeg Warriors became the West Kildonan North Stars, the St. James Braves became the St. James Canadians, and the Winnipeg Rangers became the St. Boniface Saints. These three teams along with the Winnipeg Monarchs became the new MJHL. The Selkirk Steelers, however joined the Central Manitoba Junior Hockey League (CMJHL). The very next year, the MJHL swallowed the CMJHL, creating a North Division to house all four teams, the Selkirk Steelers, Portage Terriers, Dauphin Kings, and Kenora Muskies (who operated out of Fort Garry the previous year). The existing teams created the South Division.

Japanese star

On September 19, 1968, the Winnipeg Monarchs announced the signing of Hiroshi Hori, a defenceman from Japan. Hori, a high school all-star in his homeland, would spend a year with the team and then return home to pass on what he had learned. A Canadian missionary to Japan, Father Moran was behind the idea. With CAHA approval, Moran convinced the Japanese Skating Union to sponsor one player to a year in Canada. The CAHA chose Winnipeg as the site because of the added experience from watching the Canadian National Team, and the Monarchs volunteered.

Butch Goring incident

On Sunday February 9, 1969, the MJHL held a special emergency meeting to discuss Butch Goring leaving the Winnipeg Jets of the WCHL and joining the Dauphin Kings. Goring played the night before in Kenora for the Kings during a regular season game. The MJHL gave the Kings approval to use Goring in regular season and playoff games. Goring was leading the WCHL in goals at the time. Monday, WCHL president Ron Butlin said a court injunction would be sought against Goring and another Jet forward Merv Haney from playing with the Dauphin Kings. Also saying the CHA would be "taking whatever action is necessary against Dauphin and the MAHA for damages." Goring and Haney would play for the Kings, all the way to the Western Memorial Cup Finals.

Swedish import

In September 1971, Winnipeg Monarchs President Bob Westmacott announced 17-year-old Stephan Lindberg of Sweden had been invited to training camp. Jack Bownass, former coach of Canada's national team, recommended Lindberg to the Monarchs.

The new MJHL

The Dauphin Kings were the first "dynasty" of the new MJHL, winning the league three out of four years, 1969, 1970, and 1972, and boasting such stars as Ron Low, Butch Goring, and Ron Chipperfield. The Kings went to the Western Memorial Cup final in 1969, and in 1972 recorded 40 wins, a modern day MJHL record. Charlie Simmer of the Kenora Muskies won the scoring title in 1973, the same year the Portage Terriers were crowned National Champs, winning the Centennial Cup. In 1974, the Selkirk Steelers won the national crown, giving the MJHL back to back "Canadian Championships". It was players such as Low, Goring, Chipperfield, Simmer, Chuck Arnason, Murray Bannerman, Paul Baxter, John Bednarski, Rick Blight, Dan Bonar, Brian Engblom, Glen Hanlon, Bob Joyce, Barry Legge, Perry Miller, Chris Oddleifson, Curt Ridley, Rick St. Croix, Blaine Stoughton, and Andy Van Hellemond who gave the new MJHL its foundation.

Selkirk Steelers domination

The Selkirk Steelers dominated, between 1974 and 1987, winning eight MJHL championships, including three in a row. The 1974 Steelers were inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, as were the 1973 Portage Terriers. In 1975, Jim Misener of the Dauphin Kings led the league in goals with 73, breaking Bobby Clarke's single season record of 71. In 1977, the Dauphin Kings won their fourth MJHL title in a decade, led by Misener who became the MJHL career leader in goals, assists, and points.

Chris Walby incident

On April 5, 1977, MJHL commissioner Bill Addison called off the Turnbull Cup Finals between the Dauphin Kings and Kildonan North Stars, saying "No, I am not going to allow these characters an opportunity to beat on each other any longer. I am calling the series (a best-of-seven) and awarding it to Dauphin on the basis they won two of the three games completed." The decision came just hours after the two clubs had engaged in a pre-game brawl, in which two Kings players were taken to hospital and two North Stars were criminally charged. Chris Walby was convicted of common assault, and granted a conditional discharge. The CAHA was not as kind, suspending Walby for life.

