Neil Hilts grew up in Interior British Columbia and found a love for hockey after watching nearby Trail Smoke Eater games. He moved to Calgary to pursue a journalism degree and instantly became involved in the sport. At Mount Royal University, he was the voice of the varsity teams for two seasons and had the joy of calling the a game at the Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the Flames.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in journalism and minoring in the business of sport and recreation, Neil sought ways to stay involved in the hockey community. He's pleased to join the HockeyNow team as the AJHL reporter.
Despite his BC ties, Neil is a loyal Ottawa Senators fan, but is constantly frustrated by their lack of spending.
After the Esso Cup was held in Bridgewater, N.S. last month, another big-time national championship came to Nova Scotia, bringing the top Aboriginal hockey players from across the country.
Eliminated from their league’s playoffs in the first round in mid-March, the Chilliwack Chiefs had a lot of downtime to prepare for the RBC Cup they would be hosting two months later in May.
Four days into the 2018 RBC Cup and it’s been as competitive as one could wish, with all but one game ending by a goal. The early leader after three games are the British Columbia Hockey League’s (BCHL) Wenatchee Wild, the lone American entry in the tournament, who are 3-0 with two overtime wins.
The 23rd RBC Cup kicks off with five teams all looking for their first National Junior A title in team history. Hosted by the British Columbia Hockey League’s (BCHL) Chilliwack Chiefs, the RBC Cup brings in four other teams from across the country, and in this year’s case, one American team for the second time.
In one of the most dominant runs in recent memory, the Notre Dame Hounds won the TELUS Cup after going unbeaten in both the round robin and knockout stage.
For the first time in the Female Midget National Championship, there is a repeat champion after the St. Albert Slash beat the Saskatoon Stars 2-1 in the final.
Hockey in April is an interesting time. At the younger ranks, seasons are over or winding down and kids may venture into other sports or spring/summer hockey.
After four days of the TELUS Cups, contenders are starting to separate from pretenders. The Notre Dame Hounds from Saskatchewan are alone atop the standing with a perfect 4-0, including a hard-fought 2-1 win over Lethbridge. They are first in both goals scored goals allowed.
The Saskatoon Stars have soared through the field at the Esso Cup, posting a perfect 5-0 mark against their competitors. They’ve outscored opponents 23-3 in including three shutouts. The closest games they’ve played were a 4-1 win over St. Albert and 5-2 victory over the Northern Selects.
A new crop of talented players is bound to hit the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and major junior hockey, many bound to be stars in hockey for years to come.
Further east, the best female Midget teams head to Bridgewater, NS, the host of the 2018 Esso Cup. Located just over an hour south of Halifax, the Esso Cup is being held in the Atlantic region for the first time.
The talent in the TELUS Cup is always abundant, and several top prospects for Canadian Hockey League (CHL) drafts will be under the spotlight this year – some looking to boost draft stock and others hoping to impress their major junior or college teams.
For a quarter of a century, Indigenous hockey players in Alberta have played in one of the province’s largest tournaments, but it hasn’t been well-documented.
For the past five springs, the Western Canada Cup (WCC) has brought together the top teams from Junior A hockey in Western Canada. The BCHL, AJHL, SJHL and MJHL all sent their champions, who joined the host team, in hopes of making the finals and earning one of two spots in the Royal Bank Cup.
In 2009, the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) was born, with five member schools in B.C. and Alberta taking on the task of developing elite players in a high-quality athletic and educational environment.
For Junior A options in Canada, Alex Newhook couldn’t have chosen a team much further from his home in St. John’s, N.L. than he did with Victoria.
In the final few months of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL), playoffs are shaping up and several teams are standing out above the competition.
With the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) wrapping up, the Most Valuable Player nominees have been announced and feature a number of high-scoring players.
At the beginning of February in Edmonton, the top Bantam and Midget players in the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) got the chance to play in a prospects game that was well-attended by postsecondary scouts.
