Eight teams began the journey a year ago in the upstart Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League. A 48-game regular season began in mid-September has now concluded and the first league playoffs are set.
Sitting on top of the league is the West Division champion Muskoka Wild (35-7-3-3) who finished with 76 points to earn the top seed in the playoffs. East Division champion Almonte Sharpshooters (34-8-1-2), who played 45 of 48 scheduled games due to winter weather, are the second seed.
Essa Stallions (29-13-1-5) and Grey Highlands Hawks (29-18-1-0) also earned home ice advantage in the opening round. Both have proven capable to defeat the top two teams at any time. Stallions’ forward Stephen Eccles led the league in scoring with 80 points and feature the top ranked goaltender in Ethan James (.933 save%). After 13 regular season meetings a rivalry has grown between Essa and the Wild after Muskoka won eight of the 13 games.
The Hawks were the highest scoring team in the CPJHL scoring 216 goals. Leading the offense is Skylar Robertson (73 points) and Daniel Bureau (66 points). Kristers Bormanis also put up 34 points in just 14 games after spending much of the season with the Butte Cobras (WSHL). On home ice Grey Highlands proved difficult for everyone with a record of 17-7-1.
Seeded fifth are the young and dangerous Glengarry Highlanders (23-19-1-5) who feature the league’s top goal scorer in 17-year old Felix Stephen.
Rounding out the field is the O-town Rebels (23-19-0-2), Norwood Nemesis and Seaforth Generals.
The first round will be contested over two games with a total goal aggregate. If teams are tied after the second game a five-minute sudden death overtime will be played followed by a shootout (if necessary).
Four first round winners will advance to the second round where they will play a round robin. The top two will then move on to the championship game.