Niagara Falls ready for first season as an OJHL expansion team


Published September 29, 2023 at 12:05 pm

The Niagara Falls Canucks are getting ready to begin the 2023-34 hockey season as the latest expansion team to the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Formerly playing in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, considered a tier below, the OJHL typically sees at least one player drafted into the NHL each year, while the GOJHL is further off the radar.

The OJHL, the largest Junior A hockey league in Canada, generates dozens of NCAA, U Sports, CHL, and professional commitments on an annual basis – including 30 alumni on NHL rosters at the beginning of the 2022-23 season.

While Niagara Falls, who play out of the Gale Centre, and Leamington were both announced as expansion teams back in June, the puck is about to drop on the new season where both Niagara Falls and Leamington will play in the league’s 12-team West Conference.

Canucks co-owners Frank Pietrangelo and Brandon Boone are particularly excited to see their squad play at the next level up.

“This is great news for the Canucks organization, the City of Niagara Falls, and also for junior hockey in the Niagara Region, to be able to showcase our players’ talents at the highest level!” said Pietrangelo.

The OJHL seems equally excited about the Niagara Falls addition.

“The Niagara Region is a tremendous hockey community and the OJHL is extremely excited to be bringing Junior A hockey to the city of Niagara Falls,” said OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy when the expansion was announced in June.

“The ownership of Brandon Boone and Frank Pietrangelo expressed not only their desire to join the OJHL but more importantly their commitment to bring Junior A hockey to Niagara Falls.  That commitment to the city and Junior hockey will be a tremendous asset to all players, fans, and sponsors who are part of the Junior Canucks Organization.”

Boone looked back on the team’s time in the GOJHL with a lot of fondness.

“The Niagara Falls Jr. Canucks were a Junior B team for 52 years, from 1971 until our recent reclassification to Junior A, winning Sutherland Cup championships in 1996 and 1998,” he said.

“Our alumni include two Stanley Cup winners and several others who have made NHL appearances or had NHL careers.  We will strive to remain one of the most respected, stable, and storied franchises in the OHA, within the OJHL.  We wish the GOJHL nothing but the best.”

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