SUDBURY – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League released the following statement today by NOJHL Commissioner Robert Mazzuca on midget-aged players in junior hockey and the two Great North Midget League teams, in communities that also have NOJHL clubs situated in them, taking a one-year leave of absence from the GNML.
On behalf of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League it’s extremely disappointing to hear that two GNML clubs, including a perennial power in the Soo North Stars, will not be running programs this season.
However, as has been commented on at various levels, the NOJHL vehemently disagrees with the suggestions being made in some circles that the NOJHL itself is at fault for these two AAA midget teams not competing in 2013-14.
To suggest that NOJHL clubs are raiding the GNML of all its’ players is not based on fact and the numbers dispute those claims and simply fall in line with the natural progression of players moving up to play at a higher level.
The following are the midget-aged players currently signed by NOJHL teams this season along with which association they have come from.
The 17-year-old played Junior last season and the two 16-year-olds are from NOHA. Both played Midget AAA Hockey last season.
Blind River Beavers
Of the four, three are from NOHA and one hails from Manitoba. One of the 17-year-olds played High School hockey last season and the other played Midget AAA. One 16-year-old played minor midget AA and the other played midget AAA in Manitoba.
Elliot Lake Bobcats
The 17s and two 16s are from NOHA with the other two 16-year-olds from OMHA. The three 17-year-olds played midget AAA last season. Three of the 16-year-olds played midget AAA (two from the NOHA and one form OMHA) while the fourth played minor midget AA.
Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Both17-year-olds played Junior last season.
North Bay Trappers
The 17-year-old is from outside the NOHA. Of the 16-year-olds is from the NOHA and the other from the OMHA.
All three are from the NOHA with the two 17-year-olds playing midget AAA and the 16-year-old playing minor midget AA.
Sudbury Nickel Barons
All 17s are from the NOHA with two of the 17-year-olds playing junior last season. The two other 17-year-olds played midget AAA in the NOHA and the 16-year-old played minor midget AA.
Over the past five seasons, according to verified numbers compiled by the Northern Ontario Hockey Association, the numbers of midget-aged players signed by NOJHL clubs across the entire region remains very similar.
In fact, over the course of the past five seasons combined, of every team in the NOJHL, including 2013-14, only 22 16-year-old players have played in the league, which is less than one 16-year-old per team over average.
As for 17-year-olds competing in the NOJHL there are less than two-per-team on average of any member club on a 23-player roster.
In the past five seasons only a total of 73 NOHA registered players have played in the NOJHL, which also sees each NOJHL squad on average have less than two 17-year-olds on their respective rosters per season in that span.
Also of note, when it was heard at the recently held Cottage Cup NOJHL preseason tournament that the Soo North Stars were requesting a leave of absence the Soo Thunderbirds organization offered to take over the North Stars for 2013-14 in order for them to ice a team this season.
Unfortunately this offered proposal was denied.
The NOJHL will provide on its website, www.nojhl.com, data over the past 4 seasons, the total number of 16 & 17-year-olds, who have played in the NOJHL and from which team.
This information is from the NOHA, the governing body of Hockey in Northern Ontario.
I will let the numbers speak for themselves.
Another concerning matter to the NOJHL that nobody wants to speak about but we are obviously concerned with and have been for a number of years, is the constant migration of NOHA players to southern Ontario to play hockey.
Furthermore, it certainly does not help the current relationship when their Midget AAA teams advise players to go play in the south and NOJHL teams have to look elsewhere to fill their respective teams with players from across the country.
We all have a stake in the development of hockey players in Northern Ontario and the NOJHL welcomes to meet with and have an open and honest discussion with those other stakeholders at any time.
Looking forward, we at the NOJHL sincerely look forward to continue in working with our friends in the GNML, the NOHA and the Ontario Hockey League in seeing the entire hockey program and the midget-aged players within Northern Ontario succeed as we work toward a healthy resolution to help accomplish this task.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)