Metro Junior A Hockey League

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This article is about the league in operation from 1956-1998. For the Metro Junior Hockey League from 1961-1963 see: Metro Junior A League

Metro Junior "A" Hockey League
Metro Junior A Hockey League.png
Membership Ontario Hockey Association
Founded 1950
Ceased 1998
Sutherland Cups 13
Regional Champions 0
National Champions 0
First Champion Weston Dukes (1951)
Last Champion Wexford Raiders (1998)
Aurora Tigers RBC.jpg
OHA Junior "A"
SOJHL (1970-1977)
OPJHL (1972–1987)
MetJHL (1991-1998)
OJHL (1993-Present)
Ontario Hockey Association
Canadian Junior Hockey League
OHA Junior "B"
WJBHL (1950-1968)
EJBHL (1950-1972)
MetJHL (1950-1989)
NDJBHL (1954-1979)
CJBHL (1954-1993)
BCJHL (1958-1964)
MOJBHL (1970-1978)
SWJBHL (1976-1978)
WOHL (1969-2007)
MWJHL (1973-2007)
GHL (1974-2007)
GOJHL (2007-Present)
Sutherland Cup

The Metro Junior "A" Hockey League was a junior level ice hockey league based out of Southern Ontario. The league originated in 1956 as the Metro Junior "B" Hockey League, which lasted until 1991, when it changed its designation from Junior B to Junior A. It remained a Jr. A league from 1991 until 1998 when it was absorbed by the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League.

History[edit]

The league began in 1956 as the Metropolitan Toronto junior hockey league. For some time, was a part of the Ontario Hockey Association and the Canadian Junior A Hockey League. As the name suggests, the league originally consisted of Junior B teams in the Toronto area. However, over time, with the defection of teams to the Junior A league, the Metro league accepted teams from wider regions. The league featured many future NHL stars, including Brad Park (Toronto Westclairs), Wayne Gretzky (Toronto Nationals), Eric Lindros (St. Michael's Buzzers), Dale Hawerchuk (Oshawa Legionaires), Ken Dryden (Etobicoke Indians), and Curtis Joseph (King City Dukes).

During the early years, the "Junior B" league was essentially the minor league feeder for the "Junior A" Ontario Hockey Association. Almost all of the Metro players eventually moved on to play in the OHA. Following the NCAA's 1980 rule change that deemed any OHL players to be professionals, amateur leagues such as the Junior B leagues grew. The Metro league became a key feeder to college hockey programs during the 1980s and 1990s, producing more than 200 future NCAA players.

The Early Junior B Years[edit]

The early years featured Toronto-based teams such as the St.Mike's Buzzers, Dixie Beehives, Toronto Lakeshore Bruins, Toronto Marlies/Weston Dukes, Unionville Jets, Aurora Tigers, Whitby Dunlops,Leaside Rangers,Brampton 7 ups and the Woodbridge Dodgers. For the most part, the teams served as farm teams at the Junior B level for the Junior A OHA teams. The 1964-65 Season starred a 17-year-old Ken Dryden in net for the Etobicoke Indians. With Dryden in net, the Indians won the Metro league title and made it all the way to the Sutherland Cup final where they lost 4-games-to-2 to the Kitchener Greenshirts. Ken Dryden moved on to become one of the most famous NHL goaltenders of all-time. He played in the 1972 Summit Series, won the 1971 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP a season before he was officially a rookie (which he won the Calder Trophy in 1972 as Rookie of the Year), he won six Stanley Cups, and is a Hockey Hall of Fameer.

Exodus 1972[edit]

In 1972 the Metro B league was reshaped substantially when 6 members left to join the new Ontario Provincial Junior A league. Metro members Ajax Steelers, Aurora Tigers, Dixie Beehives, Downsview Bees, North York Rangers, and the Richmond Hill Rams left. A year later the Markham Waxers also left. To make up for the losses, the Metro league took in new members Belleville Bobcats and the Peterborough Lions from the folded Eastern Ontario Junior B Hockey League, and expanded with the Oshawa Legionaires, Bramalea Blues, Pickering Panthers, and Wexford Warriors. The Etobicoke Selects, Toronto Red Wings, and Markham Royalls joined in 1973. The Kingston Voyageurs entered the league in 1974.

