Toronto-based sportswriter, Sam Laskaris, has written extensively on the Ontario Hockey League, the Ontario Junior A leagues, and Ontario minor hockey – including the GTHL, the OMHA, and ALLIANCE hockey – over many years, as a key contributor to HockeyNow.
The future of the Western Hockey League is looking mighty bright. Last month the league shifted the spotlight to the next wave of talent with the WHL Cup in Calgary.
The Trenton Golden Hawks will once again host a prestigious event. A year ago the Golden Hawks laid out the welcome mats for one of the OJHL’s Winter Showcases as well as the Dudley Hewitt Cup, a regional qualifier for the national RBC Cup Junior A championship.
Joe Martin, who already doubles as the head coach and general manager of the Merritt Centennials, will have some additional duties this season.
A Familiar face in Canadian Junior Hockey League circles will have even more responsibilities now. Kevin Abrams, who is in his 12th season as commissioner of the Central Canada Hockey League, was officially appointed as the CJHL’s Chairman of the Board earlier this month.
The Calgary Canucks have a new home. Sort of. The squad is still playing out of the same facility. But the rink the Canucks call home is now named the Ken Bracko Arena, in honour of the franchise’s previous long-time president.
NCAA Division 1 rosters once again stacked with CJHL graduate talent. Representatives from Canadian Junior Hockey League franchises have plenty of proof that they are doing an excellent job on player development.
Well it certainly didn’t take long for the first coaching change of the CCHL. Just five games into their season the Kanata Lasers announced they were relieving Jeff Jordan of his head coaching duties and replacing him with Nathan Hewitt.
Rob Pearson is gearing up for his first season of coaching in the junior hockey ranks. Pearson, who appeared in a total of 302 NHL contests during his playing days, will serve as the head coach for Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Whitby Fury this season.
The Chilliwack Chiefs have had their share of recent successes advancing to the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) finals in each of the past two years.
The Camrose Kodiaks will once again host the Alberta Junior Hockey League Showcase. The 11th annual event will be staged Sept. 28-30 at the Edgeworth Centre, the Kodiaks’ home rink.
A new regular season champion will be crowned in the BCHL’s Mainland Division this season. That’s because the defending champions, the Wenatchee Wild, have moved out of the division and into the Interior Division.
A new Central Canada Hockey League award has been created and will be handed out annually starting this coming season. League officials have established the Chris Messina Broadcasting Award in honour of the former CCHL director of communications and broadcasting who died suddenly on Aug. 14
Mario Cicchillo is confident he can make a difference. And that’s why the veteran junior hockey coach has agreed to try and turn around the fortunes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Milton Icehawks.
Goodbye Cumberland Grads. And hello Navan Grads.Following several years of contemplating renaming his Central Canada Hockey League franchise, owner Steve Barban has finally made the move. After a bit of buzz had been created on social media in recent weeks – forecasting a major announcement – the news became official this past week at a village fair.
Surprising off-season moves continue to take place in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). No doubt one of the biggest shockers came when Marty Abrams resigned from his head coaching and GM duties with the Wellington Dukes.
Ian Henderson is back working in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL). Henderson had stepped away from the Junior A circuit last year after having spent seven seasons with the Hawkesbury Hawks.
He’s back. After a three-year absence coach John Dean is returning to the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). Dean had spent the past three seasons serving as the assistant coach of the North Bay Battalion in the higher calibre Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
A former National Hockey League player still owns the Kemptville 73’s. But it’s not Ron Tugnutt, the ex-goalie who appeared in 724 NHL matches and had owned the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) franchise the past five seasons.
Peter Goulet will still be a double duty guy. But now it will be for just one hockey organization instead of two. During the past two seasons, Goulet had served as the general manager of the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Kingston Voyageurs and as the assistant coach for the Brampton Beast, members of the East Coast Hockey League, a pro loop considered two steps below the NHL.
Like all their Central Canada Hockey League rivals, the Rockland Nationals will commence their regular season in September. But the Nationals’ brass is busier than all its league counterparts this off-season. That’s because officials from the Junior A franchise are preparing for the upcoming campaign in a new community.
