Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League

Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League

Northern Ontario Junior
Hockey League
Current season or competition:
2014–15 NOJHL season
Region(s) Northeastern Ontario
Commissioner Robert Mazzuca
Former name(s) NOHA Junior B Hockey League (c. 1970-1978)
Founded 1970
No. of teams 9
Associated Title(s) Dudley Hewitt Cup (Central Championship)
Royal Bank Cup (National Championship)
Recent Champions Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (2014)
Headquarters North Bay, Ontario
Website NOJHL

The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL)[1] is a Canadian Junior ice hockey league under the supervision of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association, and Hockey Canada. The winner of the NOJHL playoffs competes for the Dudley Hewitt Cup with the winners of the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Superior International Junior Hockey League.[2] The winner of the Dudley Hewitt Cup then moves on to compete for the Royal Bank Cup.[3]

The Modern NOJHL

The current incarnation of the NOJHL comprises seven teams located in Ontario. With teams in North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Blind River, Iroquois Falls, Kirkland Lake, and Elliot Lake, the league is spread across the southern region of Northeastern Ontario.[4]

The story of the current NOJHL began in 1972. The NOJHL was not on stable footing and was competing as a Junior "A" league. In Southern Ontario, the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League was looking to expand North. The league's two top teams, the Sudbury Wolves[5] and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds,[6] accepted an invitation from the OMJHL to compete in the high octane league. The next best team, the North Bay Trappers[7] chose not to stick around either and jumped to the Ontario Hockey Association's new Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League. With the top tier of talent sheared off, the only remaining team in the league was the Chelmsford Canadiens. A season before, the Espanola Screaming Eagles had been a member of the league,[8] but opted to drop to the NOHA Jr. B Hockey League in 1971; the Canadiens joined them in 1972.[9]

The NOHA Jr. B Hockey League was formed in 1970 with a North and South division and teams in Capreol, Levak, Kapuskasing, amongst others. In their first season, the Capreol Hawks won the league championship. In 1971, Espanola jumped on board, followed by Chelmsford in 1972. In 1973, the Canadians moved to Rayside-Balfour and became the Canadians. The Onaping Falls Huskies moved from Levack in 1974,[10] and the Nickel Centre Native Sons, Coniston Flyers, and Sudbury North Stars joined in 1976 when the NOHA merged their small Juvenile league into Jr. B.[11]

In 1978, the top teams of the NOHA Jr. B Hockey League created the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and were promoted to Tier II Junior "A".[12] With the five former Jr. "B" clubs and the Sudbury Cubs, the league was back in action. In 1981, the Elliot Lake Vikings jumped into the fold. In 1983, the Onaping Falls Huskies dropped out despite winning three league titles in the past four seasons. After a one season hiatus, they came back for two more years and then folded for good. In 1986, Rayside-Balfour went on hiatus and Capreol folded, dropping the league down to four teams. The Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League, also down to four teams, operated with the NOJHL as essentially two divisions of the same league. With an interlocking schedule, the NOJHL survived the 1986-87 season, the OPJHL did not and folded after the season concluded. Also, after 8 years of trying and failing, an NOJHL champion defeated an OPJHL champion for the Ontario Hockey Association championship. The Nickel Centre Power Trains defeated the Owen Sound Greys 4-games-to-2 for the right to compete for the Dudley Hewitt Cup -- the Central Canadian Junior "A" Championship. The next year, the Canadians were back and a new team known as the Thessalon Flyers entered the league. In 1988, the Haileybury 54's joined the league and in 1989 so did the Rouyn-Noranda Capitales. Thessalon folded in 1990, Haileybury moved to Powassan in 1991 and the Timmins Golden Bears joined as well. A season later, Sudbury became Nickel Centre and then later folded. In 1994, Powassan moved to Sturgeon Falls and the Parry Sound Shamrocks joined the league. In 1996, Rouyn-Noranda folded to make way for a new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team that was moving to their town. In 1999, Timmins moved to Iroquois Falls, Elliot Lake moved to Nickel Centre, and the Soo Thunderbirds were founded. Also in 1999, Parry Sound moved to a new OPJHL (founded in 1993). A year later, Nickel Centre moved to Blind River and the Sudbury Northern Wolves were founded. In 2002, Sturgeon Falls moved to North Bay. A season after that, a team from Manitoulin joined and Espanola jumped over to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Finally, in 2005, the league's most dominant team in history and the last remaining shred of the original NOJHL, Rayside-Balfour, folded. They did not go without leaving their mark. Early in the 2005-06 season, the Sudbury Northern Wolves became heavily-involved with the OHL's Sudbury Wolves and the Northern Wolves became the Sudbury Jr. Wolves. The remaining players from the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats joined the Jr. Wolves. From 1996 until 2002, the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats won 7 straight NOJHL Championships, three Dudley Hewitt Cups, and once came within one win of winning the Royal Bank Cup as national champions.

