CPJHL gearing up for ‘exciting’ 2018-19 season across Ontario, Quebec

by Matt Mackinder

The Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League is preparing to enter its third season of competition and if the first two seasons are any indication, the 2018-19 season should be very exciting.

This past season, the CPJHL participated in two showcase tournaments (one in Las Vegas with the Western States Hockey League, one in the Niagara Region), the Essa Stallions (coached by former pro player and AHL champion Sylvain Cloutier) captured the President’s Cup championship in a thrilling series over the Smiths Falls Settlers and numerous players advanced to higher levels of the game, including college and professional teams overseas.

For the WSHL Western States Shootout showcase event in December, the CPJHL will once again send two teams to Las Vegas.

CPJHL president Stephane Laveault has been with the league since Day 1 and is elated at the progress the league has shown in just two years.

“We have proven to be a viable developmental league in the Ontario and Quebec regions, and much of that credit goes to our owners, coaches and players,” said Laveault. “It’s an exciting time when we continue to grow and attract top-end players and coaches to the CPJHL.”

Since the CPJHL season concluded in early March, several league standouts have signed professional contracts, including former Stallions Daniel Bureau (Ockelbo HC, Sweden), Chris Hunt (Svegs IK, Sweden) and Brett Simpson (Lions NC Stromstad, Sweden). Bureau also played for the Grey Highlands Hawks.

As well, Dean DeSouter (Seaforth Generals) is off to Antwerp in the Belgium/Netherlands pro ranks and Zach DeContie (Maniwaki Mustangs) will join Bureau with Ockelbo HC.

Graduating Essa star Nils Tofilovski has chosen to play college hockey and will skate for Lindenwood University-Belleville in the NAIA.

More advancements should be announced as the summer rolls on.

“As a league, we are extremely proud of the players that have made commitments for next season and for the group of kids coming back to play in the CPJHL that will be looking to improve their games to advance in the game next season,” Laveault said. “That further lends itself to the fact that our players are using this league as a springboard to higher levels and that our coaches are taking the time to work with these kids to show them what it takes to get noticed by pro and college coaches.”

For the 2018-19 campaign, the CPJHL has 10 teams in Ontario (Bracebridge Pioneers, Brampton Royals, Coldwater Ice Wolves, Essa, Grey Highlands, Muskoka Anglers, Niagara-on-the-Lake Nationals, Scarborough Wexford Raiders, Seaforth and Smiths Falls) and two more in Quebec (Maniwaki, Universel College Unik).

The season schedule is being finalized and teams have been busily building their rosters for the coming season.

“This has been our busiest summer to date,” Laveault said. “Our teams are signing players from all over the globe, and like I’ve said, just a really exciting time for our league.”