Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League
|Current season or competition:
2015–16 GMHL season
|Region(s)||Greater Toronto Area, Midwestern Ontario, Golden Horseshoe, Central Ontario, Northeastern Ontario, and Quebec|
|No. of teams||29|
|Recent Champions||Temiscaming Titans (2015)|
|Most successful club||Bradford Rattlers (3)|
The Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League (GMHL) is a Canadian developmental Junior ice hockey league. The GMHL is not affiliated with the Canadian Junior Hockey League or a member by Hockey Canada. The league has teams in the Greater Toronto Area, Central Ontario, Northeastern Ontario, and Quebec.
As of October 2014, the league's alumni page lists 380 players from 2006-2014 who left the GMHL to play for NCAA colleges, various professional leagues, major junior teams, or represented their country in various IIHF World Championships.
The league, founded by Bob Russell and Hockeyworks International Ltd., opened its doors in early 2006, with a unique concept and approach to improving the standard of developing young hockey players within a Junior 'A' league format setting.
A draft showcase event took place from May 5 until May 7, 2006 with players from Canada, United States, and Europe taking up residence at the Hockeyworks' World Hockey Centre near Shelburne, Ontario to take part in the league's first tryout camp.
As of September of 2006, it became clear that the league would operate its first season with seven teams. The original seven were the Bradford Rattlers, Deseronto Thunder, King Wild, Nipissing Alouettes, Richmond Hill Rams, South Muskoka Shield, and Toronto Canada Moose.
The league's first ever game took place on September 8, 2006 between the King Wild and the Richmond Hill Rams. The final result was a 6-0 victory for the Rams, despite being badly outshot by the Wild. The first goal in the league's history was scored by the Rams' Darren Archibald (future Vancouver Canucks prospect) on the powerplay during the first period. Rams' goaltender Daniel Jones picked up the historical first victory, as well as the league's first shutout in history.
On November 15, 2006, the GMJHL announced its affiliation with the World Hockey Association and creation of the National Junior Hockey Alliance. The affiliation resulted in a national championship between the GMJHL playoff champion and the winner of the WHA Junior West Hockey League after the 2006-07 season.
The first ever regular season of the GMJHL concluded on February 25, 2007 with the Bradford Rattlers leading the way as regular season champs with a record of 37 wins, 1 regulation loss, and 4 overtime losses. In the playoffs, the Rattlers beat the Deseronto Thunder in 6 games, and then the King Wild in 5 games to win the first ever Russell Cup as playoff champions.
In September 2007, the GMJHL started its second season with six new teams, the Douro Dukes, Elliot Lake Bobcats, Espanola Kings, Innisfil Lakers, Tamworth Cyclones, and Temiscaming Royals. The Deseronto Thunder ran into financial trouble after their first season and ownership of the team was transferred to the town. The team is now known as the Deseronto Storm.
On December 11, 2007, the GMJHL announced a seven game challenge series versus a Russian team known as the Moscow Selects. In late December and early January, the top seven teams of the GMJHL will compete against the Moscow Selects—a mixture of top Top Junior talent from the City of Moscow. The Selects played seven games, against Bradford, Innisfil, Temiscaming, Elliot Lake, Richmond Hill, Deseronto, and South Muskoka, winning each game. In March 2008, the King Wild and Richmond Hill Rams played two games each against the Mexico national ice hockey team. The Wild won both their games, while the Rams lost both of theirs.
For the 2008-09 season, the GMJHL will adopt much of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's ice hockey rulebook. The GMJHL added the Minden Riverkings and the Oro-Medonte 77's to the mix, and the Dukes relocated to become the Brock Bucks. At the same time, the Quebec-based Temiscaming Royals walked away from the league to join the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, but were replaced within weeks by the Ville-Marie Dragons.
In December 2008 and January 2009, eight teams of the GMHL hosted Kazakhstan's Under-18 Torpedo UST-Kamenogorsk squad. Victorious were the Elliot Lake Bobcats (twice), South Muskoka Shield, King Wild, Bradford Rattlers, Innisfil Lakers, and a Nipissing/Ville-Marie combined squad. The only loss for a GMHL team happened to the Toronto Canada Moose.
