From 1997 until 2004, the right to compete in the Keystone Cup was an epic battle between the champions of the Thunder Bay Junior B Hockey League and the North of Superior Junior B Hockey League. After six championships competed for, each league had three Northwestern Ontario titles each, but in the last two years of competition the TBJBHL won both years. As the NSHL folded in 2004, the TBJBHL won the 8 year series five championships to three. Since Tier II Junior "A" hockey in the region has expanded from just the Thunder Bay Flyers in 2000 to the 7-team Superior International Junior Hockey League in 2007, the local talent pools have been severely taxed making the Junior "B" teams less dominant at the National level. The result has been the shrinking down the TBJBHL to 3 Junior teams mixed in with a bunch of top tier Minor "AAA" teams and of course the all-out folding of the NSHL in 2004.
In the past two seasons, the TBJBHL champion has been uncontested and has earned automatic berth into the Keystone Cup. The only time the Northwestern Ontario champion has ever won the Western Canadian title was in 1999 when the Fort William Hurricanes went the distance.