Marty Abrams will continue to be the bench boss of a Junior A team in eastern Ontario. But it just won’t be with the Wellington Dukes, the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) squad that he coached during 16 of the past 18 seasons.
Though he has a couple of seasons of junior eligibility remaining, the time has come for Cale Makar to move on. Makar, an 18-year-old defenceman, has spent the past two seasons starring with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits.
The odds might have been stacked against them. But the Cobourg Cougars found a way to win and keep winning at this year’s RBC Cup tournament.
The Cobourg Cougars will get the chance to hoist the national RBC Cup on home ice on Sunday. The Cougars, members of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, earned a spot in the national Junior A championship final by downing the British Columbia Hockey League’s Penticton Vees 3-1 on Saturday.
The Cobourg Cougars are certainly proving they belong among the teams vying to win the national RBC Cup championship. As hosts, the Cougars, members of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, were awarded an automatic berth into the five-team national tournament, which began May 13 and continues until this Sunday’s championship final.
The Brooks Bandits continue to lead the pack at the RBC Cup. The Bandits, members of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, registered their third consecutive victory on Tuesday at the national Junior A championship, which is being staged in Cobourg, Ont.
The Brooks Bandits find themselves atop the standings following the opening weekend of action at the RBC Cup tournament. The Bandits, members of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, won both of their matches at the five-team national Junior A championships, being staged in Cobourg, Ont.
Another lengthy Canadian Junior Hockey League season is about to wrap up. The 2016-17 season had kicked off last August when exhibition games started being staged across the province in the 10 Junior A leagues that make up the CJHL.
For the first time in recent memory, the Carleton Place Canadians will have a bit of an unwanted extended spring break. That’s because the Central Canada Hockey League franchise just missed out on once again qualifying for the RBC Cup, the national Junior A championship.
Josh Maguire will be able to fulfill his goal of vying for a national championship in his hometown. Maguire, who was born in Cobourg, had spent the previous four seasons playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes.
It has certainly been a year of ups and downs for goaltender Nicholas Latinovich. The 20-year-old started the 2016-17 season in limbo, not suiting up for any club as he had requested a trade from the Orangeville Flyers, the Ontario Junior Hockey League squad he had spent the previous two years with.
Kurt Walsten is anticipating some stiffer challenges in the upcoming days for his Dryden Ice Dogs. Walsten is the head coach/GM of the Ice Dogs, who breezed through regular season and playoff action in the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
Connor Hughes has already backstopped his squad to a championship in his final season of junior hockey. But the Carleton Place Canadians’ 20-year-old puckstopper is now hoping to lead his club to one, and even better, two more championships.
The Aurora Tigers don’t have many highlights to look back on this season. The Tigers won just nine of their 54 regular season games and finished a distant 26 points out of a playoff spot.
Despite being a newcomer to the BCHL this season, goaltender Jacob Berger provided a steadying influence for the Merritt Centennials. Berger, a native of the Minnesota city of Minnetonka, arrived in Merritt and handled the majority of the Centennials’ starts.
The biggest hockey moment to date for many of the nation’s top Midget hockey players takes place towards the end of April at the National Championships.
A glimpse into the Central Canada Hockey League’s future was on display in early April. The league’s Bantam Protected Draft was staged on April 10 at the Navan Memorial Arena, the home rink of the Cumberland Grads.
A former AJHL star is now in charge of building up one of the league entrants. Mark Bomersback, who had been selected as the AJHL’s most valuable player back in 2002-03, was recently named as the general manager of the Grande Prairie Storm.
Just two short years ago the Blind River Beavers were in dire straits. The squad failed to win a single game in their 52 regular season outings. Things improved somewhat a year ago as the Beavers registered 10 victories. As for this season, nobody is laughing at the Blind River franchise now.
The Cobourg Cougars had their hopes of winning an Ontario Junior Hockey League championship this season come to a crushing end in early April.
Keegan Blasby is certainly doing his best to end his junior career on an upbeat note. Blasby, who turned 21 on Mar. 14, is a right winger with the Georgetown Raiders, who are currently battling the Trenton Golden Hawks in the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s championship series.