In the Summer of 2010, the GMHL expanded in two fashions internationally. First, Canada's only All-Russian team in the Shelburne Red Wings and then late in the summer they expanded to the United States through the expansion of the Jamestown Jets.
On September 17, 2010, the GMHL played its first international regulation game, in Jamestown, New York between the Jamestown Jets and Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks, both expansion teams to the league for the 2010-11 season. Jamestown won the game 4-3. In December 2010, the GMHL named Bob Bernstein commissioner. After serving as commissioner for seven days, Bernstein was relieved of his duties and Ken Girard later resumed as full-time commissioner.
In mid-January of 2011, it was announced that the town of Iron Bridge, Ontario and its 500-seat outdoor arena would host a regular season game, known as the North Shore Winter Classic, between the Elliot Lake Bobcats and Algoma Avalanche on January 29, 2011. This is the first known regulation outdoor game in Ontario in the modern era. Elliot Lake would win the game 8-2 in front of an estimated 400 fans.
At the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, the league lost the Elliot Lake Bobcats to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. Relocation of teams and expansion was busier than ever in 2014. The Mattawa Voyageurs moved to Sundridge to make way for an NOJHL team. The Powassan Eagles moved to Parry Sound to make way for an NOJHL team. The league expanded rapidly with a total of 15 new teams in the off-season of 2014 and 2015. There is a total of 30 teams, with a total of 6 teams playing in the same market (2 teams per town).
The Shelburne Red Wings were sold after the 2013-14 season, and were re-named the Shelburne Stars. However, the Stars did not play in 2014-15 and changed their name to the Shelburne Sharks and began play in 2015-15. In May 2015, the Rama Aces took a leave of absence for one season and won't return until 2016-17. In November 2015, the Brantford Steelfighters suspended their operations after 18 games and announced they will return next season.
Changes for 2016-17
- Brantford Steelfighters - ceased operations after 18 games; said to return for 2016-17 season
- Cambridge Bears - scheduled to return for 2016-17 season
- Rama Aces - scheduled to return for 2016-17 season
- Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks - cancelled remaining games of 2015-16 season in January 2016; plans to return for 2016-17 season
Regular season champions
Russell Cup playoff champions
Since 2009, the GMHL has had a mid-season prospect tournament. Generally, the top seven teams of the league compete in the tournament with an eighth team, the GMHL Selects representing the other teams in the league.
The 2012 tournament featured both the Bradford Rattlers and South Muskoka Shield being thrown out in the semifinal round. An incident, both on-ice and later off-ice, involving a player from each team and later two more players and a parent from one team entering the altercation, resulted in a police investigation and one team refusing to continue. The league disqualified both teams after the game failed to continue.
- Best record: 2012-13 Bradford Rattlers (42-0-0-0)
- Worst record: 2007-08 Douro Dukes (2-40-0-0)
- Most goals for by team, one season: 2015-16 Tottenham Steam (333 as of February 6, 2016)
- Least goals for by team, one season: 2013-14 Toronto Predators (91)
- Least goals against by team, one season: 2012-13 Bradford Rattlers (95)
- Most goals against by team, one season: 2015-16 Bobcaygeon Storm (452 as of February 6, 2016)
- Largest margin of victory: Elliot Lake Bobcats 29, Ville-Marie Dragons 1 on December 6, 2008
- Most goals, one season: Alexander Nikulnikov (69) -- 2010-11 Shelburne Red Wings
- Most assists, one season: Ferdinando Colella (85) -- 2014-15 Tottenham Steam*
- Most points, one season: Alexander Nikulnikov (140) -- 2010-11 Shelburne Red Wings and Stanislav Dzakhov (140) -- 2010-11 Shelburne Red Wings*
- Lowest goals against average, one season: Rob Sutherland (1.70) -- 2009-10 South Muskoka Shield
(*) denotes record tied or surpassed during current season.
