MHL releases format, start date for Canadian Tire Cup playoffs

MHL

The Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL) says all twelve teams will qualify for the playoffs and a chance of winning the Canadian Tire Cup in 2021.

The 2020-21 regular season schedule was unbalanced, with teams limited to playing within their own divisions based on the ability to cross provincial borders, and games being postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The MHL says not every team will finish with the same number of completed games, so the six Nova Scotia teams and Summerside in the Eastlink South division, and the five New Brunswick teams in the Eastlink North division will play the other teams in their division once in a round-robin tournament to determine playoff seeding.

Heading into the mini-tournaments starting April 14th in the Eastlink South and April 18th in the Eastlink North, bonus points will be awarded to the top-two teams in the regular season standings as follows:
- 1st Place Eastlink South: 4
- 2nd Place Eastlink South: 2
- 1st Place Eastlink North: 1
- 2nd Place Eastlink North: 2

The league says the Fred Page Cup point system will be used for the round robin, which will then be followed by best-of-5 series, with the goal of awarding the Canadian Tire Cup in May.

Following the round-robin, the 1-seed in the Eastlink South and the 1-, 2- and 3-seeds in the Eastlink North will receive a bye into the division semi-final. 

To further reduce the number of teams per division to four, the 2-seed will play the 7-seed, 3-seed will play the 6-seed and the 4th and 5th seeds in the Eastlink South division will play a best-of-five series, as will the 4-seed and 5-seed in the Eastlink North.

The MHL says the winners of these series will join the remaining seeds in the division semi-finals and the remainder of the playoffs will be contested as usual.