June 26, 2023, Mississauga, ON – The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) announced today that the Niagara Falls Canucks have been approved as a 2023-24 OJHL expansion team to begin play in the league next season.
In 2010, the OJHL Board of Governors passed a motion to undertake an extensive contraction program to decrease the number of teams within the league from 37 to 24. Through various processes, the league actually contracted to 22 teams, which allowed for the future addition of two additional teams to bring the total number of teams to 24.
After a two-year expansion process, the league now has those 24 franchises with the addition of two new franchises, the Leamington Flyers and Niagara Falls Junior Canucks. Leamington was announced May 17.
“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. “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, sponsors who are part of the Junior Canucks Organization.”
The Canucks will play in the league’s 12-team West Conference. They were selected through an extensive process led by the OJHL Expansion Committee.
Canucks co-owners Frank Pietrangelo and Brandon Boone are excited to be welcomed into the OJHL family.
“The Niagara Falls Canucks are proud to be joining the OJHL,” said Pietrangelo. “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!”
“We could not be happier for our fans, sponsors and volunteers to be bringing Junior A hockey back to Niagara Falls for the first time since the Niagara Falls Flyers joined the OHL in 1980,” Boone said. “More importantly, we could not be happier for the players of the Niagara Region, who will no longer have to leave home as teenagers to play at the highest amateur level.”
“The OJHL is the largest Junior A hockey league in Canada, and truly the ‘League of Choice,’ generating dozens of NCAA, U SPORTS, CHL and professional commitments on an annual basis – including 30 alumni on NHL rosters at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season, leading the nine league CJHL in that category. We are humbled to be joining the OJHL and giving those associated with the Niagara Falls Jr. Canucks this golden opportunity. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”
The Canucks’ home base has plenty to offer.
“The Niagara Region, and the City of Niagara Falls in particular, is a world class destination,” Boone told the OJHL, “with dozens of world-class attractions, 12 golf courses and 66 wineries, not to mention the Falls themselves, that over 12 million tourists visit each year. The Gale Centre is a world-class facility, boasting four NHL-sized rinks, including the Canucks’ home rink, which has a seating and standing capacity of almost 2,300. We are proud to add the OJHL to the long list of esteemed users of the Gale Centre in its relatively short history, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Team Canada World Junior Championship team, Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Team Canada Women’s World Championship team and, coming this fall, the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.”
Boone praised the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“We wish to thank the GOJHL for their partnership over the years, he said. “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. 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.”
About the OJHL – “League of Choice”
The Ontario Junior Hockey League is the largest Junior ‘A’ league operating under the auspices of the Canadian Junior Hockey League with 23 member clubs. A proud member of the CJHL and Ontario Hockey Association, the OJHL was originally named the Ontario Provincial Junior ‘A’ Hockey League and it was formed out of the Central Junior ‘B’ Hockey League in 1993-94. With a long and storied history of developing players for the next level, including U SPORTS, the NCAA, CHL, minor pro ranks and the NHL, the OJHL had more than 75 commitments in 2022-23 including more than 36 NCAA Division I scholarships.