Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League
|Region(s)||Greater Toronto Area, Midwestern Ontario, Golden Horseshoe, Central Ontario, Northeastern Ontario, and Quebec|
|No. of teams||23|
|Recent Champions||Ville-Marie Pirates (2019)|
|Most successful club||Bradford Rattlers (3)|
The Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League (GMHL) is a Canadian developmental junior ice hockey league. The league has primarily had teams in the Greater Toronto Area, Central Ontario, Northeastern Ontario, and Quebec. In 2019, they added three teams from Alberta.
As of December 2019, the league's alumni page lists 889 players from 2006 to 2019 who graduated from 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 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 power play 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 six games, and then the King Wild in five 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 adopted 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 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 was a total of 30 teams, with a total of six teams playing in the same market (two teams per town).
The Shelburne Red Wings were sold after the 2013–14 season, and were renamed the Shelburne Stars. However, the Stars did not play in 2014–15 and changed their name to the Shelburne Sharks and began play in 2015–16. In May 2015, the Rama Aces took a leave of absence but never returned. In November 2015, the Brantford Steelfighters suspended their operations after 18 games.
The Shelburne Sharks returned as the Shelburne Stars in June 2016, but the team folded soon afterwards. The Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks re-branded as the West Nipissing Lynx, but remained in Sturgeon Falls. Early into the 2016–17 season, the Toronto Blue Ice Jets were removed from the schedule in the first week, the Bracebridge Blues in the fifth week, the Komoka Dragons in the seventh week, the Lincoln Mavericks in the twelfth week, and Wiarton Rock in the fifteenth week of the season. The Orangeville Ice Crushers would also suspend operations in January 2017 and all remaining games against Orangeville were considered forfeits.
For 2017–18, the league added the Fergus Force, Ville-Marie Pirates, Wiarton Schooners, and Windsor Aces while losing the Toronto Attack. In late August 2017, the Parry Sound Islanders announced they were taking a leave of absence and merged with the Seguin Huskies. The Force and Schooners both folded during the season without winning a game.
After one season following the Islanders merge, the Seguin Huskies folded in 2018. The GMHL also added two teams originally in the Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League in the Niagara-on-the-Lake Nationals and Ottawa Sharpshooters for 2018–19. The Wiarton Schooners returned but folded midseason for the second consecutive season, and third consecutive midseason GMHL team folding in the town of Wiarton.
In 2019, the league added the Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA) as a Western Division in the GMHL for the 2019–20 season, which then rebranded as the GMHL West. The WPHA had played the previous season in the Western States Hockey League as the Provinces Division.
|North||Almaguin Spartans||2011||South River, Ontario||South River-Machar Arena|
|Bancroft Rockhounds||2019||Bancroft, Ontario||North Hastings Community Centre|
|Bradford Bulls||2012||Bradford, Ontario||Bob Fallis Sports Centre|
|Bradford Rattlers||2006||Bradford, Ontario||BWG Leisure Centre|
|Meaford Knights||2013||Meaford, Ontario||Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre|
|New Tecumseth Civics||2013||Alliston, Ontario||New Tecumseth Recreation Complex|
|South Muskoka Shield||2006||Gravenhurst, Ontario||Graeme Murray Arena|
|Temiscaming Titans||2011||Temiscaming, Quebec||Le Centre de Temiscaming|
|Ville-Marie Pirates||2017||Ville-Marie, Quebec||Olympia de Ville-Marie Arena|
|West Nipissing Lynx||2010||Sturgeon Falls, Ontario||Sturgeon Falls Arena|
|South||Durham Roadrunners||2015||Oshawa, Ontario||Delpark Homes Arena|
|Kingsville Kings||2015||Kingsville, Ontario||Kingsville Arena Complex|
|London Lakers||2015||London, Ontario||London Sports Park|
|Niagara Whalers||2014||Port Colborne, Ontario||Vale Health and Wellness Centre|
|North York Renegades||2014||North York, Ontario||Canlan Ice Sports York|
|Northumberland Stars||2015||Colborne, Ontario||Keeler Center|
|St. George Ravens||2013||St. George, Ontario||South Dumfries Community Centre|
|Toronto Predators||2013||Toronto, Ontario||Canlan Ice Sports York|
|Tottenham Steam||2014||Tottenham, Ontario||Tottenham and Community Fitness Centre|
|Windsor Aces||2017||Windsor, Ontario||Adie Knox Arena|
|West||High Prairie Red Wings||2019||High Prairie, Alberta||High Prairie Sports Palace Arena|
|Northern Alberta Tomahawks||2019||Enoch, Alberta||Enoch Recreation Centre|
|Slave Lake Icedogs||2019||Slave Lake, Alberta||Multi-Rec Centre|
- Bancroft, Ontario, was granted an expansion franchise with the Bancroft Rockhounds.
