CALGARY, AB - The 2004 RBC Royal Bank Cup in Grande Prairie, Alta., and its four regional championships, will be the first junior A championships to be played without the red line, for offside passes, Hockey Canada announced on Monday, .
Hockey Canada's junior council recently voted to support a motion for the removal of the red line for the RBC Royal Bank Cup and these 2004 regional championships, which was supported by Hockey Canada's Officers and Board of Directors at Hockey Canada's semi-annual meeting in November.
The regional championships affected are the Fred Page Cup, Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Anavet Cup and Doyle Cup. The winners of each of these regional championships will join the host team Grande Prairie Storm of the AJHL, to form the five team RBC Royal Bank Cup – which is junior A hockey supremacy in Canada.
The 2004 RBC Royal Bank Cup will take place May 8-16, 2004 in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Three of Canada's 10 junior A leagues played without the red line, for offside passes, last season (2002-2003). The remaining seven leagues voted to play without the red line, effective at the start of this season (2003-2004).
The Alberta Junior Hockey League has been playing without the red line since 1994-95. Research conducted that season, for a Hockey Canada pilot project, indicated that games were an average 20 minutes faster, largely because of fewer stoppages.
The Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League and British Columbia Hockey League also played without the red line before 2003-04.
The Maritime Junior 'A' Hockey League, la Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Quebec, Central Junior Hockey League in eastern Ontario, Northern Ontario Junior 'A' Hockey League, Superior International Junior Hockey League in the Thunder Bay, Ont., region, Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League followed the AJHL, OPJHL and BCHL's example this season.
The Fred Page Cup involves the Maritime, Quebec and Central Junior champions, plus les Braves de Valleyfield of the LHJAAAQ, in Valleyfield, QC in April.
The Dudley-Hewitt Cup involves the OPJHL, NOJHL and SIJHL champions, plus the North Bay Skyhawks of the NOJHL, in North Bay, ON in April.
The Manitoba and Saskatchewan champions will play a best-of-seven series for the Anavet Cup.
The Alberta and B. C. champions will play a best-of-seven series for the Doyle Cup.