Four years from now, the hockey world will be heavily scrutinizing over the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Matthew Savoie from St. Albert, Alta. could very well be in play for No. 1 considering his current skill at the young age of 14.
With 40 of the most skilled and talented players in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), a top prospects game would normally be expected to be highlighted by flashy plays and dynamic goals.
Two days before the top major junior draft-eligible players will suit up in front of scouts in Guelph, Ont., the top 40 Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) will showcase their talents 45 minutes away in Mississauga.
For three straight years, the Rocky Mountain Raiders have been a finalist at the Mac’s Midget AAA World Invitational in Calgary, and after a bitter finals loss two years ago, they have now brought home gold two consecutive winters.
Shortly after Christmas, Calgary made headlines as being colder than the North Pole and Mars, among other places, as an arctic spell swept through the city.
As a 14-year-old playing in one of the top leagues in Western Canada, it can feel like the next options for hockey are overwhelming. They can consider the American college route and play Junior A for a few years, or if possible, join the Western Hockey League (WHL), play for the goal of becoming a professional and build up the years of free education.
The way the game is played at lower levels in Ontario will officially change with a new mandate in place. Skill development will be on the forefront with smaller ice, lighter pucks and “station-based practices” as the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) looks to bring changes across the province.
In the 12-year history of the World Junior A Challenge (WJAC), Team Canada West and Team USA are the only teams to win the championship.
Last fall, the thought of Cale Makar suiting up for Team Canada at the World Juniors, even this year, might have seemed far-fetched since he was a relative unknown playing Junior A.
In recent years, if you were to check the standings of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), the Calgary Mustangs would be sitting at or close to the bottom of the standings, especially in the South Division.
Outside of Team Canada East and West, the four international entries for the World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) are bringing formidable teams.
In the 11-year history of the World Junior A Challenge (WJAC), Team Canada has four gold medals, with their last coming in 2015. However, all four gold belong to the West, as the hockey-crazy host country gets two entries each year: Team Canada West and Team Canada East.
All 18 teams in the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) are welcoming a new opponent this season – one with older, more experienced players gearing up for something they’ve worked towards their whole lives.
A three-day tournament in the middle of November doesn’t sound like a pressure-packed event, but for 200 of the top Junior A hockey players east of Manitoba, it was critical.
Elite 15s is a top Midget Division in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) and one team is taking the division’s name quite literally.
For a young hockey player, 200-foot rinks are massive and playing can be daunting. It’s unnecessary for those learning the game. Following the lead of other countries in order improve skill in players, Hockey Canada mandated cross-ice hockey will now be played across the nation for kids under seven years old this season.
Two games into the 2017 WHL Cup and Team Alberta is backing up the hype behind their team with two commanding wins so far. With 11 first round draft picks in the lineup, Alberta has scored at will and shown why they are the favourites.
The next flock of WHL (Western Hockey League) superstars will get their chance to win provincial bragging rights and the the newly minted WHL Cup this week in Calgary.
The Okotoks Oilers are rolling this year, off to the best start in franchise history with 10 wins in a row. The team is undefeated and leading the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), plus the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has taken notice, putting the Oilers atop the national top-20 rankings for the first time ever.
Last June, the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) had three players drafted into the NHL after a three-year absence having no players selected. It was a notice to the scouting world what kind of talent exists in the Alberta Junior ranks.
Combining sport and school for hockey players has been a growing trend, and that’s as apparent as ever in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL).
Year after year, the Great White North continually set the bar for goaltending, but over the past decade and a half, other nations have seemingly surpassed Canada in training, prospects and development.
Each morning during the winter in -30 C temperatures, a hockey team soaks a frozen lake in water in preparation for a long day of practice. Though not unheard of for a player from a cold climate, no one wouldn’t would pick India to be a setting for ice hockey, yet that’s the situation with the Ladakh Women Ice Hockey Federation.
Following their second Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) title and coming off a tough overtime loss in the RBC Cup final, the Brooks Bandits are slotted as the second-best team in the preseason rankings of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) top 20.
