Hockey Canada, CJHL Renew Partnership with NHL

Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) have announced a two-year extension of their partnership with the National Hockey League, while also unveiling the Team Canada coaches for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, as well as a new format for the World Junior A Challenge and CJHL Prospects Event


The National Hockey League, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League have renewed a key partnership agreement, which was originally formed in May 2009. The two-year agreement, with a mutual option for two additional years, will invest in the development of players, coaches and officials involved with Junior A hockey across the country.

“The CJHL plays a vital role in developing players and providing national platforms to showcase their great on-ice product,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “We are pleased to continue a great relationship with the CJHL and member Clubs to enhance their prospect events and championship”.

“The profile of Junior A hockey across Canada has grown considerably in recent years thanks in large part to the relationship between Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey League and the National Hockey League,” said Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. “We are thrilled this partnership will continue and Junior A’s players and marquee events will continue to be showcased at the highest levels.”

In May 2009, the NHL committed to assist in growing Junior A hockey in Canada through two of its marquee events – the World Junior A Challenge and CJHL Prospects Event. The partnership has created a strong relationship with NHL Central Scouting, allowing scouts access to top Junior A talent in Canada while continuing to assist with player identification and development.

“The partnership between the CJHL, Hockey Canada and the NHL offers our players exceptional development and exposure and this renewal is important for the continued growth of Junior A hockey in Canada,” said CJHL chairman Kirk Lamb.


Hockey Canada and the CJHL have announced the appointment of the head coaches for Canada West and Canada East for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge. Vernon Vipers head coach Mark Ferner will serve in the same role for Canada West, while Whitby Fury head coach Curtis Hodgins will take over as head coach of Canada East after serving as an assistant coach in 2010.

Ferner is in his fourth season as head coach and general manager of the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Under Ferner, the Vipers have won back-to-back-to-back league championships, and are currently trying to win an unprecedented third consecutive National Junior A Championship at the 2011 RBC Cup. Ferner had a 16-year playing career that included stops in the NHL, AHL, WCHL, IHL and Europe, and has previous coaching experience in the WHL and WCHL.

Hodgins was named head coach of the OJHL’s Whitby Fury in April 2010 after a long tenure with the Bowmanville Eagles as both a player and a coach at the Junior A and Junior C levels. During his time behind the bench in Bowmanville, the Eagles won three East Division championships, and reached the Central Canadian Hockey League final in 2009-10.


Beginning in November 2011, the CJHL Prospects Event will be held in conjunction with the World Junior A Challenge. The newly-combined event will be a unique opportunity for CJHL stars to showcase their talent on an international stage and simultaneously provide CJHL prospects an unprecedented audience of scouts from across North America.

For the first time, Canada West and Canada East will each form an identification committee, which will include one representative from each of the team’s five respective CJHL leagues. The committee will identify 60 players for evaluation camps in September 2011, then ultimately assist Hockey Canada high performance staff and the team’s coaching staff in selecting 32-36 players that will be invited to the selection camps held immediately prior to the World Junior A Challenge.

“With the addition of Hockey Canada high performance staff, and with the changes made to the format of the selection camps, we have enhanced the development opportunity these events provide our players,” said Lamb. “In addition, these events are extremely well-attended by the scouting community from the NHL, CHL, NCAA and others, so our players continue to get the high degree of exposure that will result in more athletic and academic opportunities.”

The new player identification and evaluation process has proven successful for Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence and is aimed to increase performance and heighten Canada’s representation at the World Junior A Challenge, which was created in 2006 to highlight the talent in Canada’s ten Junior A leagues. The 2011 World Junior A Challenge will be comprised of six teams: Canada West, Canada East and four international entries. The host community and schedule have yet to be announced.

The CJHL Prospects Event showcases the top 40 NHL draft-eligible players in the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The event is a two-game total goal series between Team East and Team West. Player selection is a joint initiative of the CJHL and NHL Central Scouting. By combining the CJHL Prospects Event with the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, the scouting community will have the unique opportunity to witness over 70 CJHL stars compete in two high-level events.

For more information on the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, please visit