Minto 81’s join new senior hockey league

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Teams based in Minto and Erin will be part of a new Senior AA hockey league. 

An Aug. 17 statement by the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) says the new Ontario Elite Hockey League (OEHL) will begin play in October, featuring 10 teams from the former Western Ontario Athletic Association (WOAA) Senior AA loop. 

Former WOAA teams moving to the OEHL are: Creemore Coyotes, Durham Thundercats, Lucknow Lancers, Milverton Four Wheel Drives, Minto 81’s, Ripley Wolves, Saugeen Shores Winterhawks, Seaforth Centenaires, Shelburne Muskies and Tavistock Royals. 

The Georgian Bay Applekings, who will play out of Thornbury and Erin Outlaws will join the league as expansion teams, the OHA states. 

The OEHL clubs will play a 22-game regular season beginning Oct. 6. 

The OHA statement indicates the goal in forming the new league is “ensuring Senior AA hockey across Ontario’s small towns thrives.” The OHA  is the governing body for the majority of Junior and Senior hockey leagues in province. 

“We are excited to add Ontario Elite Hockey League (OEHL) to the OHA. Through this endeavor, 12 teams will be added to our Senior hockey category bringing our total number of teams in the OHA up to 124,” said OHA Chair Marc Mercier.  

“In addition, this is an opportunity to grow alongside the OEHL and to give adult players in Ontario enhanced competitive opportunities to continue their playing days as a valued part of the OHA family.” 

In an online statement, the OEHL stated the move is not due to problems with the WOAA. 

“We want to be perfectly clear – there was absolutely no ill will or dissatisfaction with the WOAA. They nurtured and supported senior hockey for 80 years. We owe a great debt to that fine organization. This move is strictly to ensure our league can thrive into the future,” league officials state.

Minto 81’s training camp begins Sept. 19.

Community News Staff