Coming off the franchise’s best year since in more than a decade, the Calgary Canucks look poised to take the next step as a winning franchise.
Most of Canada is still relishing the warm summer months, but for 67 of the top female hockey players in the country, they’re headed to a cold rink in hopes of putting on the maple leaf later this year.
Many youngsters don’t have hockey on their mind during a hot weekend in July, but that’s not the case for some of the country’s top nine- and 10-year-olds, who just competed in the biggest tournament in their lives to date.
It’ll be at least a few years before a select few at the Pacific Elite Prospects Showcase can be drafted to the NHL, but some of B.C.’s top skaters from eight to 14 sparked scout interest this past weekend.
Undefeated throughout the tournament capped by a 1-0 victory in the finals, South Black were the champions at the 2017 Alberta Challenge. It was an all-South duel which pitted South Black (3-0-1) and South White (2-1-1) against each.
Five straight wins and only one game within a goal. It was domination for the Brooks Bandits who rolled over opposition at the Western Canada Cup, including defeating the Chilliwack Chiefs 6-1 in the title game.
The Brooks Bandits’ unstoppable season continues to roll on as they’re set to play in the Western Canada Cup Finals Saturday. Cruising through the round robin winning all four games, the Bandits have scored 18 goals (six more than the closest, Penticton) and allowed six (five fewer than Chilliwack and Battleford) and are the odds on favourite in the final.
Behind a dominating goalie performance and high-flying offence, Team South captured the 2017 Alberta Cup, culminated by a 5-1 win in the final.
It took the Brooks Bandits just four games in the final to claim their second Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) title in two years. The Bandits, arguably one of the top Junior A hockey teams in the country, swept the Whitecourt Wolverines and dominated play in three of four.
For one team, the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) Finals are unfamiliar territory, but for the other, it’s a goal that has come to fruition quite often in recent years.
For many of Alberta’s top Bantam players, their seasons will carry on into the spring as Hockey Alberta released the 20 players on eight regional teams ahead of April’s Alberta Cup.
For the second year in a row, the Burnaby Winter Club has claimed the Western Canada Bantam AAA Championship crown. It was a dominating weekend for the Bruins, who went 5-0 and smoked the host Saskatchewan Valley Vipers 9-2.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) has their own Final Four commencing this weekend, as the Division Semifinals for the Viterra North and South are set. The Brooks Bandits, the nation’s No. 1 team, will battle rival Okotoks, while up North, the Division’s top two teams will fight for a spot in the League Championship.
When it mattered most, Red Deer was able to dominate their Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) Midget Elite opposition en route to the inaugural Provincial Championship.
For the first time in franchise history, the Leduc Oil Kings have won the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL), defeating the Foothills CFR Bisons 3-1.
The No. 1 seeds in the Alberta Female Hockey League’s Bantam Elite and Midget AAA Divisions capped their dominant seasons off with provincial championships wins.
It came down to one goal in the best-of-five series, but the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers claimed their first Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) championship with a win over the defending champion Lethbridge Val Matteoti Golden Hawks.
For the third year in a row, the Foothills CFR Chemical Bisons are in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League (AMHL) Finals, and after last year’s loss, they’re looking for redemption.
Thirty-seven points separated the No. 2 Canmore Eagles and seventh seed Olds Grizzlys in the Viterra South Division standings. The Eagles had the third-best offence and the league’s top two scorers, plus scored 83 more goals than the Grizzlys. Ahead of the matchup, it was looking like a David versus Goliath matchup.
After two games in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) provincial championships, the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers are leading the series against the Lethbridge Golden Hawks.
The final four teams are ready to duke it out as they continue to battle for the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League (AMHL) championship. Down in the South Division, Calgary plays Foothills, while in the North, Leduc and Sherwood Park clash. Both series began this weekend. The Calgary Buffaloes swept their city counterparts, the Calgary Northstars, in three straight games winning 3-0, 6-1 and 4-3 in the semis.
