New playoff format puts more emphasis on regular-season games

Jason Simmonds
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MHL holds annual general meeting

SUMMERSIDE – Regular-season games in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) will now take on added importance.

MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) president and Kinkora native Derryl Smith, centre, chats with vice-president Cecil Taylor, right, of Charlottetown and Stu Rath of Truro, N.S., following the league’s annual general meeting in Summerside on Friday morning. Rath is the new co-chair of the board of governors.

A new playoff format, which eliminates the mini series between the fourth- and fifth-place teams in the Eastlink Division, was approved during the league’s annual general meeting at the Quality Inn in Summerside on Friday morning. Now the top four teams in the Roger Meek Division and Eastlink Division will advance to play for the Kent Cup.

The addition of the St. Stephen County Aces brings the league up to 12 teams – six in each division – for the 2014-15 season.

“St. Stephen provided a very comprehensive presentation to the board,” said MHL president and Kinkora native Derryl Smith. “Last year, they had to go back to secure some sponsorships as requested by the board of governors.

“They came back to the table again, and it was unanimous to accept them in. They did a great job.

“I said to the boys this morning (Friday), ‘If they do as good a job preparing their team as they did preparing their proposal to become an expansion team, they will become successful.’”

Draft

A busy week, which included an expansion draft for the Aces on Tuesday, will conclude on Saturday. The QMJHL draft will begin at 9 a.m., and the annual draft will get underway at Credit Union Place at 1 p.m.

The annual draft is open to the public, and the coach of year, executive of year and Maurice Bent builder of the year awards will be presented just before the Aces make the first overall pick.

MHL vice-president Cecil Taylor of Charlottetown explained the QMJHL draft is for 17-, 18- and 19-year-old players.

“We have a list of eligible players we have developed,” explained Taylor. “These are players who are not on any of our 45-player protected lists, and they have to be North American kids.

“Each team maintains a list of 10 players that they have exclusive rights to talk to should the kid be leaving the Q for whatever reason.”

Pleased with direction

Smith, who is in his eighth season as MHL president, is pleased with the direction of the league.

“We have rebranded the league, and we’ve been able to use that to do better marketing with the MHL versus the MJHL,” said Smith. “The code of discipline and Cecil Taylor constantly updating the constitution with the board are two things that give us a strong foundation.

“It’s pretty easy to build up when you have that. Having said that, the MHL is in a good place.”

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Notebook

Notes from MHL’s annual

general meeting Friday:

Schedule

Each team will now play 48 regular-season games, down from 52 for the 2013-14 campaign. Teams within the same division will play each other six times – three home and three away – and will play the other division three times, alternating the extra home game year to year.

The regular season will open on Sept. 11.

One fight

The MHL has returned to the one-fight rule, which is part of the Code of Discipline that is now enforced throughout the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

Officials

Each team will play five regular-season games under the four-man officiating system. All playoff games will feature four officials.

Fred Page Cup

The MHL will host the 2016 Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian junior A hockey championship tournament. Woodstock and Amherst have already shown interest in bidding to host the event, and any other team planning to do so is to declare their intent by June 30, 2014.

A decision on a host team is expected to be made in advance of the January 2015 trade deadline.

Chairman of the board

Stu Rath of the Truro Bearcats and Graham Baxter of the Valley Wildcats are the new co-chairs of the board of governors. They replace John Lynn. The league will revisit the chairman’s position in the fall.

Sponsor

Kent is returning as the league’s title sponsor for the next two years.

Organizations: Eastlink Division, Quality Inn, Credit Union Place North American Canadian Junior Hockey League.OfficialsEach

Geographic location: Summerside, Kinkora

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