In 1974, the Metro Champion Bramalea Blues defeated the Owen Sound Greys 4-games-to-3 to reach the Sutherland Cup All-Ontario Final. Upon reaching the final, the Blues defeated the Hamilton Red Wings of the Niagara & District Junior B Hockey League in Game 1, only to have a brawl involving the teams, officials, and fans breakout to the point that police were called to break up the incident. Due to the brawl, the Blues withdrew from the final and became the only team in Ontario Hockey Association history to forfeit the Sutherland Cup.

The 1975 season marked the first junior appearance by a 14-year-old "underage" Wayne Gretzky for the Toronto Nationals. In September, Walter Gretzky had Wayne moved to the City of Vaughan to play midget hockey for the Toronto Young Nats instead of playing in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario. In October, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association declared Gretzky and 15-year old Brian Rorabek ineligible because they had established residency too late. Gretzky sued in the Canadian Courts and lost [1]. Because Gretzky could remain in Toronto to play junior (rather than midget hockey), Gretzky tried out for the Junior B team, and made the team. In 28 games, Gretzky scored 27 goals and 33 assists to win Metro Rookie of the Year honours. The next year the team moved to Richmond Hill and became the Seneca Nationals. Gretzky scored 36 goals and 36 assists in 32 games, and then 40 goals and 35 assists in 23 playoff games to lead his team to a Metro Junior "B" Championship. Sadly, the team came up short of a Sutherland Cup victory, as the Nationals were stopped dead in the 1977 All-Ontario Semi-final by the Stratford Cullitons of the Wellington-Waterloo Junior B Hockey League.

The Henry Carr Crusaders, a team sponsored by the Toronto highschool, joined the Junior "B" ranks in 1980. They won league titles in 1983, 1984, and 1987. Their best season came in 1983, where they went undefeated during the regular season, won the Metro, and then went on to win the Sutherland Cup as All-Ontario Junior "B" Champions. That team featured future NHLers Bob Essensa, Paul Cavallini and Victor Posa and NHL draft picks Rob Bryden and Allister Brown. In 1991, Henry Carr Highschool dropped its sponsorship of the team, and as of 2006 were known as the Toronto Thunderbirds.

During the 1986-87, a strange occurrence happened with the team that is now known as the Mississauga Chargers. Then known as the King City Dukes and in their third season in King since moving from Weston, the team moved mid-season to North York and renamed itself the North York Civics. The oddity here is that teams rarely do a complete locational move in the middle of a season. The next year they became the Richmond Hill Dukes and skipped around the Greater Toronto Area for the better part of the next decade trying to find a home.

During the 1988-89 season Kingston's Scott Martin won his second consecutive scoring title and League MVP award. His season totals of 62 goals and 114 points in a mere 42 games came closest to topping the league records set by NHLers Patrick Flatley during the 1980-81 season (137 points for Henry Carr), and Paul Gardner during the 1973-74 season (77 goals and 132 points for St.Mike's).

1990 Departure From CJAHL and Move To Junior A[edit]

The league was classified by the OHA as a Junior B league, until a falling-out in June 1990, when the Ontario Hockey Federation was formed, comprising the OHA, the Ontario major junior league, three minor hockey groups and women's hockey. The OHA was given jurisdiction over junior hockey below major junior excluding junior A in the north. Junior teams in Toronto were not members of the OHA and therefore not members of the CAHA. As a result, in 1990 the Metro league declared itself to be an independent junior league. A year later, during the summer of 1991, the league declared itself to be a Junior A league, and hired a full-time commissioner, Doug Linthwaite.

The Metro League's move brought into motion changes that ultimately led to the creation of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League. After the Metro league declared itself to be a Junior A league, the Central Junior B league followed, declaring itself a Junior A league after the 1992-93 season. Through November 19–21, 1993, the new junior A leagues joined with teams from the other Canadian provincial junior A leagues, and formed the Canadian Junior A Hockey League.

