Blackfalds Bulldogs forward Jack Plandowski scores in the second period of Game 4 in the AJHL South Division Final against the Brooks Bandits last season. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

AJHL announces rule changes for upcoming season

Extending the regular season

Changes are coming to the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) following a pair of meetings held by the league.

During the 2023 Annual General Meeting of the Board of Governors and the Annual AJHL General Managers and Coaches meeting in Canmore on May 25-27, the league will implement changes for the upcoming season.

Some of the changes include a new schedule format which will see the AJHL move away from divisional play to a more “balanced schedule.”

They’ll implement a new 62-game regular season compared to the 60-game season last year. All 16 teams will play each other four times in the regular season plus two games in the AJHL Showcase. The schedule will be announced in mid-June but the Calgary Canuch will host the AJHL Showcase in September.

Further changes include a new pilot program for video review on goals at specific arenas across Alberta. In the media release, the AJHL did not say which rinks but the project will be reviewed at the end of the season to explore possible expansion of the program.

The league will continue operating with a four-man referee system in all AJHL regular seasons and playoff games in the 2023-24 season. They’ve increased the number of games run by a four-referee crew with last season being the first for all games.

In addition to the new rules set by the AJHL, Hockey Canada has announced a new facemask policy for all Canadian Junior Hockey League members, including the AJHL.

Beginning next season and every season after, all CJHL players born after Dec. 31, 2004, must wear face protection during all on-ice activity.

For the 2023-24 season, all 16,17, and 18-year-old players will need to wear face protection. The following year 2024-25 those three age groups plus 19-year-olds will need to do the same. By the 2025-26 season, all players will need to wear face protection.

The AJHL Board of Governors will hold the 2023 AJHL Semi-Annual Meeting on Nov. 22, 2023.

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