The Capital Region Junior Hockey League has never made its desire to expand a secret.
In fact, the province’s southern-based, five-team Jr. B hockey league actually has a request for expansion candidates right on the front page of its website: “The Capital Region Junior Junior Hockey League (CRJHL) will be accepting new team applications to begin play in the 2020-2021 season. Please contact Grant Heather at email@example.com, no later than March 31st, 2020 for more information or to submit a franchise application. Applications and presentations will be reviewed at the CRJHL AGM. The date and time of the meeting is forthcoming, but will likely be in mid-April 2020.”
It would appear that even though the league is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league’s executive is still pursuing expansion for the 2020-21 season.
“We are currently talking to three teams,” said Selkirk Fishermen head coach and GM Chris Poponick. “Right now, everyone is in a wait-and-see mode. There are a lot of things that have to be discussed. But AGMs are coming up all over the province and it appears as if some teams are ready to make some big changes.”
Poponick would not reveal which teams with which the CRJHL board has been negotiating. However, he did say the league is prepared to move quickly.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the pandemic and when we’ll get back to some degree of normalcy, but we are ready to get serious about our discussions as quickly as we can,” he said. “We have a couple of good seasons under our belt as a five-team league. We’ve built up a lot of credibility. So we should we act quickly while we’ve developed all the good will that we have.
“Expanding by three teams would be great. It would be great to have an eight-team league. I’ve always felt that 10 would be a good number. Of course, whatever we do, we might have to set up the league in divisions, North and South or East and West. I don’t know at this stage, but we have to be prepared for hockey to come back and what kind of league we’re going to have.
“Ultimately, I’d be happy with six teams. My feeling has always been the same about expansion. The Fish have been around for 100 years and I’ll be damned if they’re going to go away under my watch. I want the league to big and strong and after two good years, we’re ready to get bigger and stronger.”
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