- Oshawa Riverkings sold and rebranded as Durham RoadRunners.
- Niagara-on-the-Lake Nationals folded after one season.
- Tillsonburg Hurricanes ceased operations
- The Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA) joins from the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) and rebrands as the GMHL West. The new West Division added five teams from Alberta and Saskatchewan: the Cold Lake Wings, Hinton Wildcats, Northern Alberta Tomahawks, Rosetown Red Wings, and Slave Lake Icedogs. The Hinton Wildcats did not make the final schedule after a lease dispute with the city and the WSHL while the Cold Lake Wings suspended operations and were replaced by YEG Edmonton Academy on the schedule, which then used the Wings branding. The Rosetown team also postponed the start of their season and then never played, while the YEG Edmonton Academy began using their uniforms as the High Prairie Red Wings and settled on a home rink in November.
- The Ottawa Sharpshooters folded in December 2019.
- The London Lakers moved to Plattsville, Ontario, as the Plattsville Lakers.
- An expansion team in Fox Creek, Alberta, added to the West Division.
Regular season champions
Bolded are overall regular season champions.
Russell Cup playoff champions
Bolded are overall champions, Italics are finalist.
College Showcase Tournament
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.
Since the 2012 tournament, the league changed the format to a prospect weekend with no championship rounds.
Goals against average champions
- 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: 2017-18 St. George Ravens (404)
- Fewest goals for by team, one season: 2013-14 Toronto Predators (91)
- Fewest goals against by team, one season: 2015-16 Kingsville Kings (71)
- Most goals against by team, one season: 2015-16 Bobcaygeon Storm (491)
- Largest margin of victory: Elliot Lake Bobcats 29, Ville-Marie Dragons 1 on December 6, 2008
- Most goals, one season: Bryce Yetman (81) -- 2018-19 Windsor Aces
- Most assists, one season: Chris Haigh (89) -- 2017-18 St. George Ravens
- Most points, one season: Bryce Yetman (153) -- 2018-19 Windsor Aces
- Lowest goals against average, one season: Wes Werner (1.20) -- 2015-16 Kingsville Kings
- Highest save percentage, one season: Jan Pechek (0.951) -- 2015-16 Kingsville Kings
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; league revokes membership.
- Grey County Grizzlies cease operations after 23 games played and only one win.
- Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks end season early due to lack of players.
- Grey Highlands Bravehearts relocate to Wiarton, Ontario. The newly named Wiarton Rock would then fold midway through their first season on 14 December.
- Expansion granted to Tillsonburg Hurricanes.
- Bobcaygeon Storm membership revoked
- Coldwater Falcons membership revoked
- Grey County Grizzlies membership revoked
- Haliburton Wolves membership revoked
- Brantford Steelfighters membership revoked.
- Expansion granted to Lincoln Mavericks of Lincoln, Ontario, but withdrew from the league on November 21 during their first season.
- Colbourne Chiefs rebranded as Northumberland Stars after ownership change.
- Alliston Coyotes rebranded as New Tecumseth Civics after ownership change.
- Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks return to league. Change of ownership and rebranded as the West Nipissing Lynx.
