BC Hockey is thrilled to announce a new pathway for Junior A hockey in British Columbia and Yukon beginning in the 2023-24 season.

The junior hockey landscape in B.C. and Yukon will undergo a transformation that will see current Junior B teams in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL), and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) commit immediately to an enhanced player experience and increased grassroots engagement, as a part of a reclassification as Junior A.  This reclassification also ushers in an exciting structure for improved development for players within BC Hockey. Teams will be subject to an internal BC Hockey standards-tiering structure, with all teams starting as Tier 2. The reclassification of these leagues to Junior A was unanimously approved by the BC Hockey Board of Directors.

“We are excited about the opportunities this new pathway will create for junior hockey players in B.C. and Yukon,” Stephanie White, Chair of the Board of Directors at BC Hockey said. “Having these teams dedicate themselves to raised standards, first to Junior A Tier 2, and eventually Junior A Tier 1 for some, will provide more of our talented players with a better player experience at the highest level in our province. BC Hockey is confident that this transformation will strengthen the development pathway immediately, and raise the overall hockey experience for players, coaches, and fans alike.”

“Today marks a milestone for the Pacific Junior Hockey League as we begin our journey within Junior A hockey,” said PJHL Commissioner Trevor Alto. “This pathway will provide a new and exciting route for many B.C.-born players to compete at the Junior A level as they pursue their goals in hockey and education. We look forward to what the future holds as our league and teams evolve within this new framework towards a promising future.”

The new Junior A leagues will take their place in Hockey Canada’s Canadian Development Model, which strengthens the game at elite levels, in partnership with the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL).

“The WHL is very pleased to see the progress BC Hockey and their members are making in building a new Junior A opportunity in the province of B.C.,” stated WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “The WHL looks forward to working closely with BC Hockey and their members as the new Junior A pathway is introduced and to the positive impact it will have in strengthening relations with leagues at all levels in the Canadian hockey system.”

Examples of the commitments made unanimously by each of the 45 teams now joining the Junior A classification include;

  • Co-operation and engagement with an independent advisory board to evaluate Junior A Tier 2 teams to determine which, and when, teams may be elevated to the Junior A Tier 1 level.
  • A rigorous process and analysis, conducted over the next three seasons, allowing individual teams and communities to find the level of Junior hockey most suited to them.
  • An understanding that the advisory board will soon be adding other requirements aimed at optimizing the player pathway and overall experience for participants in these leagues, with the intent of increasing them each season.
  • An enhanced dedication to engagement with grassroots hockey in B.C. and Yukon, ensuring that homegrown players receive the opportunity to compete at this level.
  • Increasing roster minimums for players from B.C. and Yukon.
  • An ongoing structure that ensures that teams achieving Junior A Tier 1 classification are ready to take on the added requirements and expectations of the nation’s highest-level of Junior hockey competition.

The future goal for those teams achieving Junior A Tier 1 status will be to eventually seek membership with the CJHL.  Such membership would open the door to competition for the Centennial Cup, Canada’s Junior A National Championship, and eligibility for players and bench staff for Hockey Canada’s and the CJHL’s World Junior A Challenge.

“BC Hockey is committed to this new Junior A landscape.  These already strong teams and leagues have earned their opportunity to fill this layer of the pathway,” BC Hockey Chief Executive Officer, Cameron Hope said. “It is important that junior aged players in B.C. and Yukon have opportunities to compete at a high level, and eventually at the national level as part of the CJHL.”

All reclassified teams will continue to participate in their established leagues – the KIJHL, the PJHL and the VIJHL, during the evaluation period.  Each Junior league will be announcing further information and schedules via their websites and social media in the coming days and weeks. Please follow them to stay up to date with all new developments.