It’s official, the schedule is now out for the 2021-22 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season.
The league confirmed Monday that the season will begin on Sept. 24 and will feature a full 58-game schedule, with all 12 of the league’s teams in action on opening weekend.
For Battlefords fans, the schedule features Kindersley Klippers at the Access Communications Centre on Sept. 24 for the home opener for the Battlefords North Stars.
This will be the first home opener for the club in two years. Last year, weather conditions prevented the North Stars from hosting their home opener with the Klippers, and they did not manage to get in any home games during a truncated 2020-21 regular season. After only a few games the season was suspended Nov. 25 due to public health orders, and was eventually cancelled.
Other games on opening night include Flin Flon at Melfort, Melville at Weyburn, Humboldt at Notre Dame, Nipawin at La Ronge and Yorkton at Estevan.
All the teams then meet each other again the following night in the other team’s arena.
The SJHL confirms it will return to its three-division format next season after trying a North/South Division split in 2020-21. The league will also feature the top eight teams in the league qualifying for the playoffs regardless of where they finish in their division.
Each team will play their natural rival 10 times throughout the season, which means the North Stars and Kindersley will meet 10 times. They will then play other teams within their division eight times, and face the remaining teams four times apiece.
The North Stars will play just two regular season games at home in September, followed by five home games in October, four in November, four in December, five each in January and February, and the regular season home finale on March 5 against Kindersley.
The league’s regular season runs until Sunday, March 6, after which time the playoffs will begin. The SJHL championship finals are scheduled to start April 8 with the league champion advancing to take on the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in the ANAVET Cup beginning Friday, April 29.
That winner advances to the National Junior-A Championships starting Friday, May 20 with the Estevan Bruins hosting the tournament.
Other notable dates include the SJHL Showcase at the Legends Centre in Warman from Oct. 4 to 6, with each team playing two regular season games each. The games will be broadcast on SaskTel and SaskTel Max TV.
The SJHL/MJHL Showcase will move to Manitoba in 2022 at Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg. The event will again feature two veteran teams and one “young guns” teams from each league, with the event running Jan. 25 and 26.