The Western Canadian Junior “B” championship will be contested in Thunder Bay, Ontario this weekend, but the battle for the Keystone Cup will be watered down as only four teams—two from Manitoba and two from the host community are competing.
Citing many things including costs, BC and Alberta said they would skip the event this year and so is Saskatchewan.
The Extreme Hockey Regina Capitals won the Prairie Junior Hockey League title last week beating Delisle in the final, but head coach and general manager Scott Kreutzer says a decision was made before the final to follow the lead of Alberta and BC and stay home.
“The league made this decision. There was a vote made in conjuction with all of our teams and the Saskatchewan Hockey Association and it was decided it was in our best interests not to go.” Kreutzer said. “Costs were a lot of it, but quality of play is the main reason because BC and Alberta are historically the stronger teams and without them there and you add the cost you ask if it is worth it. It was a good decision.”
While this year’s Keystone Cup won’t have the same participation, Kreutzer doesn’t think this will hurt Junior “B” hockey across Western Canada and maybe something like this will make it better.
“I think the level of Junior B hockey is getting better and better so a revision of the Keystone was inevitable and this is a good time for the SHA and other provinces to move forward and find a new format.” Kreutzer said. “We would like to get it going again next year if we can.”