The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) is a Canadian junior ice hockey league based in Southern Ontario, Canada. The league is sanctioned by the Ontario Hockey Association, Ontario Hockey Federation, and Hockey Canada. The league is considered Junior B by the OHA, although it has attempted several times to be promoted to Junior A.
The league was created in 2007 through the merging of the Western Ontario Hockey League, Mid-Western Junior Hockey League, and Golden Horseshoe Junior Hockey League to dissuade perceived "player raiding" from teams in the then-Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League. The twenty-seven teams of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League come from Southwestern Ontario, the Golden Horseshoe, and includes one team from Western New York.
In July 2013, TheHockeyWriters.com listed the GOJHL as the eighth best developmental league, professional or amateur, in North America. The GOJHL was the only Junior B league to make their list.
In the late 1990s, the Western Ontario Junior B Hockey League began complaining about their top level players being pulled from their teams at trade deadline time by Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League clubs without permission or compensation. A common view in Southern Ontario Junior B circles is that Junior "A" and Junior "B" are approximately the same skill level. In fact the OPJHL was known as the Central Ontario Junior B Hockey League until 1993, as well the Metro Junior A Hockey League which folded in 1998 was a Junior "B" league until 1991.
During the 2006–07 season, the general managers of all Ontario Hockey Association Junior "B" teams came together and voted unanimously to merge and create the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League effective for the 2007-08 season. The GOJHL will become the sole competing body of the Sutherland Cup, which had as many as eight leagues competing for it at one time.
The 2007–08 season did not start off as planned. The management of the Mid-Western league resigned and needed to be replaced, and with a lack of organization due to the short time the new management had to get organized, the MWJHL had to opt out of an interlocking schedule. As a result, the entire GOJHL went without an interlocking schedule for 2007-08. The 2008-09 season saw the complete liquidation of all three divisional managements and a single governing body was put in place for the league. Additionally, inter-divisional play would also commence.
In the future, the league has stated that it will pursue club expansion, a reconfiguration that will move the league from three to four divisions, and possibly a move to join the Canadian Junior A Hockey League in future years.
On September 8, 2007, the Cambridge Winterhawks and the Guelph Dominators played the first ever game since the inception of the GOJHL. Despite leading 2-0 and outshooting Guelph, the defending Sutherland Cup Champions allowed five unanswered goals to drop the game 5-2. On May 3, 2008, the Tecumseh Chiefs finished a four-game sweep of the Elmira Sugar Kings to win the first ever GOJHL championship.
On September 24, 2008, the GOJHL hosted its first interdivisional regular season game between the Golden Horseshoe's Wheatfield Jr. Blades and the Western's London Nationals in London, Ontario. The Nationals won the game 6-2.
The LaSalle Vipers, 2010 Sutherland Cup champions, were asked to represent the Ontario Hockey Association and Hockey Canada for "Canada Day" in Mexico. On December 16, 2010, the Vipers played the Mexico Under-20 National Team and defeated them 9-2 in Mexico City. In January 2011, the GOJHL's Golden Horseshoe Conference and Midwestern Conference hosted the Russian Minor Hockey League's "Red Stars" who did not make their Under-20 Team. On January 1, the MHL Red Stars defeated the Golden Horseshoe Conference 7-4 and on January 3, the Red Stars defeated the Midwestern Conference 11-3. The MHL is Russia's top tier Junior league, while each conference of the GOJHL is a third of Southern Ontario's third-tier of Junior hockey.
On October 10, 2012, the OHA announced its intention to expand east of Guelph and form a new fourth conference for the GOJHL. The announcement comes on the heels of the relocation of the Owen Sound Greys to Brampton by their sponsor, leaving the northerly city out of OHA junior hockey for the first time in ninety-nine years (not including wartime). In January 2014, the OHA announced that the plan to expand was on hold due to lack of serious parties. They announced that of eleven applicants, only four were substantial enough to play in the league. A Brantford group applied for expansion none-the-less, while the other three parties are currently in limbo. The Brantford group was approved for membership into the Midwestern Conference as the Brantford 99'ers.
On March 28, 2014, the GOJHL's representatives filed for promotion from Junior B to Junior A with the Ontario Hockey Association. The matter was discussed at the OHA head office on April 5, 2014. A few weeks later the OHA rejected the promotion and the GOJHL's chairman was dismissed by the OHA. During the 2014–15 season, the Golden Horseshoe Conference held a vote to determine their future with the GOJHL. The teams voted to leave the GOJHL with OHA approval and govern autonomously from the league. In retaliation, the GOJHL invited no players from the Golden Horseshoe to the league's all-star game, forcing the Golden Horseshoe to play their own game in short order late in the season. The GOJHL playoff format remains unchanged for 2015 despite the shuffle. Before the playoffs began in 2015, the GOJHL announced that the Golden Horseshoe had rejoined the fold and that its annexation was averted.
In early May 2017, the Cambridge Winterhawks announced their intentions to sever ties with the OHA and would not be part of the GOJHL going forward. The GOJHL initial response was to withhold comment until further details could be established.
As part of the first structural change to the Sutherland Cup playoffs since 1993-94 season, the GOJHL and OHA have thrown out the three-team round robin that had been used for twenty seasons and opted for a more traditional playdown method. The Sutherland Cup semi-final will now have four teams squaring off in a pair of best-of-7 series to determine the finals. The champions of the three Conferences will be joined by the conference runner-up who has the best playoff record to date. This Wild Card team will play the top ranked Champion who they have not already met in the playoffs.
This is a list of divisional regular season champions and their point totals, bolded are the overall league regular season champions.
For OHA Junior "B" champions prior to the 2007-08 season, please visit: Sutherland Cup.
Bold denotes Sutherland Cup Champion. Italicized denotes Sutherland Cup finalist.
Bolded is winner of Sutherland Cup as GOJHL and OHA champion.
Single season records.
Single season records.
Single season records.
This is a list of first round National Hockey League draft picks of players straight out of the GOJHL.