It’s more than just a cliché. Whenever playoffs roll around in any league, countless players, coaches and fans can often be heard uttering that anything can happen. That has certainly been the case this year in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
For members of the Ottawa Jr. Senators, it was a rather painful experience to watch. Flashback to late April of 2016. The Jr. Senators had come as close as they could get to winning a league title.
Details of its longterm future still need to be sorted out for a Manitoba Junior Hockey League franchise. But members of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Blizzard are focussed on their immediate future, which possibly includes winning a league championship and perhaps even qualifying for the national Junior A tournament.
Despite limited action North York Rangers’ sophomore centre Nick Campoli still managed to make quite the impression this season. This past week it was announced that Campoli is this year’s recipient of the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Top Prospect Award.
It’s been more than a decade since a squad from the Quebec Junior Hockey League participated in the national Junior A championships. The Terrebonne Cobras are hoping they are the ones that break that drought. And they just might have what it takes to do so. The Cobras registered their best regular season mark in franchise history, winning 44 of their 49 contests.
Though he is still one of the youngest members of the Ottawa Jr. Senators, defenceman Merrick Rippon is receiving plenty of rave reviews. In fact, the 16-year-old had such an amazing season that he was selected as the Rookie of the Year in the Central Canada Hockey League.
Spruce Grove Saints captain Dexter McLeod will be getting a little bit of help with his postsecondary education. The 21-year-old defenceman is this year’s winner of the AJHL’s Gas Drive Scholarship. He will receive $1,500 to be used towards his college or university expenses.
The CCHL’s runaway scoring champion was also selected as the league’s most valuable player. Cumberland Grads star forward Grant Hebert ended up atop the CCHL scoring race, racking up 91 points (27 goals and 64 assists) in 60 regular season outings.
The OJHL’s developmental league has grown once again. The Ontario Junior Development League (OJDL), which is entering its third season of operations, will feature 15 entrants this year.
From worst to… first? It could very well happen for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. A year ago the Oil Barons had a rather disappointing season, winning a league-low of just 10 out of their 60 regular season contests.
Should he continue to progress, Jack McBain is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a professional hockey player. During his 13-year pro career, Andrew McBain appeared in 632 National Hockey League contests. He played for four NHL franchises: the Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators.
Early on in this year’s playoffs, it appeared a new Ontario Junior Hockey League champion would be crowned. Not so fast. The Trenton Golden Hawks, the 2016 champs, have come back to life following a slow postseason star
Stefano Durante has already enjoyed a rather successful junior hockey career. But the 20-year-old Cobourg Cougars goalie is still seeking some accolades prior to concluding his junior days this May.
An agonizing two-day wait finally came to an end for members of the Nepean Raiders on late Sunday afternoon. The Raiders concluded their Central Canada Hockey League regular season action this past Friday with a 3-2 overtime road victory against the Pembroke Lumber Kings.
A not-so-funny thing happened to the Penticton Vees last year en route to their anticipated appearance at the national championships. After posting one of their best regular seasons ever in the British Columbia Hockey League, the Vees were expected to move on and advance to the Canadian tourney, which was held in Lloydminster.
It may appear there is a potential huge upset in the making in the opening round of the Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs. The Stouffville Spirit, seeded seventh in the league’s North-East Conference, currently find themselves enjoying a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series against the second-ranked Markham Royals.
Paul Dyck has had his share of successes since taking over the Steinbach Pistons’ head coaching and managerial duties in 2012. Dyck led the Pistons to a Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) championship in 2013. And his squad advanced to the league finals in each of the past two seasons.
Liam Lascelle has proven that he can be a rather reliable goalkeeper in the Central Canada Hockey League. But it remains to be seen whether the Cornwall Colts’ 19-year-old puckstopper can also get the job done in the playoffs.
Paul Vella has bounced around to various teams and leagues during his junior career. But the Kanata Lasers are glad the 20-year-old forward, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., has spent the entire 2016-17 campaign on their roster.
