The Western Ontario Super Hockey League has announced the new home for senior hockey in Western Ontario.
And two local teams, the Tillsonburg Thunder and a new Langton Royals senior hockey franchise, have signed up.
With COVID-19 vaccines arriving and being distributed daily in southwestern Ontario, the new league is confident the puck will drop for its inaugural season in early October.
“We’ve formed a new independent senior hockey league,” said Tillsonburg Thunder GM Bill Ryan. “And we’ve sistered with a league in Eastern Ontario. They started a couple seasons ago with four teams, they’ll be 12 teams this year.”
“We are following Hockey Canada rules,” noted Thunder President/Owner Mike Holly. “The hockey board is made up of just the teams. Each team has a vote, there’s no outside interest.”
“Our vision is different than other senior hockey leagues in Ontario,” said Jamie Petrie, WOSHL President in a media release.
“We are a progressive thinking league,” said Petrie. “We are not governed by a minor sports organization or part of large association with multiple different leagues in it. Our motto is to put on events, not just hockey games.”
All WOSHL senior A hockey games will be streamed live through Hockey Tech.
The Western Ontario Super Hockey League will play a 24-game schedule, plus league playoffs. A partnership has been formed with the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League and the winners of each league will play for a provincial championship. They also have plans for an all-star weekend, pitting the WOSHL vs EOSHL.
“We have a player eligibility system that will create competitive balance throughout our league,” said Petrie. “League organized fundraisers and events, cost effective budgets for our teams and team protected territories are a few examples that have our hockey clubs and owners very excited about the present and future growth of the Western Ontario Super Hockey League.”
The player eligibility system is what should help make it successful, said Ryan, and it hinges on the player’s highest level of hockey.
“It’s based on points. No matter where your team is based, your only going to be able to have so many points in your lineup on any given time.
“The other beauty of it, we’ve cut the travel down,” Ryan added. “Tremendously, which is a big deal to the players.”
“Trips to Saugeen Shores were tough,” nodded Holly.
The first six confirmed teams will be Alvinston Killer Bees, Elora Rocks, Langton Royals, Strathroy Jets, Stratford Fighting Irish and the Tillsonburg Thunder.
More teams will be announced as they come on board.
The WOSHL executive and teams are meeting over Zoom calls in the next week to discuss the possibility of capping the first season at eight teams… or expanding.
“At the end of the day we’re going to be eight teams, we’ll probably cap it at that,” said Ryan. “The more teams you have, the more referees you need.”
“Referees may be the actual determining factor,” said Holly.
Petrie said there are currently 13 applications that are being evaluated.
The Tillsonburg Thunder played in the WOAA for 13 years since their inception as a new senior hockey franchise.