- Shelburne Sharks rebrand as Shelbourne Stars but fold prior to the beginning of the season.
- Norfolk Vikings take 2016–17 hiatus
- Toronto Blue Ice Jets fold just before start of season.
- Bracebridge Blues removed from schedule after playing five games and forfeiting a sixth.
- Komoka Dragons folded after 12 games.
- Orangeville Ice Crushers suspended operations in January. Three of the team's owners had been arrested for drug distribution in November 2016 and were suspended by the league. The league transferred control to another shareholder who ceased operations of the team after two months.
- Fergus Force granted membership as an expansion team. Folded after playing 16 games, all loses, with one credited win for a Wiarton forfeit.
- Ville-Marie Pirates granted membership as an expansion team.
- Wiarton Schooners granted membership as an expansion team. Folded after eight winless games and a 25–1 loss to the Knights of Meaford.
- Toronto Attack removed from GMHL's list of teams on website.
- Windsor Aces granted membership as an expansion franchise.
- Parry Sound Islanders cease operations and merged with Seguin Huskies.
- Niagara-on-the-Lake Nationals expansion team added from the Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League after the Nationals decided to not participate in the CPJHL.
- Ottawa Sharpshooters joined as expansion team for 2018–19 season from the Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League.
- The Seguin Huskies folded prior to the 2018–19 season.
- Wiarton Schooners returned to league after folding during the previous season. Folded again after 17 games played, and a 1–16 record, in 2018.
- "Alumni". GMHL. October 2014.
- "What exactly is an outlaw hockey league?". Waterloo Region Record. January 28, 2015.
- "Meet Canada's first all-Russian hockey team". Toronto Star. 14 May 2010.
- "The GMHL to Expand to Western Canada". GMHL. June 13, 2019.
- "GMHL is Expanding to Bancroft, Ontario". GMHL. January 23, 2019.
- "Riverkings Rename to Durham Roadrunners". GMHL. April 29, 2019.
- "West Division: YEG Moves to High Prairie". GMHL. November 8, 2019.
- "President's Message - January 3, 2020". GMHL. January 3, 2020.
- "London Lakers Relocate To Plattsville". London Lakers. February 29, 2020.
- "Lakers Relocate to Plattsville". GMHL. March 2, 2020.
- "GMHL West Expands to Fox Creek, Alberta". GMHL. March 10, 2020.
- "Charges pending in junior hockey game brawl". CP24.com. 6 December 2012.
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- "Outlaw hockey league expanding to Cambridge". www.cambridgetimes.ca. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- "Hockey league expanding to Tottenham". www.simcoe.com. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
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- "CIHL moving forward - Welcome to Hockey News North". Welcome to Hockey News North. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- "Junior A hockey franchise on its way to Sundridge". www.northbaynipissing.com. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- "Agreement would pave the way for new junior 'A' hockey club to operate out of Bracebridge Memorial Arena - My Muskoka Now". My Muskoka Now. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- "New Jr A team in town". The Middlesex Banner. 11 February 2015.
- "Brantford SteelFighters Take Leave of Absence". GMHL. 6 November 2015.
- "THE DEATH POOL – GMHL STURGEON FALLS LUMBERJACKS MERCIFULLY KILLED OFF". The Junior Hockey News. 1 February 2016.
- "No Name for Wiarton Team". www.bayshorebroadcasting.ca. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- nurun.com. "Junior hockey returns to Tillsonburg". Tillsonburg News. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
- "CPJHL TERMINATES MEMBERSHIP OF NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE NATIONALS". CPJHL.com. July 29, 2018.
- "GMHL Expands to Niagara-On-The-Lake". Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League. July 30, 2018.
- "NIAGARA ON THE LAKE NATIONALS JOIN GMHL". NOTLNationals.com. July 29, 2018.
- "GMHL Expands to Ottawa". GMHL. April 13, 2018.
- "The Death Pool – GMHL's Wiarton Folds Again Sets New World Record". TheJuniorHockeyNews.com. November 20, 2018.