Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League (1972–87)

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Ontario Provincial Junior "A" Hockey League
Ontario Provincial Junior A.png
Membership Ontario Hockey Association
Founded 1972
Ceased 1987
Regional Champions 10
National Champions 3
First Champion Wexford Raiders (1973)
Last Champion Owen Sound Greys (1987)
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

The Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League was a Canadian Junior ice hockey league based in Ontario and sanctioned by the Ontario Hockey Association and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. The league operated from 1972 until 1987. This league was the forerunner to the current Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League that was promoted in 1993. From 1972 until 1977, the OPJHL shared their region with the Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League.

History[edit]

For Season-by-Season Standings, please see: OPJHL Standings (1972-1981) and OJHL Standings.

The Ontario Hockey Association Tier II Junior "A" League was born out of the creation of the Ontario Hockey League. There have always been multiple tiers of junior hockey, but the top tier, then known as Ontario Hockey Association Junior "A", elected to split from the OHA and create its own level of hockey. The early 1970s sparked a vast reorganization of Canadian hockey across the country. The Ontario Hockey League was born out of this, as well was the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in other parts of Canada. The new tier was known as Major Junior "A" hockey. The first Ontario Tier II League came in 1968 with creation of the renegade Western Ontario Junior A Hockey League, which became the Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League in 1970.

The aftermath of the annexation of the top tier left a vacuum for a new top tier of OHA hockey. What filled the gap in 1972 was the 12-team Ontario Hockey Association Jr. "A" Hockey League, which comprised five teams leaving the Metro Junior "B" (the Richmond Hill Rams, North York Rangers, Downsview Beavers, Aurora Tigers and the Dixie Beehives), 6 expansion teams (Seneca Flyers, Ajax Steelers, Wexford Warriors, Vaughan Nationals, Weston Dodgers), the Kingston Frontenacs of the defunct Eastern Junior B Hockey League, and the North Bay Trappers of the recently folded Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League [1].

The Ontario Provincial league's only competition for talent in Southern Ontario was the Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League. The Southern Ontario league jumped to Junior "A" in 1968 as the Western Ontario Junior A Hockey League and changed its name two years later. From the 1972-73 season until the 1976-77 season, these two league put their champions up against each other to earn the right to compete for the Dudley Hewitt Cup as only one Ontario Hockey Association team could challenge for it. In 1973, the SOJAHL's Chatham Maroons defeated the OPJHL's Wexford Raiders 4-games-to-3. In 1974, the Wexford Raiders got their turn, defeating the Windsor Spitfires 4-games-to-3 to even the series. A year later, the SOJAHL's Guelph CMC's defeated the Toronto Nationals 4-games-to-2 and in 1976 became the Guelph Platers and defeated the North Bay Trappers 4-games-to-1 to win their second straight OHA Championship. The final chapter of this saga was slightly redemptive for the OPJHL as their North York Rangers went the distance and defeated Guelph 4-games-to-3. Down to four teams, the SOJAHL folded. The Guelph Platers and Hamilton Mountain A's jumped to the OPJHL, while the Owen Sound Greys took a season off then joined the Georgian Bay Intermediate A Hockey League and the Collingwood Blues changed their name and dropped to Junior C. After a five year feud, the SOJAHL won the battle but lost the war as their champions won three of five OHA Championships but ultimately folded.

Over the next few years, the Guelph Platers [2], Belleville Bulls [3], and Kingston Frontenacs [4] would all get their start in this league before jumping to the Ontario Hockey League [5] [6] [7].

By 1986, the league was suffering from a variety of difficulties. With most of their teams folding or dropping to Junior "B", the league was left with 4 teams [8], the OHA Jr. "A" League was forced to close its doors at the end of the 1986-87 season. The four remaining teams at the end of the OHA Jr. "A" League era were the Final Champion Owen Sound Greys, the Aurora Eagles, the Markham Waxers, and the Richmond Hill Dynes [9]. The Central League agreed to take Markham, Aurora and Richmond Hill, while the Owen Sound Greys went to the Midwestern Junior B Hockey League.

Member Teams[edit]

Former OJHL Teams
Team Centre Joined Exited Status
Ajax Merchants Ajax, Ontario 1972 1977 Folded
Aurora Tigers Aurora, Ontario 1972 1987 Joined CJBHL
Belleville Bulls Belleville, Ontario 1979 1981 Joined OHL
Brampton Warriors Brampton, Ontario 1980 1982 Folded
Cambridge Winterhawks Cambridge, Ontario 1982 1983 Joined MWJHL
Dixie Beehives Dixie, Ontario 1972 1986 Folded
Guelph Platers Guelph, Ontario 1977 1982 Joined OHL
Hamilton Mountain A's Hamilton, Ontario 1977 1984 Folded
Kingston Frontenacs Kingston, Ontario 1972 1973 Joined OHL
Markham Waxers Markham, Ontario 1973 1987 Joined CJBHL
Newmarket Flyers Newmarket, Ontario 1972 1986 Joined CJBHL
North Bay Trappers North Bay, Ontario 1972 1982 Folded
North York Rangers North York, Ontario 1972 1985 Folded
Orillia Travelways Orillia, Ontario 1981 1986 Joined CJBHL
Owen Sound Greys Owen Sound, Ontario 1985 1987 Joined MWJHL
Richmond Hill Rams Richmond Hill, Ontario 1972 1987 Joined CJBHL
Royal York Royals Downsview, Ontario 1972 1980 Folded
Toronto Nationals Vaughan, Ontario 1972 1977 Folded
Weston Dodgers Weston, Ontario 1972 1977 Folded
Wexford Raiders Wexford, Ontario 1972 1981 Folded
Whitby Lawmen Whitby, Ontario 1984 1985 Folded

Champions[edit]

League[edit]

  • 1987 Owen Sound Greys
  • 1986 Orillia Travelways
  • 1985 Orillia Travelways
  • 1984 Orillia Travelways
  • 1983 North York Rangers
  • 1982 Guelph Platers
  • 1981 Belleville Bulls
  • 1980 North York Rangers
  • 1979 Guelph Platers
  • 1978 Guelph Platers
  • 1977 North York Rangers
  • 1976 North Bay Trappers
  • 1975 Toronto Nationals
  • 1974 Wexford Raiders
  • 1973 Wexford Raiders

Dudley Hewitt Cup[edit]

  • 1986 Orillia Travelways
  • 1985 Orillia Travelways
  • 1984 Orillia Travelways
  • 1983 North York Rangers
  • 1982 Guelph Platers
  • 1981 Belleville Bulls
  • 1980 North York Rangers
  • 1979 Guelph Platers
  • 1978 Guelph Platers
  • 1974 Wexford Raiders

Manitoba Centennial Cup[edit]

  • 1985 Orillia Travelways
  • 1983 North York Rangers
  • 1978 Guelph Platers

League records[edit]

  • Best record: 1981-82 Guelph Platers (40-4-6)
  • Worst record: 1979-80 Richmond Hill Rams (4-39-1)
  • Most goals, one season: Steve Thomas (68) -- 1981-82 Markham Waxers
  • Most assists, one season: Adam Oates (105) -- 1981-82 Markham Waxers
  • Most points, one season: Adam Oates (159) -- 1981-82 Markham Waxers

External links[edit]