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Bombers to take on Manitoba, Maritimes, Ontario league champs at Centennial Cup: schedule

We don’t know all the teams yet, but we know what leagues’ champions Flin Flon will play in the Centennial Cup next month.
S18 Bombers 1
Bomber Cole Tanchuk, flanked by out-of-action teammates Matt Egan and Rylan Thiessen, celebrates the Bombers' Game 4 win in the SJHL finals April 27.

We don’t know all the teams yet, but we know what leagues’ champions Flin Flon will play in the Centennial Cup next month.

Hockey Canada released a full schedule for the junior A national championship last week, showing the Bombers’ first four opponents. Instead of the tournament being a five-team tournament with a round robin and a playoff round afterward, the Centennial Cup will be played as a 10-team tournament, split into two groups of five. The only two confirmed teams in the tournament so far are the hosting Estevan Bruins and the Bombers.

The Bombers will face the teams that end up being crowned champs in the MJHL, MHL, NOJHL and CCHL, playing four confirmed games when the tournament starts next month. Flin Flon will start with facing the NOJHL champs May 19, then playing the CCHL champions May 21, the MHL champions May 23 and the title winners from the MJHL May 24. All the Bombers’ games will be played at 4 p.m. Saskatchewan time.

None of those four leagues have finished their playoffs yet, though one league - the MHL - has reached their league final. The Summerside Western Capitals, as of press time, are up 2-0 on the Truro Bearcats after winning their first round series in a sweep and their second round series in five games. The Capitals entered the playoffs ranked third in the nation in the CJHL’s final top 20 rankings.

The NOJHL, which covers northern Ontario, has one team in their league final - the Soo Thunderbirds, which got there by sweeping both their first and second round series. Their opponents in the league final haven’t yet been determined, with the Hearst Lumberjacks and the Timmins Rock going to a Game 7, tied 3-3. Soo entered the playoffs ranked sixth in Canada in the final top 20 list, while the Lumberjacks were 12th, just behind the Humboldt Broncos - the Rock were ranked 16th.

Both teams in the MJHL’s finals are now known. The Dauphin Kings booked their ticket to the next round last weekend by defeating Winkler in five games, while the Steinbach Pistons made it in by knocking out Winkler in six games. At the end of the regular season, Dauphin was ranked 13th in the national top 20 rankings, while Steinbach made it onto the list at number nine.

The last league going is the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), which has the Ottawa Jr. Senators up 2-1 on the Renfrew Wolves and Hawkesbury with a 2-1 lead on Brockville in the other semifinal. The Senators were listed at fourth overall in the year-end rankings, while Hawkesbury made it onto the list at 20th spot.

While the Bombers did crack the top 20 ranking several times this season, they did not end the regular season on the list. Flin Flon qualified for the tournament by reaching the league finals and facing Estevan, who had already qualified automatically.

In the other group, Estevan will face the winners of the AJHL, QJHL, SIJHL and OJHL. The AJHL winner will either be the number one-ranked Brooks Bandits or the number five ranked Spruce Grove Saints. Both teams have made it to the league final having swept both of their first and second round series. In the QJHL, the top team will either be Longueuil Collège-Français or the Cégep Beauce-Appalaches Condors, who have both qualified for the league final. Longueuil ended the season second in the nation, while the Condors were not ranked.

The Red Lake Miners are up 3-1 on the Kam River Fighting Walleye in the SIJHL league final as of press time. Heading into the playoffs, the Miners were ranked eighth in the country - the Fighting Walleye were ranked seventh. The OJHL is now in its league semifinal, with four teams still in the running - out of those four, three ended the season in the national top 20.

The top three teams in both groups after round robin play will make it into the playoff round, with the top seed getting a bye to the semifinals and the second and third place teams playing quarterfinal game against each other May 27. From there, semifinals with the quarterfinal winners and the top seed will take place May 28, with the finals being held May 29. Hockey Canada will stream all preliminary round games online, with the final being broadcast nationally on TSN and streamed online at