The Yarmouth Mariners were knocked out of the playoffs in the 2013-14 season after losing two games in the mini-series with the Valley Wildcats. Starting this season there will be no more mini-series. FRED A. HATFIELD PHOTO
By Jason Simmonds
SUMMERSIDE – Regular-season games in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) will now take on added importance.
A new playoff format, which eliminates the mini series between the fourth and fifth-place teams in the Eastlink Division was approved during the league’s annual general meeting at the Quality Inn in Summerside on Friday, June 13. Now the top four teams in the Roger Meek Division and Eastlink Division will advance to play for the Kent Cup.
The addition of the St. Stephen County Aces brings the league up to 12 teams – six in each division – for the 2014-15 season.
“St. Stephen provided a very comprehensive presentation to the board,” said MHL president and Kinkora native Derryl Smith. “Last year, they had to go back to secure some sponsorships as requested by the board of governors.
“They came back to the table again, and it was unanimous to accept them in. They did a great job.
“I said to the boys this morning (Friday), ‘If they do as good a job preparing their team as they did preparing their proposal to become an expansion team, they will become successful.’”
A busy week, which included an expansion draft for the Aces on Tuesday, will conclude on Saturday. The QMJHL draft will begin at 9 a.m., and the annual draft will get underway at Credit Union Place at 1 p.m.
The annual draft is open to the public, and the coach of year, executive of year and Maurice Bent builder of the year awards will be presented just before the Aces make the first overall pick.
MHL vice-president Cecil Taylor of Charlottetown explained the QMJHL draft is for 17, 18 and 19-year-old players.
“We have a list of eligible players we have developed,” explained Taylor. “These are players who are not on any of our 45-player protected lists, and they have to be North American kids.
“Each team maintains a list of 10 players that they have exclusive rights to talk to should the kid be leaving the Q for whatever reason.”
Pleased with direction
Smith, who is in his eighth season as MHL president, is pleased with the direction of the league.
“We have rebranded the league, and we’ve been able to use that to do better marketing with the MHL versus the MJHL,” said Smith. “The code of discipline and Cecil Taylor constantly updating the constitution with the board are two things that give us a strong foundation.
“It’s pretty easy to build up when you have that. Having said that, the MHL is in a good place.”