After a five-year break, the CJHL and Hockey Canada have reinstalled the ANAVET Cup format for the 2018 winners of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championships.
The ANAVET Cup is named after the Canadian not-for-profit organization ANAVETS (Army, Navy, Airforce Veterans), as an ode to Canada’s oldest veterans’ association which was established in 1840. ANAVETS are a program which helps unite former members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
This year, the Pistons will face the Nipawin Hawks for the 2018 edition of the ANAVET Cup. The series is a best-of-7, where the winner of that will head off to Chilliwack, B.C. for the biggest prize in junior A hockey, the RBC Cup. It is a 2-3-2 format, in which Steinbach will host the first two games by virtue of a alternating home-ice advantage, as the SJHL hosted the last ANAVET Cup back in 2012. Nipawin will host the next three games, and if necessary the Pistons will host Games 6 and 7.
In its place for the past 5 seasons was the Western Canada Cup, where the 4 member league-winning teams (MJHL, SJHL, BCHL, AJHL) and a host team would compete for 2 spots to the RBC Cup. However low revenue and attendance numbers forced the cancellation of the tournament, and the ANAVET CUP was re-installed as a direct berth to the RBC for this season.
The ANAVET Cup was contested from 1971-2012, and the overall series is 29-13 for the SJHL. The first champion was the St. Boniface Saints of the MJHL back in ’71, and the last champion was the Humboldt Broncos back in 2012. In terms of leagues, the Selkirk Steelers and the Portage Terriers have the most ANAVET Cups (3) in Manitoba. The Prince Albert Raiders and the Humboldt Broncos are tied for the most ANAVET Cups of all time (7).
This is the first time in franchise history that the Pistons will take part in an ANAVET Cup, while it will be the second ANAVET Cup for the Nipawin Hawks. Nipawin defeated Portage back in 1990 for the Cup, which also coincides with the last time they won a league title in Saskatchewan.