Junior A History


Guelph Holoday Platers 1977-78

The first Ontario Tier II League came in 1968 with creation of the renegade Western Ontario Junior A Hockey League, which became the Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League in 1970.  The aftermath of the annexation of the top tier left a vacuum for a new top tier of OHA hockey. What filled the gap in 1972 was the 12-team Ontario Hockey Association Jr. "A" Hockey League, comprised of 5 teams leaving the Metro Junior "B" (the Richmond Hill Rams, North York Rangers, Downsview Beavers, Aurora Tigers and the Dixie Beehives), 6 expansion teams (Seneca Flyers, Ajax Steelers, Wexford Warriors, Vaughan Nationals, Weston Dodgers, Kingston Frontenac's) and the North Bay Trappers of the recently folded Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.  The Ontario Provincial league's only competition for talent in Southern Ontario was the Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League. The Southern Ontario league jumped to Junior "A" in 1968 as the Western Ontario Junior A Hockey League and changed its name two years later. From the 1972-73 seasons until the 1976-77 seasons, these two leagues put their champions up against each other to earn the right to compete for the Dudley Hewitt Cup as only one Ontario Hockey Association team could challenge for it. Down to four teams, the SOJAHL folded. The Guelph Platers and Hamilton Mountain A's jumped to the OPJHL, while the Owen Sound Greys took a season off then joined the Georgian Bay Intermediate A Hockey League and the Collingwood Blues changed their name and dropped to Junior C.


North York Rangers 1982-83

Over the next few years, the Guelph Platers, Belleville Bulls and Kingston Frontenac's would all get their start in this league before jumping to the Ontario Hockey League.  By 1986, the league was suffering from a variety of difficulties. With most of their teams folding or dropping to Junior "B", the league was left with 4 teams; the OHA Jr. "A" League was forced to close its doors at the end of the 1986-87 seasons. The four remaining teams at the end of the OHA Jr. "A" League era were the Final Champion Owen Sound Greys, the Aurora Eagles, the Markham Waxers, and the Richmond Hill Dynes. The Central League agreed to take Markham, Aurora and Richmond Hill, while the Owen Sound Greys went to the Midwestern Junior B Hockey League.


Milton Merchants 1997-98

In 1991, the renegade Metro Junior A Hockey League promoted itself to fill the Junior "A" hockey void across the southern part of the province. In 1992, for the Ontario Hockey Association to compete, the Central Junior B Hockey League was promoted to Junior "A" as a pilot project and competed one season as the CBAHL.  In 1993-1994 the pilot league renamed itself the "Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League". The year of 1993 also marked the year that the Canadian Junior A Hockey League was created.  The summer of 1998 marked the death of the Metro Junior A Hockey League, as it merged into the flourishing OPJHL, taking many of the league's teams, including: the Aurora Tigers, Bramalea Blues, Buffalo Lightning, Durham Huskies, Huntsville Wildcats, Markham Waxers, Muskoka Bears, North York Rangers, Pickering Panthers, Port Hope Buzzards, Shelburne Wolves, Syracuse Jr. Crunch, Thornhill Rattlers, Wellington Dukes, and Wexford Raiders.


Aurora Tigers 2006-07

In the summer of 2008 brought much change to the OPJHL. As approved by the OHA, the semi-autonomous Central Division Hockey pilot program began in 2008–09. This divisions creation was controversial and had been appealed by left out teams to the OHF.  Although the OHA is attempted to play down the significance of the division in some aspects, they have admitted that the new conference would have slightly different rules than the rest of the divisions and that the CDH would be geared more for development.  On September 19, 2008, the league, already a month into the 2008–09 season, announced a name change, a new logo, and a new website. The league will now be known as the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Prior to the start of the season, the three divisions not involved with Central Division Hockey were renamed. The West Division is now the MacKinnon Division, the North Division is now the Phillips Division, and the East Division is the Ruddock Division.  A new and thought to be final chapter in the OJHL saga opened in April 2009. Thirteen more teams left the core of the OJHL to join the Central Division, jumping the number of teams in the CDH to 21 and dropping the remainder of the OJHL to 15 for the 2009–10 season. On June 29, 2009, the OHA Board of Directors voted to separate the OJHL into two completely different leagues.  The group of 15 teams will be known as the Ontario Junior A Hockey League and the other 21 teams became known as the Central Canadian Hockey League.


Cobourg Cougars 2016-17

The two leagues have re-amalgamated for the 2010–11 season and reduced the number of teams in competition by five, buying out or merging during a contraction.  As of the Summer of 2014, the OJHL has shrunk to 22 teams.  In late 2015, the OJHL announced a proposal to increase the league by two teams. The added teams are proposed to be advancement of Junior B teams and not from expansion. However, no teams were added.  March 2019, the OJHL announced the addition of the Collingwood Colts for the 2019–2020 season. Also for the 2019–20 season it was announced that the Newmarket Hurricanes had been sold and would be re-located to Milton and be rebranded the Milton Menace.


Collingwood Blues 2022-23

The 2020 and 2021 seasons started off being cancelled due to COVID 19.  The OJHL resumed play for the 2021-2022 season with a full regular season and a modified playoff schedule.  The 2022-2023 season saw the OJHL resume regulars season and regular playoff schedules. On May 18, 2023 the Leamington Flyers announced that they would be moving up from Junior B GOJHL to Junior A and joining the OJHL beginning in the 2023-24 season. On June 26, 2023 the Niagara Falls Canucks followed the Flyers and announced they will be moving up to Junior A joining the OJHL from the Jr B GOJHL for the 2023-24 season.