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.
Photo courtesy of Wanda Harron Photography
The Regina Thunder officially became a member of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) in 2000 as part of the Prairie Conference. Originally the Regina franchise of the CJFL was known as the Rams until they left for the University ranks following the 1998 season. In 2000 the team was known as the Prairie Thunder before dropping the “Prairie” name in 2005.
The Thunder have been fortunate to play on a CFL field since they began. They started at Taylor Field until 2018 when they moved with the Saskatchewan Roughriders to the new Mosaic Stadium. They have also played a handful of games at Leibel Field in the last couple of years.
Since 2000 the Thunder have had success in the Prairie Conference with an overall record of 76-63 to date. Despite the winning record the Thunder have just one Conference title; which was in 2013.
As a matter of fact that 2013 season was magical for the Thunder. After hiring current head coach Scott MacAulay, the Thunder finished 5-2-1 in the regular season. In the playoffs they defeated the Edmonton Huskies 26-17, before upsetting the top ranked Saskatoon Hilltops 21-16 on the road in the Conference final and won the right to host the Canadian Bowl. In the national championship game they dismantled the VI Raiders 55-26 to win their first and only Canadian title.
Since becoming the Thunder in 2000, the club has had a couple of national award winners including the 2002 Gordon Currie Coach of the Year Randy Shaw and in 2003 Steve Wilson was named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. This past year in 2020 defensive lineman Jordan Tholl was named the Past Commissioner’s Award winner after tremendous volunteer work in the Regina area.
The Thunder currently have three players on a CFL roster, all members of the Roughriders; Logan Ferland, Zack Evans and Dan Clark.
Quick Thunder Facts:
Conference – Prairie Conference
Location – 1700 Elphinstone St, Regina, SK
Team President – Murad Al-Katib
Head Coach – Scott MacAulay
Stadium – Mosaic Stadium
Social Handle -@reginathunder, @reginathunderfootballclub
Motto – “Together We Roll”
Primary Colours – Maroon and Navy
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.