The AJHL has announced the finalists who are up for some prestigious league-wide awards. The league’s coaches and general managers voted on the finalists for six major awards. Winners will be announced during the final week of the regular season.
For the sixth consecutive year, members of the public will be allowed to have their say in who wins an OJHL award. Followers of the league are able to go online and select the one individual they would like to see capture this year’s OJHL Fan Favourite Award.
Tons of praise is being heaped upon the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits. But it seems that Bandits head coach/general manager Ryan Papaioannou has mixed reactions over the adulation.
Guch will once again finish among the BCHL’s top pointgetters. Chilliwack Chiefs’ captain Jordan Kawaguchi, who is nicknamed Guch, placed fifth in the league scoring race a year ago.
If the Powassan Voodoos keep winning more than their share of hockey games they just might find themselves challenging for a national title soon.
Though he’s one of the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s smallest players, Jack Jacome has managed to put up some big numbers this season.
Members of the Wenatchee Wild are hoping to make a bit of history this season. The Wild, based in the state of Washington, is the lone American entry in the British Columbia Hockey League.
If the Central Canada Hockey League playoffs were to begin today, the Hawkesbury Hawks would have home-ice advantage in the opening round.
A mid-season trade from a year ago has proven to be a win-win situation for both Ryan Casselman and the Cobourg Cougars. After playing about a season and a half with the Central Canada Hockey League’s Pembroke Lumber Kings, Casselman admits he was homesick and requested a trade to a club closer to his home in Napanee, Ont.
Josh Astorino has known for a couple of years now that he was capable of being a Junior A hockey goalie. But it has taken until his final season of junior eligibility for the 20-year-old to make the jump up to that level.
Though their accomplishments do not include a national title, the Carleton Place Canadians have enjoyed far more success in recent years than any other Canadian Junior Hockey League franchise.
With six weeks remaining in their regular season schedule, the Kanata Lasers have already more than doubled the amount of wins they registered last season.
Calgary Flames netminder Chad Johnson became the first inductee into the Brooks Bandits’ Wall of Fame. The well-travelled 30-year-old goalie is in his first season with the Flames. He returned to Brooks on Jan. 20 for the evening honouring his junior accomplishments.
All indications are Canadian Junior Hockey League officials will once again be all smiles early during the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft this year.
The Merritt Centennials used to be rather successful in overtime matches. Two years ago, the Centennials managed to win seven of their nine contests that were decided with an OT session.
Connor Ryckman is once again a workhorse goaltender this season. But the Wellington Dukes’ 20-year-old puckstopper is certainly accustomed to this role at this point of his junior career.
It’s unlikely offensive stars Cole Busschaert or Xavier Couture will end up winning the Central Canada Hockey League scoring race this season.
The stars were out in Cornwall on Jan. 25. That would be many of the top Junior A hockey stars. They came to the eastern Ontario city to participate in the annual Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Prospects Game.
Jett Alexander’s 2016-17 hockey campaign has been drastically different than he had originally envisioned. Though he has not played a ton, the 17-year-old puckstopper has been rather impressive when he has been called upon – for a pair of Ontario Junior Hockey League squads.
The Gloucester Rangers already know they will be making a rather substantial move in the near future. But before they relocate to Rockland at the conclusion of this season, the Rangers are also keen to make a move in the Central Canada Hockey League standings.
Spencer Hyman would eventually love to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Zach and make it to the National Hockey League. But at the moment he’s in no hurry to get there.
The Oakville Blades already had something to celebrate even before the puck dropped on the 2016-17 campaign. This season marks the 50th anniversary of operations for the Ontario Junior Hockey League franchise.
1) Prospect Profiles: Alexander Alexeyev, Hunter Holmes & Xavier Bouchard
2) Ask a Coach: University of Vermont Associate Coach Kyle Wallach: Academics, Recruiting & Preparation
3) 2018 HockeyNow Minor Hockey Player of the Year: November Shortlists
4) Cornered Coach: The Peanut Gallery
5) The Search Begins for the 2018 HockeyNow Minor Hockey Players of the Year