Ontario Hockey League

The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is one of the three major junior ice hockey leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League. The league is for players aged 16–21. There are currently 20 teams in the OHL; seventeen in Ontario, two in Michigan, and one in Pennsylvania.

Ontario Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
2019–20 OHL season
SportIce hockey
CEODavid Branch[1]
No. of teams20
CountriesCanada (17 teams)
USA (3 teams)
Most recent
Guelph Storm (4)
Most titlesOshawa Generals (13)
TV partner(s)Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, Cogeco Sports, Rogers TV, TV Rogers, Shaw TV
Official websiteontariohockeyleague.com

The league was founded in 1980 when its predecessor, the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League, formally split away from the Ontario Hockey Association, joining the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League and its direct affiliation with Hockey Canada. The OHL traces its history of Junior A hockey back to 1933 with the partition of Junior A and B. In 1970, the OHA Junior A League was one of five Junior A leagues operating in Ontario. The OHA was promoted to Tier I Junior A for the 1970–71 season and took up the name Ontario Major Junior Hockey League. Since 1980 the league has grown rapidly into a high-profile marketable product, with many games broadcast on television and radio.


Leagues for ice hockey in Ontario were first organized in 1890 by the newly created Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). In 1892 the OHA recognized junior hockey - referring to skill rather than age. In 1896 the OHA moved to the modern age-limited junior hockey concept, distinct from senior and intermediate divisions. Since then the evolution to the Ontario Hockey League has developed through four distinct eras of junior-aged non-professional hockey in Ontario. In 1933, the junior division was divided into two levels, Junior A and Junior B. In 1970 the Junior A level was divided into two levels, Tier I (or Major Junior A) and Tier II (or Minor Junior A). In 1974 the Tier I/Major Junior A group separated from the OHA and became the independent 'Ontario Major Junior Hockey League' (OMJHL). In 1980, the OMJHL became the 'Ontario Hockey League.'


From 1974 until 1978 (as the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League), Clarence "Tubby" Schmalz was the league's commissioner. Then, for one season (1978–79), former IHL commissioner Bill Beagan served as commissioner of the OMJHL. Beginning with the 1979-80 season, David Branch has been the Commissioner of the OHL (which became the league's official name prior to the 1981-82 season). Branch was appointed on August 11, 1979, and assumed the commissioner's role on September 17, 1979.

Member teams

Ontario Hockey League
Eastern Conference
DivisionTeamCityHead coach[1]General ManagerArenaCapacity
East Hamilton Bulldogs Hamilton, Ontario Vince Laise Steve Staios FirstOntario Centre 17,383
Kingston Frontenacs Kingston, Ontario Kurtis Foster Darren Keily Leon's Centre 5,614
Oshawa Generals Oshawa, Ontario Greg Walters Roger Hunt Tribute Communities Centre 6,125
Ottawa 67's Ottawa, Ontario Andre Tourigny James Boyd TD Place Arena 9,862
Peterborough Petes Peterborough, Ontario Rob Wilson Mike Oke Peterborough Memorial Centre 4,329
Central Barrie Colts Barrie, Ontario Warren Rychel Jason Ford Sadlon Arena 4,195
Mississauga Steelheads Mississauga, Ontario James Richmond James Richmond Paramount Fine Foods Centre 5,612
Niagara IceDogs St. Catharines, Ontario Billy Burke Joey Burke Meridian Centre 5,300
North Bay Battalion North Bay, Ontario Ryan Oulahen Adam Dennis North Bay Memorial Gardens 4,246
Sudbury Wolves Greater Sudbury, Ontario Cory Stillman Rob Papineau Sudbury Community Arena 4,640
Western Conference
DivisionTeamCityHead coach[1]ArenaCapacity
Midwest Erie Otters Erie, Pennsylvania Chris Hartsburg Dave Brown Erie Insurance Arena 6,716
Guelph Storm Guelph, Ontario George Burnett George Burnett Sleeman Centre 4,715
Kitchener Rangers Kitchener, Ontario Mike McKenzie Mike McKenzie Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex 7,777
London Knights London, Ontario Dale Hunter Mark Hunter Budweiser Gardens 9,046
Owen Sound Attack Owen Sound, Ontario Alan Letang Dale DeGray Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre 3,500
West Flint Firebirds Flint, Michigan Eric Wellwood Barclay Branch Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center 4,021
Saginaw Spirit Saginaw, Michigan Chris Lazary Dave Drinkill Dow Event Center 5,527
Sarnia Sting Sarnia, Ontario Derian Hatcher Nick Sinclair Progressive Auto Sales Arena 5,500
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario John Dean Kyle Raftis GFL Memorial Gardens 4,928
Windsor Spitfires Windsor, Ontario Trevor Letowski Bill Bowler WFCU Centre 6,500
2019–20 Ontario Hockey League
Location of teams for the 2019–20 OHL season.
East Division Central Division
Midwest Division West Division

Former teams


The 20 OHL clubs play a 68-game unbalanced schedule, which starts in the third full week of September, running until the third week of March. Ninety percent (90%) of OHL games are scheduled between Thursday and Sunday to minimize the number of school days missed for its players.

Approximately 20% of players on active rosters in the National Hockey League (NHL) have come from the OHL, and about 54% of NHL players are alumni of the Canadian Hockey League.

OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup

The J. Ross Robertson Cup is awarded annually to the winner of the Championship Series. The Cup is named for John Ross Robertson, who was president of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1901 to 1905.

The OHL playoffs consist of the top 16 teams in the league, 8 from each conference. The teams play a best-of-seven game series, and the winner of each series advances to the next round. The final two teams eventually compete for the J. Ross Robertson Cup.

The OHL champion then competes with the winners of the Western Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the host of the tournament to play for the Memorial Cup, which is awarded to the junior hockey champions of Canada. The host team of the tournament is alternated between the three leagues every season. The most recent OHL team to win the Memorial Cup was the Windsor Spitfires in 2017.

Memorial Cup champions

The Memorial Cup has been captured 17 times by OHL/OHA teams since the tournament went to a three-league format in 1972:

The Cup was also won 16 times by OHA teams in the period between 1945 and 1971:

Priority selection

The OHL's predecessor, the OHA, had a midget and juvenile draft dating back to the 50s, until voted out in 1962. In 1966 it was resumed, though not publicized. Starting in the 70s the draft went through several changes. Originally the draft was for 17-year-old midgets not already associated with teams through their sponsored youth programs. In 1971 the league first allowed "underage" midgets to be picked in the first three rounds. In 1972 disagreements about the Toronto team's rights to its "Marlie" players (and Greg Neeld) and claims to American player Mark Howe led to a revised system. In 1973 each team was permitted to protect 8 midget area players (Toronto was allowed to protect 10 players from its midget sponsored teams). In 1975 the league phased out the area protections, and the 1976 OHA midget draft was the first in which all midget players were eligible. In 1999 the league changed the draft to a bantam age (15 and 16 year old). It is a selection of players who are residents of the province of Ontario, the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, and other designated U.S. states east of the Mississippi River plus Missouri.

Prior to 2001, the OHL held the Priority Selection in a public forum, such as an arena. Drafts were attended by many players and family members. In 2001, the OHL decided to hold the "draft" via the Internet, greatly reducing the costs the league and its member teams incurred in hosting a public draft. This move reduced the stress and pressure that prospective players faced with a large crowd present.

The Jack Ferguson Award is presented annually to the first overall selection. The award was named in honour of long time OHL scout and former Director of Central Scouting Jack Ferguson.

Trophies and awards

List of trophies and awards in the Ontario Hockey League.[2]

Playoffs trophies
Trophy nameRecognitionFoundedCurrent recipient
J. Ross Robertson CupOHL Finals champion1934Guelph Storm
Bobby Orr TrophyEastern Conference champion1999Ottawa 67's
Wayne Gretzky TrophyWestern Conference champion1999Guelph Storm
Wayne Gretzky 99 AwardPlayoffs MVP1999Nick Suzuki
Regular season — Team trophies
Trophy nameRecognitionFoundedCurrent recipient
Hamilton Spectator TrophyTeam with best record1958Ottawa 67's
Leyden TrophyEast division champion1976Ottawa 67's
Emms TrophyCentral division champion1976Niagara IceDogs
Bumbacco TrophyWest division champion1995Saginaw Spirit
Holody TrophyMidwest division champion1999London Knights
Regular season — Executive awards
Trophy nameRecognitionFoundedCurrent recipient
Matt Leyden TrophyCoach of the year1972André Tourigny
Bill Long AwardLifetime achievement1989Larry Mavety
OHL Executive of the YearExecutive of the Year1990not awarded since 2013
Regular season — Player awards
Trophy nameRecognitionFoundedCurrent recipient
Red Tilson TrophyMost outstanding player1945Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Eddie Powers Memorial TrophyTop scorer1946Jason Robertson
Dave Pinkney TrophyLowest team goals against1949Cedrick Andrée & Michael DiPietro
Max Kaminsky TrophyMost outstanding defenceman1961Evan Bouchard
Jim Mahon Memorial TrophyTop scoring right winger1972Justin Brazeau
Emms Family AwardRookie of the year1973Quinton Byfield
William Hanley TrophyMost sportsmanlike player1975Nick Suzuki
F. W. "Dinty" Moore TrophyBest rookie GAA1976Ethan Taylor
Bobby Smith TrophyScholastic player of the year1980Thomas Harley
Leo Lalonde Memorial TrophyOverage player of the year1984Justin Brazeau
OHL Goaltender of the YearGoaltender of the year1988Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Dan Snyder Memorial TrophyHumanitarian of the year1993Nicholas Canade
Roger Neilson Memorial AwardTop academic college/university player2005Sasha Chmelevski
Ivan Tennant Memorial AwardTop academic high school player2005Mack Guzda & Zack Terry
Mickey Renaud Captain's TrophyTeam captain that best exemplifies character and commitment2009Justin Lemcke
Prospect player awards
Trophy nameRecognitionFoundedCurrent recipient
Jack Ferguson AwardFirst overall pick in priority selection1981Shane Wright
Tim Adams Memorial TrophyOHL Cup MVP2003Shane Wright

See also


  1. "OHL Directory". Ontario Hockey League. Retrieved 2018-01-06.
  2. "OHL Awards". Ontario Hockey League. Canadian Hockey League. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
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