FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND KEY HOCKEY PERSONNEL RALLY BEHIND THE GOJHL’S FIGHT FOR JUNIOR A RECLASSIFICATION
As the GOJHL continues to call on the OHA to Do The Right Thing and reclassify the GOJHL from Junior B to Junior A, multiple Ontario mayors and hockey legends are speaking out in support and questioning the OHA’s pushback
WATERLOO, ON | JUNE 16, 2021 — Calling on the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) to do better by young, talented hockey players across Southwestern Ontario, the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) is encouraging the hockey community and general public to show their support. Currently classified as a Junior B league in Southwestern Ontario, the ongoing campaign to secure Junior A status is a critical step in ensuring equitable access to hockey development for skilled players in southern Ontario.
With 3,600+ signatures on the league’s petition, strong media coverage, and ongoing social media engagement from fans across the Province, it is evident that Ontarians recognize the disadvantage faced by southern Ontario players due to the arbitrary Junior B designation.
As a Junior B league, talented GOJHL players across Southwestern Ontario miss out on vital visibility to scouts, scholarship opportunities, and access to higher tier leagues, solely due to their geographic location. With Junior A-caliber talent, Junior B designation forces young, skilled players to leave their families and hometowns, often at the age of 16 or 17, to advance in the sport they love. This continues to drain vibrant small towns of talent, impacting economic growth and community culture.
“In 2014, the Lancer’s Men’s Hockey Team won the Queen’s Cup, symbolic of the Champions of Ontario. We went to the National Championships and beat a heavily favoured Acadia team 4-2 before eventually losing in the semi-finals. On this team, we had 12 players from the GOJHL. The following year, we went to Nationals again and achieved a school high 22-4 record with virtually the same team,” shares Kevin Hamlin, Head Coach of the University of Windsor Lancers. “Our recruiting philosophy of committing to local players from the GOJHL has proved very rewarding for us, allowing us to make the postseason for 13 consecutive years. I am confident that there would be even more players advancing from the GOJHL if it were given a Junior A tag.”
Countless GOJHL alumni, who have moved on to successful careers within the NHL have also been quick to speak out publicly in support of the GOJHL’s bid for reclassification under the OHA, citing the unfair barriers they faced advancing within their sport, despite their equal skill to Junior A teams.
“The environment on the ice, but also off the ice is critical. You want to make sure players have every opportunity for development to make sure no stone is unturned,” says Bob Boughner, Head Coach of the San Jose Sharks and St. Marys Lincolns alumnus. “Being an alumnus in the league and seeing many players in this league go on and succeed — it shows how important it is for the teams and their communities that we continue to fight to keep our boys home.”
Their long-standing reputation for top-tier development also comes from the GOJHL’s ability to keep players at home with their families and support systems, highlighting an essential reason why players should be able to access Junior A opportunities within Southwestern Ontario.
“Joining the GOJHL Niagara Falls Canucks organization as a 16-year old was huge for me and my development as a hockey player,” shares Mac Hollowell, who was recently signed to the Toronto Maple Leafs. “I was able to play big minutes in all different situations that ultimately prepared me to play and produce in the OHL. I was able to live at home with my family [and] continue my education at my high school.”
As government officials continue to share their support of the reclassification, it is evident that this seemingly small change will lead to greater opportunities for not only players but communities across the province.
“The opportunity for teams to compete at the highest level possible is about fairness and respect for Southwestern Ontario and its premier athletes in hockey,” says Sarnia Mayor, Mike Bradley. “The reclassification for GOJHL Junior B teams to Junior A is the fair and right thing to do. Sarnia-Lambton has a well-known strong tradition of producing world-class hockey players and this change would accelerate that tradition and enhance hockey in Ontario and Canada.”