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The Prairie Conference 2021 Schedule

01/26/2021, 8:15am PST
By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)

The six team Conference will open August 8th

Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography

The CJFL and Prairie Conference (PFC) have released their 2021 schedule that will see the six member Conference open the CJFL season on August 8th, 2021.

All games and dates are subject to change with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but announcing the schedule gives some hope of getting back to a “normal” football season.

The six-time defending Canadian Bowl champion Saskatoon Hilltops will open the season at home on Sunday August 8th when they host the Edmonton Wildcats at SMF Field.   Meanwhile the PFC runners up in 2019 the Edmonton Huskies will host the Regina Thunder that day, playing out of the JP Bowl, a new facility for the Huskies in Edmonton.  Also on opening day the Calgary Colts will welcome the Winnipeg Rifles to Shouldice Athletic Park in the northend of Calgary, which will be a new home for the Colts in 2021.

The teams are scheduled to play an eight week regular season concluding on October 3rd.   Following a bye week the Conference playoffs will be played the weekend of October 16-17, before the Conference final scheduled for Sunday October 24, 2021.  

The winner of the Prairie finale will then travel to BC to complete in the national semi-final game on Saturday October 30th.   The winner of this game will head to Ontario to face the Conference champs in the 2021 Canadian Bowl on Saturday November 13th.

The BC and Ontario Conferences continue to work on their schedules and do anticipate releasing them in the coming weeks.

CJFL Executive Of The Year

01/12/2021, 8:15am PST
By Supplied

Commissioner Jim Pankovich a pillar of strength

Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography

CJFL Commissioner Jim Pankovich has demonstrated an incredible amount of leadership during the COVID-19 crisis and has been named the 2020 CJFL Stewart MacDonald Executive Of The Year.

Starting from the very early days of the pandemic, Jim had envisioned the difficult path that was before us and began to strategize and approach to deal with the situation.

Jim’s calm, cool, and measured approach kept the Canadian Junior Football League on track to making a difficult decision based on a tremendous amount of information from multiple sources. The outcome ultimately wound up being the best decision one could make for the safety and well being for the athletes, coaches and entire CJFL.

The Commissioner spent hundreds of hours, talking with experts, politicians, doctors, CFL football executives and a multitude of CJFL members throughout the country in the early stages of the pandemic.  Jim had developed a primary plan as well as many multi leveled and layered contingency plans and was able to present these to stakeholders in a matter that had led to the consistent buy in and ownership of all the parties involved.

His in-depth analysis and planning put the CJFL in a place where the league moved methodically forward while maintaining an optimistic view for what was to come. Timelines were developed for primary and secondary strategies, input was requested and documented and thoroughly discussed with all the key stakeholders allowing for educated thought through debates and decisions.

Although the cancellation of the 2020 season and the Canadian Bowl was not the desire of anyone, when it came time to make that decision everyone was confident that the league had viewed and analyzed all angles and the best decision for the safety of the whole was made. Despite the gravity of this decision the CJFL holds the belief that we are still in a strong position to succeed going forward and faith or optimism has not been lost for future seasons. This was accomplished only because Jim’s complete dedication and commitment to ensure no stone was left unturned before a decision was made. His desire and professional, positive attitude was the glue that held the CJFL executive together throughout this challenging time.  

The CJFL did not react hastily nor erratically when it came time to cancel the 2020 season. Jim epitomized the old-World War II mantra of “stay calm and carry on.”

Jim has won this award previously in 2015, and it is a testament to his extreme ability to lead our league that he is awarded the Executive Of The Year five years later. Many have discussed that with Jim Pankovich at the vanguard of this crisis, we were never in a position of defeat but in a position of growth and evolution of the game of junior football in Canada.

Way Back Wednesday: 1976

12/02/2020, 10:00pm PST
By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)

The Year of the Dragon...and the Rams

What a year for sport in Canada in 1976 as Montreal became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Games in July.

The year was a leap year, which began on a Thursday and the CJFL kicked off with four Conferences and 31 teams.  The Ontario Conference itself had three divisions and 13 teams, the Manitoba Conference had four, the Alberta Junior Conference tallied eight and had teams from Saskatchewan and the BC Conference had six strong.  It’s interesting to note only one team finished the season undefeated; the Ottawa Sooners were 8-0 but lost in the Conference semi-final.

In the “Year of the Dragon” the road to the Canadian Bowl featured four Conference champions:

Ontario Football Conference – Hamilton Hurricanes defeated the Verdun Maple Leafs in a best of three series.

Manitoba Junior Football Conference – St. Vital Mustangs also beat the Winnipeg Hawkeyes in a best of three series

Alberta Junior Football League – Regina Rams beat the Edmonton Wildcats 62-28

Big Four Football (BC Conference) – Vancouver Meralomas shutout the North Shore Cougars 24-0

During the 1976 playoffs the CJFL featured a pair of Inter-Conference semi-finals to determine who would play for the Armadale Cup (known today as the Canadian Bowl).  The Ontario champion Hurricanes pounded the Manitoba champion Mustangs 23-8 to advance, then the Alberta champion Rams dominated the BC champion Meralomas 48-0 to set a date with the Hurricanes.

The national championship Armadale Cup was played on November 13, 1976 in front of an incredible 10,000 fans in Regina.  The Rams used the big crowd energy to perfection and crushed the Hurricanes 45-23.  The victory marked the second straight season defeating the Hurricanes in the national championship game.  In four 1976 playoff games the Rams’ defence pitched a pair of shutouts.

Off the field in 1976 the Apple Computer Company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  The CN Tower in Toronto opened its doors in June and Rocky was the top grossing movie of the year, knocking out the competition with $55,900,000 earned at the box office.

The first laser printer was also introduced in 1976 by IBM and Wings had the top song on the Billboard Charts with “Silly Love Songs.”

Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister watching the Montreal Canadians sweep the Philadelphia Flyers in four games to win the Stanley Cup.  The Toronto Blue Jays were created in ’76, then played their first game the following season.    

Back on the gridiron it was a battle of the Roughriders in the 64th Grey Cup when the Ottawa Rough Riders defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 23-20 in Toronto.  Some experts still say this was the most thrilling Grey Cup.    Meanwhile down south the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in Super Bowl 10.

That was the year of 1976!