As many people know, I have championed the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League for many years. Many of you have often sent me emails asking just why I have taken that position.
Other than it being a league that is easy for me to scout, I have always felt it was the most underserviced and under rated Junior A league in the CJHL. I felt that a lot of players had been over looked by scouts simply because the league wasn’t large enough in the number of member teams to make it a destination for scouts.
Funny how in the last five years or so that perception from scouts has changed completely. No longer an outpost, the NOJHL has become a destination league for players, coaches and scouts from Major Junior and NCAA programs.
Don’t believe its a destination league for scouts?
It may surprise you to know that the NOJHL leads all the Junior A leagues in Ontario for in season call ups to Major Junior this year. Yes, more in season call ups than all the other Ontario based leagues. All three Major Junior leagues have called upon the NOJHL to promote players.
Couple that with a dramatically increased NCAA Division One scouting presence, and another uptick in NCAA Division Three scouting, and you have yourself a destination league.
So, why has the change happened?
Well, it only takes a few impact players to make other people think they may be missing something if they don’t go watch.
Credit the league and its member teams with actively pushing for scouts to come to games. Credit the member teams with actually working their tails off during the summer months scouting showcases to secure higher level talent than they had in the past.
Multiple NOJHL sources are reporting that increased summer scouting, increased marketing, and an NOJHL showcase are all being planned.
The NOJHL is becoming one of the premiere destinations for players, and as one player recently said in an email;
“It will be easier for me to stand out in a league of 12 teams than it will be for me in a much larger league. Being an impact player is what I want to be, and the NOJHL gives me that opportunity.”
Don’t be surprised to see NOJHL teams represented at all the major scouting events this coming spring and summer. And don’t be surprised to see more Major Junior and NCAA commitments coming this season and beyond.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher