FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE GREATER ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE GARNERS STRONG COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR RECLASSIFICATION TO JUNIOR A STATUS ACROSS ONTARIO
Calling on the OHA to reclassify the GOJHL from Junior B to Junior A, current players, alumni, NHL legends, and community sports fans rally in support of change
WATERLOO, ON | JUNE 8, 2021 — The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL), a Junior B league in Southwestern Ontario, continues to fight for Junior A status from the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), highlighting stories of countless skilled players impacted by the lower-tier classification. With 3,000+ signatures amassed on the league’s petition in only a week, the GOJHL continues to circulate their open letter sent to the OHA, resulting in strong government and community support for their request for reclassification.
Under Junior B status, GOJHL players across Southwestern Ontario lose out on equal opportunities for development, as well as access to equal levels of competition presented within other junior hockey leagues. Recognizing the GOJHL as Junior A will ensure young players are able to remain at home while advancing in the sport they love, access visibility to scouts, and continue to establish vibrant hockey communities across the province.
“The rallying calls for reclassification from the hockey community, within our team’s local communities and across the province as a whole has been incredibly telling,” says GOJHL Commissioner Brent Garbutt. “It is obvious that both players and fans recognize the GOJHL is meant to be included within Junior A — now it’s time for the OHA to respond accordingly.”
For those who have played and worked within various leagues and levels of hockey, the refusal of the OHA to reclassify the GOJHL to Junior A is a baseless decision that not only hurts the communities who continue to see their favourite players relocate to access Junior A opportunities but continues to harm the development of equitable and competitive hockey in Ontario.
“As a GOJHL alumnus and coach, this league has played a major role in my hockey career,” shares Chief Operating Officer and Governor of the Kitchener Rangers, Joe Birch. “Any player associated with the GOJHL, past or present, can speak to their strong development capabilities. Opportunities for advancement are possible for those in the GOJHL, but great sacrifice is required and that is not fair to ask of young Southwestern players.”
Across the province, government officials, fans, and families of players continue to speak out against the OHA’s refusal to reclassify the GOJHL, highlighting the drain of talent from well-established local clubs across Southwestern Ontario and the resulting impact this has on one of the largest fan bases in Ontario.
“The Stratford Hockey Club has a long, storied, and successful history in Junior hockey in Ontario. Whether as a Warrior or a Culliton, we have many proud alumni that have gone on to play in the NHL, other professional Leagues, and Canadian & US Universities,” says Stratford Mayor, Dan Mathieson. “They have successful careers, are leaders in their communities, and give back when asked. Allowing the member teams of the GOJHL to be recognized as a Junior A League is long overdue and represents the acknowledgment of their many years of exciting, skillful, and entertaining hockey played at the Junior A level.”
Middlesex Centre Mayor, Aina DeViet also expressed approval, saying “I fully support the GOJHL’s and Komoka Kings Hockey Club request to Junior A status, which would enhance the overall quality and competitiveness of the sport and association.”
As support continues to grow and more Ontarians share their stories of how the GOJHL has directly impacted their community for the better, the call grows for the OHA to accept the GOJHL’s bid for reclassification to Junior A, effectively supporting equitable hockey across the province.