There were six teams in the NOJHL as of 2007. The 2006–07 league champions, the Soo Indians, took a year off in an attempt to sell. A year later they came back as the Soo Eagles. Also, in the summer of 2008 the Temiscaming Royals jumped from the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League to the NOJHL to expand the league to eight teams. Temiscaming was the second Québécois team in NOJHL history, after the Rouyn-Noranda Capitales who were in the league from 1989 to 1996. In the Spring of 2011, the Royals failed to find new ownership and folded. The Manitoulin Islanders left Little Current, Ontario at the end of the 2010-11 season and relocated to Kirkland Lake, Ontario. At the same time, Temiscaming Royals owner Steve McCharles was attempting to sell his team, but folded after a deal fell through with a group from Kirkland Lake.

With the Manitoulin Islanders relocated to Kirkland Lake, the team became the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils to commemorate the 1940 Allen Cup Champions by the same team name. However, in December 2011, the Blue Devils were folding mid-season as a result of owner Bob Kasner being suspended for 6 months for roster violations. Days later, a new group came and created the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners to keep the team in the league.

During the 2011-12 season, the NOJHL implemented concussion safety policy and drug testing programs. The NOJHL is the first league in Canadian Junior A hockey to target either of these hot button issues.[13][14]

In 2012, the Soo Thunderbirds became only the second NOJHL franchise to qualify for the Royal Bank Cup, ending a 10-year drought that saw no NOJHL franchise at the Royal Bank Cup, despite making the Dudley-Hewitt Cup finals three times since the round-robin format in 2002. Over the summer of 2012, the Sudbury Jr. Wolves severed ties with the OHL's Wolves amd became the Sudbury Cubs, and that moniker only lasted one season and became the Sudbury Nickel Barons.

In 2013, the NOJHL granted expansion to Espanola. A community that have been without an NOJHL team since 2003 when the Screaming Eagles relocated to Northern Michigan. The re-addition of Espanola to 8 teams - the most since the 2004-05 season. The North Bay Trappers relocated out of North Bay to Mattawa at the end of the 2013-14 season and became the Mattawa Blackhawks all because the Trappers were denied a lease renewal with West Ferris Arena and also because of the thriving OHL market with the North Bay Battalion. The Espanola Rivermen were added to the NOJHL for 2013-14, but left to join the non-Hockey Canada sanctioned Canadian International Hockey League. The Elliot Lake Bobcats relocated to Cochrane, Ontario and became the Cochrane Crunch, who became the league's most-northern team. Weeks later, the Elliot Lake market was replaced with the Elliot Lake Wildcats.

Potential Markets

As of 2014-15, the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League has boosted a record 9 teams. Markets like Parry Sound, Ontario, Timmins, Ontario, Espanola, Ontario, North Bay, Ontario, and Sturgeon Falls, Ontario have had franchises for 5 or more years in the league and are sighted for future NOJHL markets, despite having teams relocated or have folded in the past. Huntsville, Ontario attempted to move to the NOJHL in 2012 after being bought out by the OJHL.

