The SJHL has announced its schedule for this season. The Bombers will start the season Sept. 16 - and they will do so on home ice.
This season will feature a slight decline in games played, going from 58 games as in years past to 56 games, starting Sept. 16. Along with that comes a change in who the Bombers will face - instead of playing 10 games against a close rival, eight games against teams within the Bombers’ division and either four or six games against everyone else, the Bombers will face division rivals six times, close out-of-division teams six times and everyone else four times.
The Bombers will only play La Ronge six times this year instead of 10, playing home games Dec. 17, Jan. 3 and March 10 against the team’s closest geographic rivals. Nipawin and Melfort will also only play the Bombers six times, while Humboldt and Yorkton will also play Flin Flon six times.
The Bombers will start their season Sept. 16 at the Whitney Forum against Melfort, playing the next night on the road against Nipawin and at home once more Sept. 23 against La Ronge. Following that, the Bombers will head to Warman and Legends Arena for the SJHL Showcase, where they will face Weyburn Sept. 26 and Melville at 1:30 p.m. local time Sept. 27.
Other noteworthy games are the Bombers’ first matchup against Estevan, a rematch of the SJHL final. The two teams will play in Estevan Oct. 12, but won’t meet up at the Whitney Forum until late January, where they will play a pair of games Jan. 27-28. Estevan and Flin Flon will only play four games against each other this season.
The Bombers will host the Humboldt Broncos at the Forum in an early-start Sunday game Oct. 2, with the Broncos and Bombers renewing their rivalry from the league semifinals at 6 p.m. local time. The Broncos and Bombers will clash six times this year.
Flin Flon will have its first four-games-in-five-nights road trip from Oct. 11-15, facing Melville, Estevan, Weyburn and Notre Dame, with another one Feb. 8-12 featuring Yorkton, Weyburn, Estevan and Notre Dame.
Countering that, the Bombers will have a few stretches of three or more home games in a row, including a four-game home stretch after the SJHL showcase and before their first big southern road swing. From Oct. 1-8, the Bombers will host Nipawin, Humboldt and Kindersley twice.
The maroon and white will wrap up the season with three home games in their final four matchups. The Bombers will play Nipawin March 3, Melfort March 7 and in La Ronge March 10 before wrapping up the regular season March 11 at the Forum against the Ice Wolves. Playoffs will likely get started in mid-March - no changes have been announced to the league’s playoff structure, which features the league’s top eight teams making it in and the first seed playing the eighth seed, the second seed playing the seventh and so on.
The SJHL will also restore the SJHL-MJHL Showcase tournament, which was cancelled in each of the last two years for pandemic-related reasons. Last year’s event was slated to take place in Manitoba and league sources have indicated that Manitoba is expected to host the event for the first time in January 2023, following several years where the event was hosted in Regina.
Once the SJHL playoffs wrap up, the league’s champion will be en route to the Centennial Cup once again, with no Anavet Cup qualifier series - instead of the tournament only including four regional champs and a host team, the national title series will have a similar layout to the 2022 edition, with the nine league champions all qualifying directly and playing against a host team. The 2023 Centennial Cup will be played in Portage la Prairie, Man., automatically qualifying the host Portage Terriers, who will be joined by the MJHL champions, SJHL champions and seven other league champs.