Metro Junior A League
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The Metro Junior A League was a junior ice hockey league created in 1961 by Toronto Maple Leafs owner Stafford Smythe in an attempt to rival the OHA, and act as a farm system for his NHL team. The league operated for two seasons from 1961 to 1963. For those two seasons the Metro Junior A League champion won the "Father John Conway Memorial Trophy"' and went on to play the OHA champion for the J. Ross Robertson Cup, and the right to continue on the road to the Memorial Cup.
After two seasons, the calibre of play in the league was subpar, and many of the franchises were still having serious financial problems, while the two old Toronto teams dominated the promoted junior B teams. The Metro experiment was cancelled in 1963 and many of the teams folded. The Toronto Marlboros and Oshawa Generals were readmitted to the OHA for the 1963–64 season.
The league started its first season with five teams, two of which were former OHA Junior A teams, and three promoted Junior B teams. The Toronto Marlboros, who were also owned by Stafford Smythe, were withdrawn from the OHA to play in the new league, and joined by the Toronto St. Michael's Majors who also supplied the Leafs with players. Smythe set about finding more teams to fill his league. The Marlboros and Majors would be joined by promoted Junior B teams, the Whitby Mohawks, the Brampton 7Ups, and the Unionville Seaforths.
The Marlboros and Majors both supplied players to the new teams in an effort to bring up their standard of competition, but the Majors easily won the league title that year, with the Marlies coming second. The Majors also prevailed in the playoffs against Brampton and the Marlboros. In the 1961–62 J. Ross Robertson Cup series, the Hamilton Red Wings defeated the Majors 4 games to 1.
- 1961–62 standings
|Toronto St. Michael's Majors||33||25||7||1||55||170||91|
- Playoff results
- Series A: St. Michael's defeated Whitby 8 points to 2.
- Series B: Toronto Marlboros defeated Brampton 8 points to 2.
- Finals: St. Michael's defeated Toronto 8 points to 6.
The Metro league was not successful in driving the OHA out of business after one season. By 1962 financial constraints had forced a re-organizing of the league. The Marlboros and 7Ups remained, but the Whitby Mohawks were renamed the Whitby Dunlops, the Unionville Seaforths became Toronto Knob Hill Farms, and the Majors became the Toronto Neil McNeil Maroons. The new sixth team in the league would be the reborn Oshawa Generals team, featuring future Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, 14-year-old Bobby Orr, and playing in Bowmanville as there was no suitable arena in Oshawa. As opposed to the first season of the league, there was little effort to spread teams around the Toronto area, as Knob Hill, Neil McNeil and the Marlboros all called Maple Leaf Gardens home, usually playing doubleheader games on Tuesdays and Sundays.
The end of the 55 year era of the Majors came when St. Michael's College ended its Junior A program, and its former team transferred to Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough, Ontario. The Maroons followed in the footsteps of the Majors, and won the league title again, then defeated the Dunlops and Marlboros in the playoffs. In the 1962–63 J. Ross Robertson Cup series, the Niagara Falls Flyers defeated the Maroons 4 games to 2.
- 1962–63 standings
|Toronto Neil McNeil Maroons||40||33||4||3||69||260||110|
|Toronto Knob Hill Farms||40||14||20||6||34||121||154|
- Playoff results
- Series A: Neil McNeil defeated Knob Hill Farms 8 points to 0.
- Series B: Toronto Marlboros defeated Whitby 8 points to 2.
- Finals: Neil McNeil defeated Toronto Marlboros 8 points to 4.
1962/63 Metro Junior A League All-Star Teams First Team GP-G-A-P (age) Gary Dineen C Neil McNeil Maroons 38-32-63-95 (19) Mike Corbett W Neil McNeil Maroons 37-44-50-94 (20) Duncan MacDonald W Toronto Marlboros 26-20-15-35 (na) Jim McKendry D Neil McNeil Maroons 34-2-17-19 Frank Ridley D Toronto Marlboros 39-11-39-50 (20) Dave Kelly G Knob Hill Farmers 3.85 GAA (19)
Second Team Ron Ellis W Toronto Marlboros 36-21-22-43 (17) Terry Vail C Oshawa Generals 35-28-24-52 (20) Grant Moore W Toronto Marlboros 36-26-30-56 (19) Rod Seiling D Neil McNeil Maroons 38-29-48-77 (18) Bobby Orr D Oshawa Generals 34-6-15-21 (14) Gary Smith G Neil McNeil Maroons 2.35 GAA (19)