Changes for 2014-15


2010-11 Team Locations in Northeastern Ontario
Team Joined Centre Arena
Abitibi Eskimos 1991 Iroquois Falls Jus Jordan Arena
Blind River Beavers 1999 Blind River Blind River Community Centre
Cochrane Crunch 2012 Cochrane Tim Hortons Event Center
Elliot Lake Wildcats 2014 Elliot Lake Elliot Lake Centennial Arena
Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 2003 Kirkland Lake Joe Mavrinac Community Complex
Mattawa Blackhawks 1988 Mattawa Mike Rodden Arena
Powassan Voodoos 2014 Powassan Powassan Sportsplex
Soo Thunderbirds 1999 Sault Ste. Marie Essar Centre
Sudbury Nickel Barons 2000 Copper Cliff McClelland Arena

Copeland-McNamara Trophy and Division Champions

Copeland Cup-McNamara Trophy - NOHA Jr. A Championship.
Frank L. Buckland Trophy - OHA Championship, competed for by NOJHL champions from 1979 until 1997. Won in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1997.
William T. Ruddock Trophy - OHF Championship, competed for by NOJHL champions since 1994. Won in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2006.
Dudley Hewitt Cup - Regional Championship, competed for by NOJHL champions since 1979. Won in 1997, 2000, and 2002.
In 2008-09, the NOJHL instituted divisions. Overall champions are bolded.
NOHA Jr. B Era
Year Champion Finalist
1971 Sudbury Cubs Levack Miners
1972 Levack Miners Sudbury Cubs
1973 Coniston Cubs Levack Miners
1974 Rayside-Balfour Canadians Coniston Cubs
1975 Onaping Falls Huskies Capreol Hawks
1976 Onaping Falls Huskies Capreol Hawks
1977 Onaping Falls Huskies Capreol Hawks
1978 Onaping Falls Huskies Nickel Centre Native Sons
Year Champion Finalist
1979 Nickel Centre Native Sons Sudbury Cubs
1980 Onaping Falls Huskies
1981 Onaping Falls Huskies
1982 Onaping Falls Huskies Elliot Lake Vikings
1983 Elliot Lake Vikings Onaping Falls Huskies
1984 Rayside-Balfour Canadians Elliot Lake Vikings
1985 Sudbury Cubs Capreol Hawks
1986 Onaping Falls Huskies Sudbury Cubs
1987 Nickel Centre Power Trains Sudbury Cubs
1988 Sudbury Cubs Elliot Lake Vikings
1989 Sudbury Cubs Rayside-Balfour Canadians
1990 Sudbury Cubs Rouyn-Noranda Capitales
1991 Sudbury Cubs Rayside-Balfour Canadians
1992 Powassan Hawks Rayside-Balfour Canadians
1993 Powassan Hawks Timmins Golden Bears
1994 Powassan Hawks Rouyn-Noranda Capitales
1995 Timmins Golden Bears Rouyn-Noranda Capitales
1996 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Sturgeon Falls Lynx
1997 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Sturgeon Falls Lynx
1998 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Parry Sound Shamrocks
1999 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Parry Sound Shamrocks
2000 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Sturgeon Falls Lynx
2001 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Soo Thunderbirds
2002 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Soo Thunderbirds
2003 North Bay Skyhawks Sault Ste. Marie Jr. Greyhounds
2004 North Bay Skyhawks Soo Thunderbirds
2005 North Bay Skyhawks Northern Michigan Black Bears
2006 Sudbury Jr. Wolves North Bay Skyhawks
2007 Soo Indians Sudbury Jr. Wolves
2008 Sudbury Jr. Wolves Abitibi Eskimos
East West
2009 North Bay Skyhawks Soo Thunderbirds
2010 Abitibi Eskimos Soo Thunderbirds
2011 Sudbury Jr. Wolves Soo Eagles
2012 North Bay Trappers Soo Thunderbirds
Year Champion Finalist
2013 North Bay Trappers Soo Thunderbirds
2014 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Soo Thunderbirds

Dudley Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Champions

Year Champion Finalist Host (if applicable)
1997 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Milton Merchants (OPJHL) --
2000 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Brampton Capitals (OPJHL) --
2002 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Dryden Ice Dogs (SIJHL) --
2012 Soo Thunderbirds Stouffville Spirit (OJHL) Thunder Bay, Ontario

