KIJHL excited to participate in WCDM

Hockey Canada has announced that its board of directors has approved a Western Canadian Development Model (WCDM) pilot project for the 2024-25 season, following an extensive proposal submitted in collaboration from its four Western Members, their respective Junior A hockey leagues and the Western Hockey League (WHL).

The WCDM pilot project focuses on strengthening the delivery of sanctioned junior hockey to participants across Western Canada and will create unprecedented choice and flexibility for players and their families in a system that prioritizes their unique needs on and off the ice, while evolving the opportunities offered to athletes to develop at a level that is reflective of their ability.

“The unity between Hockey Canada and the 10 organizations that led the development of the pilot project has never been stronger, and we are grateful for the tremendous work by the Members and leagues that led to today’s announcement,” said Pat McLaughlin, chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy for Hockey Canada. “We all must continue to evolve to meet the needs of Canadians looking to participate in our National Winter Sport in a system that operates with an athlete-centered approach and ensures their development and safety on and off the ice is at the forefront of everything we do. By increasing flexibility for junior hockey players and families in Western Canada, we anticipate that we will see higher quality competition on the ice, all the way up to the National Team level when Canada is competing internationally in the years to come.”

The WCDM working group consists of representatives from BC Hockey, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, the Pacific Junior Hockey League, Hockey Alberta, the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Hockey Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Hockey Manitoba, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the WHL.

“The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League is excited to participate in the Western Canadian Development Model with BC Hockey and the Pacific Junior Hockey League, align ourselves more closely with the Western Hockey League and our Junior A partners in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and provide new opportunities and resources for our athletes,” says KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois. “We’re thankful to Hockey Canada and all the stakeholders who have worked closely together to bring about a unified development pathway that will directly benefit Junior A hockey in B.C.”

By streamlining the application of Playing Rules for the same age group, athletes, coaches and officials participating in sanctioned Western Junior A leagues will gain experience and develop in a similar environment to the WHL.

  • All participating Western Junior A leagues will adopt the WHL Rule Book, except for Section 1 – Playing Area, Section 3 – Equipment, Rule 34.6 – Television, Rule 38 – Video Goal Judge and Rule 46.14 – Major Penalty.
  • Fighting in the Western Junior A leagues will continue to follow the existing Hockey Canada Rule 7.10.
  • As part of the pilot, players 18 years of age or older as of December 31 of the current season may choose to wear half-face protection, while those under the age of 18 must continue to wear full-face protection, in line with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rule 202.

“This unprecedented collaboration between the WHL, Junior A leagues, and the Western Branches is an unmistakably player-first approach and is one that responds in a substantive way to the evolving demands of players and their families,” commented WHL commissioner Dan Near. “Each of these organizations share a common priority – developing players on and off the ice. The Western Hockey League sits atop the development pyramid for elite players in the West and we will always look for ways to enhance our delivery to players and their families.”

“Establishing this pilot project is a very important part of the exciting steps being taken to evolve our junior hockey pathways in Western Canada, and the initiative will provide our
players with even more opportunity and flexibility in their development,” said Cameron Hope, Chief Executive Officer of BC Hockey. “We look forward to the coming season and working together with our Junior A leagues, the WHL, and Hockey Canada to ensure the sanctioned junior hockey system continues to strengthen and flourish in our Branch and beyond.”

The pilot project will be reviewed on an ongoing basis during the 2024-25 season, and it is anticipated that its scope could expand in future seasons.