1980s and '90s

Grant Ledyard led the Winnipeg South Blues to the first of four MJHL Championships in 8 years in 1982. In 1983, Mike Ridley of the St. Boniface Saints broke both Jim Misener's goal scoring record and Bobby Clarke's points record. In 95, Cory Cyrenne of the Saints was chosen Canadian Junior A Hockey League (CJAHL) Player of the Year, and the Winnipeg South Blues won their fifth championship, on their road to a second Anavet Cup, and an Abbott Cup. The 1995 Blues were inducted into Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1998, Jedd Crumb of the Blues led the CJAHL in goals with 61.

OCN Blizzard

Then came the OCN Blizzard, who won five straight MJHL championships. Only the legendary Elmwood Millionaires (1927–1931) had ever won five in a row. Junior Lessard of the Portage Terriers was named CJAHL Player of the Year in 2000. Blizzard goaltenders Preston McKay (1998) and Marc Andre Leclerc (2001) led the CJAHL in goals against average, and left winger Andrew Coates (2003) led in goals. In 2004, Aaron Starr of the Blizzard became the first MJHL player to lead the CJAHL in scoring with 118 points.

Teams

Team Locations
Addison Division
Team Centre
Selkirk Steelers Selkirk
Steinbach Pistons Steinbach
Winkler Flyers Winkler
Winnipeg Saints Winnipeg
Winnipeg South Blues Winnipeg
Sher-Wood Division
Team Centre
Dauphin Kings Dauphin
Neepawa Natives Neepawa
OCN Blizzard The Pas
Portage Terriers Portage La Prairie
Swan Valley Stampeders Swan River
Waywayseecappo Wolverines Waywayseecappo

Turnbull Cup Champions

The Turnbull Cup

Manitoba Junior Championships (1918 to 1970)

Manitoba Junior ‘A’ Championships (1971 to Present)

Post MJHL Playoffs

Formats

Starting in 1971, the winner of the MJHL playoffs (Turnbull Cup) plays the winner of Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs (Credential Cup) for the Anavet Cup. Since 1991 the winner goes to the Royal Bank Cup tournament (1991-94 Centennial Cup tournament). An Abbott Cup Champion was crowned from the results of the round robin part of this tournament until 1999, when the Cup was retired.

Between 1970 and 1991, the Anavet Cup Champions advanced to the Abbott Cup against the winner of AJHL/BCHL (Doyle Cup). With the winner going on to the Centennial Cup meeting the Eastern Canada Champions for the National Junior ‘A’ title.

Prior to 1971, the winner of the MJHL playoffs (Turnbull Cup) competed for the Abbott Cup (Western Canadian Junior Championship), and then the Memorial Cup for the National Junior Championship. These post MJHL playoffs are commonly known as the Memorial Cup playoffs (M-Cup), for the MJHL Champs the road was firstly the Western M-Cup Semi-finals and Finals (Abbott Cup), and then the Memorial Cup Finals. During this 53 year era (1918-1970), MJHL Teams won 18 Abbott Cups, and 11 Memorial Cups.

Manitoba/Saskatchewan Junior ‘A’ Hockey Championships

Anavet Cup (1971 to Present)

Western Canadian Junior Hockey Championships

Abbott Cup (1919 to 1970) Western Canadian Junior Championships

Abbott Cup (1971 to 1999) Western Canadian Junior ‘A’ Championships

National Junior Hockey Championships

Memorial Cup (1919-1970) National Junior Championships

Centennial Trophy (1971 to 1990) National Junior ‘A’ Championships

Awards & Leaders

Individual Awards

Scholarships

Records

National Hockey League

Defunct teams

See also

References

External links


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