Former Member Teams

Former Teams
Team Centre Joined Exited Status
Capreol Hawks Capreol, Ontario 1978 1986 Folded
Copper Cliff Cubs Copper Cliff, Ontario 1970 1975 Folded
Coniston Flyers Coniston, Ontario 1976 1977 Folded
Elliot Lake Vikings Elliot Lake, Ontario 1981 1999 Folded
Espanola Rivermen Espanola, Ontario 2013 2014 Joined CIHL
Nickel Centre Native Sons Nickel Centre, Ontario 1978 1987 Folded
Onaping Falls Huskies Onaping Falls, Ontario 1978 1986 Folded
Parry Sound Shamrocks Parry Sound, Ontario 1994 1999 Joined OPJHL
Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats Rayside-Balfour, Ontario 1978 2005 Folded
Rouyn-Noranda Capitales Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec 1989 1996 Folded
Soo Eagles Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan 1978 2012 Joined NAHL
Sudbury Cubs Sudbury, Ontario 1978 1993 Folded
Temiscaming Royals Temiscaming, Quebec 2008 2011 Folded
Thessalon Flyers Thessalon, Ontario 1987 1990 Folded
West Nipissing Alouettes Sturgeon Falls, Ontario 1973 1976 Folded

League records

Team Season

  • Best Record, One Season:
40-0-0 - Sudbury, 1989-90
40-0-0 - Rayside-Balfour, 1999-00
  • Worst Record, One Season:
1-47-0 - Elliot Lake, 1991-92
  • Most Goals Scored, One Season:
482 - Rayside-Balfour, 1991-92
  • Least Goals Scored, One Season:
97 - Rayside-Balfour, 2003-04
  • Least Goals Against, One Season:
80 - Rayside-Balfour, 1999-00
  • Most Goals Against, One Season:
708 - Elliot Lake, 1991-92

Team Game

  • Largest margin of victory:
Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats 30 - Elliot Lake Vikings 3 on January 28, 1992

Individual Season

  • Most Goals, One Season:
97 - Denis Castonguay, Rayside Balfour, 1983-84
  • Most Assists, One Season:
106 - John Stos, Rayside Balfour, 1991-92
  • Most Points, One Season:
196 - Denis Castonguay, Rayside Balfour, 1983-84
  • Most Penalty Minutes, One Season:
384 - Andy Hodgins, Espanola, 1991-92
  • Lowest Goals Against Average, One Season:
1.99 - Justin Dumont, Rayside-Balfour, 1999-00
  • Most Shutouts, One Season:
5 - Frank Novello, Soo, 2000-01
5 - Martin Perrault, North Bay, 2003-04

Individual career

  • Most Games Played, Career:
224 - Matt Brunet, Abitibi/Soo, 2002-07
  • Most Goals, Career:
197 - Denis Castonguay, Rayside-Balfour, 1979-84
  • Most Assists, Career:
237 - Brian Verreault, Rayside-Balfour, 1979-84
  • Most Points, Career:
409 - Brian Verreault, Rayside-Balfour, 1979-84
  • Most Penalty Minutes, Career:
919 - Dean Bowles, Elliot Lake, 1986-91

