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Date: Sep 23, 2018
Officials with the Ontario Junior Development League (OJDL) are excited about this spring’s season – and the graduates the league has already produced.
Fourteen teams will play in two divisions in the OJDL this May and June.
It’s the fourth season for the league run by the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
As the new implies, it’s all about developing teenaged hockey players.
“It’s one piece of our development pyramid,” said Rick Morocco, the OJHL’s director of Business Development and Events. “From our combine, to the development league and onto OJHL camps.”
And it’s working.
About 35 per cent of participants in the 2017 OJHL Combine played in the development league. This year’s combine goes from April 6 to 8 at the Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa. It’s sold out.
All 22 OJHL teams will have officials in attendance during the combine.
“It’s a huge recruiting tool for all of our teams,” said Chris Vanstone, the OJHL’s Director of Hockey Operations.
Games in the OJDL will be played from May 6 to the end of June.
From the 2017 OJDL teams, 88 players made OJHL teams for the 2017-18 season. Another seven players would skate in other Jr. A leagues or, in one case, the Ontario Hockey League this season.
Exhibit A? Oliver Benwell was the 10th leading scorer in the 2017 OJDL for the Toronto Patriots entry. This week, he was named a second team OJHL All-Star playing for the regular-season champion Patriots?
“We want to give the development league players the experience of playing at a higher level under OJHL coaches,” said Morocco. “It’s an extremely competitive league.”
Another 16 per cent of 2017 OJDL players AP’d with OJHL teams this season.
More than 16 per cent of last year’s OJDL players – 42 to be exact – were drafted in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
The 2018 OJDL East Division will include: the Kingston Voyageurs, Wellington Dukes, two Trenton Golden Hawks teams, Whitby Fury, Cobourg Cougars, Pickering Panthers and Stouffville Spirit.
The West includes: the Burlington Cougars, Oakville Blades, Georgetown Raiders, Toronto Patriots, Cobourg Cougars and Orangeville Flyers.
Each team will play two games against teams from the opposite division during the OJDL showcase in Oshawa June 2 and 3.
Teams are recruiting players but players are also welcome to contact teams themselves.
“The development league lets players get their feet wet and get the jump on other players,” said Vanstone.