Whoever made the Alberta Journey Hockey League (AJHL) schedule for the 2016-17 season should get some serious props as the battle for the Viterra North Division came down to the final game of the year.
The natural resource industry and overall economy isn’t the only thing struggling in Alberta, as the lack of interest in being the last line of defence is also an issue.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League recently announced its full list of finalists for the coveted AJHL Awards. Last week, we took a closer look at the nominees for MVP, Rookie of the Year and Top Goaltender. Here, we look at the rest of the finalists, for Outstanding Defenceman, Most Dedicated Player, and Coach of the Year.
Despite a few weeks left in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) regular season, last week, the league revealed the finalists for their league awards, selected by coaches and general managers from around the league.
Valentine’s Day was put on hold for some of the top Bantam players in Alberta as the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) kicked off on Feb. 14.
Since 1994, Gord Thibodeau has been a fixture behind the bench in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). From all over northern Alberta, coaching seven teams in six cities, Thibodeau recently stepped into the record books by claiming the record for most wins as a head coach in the AJHL, surpassing Don Phelps.
Sometimes the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League (AMMHL) can be overlooked due to the other Midget teams operating in the same cities at the same times.
Hockey Day in Canada is celebrated across the country by young and old players in hundreds of associations. Over in Cowichan on Vancouver Island, a few days after the national day recognizing the sport, a local team is hosting their own day for puck.
Ian Taylor is at the top of the ladder for the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA), as the Oakville native climbed up to the executive director position at the end of December.
Midget players in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) got a top-flight experience during the 16th Annual GTHL Midget All-Star Festival in mid-January.
Twenty-one games through the B.C. Female Midget AAA Hockey League, and the Greater Vancouver Comets are perfect. With nine games left in the year, the Comets have a 20-point lead over the next closest team, the Thompson-Okanagan Lakers, and have already clinched the top spot in the league heading into the playoffs.
The world's largest minor hockey tournament is once again complete after Esso Minor Hockey Week wrapped in Calgary and Hockey Calgary must be breathing a sigh of relief.
The Cariboo Cougars are in the midst of one of the greatest British Columbia Major Midget League (BCMML) seasons ever and a big reason is their stifling defence.
Around three quarters of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) season is in the books and one division in nearly sewn up while the other looks like a four-dog fight.
The brightest and best players in the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) battled in the inaugural Bantam and Midget Elite All-Star Games earlier in January and it was a very positive weekend for the league.
More than two-thirds of the way through the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) season, the scoring race is as close as it has been in more than five years.
The top 40 Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) players eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft will have the chance to showcase their skills in front of scouts at the end of January, and the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) has a bevy of players attending.
Hockey is a sport that’s credited with building lifelong friendships and developing strong communication and teamwork skills while bonding in the locker room and on the ice.
It’s been more than seven and a half months since Fort McMurray was devastated by the massive wildfire that captured the world’s attention. While some things have recovered, there are still plenty of areas and organizations that need help, including the local minor hockey association.
The intensity ramps up for several teams in the 39th annual Mac’s Midget Tournament as playoffs begin on New Year’s Eve. On the men’s side, the top eight teams move onto the elimination round and all had at least three wins in four games. The top four teams in the women’s division will fight for a spot in the final.
Nearly 15 years ago, Steve Sanderson wanted to get more kids playing hockey in Kitchener after realizing many families couldn’t afford it.
On Jan. 21, Alberta will be hosting Alberta Hockey Day for the first time. The day will be a celebration and showcase of female hockey. The main event will take place in Grand Prairie, highlighted by both on-ice and off-ice activities, along with two-time gold medalist and former Team Alberta player Carla MacLeod.
1) ISS Hockey Releases May Top 31 Rankings for 2018 NHL Draft
2) Chilliwack Chiefs win 2018 RBC Cup on Home Ice
3) Ontario Hockey Association Announces 2017-18 Prospects
4) 2018 Memorial Cup
5) Meet Matthew Savoie, the NAX Forward Taking the CSSHL by Storm