Exodus 1995[edit]

In 1995, crisis struck the Metro Junior A Hockey League. In the midst of perceived corruption by the league, five teams walked out on the Metro. Four of these teams; the Bramalea Blues, Kingston Voyageurs, Mississauga Chargers, and St. Michael's Buzzers; fled to join the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League. The Richmond Hill Riot folded. This marked the beginning of the end for the Metro. The Metro Junior Hockey League chose to play outside the CJAHL and CHA in 1995-96.

Hockey history was made on February 21, 1997 when Ryan Venturelli of the Muskoka Bears became the first goaltender in hockey history to score two goals (both empty net) in a hockey game against the Durham Huskies.

Despite extensive expansion, the league was not able to retain its past glory and was swallowed whole by the OPJHL in 1998. The Metro league folded in 1998, with most of its teams being taken in by the OPJHL, and a lot of its players. So far the most successful of these teams seem to be the Aurora Tigers, who after winning the OPJHL and Dudley Hewitt Cup in 2004, they took home the Royal Bank Cup 2004 as CJAHL National Champions as well. The league produced numerous stars, both in the NHL and as a feeder for NCAA college hockey, having produced 350 NCAA Division I scholarship athletes from 1980 to 1998.

Teams[edit]

Team Centre Years Status
Ajax Steelers Ajax 19xx-1972 Folded
Aurora Tigers Aurora 1967-1972
1992-1997
Joined OPJHL
Joined OPJHL
Belleville Bobcats Belleville 1972-1989 Merged w/ Wellington
Bramalea Blues Bramalea 1972-1995 Joined OPJHL
Caledon Canadians Caledon 1994-1998 Joined OPJHL
Dixie Beehives Mississauga 1956-1972 Folded
Downsview Bees Downsview 1971-1972 Folded
Durham Huskies Durham 1996-1998 Joined OPJHL
Etobicoke Indians Etobicoke 196x-1970 Folded
Etobicoke Selects Etobicoke 1973-1980 Folded
Huntsville Wildcats Huntsville 1990-1998 Joined OPJHL
Kingston Voyageurs Kingston 1974-1995 Joined OPJHL
Markham Waxers Markham 1962-1973
1995-1998
Joined OPJHL
Joined OPJHL
Mimico Monarchs Etobicoke 1989-1995 Folded
Mississauga Chargers Mississauga 1992-1995 Joined OPJHL
Niagara Scenic West Seneca 1995-1998 Joined OPJHL
North York Rangers (I) North York 1967-1972 Joined OPJHL
North York Rangers (II) North York 1992-1998 Joined OPJHL
Oshawa Legionaires Oshawa 1972-1998 Joined OPJHL
Peterborough Lions Peterborough 1972-1989 Joined CJBHL
Pickering Panthers Pickering 1972-1998 Joined OPJHL
Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins Pittsburgh 1997-1998 Joined EmpJHL
Port Credit Titans Port Credit 1979-1987 Folded
Port Hope Buzzards Port Hope 1996-1998 Joined OPJHL
Quinte Hawks Deseronto 1996-1998 Joined OPJHL
Scarborough Sabres Scarborough 1970-1972 Folded
Scarborough Young Bruins Scarborough 1976-1979 Folded
St. Michael's Buzzers Toronto 1956-1995 Joined OPJHL
Shelburne Wolves Shelburne 1995-1998 Joined OPJHL
Syracuse Jr. Crunch Syracuse 1995-1998 Joined OPJHL
Thornhill Rattlers Thornhill 1989-1998 Joined OPJHL
Toronto Nationals Toronto 1970-1980 Folded
Toronto Red Wings Toronto 1973-1979 Folded
Wellington Dukes Wellington 1989-1998 Joined OPJHL
Weston Dodgers Weston 1956-1972 Joined OPJHL
Wexford Raiders Wexford 1972-1998 Joined OPJHL

Champions[edit]

Please note: On the chart, the bolded team is the league champion.

Year Champion Finalist
1951 Weston Dukes Brampton Regents
1952 Weston Dukes St. Michael's Buzzers
1953 Weston Dukes Brampton Regents
1954 Weston Dukes St. Michael's Buzzers
1955 Woodbridge Dodgers Brampton Regents
1956 Brampton Regents Weston Dukes
1957 St. Michael's Buzzers Dixie Beehives
1958 Lakeshore Bruins Dixie Beehives
1959 Aurora Bears West Toronto Dukes
1960 Toronto Marlboros Woodbridge Dodgers
1961 St. Michael's Buzzers Weston Dukes
1962 Woodbridge Dodgers
1963 Lakeshore Goodyears Weston Dodgers
1964 Weston Dodgers Neil McNeil Maroons
1965 Etobicoke Indians Brampton 7-Ups
1966 Toronto Westclairs Etobicoke Indians
1967 Dixie Beehives Weston Dodgers
1968 Markham Waxers St. Michael's Buzzers
1969 Markham Waxers
1970 Dixie Beehives North York Rangers
1971 Dixie Beehives
1972 Markham Waxers
1973 Toronto Nationals
1974 Bramalea Blues
Year Central Eastern
1975 Bramalea Blues
1976 Bramalea Blues Belleville Bobcats
1977 Seneca Nationals Oshawa Legionaires
1978 St. Michael's Buzzers Oshawa Legionaires
1979 St. Michael's Buzzers Oshawa Legionaires
1980 St. Michael's Buzzers Belleville Bobcats
1981 St. Michael's Buzzers Pickering Panthers
1982 St. Michael's Buzzers Oshawa Legionaires
Year Fullan MacKenzie
1983 Henry Carr Crusaders Pickering Panthers
1984 Henry Carr Crusaders Oshawa Legionaires
1985 Bramalea Blues Peterborough Roadrunners
1986 Bramalea Blues Pickering Panthers
1987 Henry Carr Crusaders Pickering Panthers
1988 Bramalea Blues Markham Travelways
1989 St. Michael's Buzzers Kingston Voyageurs
Year Bauer Fullan
1990 Wexford Raiders Thornhill Thunderbirds
1991 Wexford Raiders Bramalea Blues
1992 Wexford Raiders Bramalea Blues
1993 Wexford Raiders St. Michael's Buzzers
1994 Wexford Raiders Caledon Canadians
1995 Wexford Raiders Caledon Canadians
Eastern Western
1996 Thornhill Islanders Caledon Canadians
Central Eastern Western
1997 Wexford Raiders Quinte Hawks Aurora Tigers
1998 Wexford Raiders Syracuse Jr. Crunch* Caledon Canadians

(*) denotes that there was no clear winner to the Eastern Division in 1998, but Syracuse did maintain a better record than Oshawa in the 1998 playoffs and is the closest the division has to a playoff champion.

Sutherland Cup Provincial Jr. B Champions[edit]

Year Champion Finalist
1952 Weston Dukes Waterloo Siskins (WGr)
1953 Weston Dukes Waterloo Siskins (WGr)
1957 Dixie Beehives Sarnia Legionnaires (W)
1961 St. Michael's Buzzers Owen Sound Greys (C)
1969 Markham Seal-a-Wax Strathroy Rockets (C)
1970 Dixie Beehives Hamilton Mountain Bees (ND)
1971 Dixie Beehives Hamilton Mountain Bees (ND)
1972 Markham Waxers St. Marys Lincolns (WO)
1975 Bramalea Blues Oakville Blades (C)
1980 Belleville Bobcats Windsor Bulldogs (WO)
1982 St. Michael's Buzzers Sarnia Bees (WO)
1983 Henry Carr Crusaders Stratford Cullitons (MW)
1989 St. Michael's Buzzers Niagara Falls Devils (GH)

See also[edit]

1995-96 All-Star Game Puck

External links[edit]