Timeline of teams in the NOJHL

  • 1978 - NOHA Jr. B Hockey League is promoted to Junior A and renamed Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League - League includes: Sudbury Cubs, Nickel Centre Native Sons, Onaping Falls Huskies, Capreol Hawks, Rayside-Balfour Canadians, and Espanola Eagles
  • 1981 - Elliot Lake Vikings join from International Junior B Hockey League
  • 1982 - Sudbury Cubs become Sudbury North Stars
  • 1983 - Onaping Falls Huskies leave league
  • 1983 - Sudbury North Stars return to Sudbury Cubs
  • 1984 - Onaping Falls Huskies rejoin league
  • 1984 - Nickel Centre Native Sons leave league
  • 1985 - Nickel Centre Native Sons rejoin league
  • 1986 - Nickel Centre Native Sons renamed Nickel Centre Power Trains
  • 1986 - Rayside-Balfour Canadians, Capreol Hawks, and Onaping Falls Huskies leave league
  • 1987 - Rayside-Balfour Canadians rejoin league
  • 1987 - Thessalon Flyers join league
  • 1987 - Nickel Centre Power Trains leave league
  • 1988 - Espanola Eagles leave league, franchise sold to Haileybury 54's
  • 1989 - Rouyn-Noranda Capitales join league
  • 1990 - Thessalon Flyers leave league
  • 1990 - Haileybury 54's move and become Powassan Passport
  • 1991 - Timmins Golden Bears and Espanola Eagles join league
  • 1992 - Sudbury Cubs become Nickel Centre Cubs
  • 1992 - Powassan Passport become Powassan Hawks
  • 1993 - Nickel Centre Cubs leave league
  • 1994 - Parry Sound Shamrocks join league
  • 1994 - Powassan Hawks move and are renamed Sturgeon Falls Lynx
  • 1995 - Espanola Eagles leave league
  • 1995 - Rayside-Balfour Canadians renamed Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats
  • 1996 - Rouyn-Noranda Capitales disband to make way for Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
  • 1997 - Elliot Lake Vikings become Elliot Lake Ice
  • 1998 - Espanola Eagles rejoin league
  • 1999 - Timmins Golden Bears relocate and become Iroquois Falls Jr. Eskis
  • 1999 - Soo Thunderbirds join league
  • 1999 - Elliot Lake Ice leave league, franchise sold to Nickel Centre Barons
  • 1999 - Parry Sound Shamrocks move to the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League
  • 2000 - Sudbury Northern Wolves join league
  • 2000 - Nickel Centre Barons move and are renamed Blind River Barons
  • 2001 - Blind River Barons renamed Blind River Beavers
  • 2002 - Iroquois Fals Jr. Eskis are renamed Abitibi Eskimos
  • 2002 - Sturgeon Falls Lynx move to North Bay and become the North Bay Skyhawks
  • 2002 - Soo Thunderbirds are renamed Sault Ste. Marie Jr. Greyhounds
  • 2003 - Espanola Eagles move to St. Ignace, Michigan and become the Northern Michigan Black Bears
  • 2003 - Little Current awarded expansion franchise Manitoulin Wild
  • 2003 - Sault Ste. Marie Jr. Greyhounds return to Soo Thunderbirds
  • 2005 - Manitoulin Wild become Manitoulin Islanders
  • 2005 - Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats are granted a one-year leave of absence
  • 2005 - Sudbury Northern Wolves become Sudbury Jr. Wolves
  • 2006 - Northern Michigan Black Bears are relocated and renamed Soo Indians
  • 2006 - Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats officially fold
  • 2007 - Soo Indians take one year leave in search of new ownership
  • 2008 - Temiscaming Royals join from Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League
  • 2008 - Soo Indians return, renamed Soo Eagles
  • 2009 - North Bay Skyhawks are renamed North Bay Trappers
  • 2011 - Temiscaming Royals leave league
  • 2011 - Manitoulin Islanders move and become Kirkland Lake Blue Devils
  • 2011 - Sudbury Jr. Wolves are renamed Sudbury Cubs
  • 2012 - Kirkland Lake Blue Devils fold/return as Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
  • 2012 - Soo Eagles leave and join North American Hockey League
  • 2012 - Elliot Lake Bobcats join from Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League
  • 2012 - Sudbury Cubs are renamed Sudbury Nickel Barons
  • 2013 - Espanola Rivermen join league as expansion
  • 2014 - Espanola Rivermen leave league and join CIHL
  • 2014 - Elliot Lake Bobcats move to Cochrane Ontario and become Cochrane Crunch
  • 2014 - North Bay Trappers move to Mattawa Ontario and become Mattawa Blackhawks
  • 2014 - Elliot Lake Wildcats join league as expansion
  • 2014- Powassan Voodoos join league as expansion

See also


  1. ^ "Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Leagues". CJHL Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  4. ^ "Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  5. ^ "Sudbury Wolves". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  6. ^ "Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  7. ^ "North Bay Trappers". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  8. ^ "EspanolaEagles". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  9. ^ "ChelmsfordCanadiens". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  10. ^ "Onaping Falls Huskies". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  11. ^ "Nickel Centre Native Sons". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  12. ^ "Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  13. ^ (2011-08-18). "NOJHL adopts concussion safety program". Sudbury Star. Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  14. ^ (2012-01-09). "NOJHL to begin drug testing". Sault Star. Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^

External links

  • NOJHL's Official Website
  • Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League on Flickr