Timeline of teams
- League is formed with seven teams: Bradford Rattlers, Deseronto Thunder, King Wild, Nipissing Alouettes, Richmond Hill Rams, South Muskoka Shield, Toronto Canada Moose
- Deseronto Thunder become Deseronto Storm
- League expands by six teams: Douro Dukes, Elliot Lake Bobcats, Espanola Kings, Innisfil Lakers, Tamworth Cyclones, Temiscaming Royals
- Douro Dukes move and become Brock Bucks
- Richmond Hill Rams become Ontario Lightning Rams
- Oro-Medonte 77's join league
- Ville-Marie Dragons join league
- Minden Riverkings join league
- Temiscaming Royals leave league for Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League
- Ville-Marie Dragons fold mid-season (January)
- Tamworth Cyclones fold mid-season (January)
- Ontario Lightning Rams leave league
- Espanola Kings leave league
- Nipissing Alouettes leave league
- Algoma Avalanche join league
- Ville-Marie Dragons move and become Powassan Dragons
- Minden Riverkings fold mid-season (November)
- Shelburne Red Wings join league
- Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks join league
- King Wild move and become Vaughan Wild
- Brock Bucks move and become Bobcaygeon Bucks
- Innisfil Lakers leave league
- Jamestown Jets join league from Northern Junior Hockey League (league's first American team)
- Mattawa Voyageurs join league
- Temiscaming Titans join league
- Halton Huskies join league
- Orangeville Americans join league
- Vaughan Stars join league
- Vaughan Wild move and become Lefroy Wave
- Powassan Dragons change name to Powassan Eagles
- Oro-Medonte 77's leave league
- Jamestown Jets leave league
- Rama Aces join league
- Powassan Eagles return
- Bradford Bulls join league
- Toronto Attack join league
- Bracebridge Phantoms join league
- Elliot Lake Bobcats leave league for Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League
- Deseronto Storm leave league for Empire B Junior C Hockey League
- Algoma Avalanche leave league
- Expansion granted to the Alliston Coyotes of Alliston, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to the Seguin Huskies of Seguin, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to the Toronto Predators of Toronto, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Halton Ravens of Burlington, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Knights of Meaford of Meaford, Ontario.
- Toronto Canada Moose renamed Toronto Blue Ice Jets.
- Expansion granted to the Cambridge Bears of Cambridge, Ontario.
- Lefroy Wave relocate to Markdale, Ontario and become Grey Highlands Bravehearts.
- Expansion granted to the Tottenham Steam of Tottenham, Ontario.
- Bobcaygeon Bucks leave league for CIHL.
- Mattawa Voyageurs relocate to South River, Ontario and become Almaguin Spartans.
- Expansion granted to the North York Renegades of North York, Ontario.
- Bracebridge Phantoms change name to Bracebridge Blues.
- Expansion granted to Niagara Whalers of Port Colborne, Ontario.
- Powassan Eagles relocate to Parry Sound, Ontario and become Parry Sound Islanders.
- Shelburne Red Wings are sold; change name to Shelburne Stars and take season off to restructure.
- Expansion granted to Bobcaygeon Storm of Bobcaygeon, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Brantford Steelfighters of Brantford, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Colborne Chiefs of Colborne, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Coldwater Falcons of Coldwater, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Grey County Grizzlies of Feversham, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Haliburton Wolves of Haliburton, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Kingsville Kings of Kingsville, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Komoka Dragons of Komoka, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to London Lakers of London, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Norfolk Vikings of Simcoe, Ontario.
- Expansion granted to Oshawa Riverkings of Oshawa, Ontario.
- Orangeville Americans were renamed the Orangeville Ice Crushers.
- Shelburne Stars were renamed the Shelburne Sharks.
- Brantford Steelfighters take leave of absence after 18 games played.
- Grey County Grizzlies cease operations after 23 games played and only one win.
- Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks end season early due to lack of players.
- "Alumni". GMHL. October 2014.
- "Meet Canada's first all-Russian hockey team". Toronto Star. 14 May 2010.
- "Charges pending in junior hockey game brawl". CP24.com. 6 December 2012.
- "Update: College Showcase Classic". GMHL. 15 December 2014.
- "Toronto Attack to play in 2012 - 2013". GMHL. 19 March 2012.
- "Bracebridge lands GMHL expansion team". What′s Up Muskoka. 4 April 2012.
- "New Jr A team in town". The Middlesex Banner. 11 February 2015.
- "Brantford SteelFighters Take Leave of Absence". GMHL. 6 November 2015.
- "Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks Statement". Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
- "THE DEATH POOL – GMHL STURGEON FALLS LUMBERJACKS MERCIFULLY KILLED OFF". The Junior Hockey News. 1 February 2016.