Hockey Canada Network |
Showcasing The Game: Junior A Hockey Brings Its Best-On-Best Events Together
Jason La Rose
November 12, 2011

They’re two of the biggest events on the Junior A calendar; the premier opportunities for scouts to check out the very best Canadian Junior A hockey has to offer in best-on-best competition.

And this season, for the first time, the World Junior A Challenge and CJHL Prospects Game will be under one roof – a one-stop shop of sorts for pro and college/university scouts, and for fans of the game.

Historically, the World Junior A Challenge is held in early November, with the CJHL Prospects Game following a month later. But in Langley, B.C., this November, a pair of prospects games will be part of the World Junior A Challenge festivities, adding another element to what is an already high-profile week for Junior A hockey.

The move is the latest initiative in the partnership between Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey League and the National Hockey League, designed to advance the Junior A game to the highest level.

“We have always considered the CJHL Prospects Game on par with the World Junior A Challenge,” said Kirk Lamb, chairman of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. “We stepped back and asked whether these events would be better delivered and received together. Together, these events are more attractive to the NHL, Hockey Canada and scouts. We also felt that both events would benefit if the host community, CJHL, Hockey Canada and the NHL could focus all of their resources in one location and at one time.”

“As a scout it’s a huge benefit,” said Chris Edwards, a scout with NHL Central Scouting, of hosting the two events in one location. “It allows scouts the opportunity to maximize their viewing of players who are participating in the World Junior A Challenge from Canada, the U.S. and Europe, as well as catching the best draft-eligible prospects from Canada’s Junior A leagues, while reducing travel time and costs.”

NHL Central Scouting plays a major role in the CJHL Prospects Game, teaming with the CJHL to select the rosters for the two games.

Since the puck was dropped at the first CJHL Prospects Game in Yorkton, Sask., in 2005, the game has showcased some of Junior A hockey’s biggest names – Joe Colborne, Riley Nash, Dylan Olsen and Kyle Turris all played in the game just months before their names were called in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.

Last year, four players – Sam Jardine, Matthew Peca, Brennan Serville and Scott Wilson – were on the ice in Dauphin, Man., for the prospects game, six months before they were selected at the 2011 draft in St. Paul, Minn.

All eight of the players mentioned above also wore the red and white of Team Canada at the World Junior A Challenge, meaning they got twice the exposure.

And that’s one of the biggest advantages to combining the two events – even more draft-eligible 17-year-olds will have the spotlight shone on them. Players taking part in the World Junior A Challenge won’t skate in the CJHL Prospects Game, opening up roster spots for players who previously may not have had the chance.

In addition, those players will have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere surrounding the World Junior A Challenge a year before many of them could represent Canada and play in the tournament.

“It comes back to development, exposure and opportunity, and the World Junior A Challenge and CJHL Prospects Game provide each of these,” Lamb said. “Our players are exposed to scouts from the NHL, NCAA, CIS, Canadian Hockey League and other leagues because these events provide the scouting community with the convenience of seeing our best players and top prospects in one location. The result of development and exposure is more athletic and academic opportunities for our players.”

An added perk to the growth of the events has been the increased caliber of Junior A hockey, not only in the national and international events, but in all 10 of the CJHL’s leagues across the country. More players are realizing the opportunities that Junior A hockey offers, whether those opportunities be on the ice or in the classroom.

“We’re seeing a higher level of play,” said Dennis MacInnis, director of scouting for International Scouting Services. “Players are fitter, faster and more skilled. Programs in Canada have become more professionalized. Gone are the days of mom and pop-operated Junior A clubs. The leagues in general have raised their standards and the teams have followed suit. Looking at the number of quality college and pro players whose roots are in Junior A hockey, it is easy to see that Hockey Canada, the CJHL, its leagues and teams are continuing to develop high-level talent.”

That talent has been key to the Junior A game, which has grown exponentially in the few years since the World Junior A Challenge and CJHL Prospects Game came into existence. If that growth is to continue, the showcase events must develop, much the same way the players do.

And for everyone involved – from Hockey Canada to the CJHL and scouts at every level – bringing the game’s biggest events together in one location is a definite step in the right direction.

For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada

Jason LaRose
Manager, Content Services
Hockey Canada

Kristen Lipscombe
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada

2014 Esso Cup: MON 5 - EDM 4
Apr 22, 2014
Faith Steeves netteda hat trip to leadthe Rockets to itsfirst win.
2014 TELUS Cup: PA 1 - CHA 1
Apr 22, 2014
Goaltending stole the show as the Mintos and Grenadiers tied.
2014 WU18C: CAN 2 - RUS 3 (SO)
Apr 22, 2014
A shootout loss was still enough for Canada to clinch first in Group A.
2014 Esso Cup: WEY 3 - FRA 2
Apr 22, 2014
Caitlin Dempsey’st wo goals paced Weyburn past Fraser Valley.
2014 TELUS Cup: TOR 3 - HFX 0
Apr 22, 2014
Longo a marqué deux fois pour procurer un premier gain aux Young Nationals.
2014 TELUS Cup: MJ 3 - OKA 3
Apr 22, 2014
Another tie for both the Generals and Rockets, this time a 3-3 game.
2014 ESSO CUP STC 2 – SUD 1
Apr 22, 2014
A shorthanded goal from Alexa Vasko late in the second was the difference.
2014 Esso Cup: STC 3 – FRA 0
Apr 21, 2014
Sabres score twice on the power play to defeat Phantom Monday night.
2014 Esso Cup: SUD 5 - MON 1
Apr 21, 2014
Karli Shell scored twice and added an assist in Sudbury’s 5-1 win.
2014 TELUS Cup: CHA 3 - OKA 4
Apr 21, 2014
Special teams was key as the Rockets and Grenadiers skated to a tie.
2014 TELUS Cup: PA 4 - TOR 1
Apr 21, 2014
Four different players scored to give the Mintos the first win.
2014 TELUS Cup: HFX 2 - MJ 2
Apr 21, 2014
The Generals scored twice in the third period to earn the draw.
Photo Credit: