I write today because the boss ask me to give my opinion on the condition of Junior A Hockey in Ontario. He ask me because he know that between regular season, showcases and playoff I watch more than 100 game in Ontario Junior A this season alone. That is a lot of game and I am just now starting to defrost. Ha Ha
I watch all the Ontario Junior A league regularly. CCHL, OJHL, NOJHL and SIJHL. I spend a lot of focus on the showcases, and the playoffs.
Ontario is great for hockey, plenty of great player developed in the entire Province. Also many American player have figured this out.
I will not say which league is better than the other because I do not compare league as a whole. There be good and bad team in every league. People need to stop trying to compare one league to another. Each league is different, and the only thing in common is that they are junior hockey. So I make some general observations.
The state of Junior A Hockey in Ontario is excellent. Every league now is developing high end players for the OHL and NCAA programs. It is awesome to see so much balance in competition.
I really enjoy each game I see in Ontario Junior A this year. Not every player was great, but I saw at least one great player in every game, and to me it is worth it to see just one. In many game though I see many very high quality players.
The OJHL and CCHL are well known to develop the NCAA D-1 player recently, while the NOJHL and SIJHL have been playing “catch up” according to history. Well, if the on ice competition is to be a guide, I believe the NOJHL is quickly catching up with the CCHL and OJHL, while the SIJHL has gained some ground as well.
The advantage the OHJL and CCHL has over the NOJHL and SIJHL is geography. It is no easy task to get to Northern Ontario in the winter months, and quite frankly it is sometime too cold to even want to go. Even still, I will go more often now because the hockey has gotten so much better in recent years.
The proof as they say is in the pudding is it not? The Soo Thunderbirds from the NOJHL are heading to the RBC Cup this week after defeating the SIJHL Fort Francis in the Dudley Hewitt Cup. I look forward to see how this young Soo team play against the CCHL entry Carleton Place Canadians!
The two Ontario entry will take on the Western Canada entries who look very good on film. I have not made it to British Columbia this year, but Penticton will be formidable as usual I am sure.
How will the two Ontario teams represent the state of hockey? Is the people opinion of the BCHL being the best Junior A league in Canada to be true under the test of game action? I sense people may be surprised.
Ontario offers much to the Junior Hockey player from Canada and America. Fantastic coaching, great billeting traditions, excellent communities, and an NHL atmosphere in every small town. Where hockey is king, and no other sport really matter, why would you want to play anywhere else?