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Road to the RBC Cup: Upsets Galore in CJHL Playoffs

By Sam Laskaris on April 13, 2017

The host Cobourg Cougars are the only team thus far that know they will be participating in this year's national RBC Cup tournament. (Tim Bates/OJHL Images)

It’s more than just a cliché.

Whenever playoffs roll around in any league, countless players, coaches and fans can often be heard uttering that anything can happen.

That has certainly been the case this year in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

When the postseason began last month in the 10 Junior A leagues that make up the CJHL, there were numerous clubs hoping for lengthy playoff runs because they had enjoyed plenty of regular season success.

As of right now, there is just one organization, the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Cobourg Cougars, who know they will be participating in this year’s national tournament.

As hosts, the Cougars are guaranteed a spot in the five-team event, which will be staged May 13-21.

Of the 132 CJHL clubs that began play this season, only 20 remain in the hunt to join the Cougars and participate in the national RBC Cup tournament.

Tom Annelin, the CJHL’s Director of Communications, realizes it is no easy feat to get to the nationals.

“You not only have to win your league but you also have to go on and win a regional championship,” he said.

Those still vying for a spot in the RBC Cup tourney have all advanced to their own league championship finals.

What’s surprising to many CJHL followers is the number of quality teams that were upset in their own league playoffs.

For example, the Wenatchee Wild had finished atop the regular season standings of the British Columbia Hockey League by winning 47 of their 58 regular season contests.

The Wild, however, was eliminated from further play when it was swept 4-0 in the second round of the BCHL playoffs by the Chilliwack Chiefs.

Meanwhile, the Steinbach Pistons were the class of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, finishing atop the regular season standings, 14 points ahead of the runner-up.

The top-ranked Pistons were ousted by the fifth-ranked Portage Terriers in their MJHL semifinal series.

And out east, the Pictou County Weeks Crushers had topped the Maritime Hockey League regular season standings by earning points in 41 of their 50 matches.

But they had their campaign come to an end when they were downed by the Amherst Ramblers in their league semifinal series, which went the maximum seven games.

“It’s pretty intense when you see some of these teams gone,” Annelin said.

While there have been a number of upsets thus far in some leagues, things are going pretty much as expected in others.

In the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Georgetown Raiders and Trenton Golden Hawks, who had placed atop their conference standings, will commence their championship final on Thursday.

Others still alive include the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits, the Powassan Voodoos of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central Canada Hockey League.

All were considered favourites heading into their respective league playoffs having topped their regular season standings.

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By Sam Laskaris| April 13, 2017
Categories:  Junior|Events
Keywords:  Cobourg Cougars

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