The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has announced a significant change to the Kootenay Conference playoff format for the 2021/22 season.
With eight Kootenay Conference teams now having qualified for the postseason, it has been determined that the Creston Valley Thunder Cats will move from the Eddie Mountain division to the Neil Murdoch division and be seeded according to their regular season record. The Thunder Cats now sit third in the Neil Murdoch division behind the Nelson Leafs and Beaver Valley Nitehawks, and ahead of the Castlegar Rebels and Grand Forks Border Bruins. If the KIJHL playoffs were to begin today, the Leafs and Rebels would face off in a first vs. fourth place series, while the Nitehawks and Thunder Cats would meet in a second vs. third place series.
“While it was not our intention to deviate from the playoff format that was announced in October, it had become increasingly likely over the past two months that it could produce a first round series involving significant travel and expense between a West Kootenays-based team and the Golden Rockets, who represent the furthest possible conference opponent,” says Commissioner Jeff Dubois. “In investigating potential alternatives, there became a clear consensus amongst all of our Kootenay Conference teams, including Golden and Creston Valley, that making this change was the best option competitively and financially for all participating teams from both divisions.”
Meanwhile, the Golden Rockets — who would have moved into the Neil Murdoch division under the format announced at the beginning of the 2021/22 season — will remain in the Eddie Mountain division as the fourth seed and play the division winner — either Columbia Valley or Kimberley — in the first round of the playoffs.
A change from the KIJHL’s traditional playoff format was needed after it was determined that the Spokane Braves would not be able to compete in 2021/22, leaving the Kootenay Conference with a total of nine teams. The Okanagan-Shuswap Division playoff format remains unchanged, with the top four teams from the Doug Birks and Bill Ohlhausen divisions qualifying for the postseason.
The 2022 KIJHL Playoffs and the road to the Teck Cup begins Tuesday, February 22nd.