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Friday , 20 May 2022

Cold Lake Aeros to compete in first Champions Cup at home

The inaugural Champions Cup tournament begins in Cold Lake today, a wrap-up to the first season of CAJHL hockey.

The Cold Lake Aeros enter the action as the number one seed after a 36-4 record, far and away from the first-place team in the newly formed league, which broke away from the WSHL in January along with the five remaining member teams.

The Aeros wrapped up the regular season on Tuesday with a 3-1 victory over the Vernal Oilers. The Oilers, based in Utah, made the multi-day bus trip to Alberta to play five games in five calendar days, before finishing the season at the Energy Center. They’ve stayed in the area for the past week in anticipation of the tournament.

“For a six-team league, I think we’re a fabulous league and we’re going to be even better when we have the expansion,” said Aeros coach Corey Bricknell, who played major junior in the Ontario Hockey League, and pro in the East Coast Hockey League.

The CAJHL is a non-sanctioned league that is not recognized by Hockey Canada but plans to expand are already coming to fruition.
In a press release on March 21, the announcement came that Calgary is home to the first expansion team from the AMP Hockey Academy, which plans to play out of the Winsport Canada Olympic Park facility.

Bricknell believes the league can help advance players into sanctioned leagues like the Western Hockey League or the AJHL, or for older players that are looking to play post-secondary.

“This league here is a good league for a stepping stone for a young player to come in. And maybe he didn’t get drafted in his triple-A year midget year. But he can come here and show they can play with the older guys and the heavier guys, and get a chance to go play in the AJ [AJHL] or go play major junior like Western Hockey League,” said Bricknell.

The Cold Lake Aeros 2021-22 club. Image: Cold Lake Aeros.

Grouped into two pools, each team will play a pair of round-robin games to eliminate one team in either pool. Cold Lake will be matched up with the 3rd and 5th seeds in their pool in the Vernal Oilers and Barrhead Bombers, respectively.

Tournament action begins Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. with the Edmonton Eagles playing the Hinton Timberwolves. Cold Lake tees off at 7:30 p.m. against Barrhead. All games are at the Cold Lake Energy Center.

Bricknell said he has a group of players that have completely bought into the full-day program and believes the Champions Cup tournament will be competitive.

“I don’t think that any team is in a better spot than anybody else. It’s who’s going to bring it and who wants it the most,” he said.
“You’re going to see hard work, second efforts, you’re going to see some skill, you’re going to see toughness. I like this league because it’s a combination of everything and that’s what you have to set your team with. You don’t know if you’re gonna have a skating game, a skilled game, or a tough game…so you’re gonna see great, exciting hockey.”

The league’s awards night banquet is Wednesday night.

For dates and times on the Champions Cup semi-finals and finals, follow their website.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.