Sunday November 23, 2014

Bruins land SJHL Hall of Fame weekend


The Estevan Bruins were awarded the 2012 SJHL Hall of Fame game during the league's semi-annual meetings in Melfort last weekend.

The fourth annual Hall of Fame weekend will see several SJHL builders and/or former players inducted to the league's hall.

The induction class is usually made up of people local to the community hosting, but SJHL president Bill Chow stressed that nominations are open to anyone associated with the league.

The weekend includes an SJHL game involving the Bruins, as well as a banquet and induction ceremony. It has previously been hosted by Weyburn, Humboldt and Yorkton.

The date for the weekend has not yet been announced although it will likely be between late October and mid-November, according to Chow.

Estevan was the only team to pursue the event at the meetings. Chow said the Hall of Fame festivities are important to preserve the league's history.

"I think it's important especially when it comes to the players coming into the league, because some of them may not be aware of the past of some communities and how long teams have been around.

"Some people do not realize that Estevan used to be where the New Westminster Bruins came from in the old WHL days … things like that, I think, are important to realize."

There were several other major news items coming out of the meetings. The league will reduce the number of 20-year-olds allowed on each team from the current limit of nine. The limit will drop to eight 20-year-olds next season and seven in 2013-14.

Chow said the change is being made in part to make the league younger and, in turn, attract more scouts.

"It's a bunch of things, but that's part of it. We would definitely like to attract the younger players and provide those younger players with an opportunity to play in the league," said Chow. "The last thing anybody would want to see is having a younger player sitting on the bench. Coaches still have to win, but they have to develop too. It's a balancing act and that's what we have to get to."

Chow said it's possible that the league could drop down to six 20-year-olds per team in the future, depending on the results over the next two years.

Meanwhile, next year's SJHL schedule will have a different look. The slate is being reduced from 58 games to 54. Clubs will play only two games against each team in the other conference, down from four each. They will face each conference rival eight times, meaning 40 games will be played within the conference.

Chow said the reduction will eliminate one road swing per team, cutting travel expenses and also looking out for the interests of player education. The unbalanced schedule will also ensure more intra-divisional four-point games late in the season.

"When we lower our age group and we're trying to attract that younger player, we now have to consider the fact that those younger players should be in school," he said.

Chow said the league is trying to schedule more weekend games, which would allow older players to hold down a full-time job and become more integrated into the community, as well as maximize gate revenue.

Finally, it was announced that next year's SJHL Showcase will be held in Melfort Dec. 14-15.
Chow said scouts were in favour of moving the Showcase back because their schools will be on Christmas break at that time, freeing them up to attend.

In a further effort to garner more scholarships, the league is encouraging its teams to get more players writing SAT exams, which are a requirement for any NCAA scholarship.

Last year, 44 SJHL players wrote the exam. This year, 94 have written them and 14 are still scheduled to write.

Meanwhile, the league announced last week that it is changing the name of its championship trophy from the Credit Union Cup to the Canalta Cup.

The change is part of a 10-year agreement with Canalta Hotels that will see the chain contribute more than $600,000 to the league over that period.



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