There are no earth shattering rule changes following the annual Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League annual general meeting this past weekend in Nipawin, but there is a slight change to the playoff format and an uptick in the number of games with four officials.
The two wild card series (played between the seventh and 10th seeds, and the 8th and 9th seeds) will be shortened from a best-of-five to a best-of-three.
"The reduction of the wild card has been off and on for three years," SJHL commisioner Bill Chow said on Monday morning. "It was back on the table this year and this is what the governors and coaches agreed upon.
"Those teams that aren't playing, they're sitting for approximately 10 days, it could be two weeks, from the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs for them. So by having the wild card shortened...it allows for those teams not to be sitting as long."
As far as the officiating change, Chow said previously about 60 per cent of games were reffed under the four-man system, with two referees and two linesmen. Other games only have one referee and two linesmen, which makes it tougher to see everything that goes on around the ice.
Now, 70-75 per cent of games will be reffed under the four-man system.
"It's all about cost and efficiency," Chow said. "There comes a cost factor...when it's officiating because they do have to get paid... and then [the other part is] being comfortable enough so that there are sufficient officials around to meet that demand of having those many games being a four-man system."
One other small change the league agreed upon is having the home team wear dark jerseys, but this won't be implemented until the 2018-19 season.
The end of the Western Canada Cup was also officially announced at the end of May and now it's official that the format of the Anavet Cup will be its replacement, where the SJHL champion plays the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion in a best-of-seven with a berth to the RBC Cup on the line.
The naming rights still have to be visited but the format is officially back.
"That form of what the Anavet Cup was previously, is back," Chow said. "For this year, we'll be starting with the Mantioba champion being the host or the home league, since Humboldt back in [the] 2010-11 season was the home league at that time."
The 2010-11 season was the last time the Anavet Cup existed.
Also confirmed was the return of the SJHL showcase to Warman in late September.
Last season it ran from Sunday, Sept. 25 to Wednesday, Sept. 28, where each club played two regular season games at the Legends Arena. This year the dates are almost identical, as it will run from Sunday, Sept. 24 until Wednesday Sept. 27. The midget showcase will also return on the Sunday.
The full league schedule is set to be released at the beginning of July.
"The schedule is completed and the teams have now gone back to make sure that all their dates line up with other things going on in their buildings to make sure that there are no errors," Chow said. "They're supposed to have that to me by the middle of June and so once we get that put together we're hoping that the regular season schedule will be out that first week of July."
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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