2022 centennial cup bracket final

Centennial Cup contenders in place

Nine CJHL champions are part of the 10-team field to compete for a national title in Estevan

Jason La Rose
May 16, 2022

The largest field in the history of Canada’s National Junior A Championship is set.

Ten teams have confirmed their spots at the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, with the Pickering Panthers claiming the final berth when they eliminated the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in Game 7 of the Ontario Junior Hockey League final on Sunday night.

All nine league champions from across the Canadian Junior Hockey League will be on the ice in Estevan, Sask., with a chance to be the last team standing and win a national title on May 29.

Let’s take a look at the contenders…

The hosts will welcome the nation’s best teams as SJHL champions. Estevan edged out Humboldt by a single point in the regular season before embarking on a playoff run that included just four losses in 16 games – and three of those came in a hard-fought seven-game series against Flin Flon in the SJHL final. The Bruins are built for a 200-foot game; they led the league in goals for (262) and against (124).

Recent history is on the Bruins’ side – the last five host teams have all reached the championship game, and four of those (including the last three – Cobourg, Chilliwack and Brooks) won the national title on home ice.

The champs are (still) here. The Bandits continued their dynastic run, winning the AJHL title for the sixth time since 2012 and advancing to the national tournament for the fifth time in that span. Brooks was historically good in the regular season, winning 52 of 60 games – tied for the third most in league history (it also owns the top two spots) – before sweeping Canmore and Okotoks, and downing Spruce Grove in five games in the AJHL final.

Although it has been three years since the Bandits claimed the national title on home ice, they will look to become just the fourth team to go back-to-back, and the first since the Vernon Vipers in 2009-10.

They’re back. The Jr. Senators made it three trips to Canada’s National Junior A Championship in as many tries with a dominant run in the CCHL. After posting the league’s best regular-season record (finishing 11 points clear of any other team), Ottawa tore through the playoffs with just a single loss in 13 games, finishing with a four-game sweep of Hawkesbury to claim its sixth CCHL title.

The Jr. Senators are the first team to qualify for three-consecutive national tournaments since their CCHL rivals, the Carleton Place Canadians, from 2014-16; they’ll look to finally get past the semifinals after one-goal losses to the host team in 2018 (Chilliwack) and 2019 (Brooks).

Another year, another championship for Collège Français, which claimed the LHJAAAQ title for the sixth time since 2011. After finishing with the best record in the regular season at 34-4-3, Longueuil hit an early speedbump in the playoffs, going down 2-1 to underdog Granby in the opening round, before rebounding to win 11 of its final 13 postseason games and finally punch its ticket to the national championship.

Just the fifth team from Quebec to compete for a national title since 2000, it’ll be the second appearance for Longueuil – known then as the Sieurs, the team won league and regional titles and reached the Centennial Cup semifinals in 1990.

The Kings played second-fiddle to Steinbach most of the season, finishing No. 2 in wins, goals for, goals against and penalty kill, but they were better than the Pistons when it mattered most. Dauphin outlasted its rivals in a back-and-forth MJHL final that went the distance, a series that saw the teams alternate victories. Brayden Dube was the Game 7 hero, scoring with 8:27 left to give the Kings a 2-1 win and send them to Estevan.

It’s the third time the Kings have advanced to Canada’s National Junior A Championship – in 2010 (when they hosted) they topped the preliminary-round standings before falling to Vernon in the final, and in 2014 they again finished first in the prelims, this time losing to Carleton Place in the semifinals.

The Western Capitals were the class of the MHL from start to finish this season, dropping just four of their 38 regular-season games in regulation time and losing just twice in the playoffs – both in overtime. It’s tough to pinpoint just what made Summerside so good; its offence scored 206 goals in 38 games (50 more than any other MHL team), its defence allowed just 101 and its power play clicked at a 32.6% success rate.

The 1997 national champions make a fifth trip to the tournament, but just the second outside of their home rink – the Western Capitals reached the final in 1989, 1997 and 2013 as host, and finished fifth in 2009.

The Thunderbirds earned their place in Estevan by pulling off one of the rarest feats in hockey – they came back from a 3-0 series deficit in the NOJHL final to beat Hearst, winning Game 6 and Game 7 in overtime. That they’re the last team standing in Northern Ontario isn’t a surprise; Soo had the league’s best record in the regular season, and it rolled through Blind River and the Soo Eagles without losing a game in the first two rounds.

It'll be the third trip to Canada’s National Junior A Championship for the Thunderbirds, who lost in the semifinals in 2012 in Humboldt, Sask., and missed out on the playoffs in 2015 in Portage la Prairie, Man.

It’s been a long time coming, but the Panthers will finally play for the biggest prize in Junior A hockey. Pickering posted its best regular season ever, finishing just a single point behind the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, before romping through the first three rounds of the playoffs, sweeping past Stouffville, Collingwood and Milton. It then outlasted the Jr. Canadiens in seven games in the OJHL final, punching its ticket to Estevan.

The Panthers will look to end a long drought by the champions of the CJHL’s largest league – no OJHL titlist has claimed Canada’s National Junior A Championship since the Aurora Tigers in 2007.

They’ll be the only team in Estevan without a league title, but that doesn’t mean the Bombers should be overlooked. Despite finishing its season with just three wins in its last 12 games, Flin Flon got hot at the right time – it knocked out Battlefords in six games in the opening round of the playoffs despite losing the first two, and handled Humboldt in five before falling to Estevan in a seven-game thriller in the SJHL final.

Few teams can match the history of the Bombers; they date back to 1939 at various levels. The current iteration has been around since 1984, making national championship appearances in 1993 and 2001 (as host).

COVID-19 cancellations meant they played only 37 games in the regular season, but a lack of game action didn’t seem to affect the Miners come playoffs. After finishing the regular season with the SIJHL’s second-best points percentage, Red Lake downed the Dryden Ice Dogs in six games in the semifinals before winning the first three against the Kam River Fighting Walleye, eventually claiming its first SIJHL title in six games.

The Miners are just the third team from the SIJHL to ever earn a place at the national championship, and the first since the Wisconsin Wilderness made their run to the semifinals in 2013.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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