It’s Time For Junior C To Flip The Switch

I was sitting in a coffee shop in one of Chatham-Kent’s small towns, and the gentlemen at the table next to me were talking hockey…go figure.

They were saying it was a shame the Dresden Kings didn’t go farther into the playoffs, but that without rookie star Brett Brochu, a 16-year-old goalie, the team wouldn’t have even made it out of round one (Kings fans I’ll leave this debate to you).

But then one gentleman went on the tangent; that Junior C hockey needs to allow more 16-year-olds, if they want to continue to be called a development league. He pointed to Brochu, Kings call up defender Ben Brooks, and Blenheim Blades rookie Cameron Symons, as players who obviously were capable of playing Junior C, and questioned how many more 16-year-olds could be positive impacts.

He wondered if the Wallaceburg Lakers could rebuild if they could bring in more youth.

He wondered why there were four 21-year-olds per team and only one 16-year-old (something our CKSN leader told me he’s written on in the past).

He wondered why these older players weren’t playing Juvenile like they used to, instead of clogging up Junior C rosters, since at that point, hockey is “only” for fun.

He wondered if Junior C would in fact be faster and more skilled if players able to make the roster at 16 could play.

I listened, and this is where I jumped into the conversation.

“Why not?” I asked them. “If the purpose of the league is to develop kids for Junior B and Junior A, why not let them play?”

At the OHL level, teams are allowed more 16-year-olds. At the Junior B level even, teams are allowed two. So why in Junior C, the base of development leagues for those above, is a team allowed only one 16-year-old?

By the end of our coffees, and then another coffee, I’d met a few new hockey friends, and we’d concluded that it’s time for Junior C hockey in Ontario to flip the script.

Our conclusion was to remove 21-year-olds from Junior C altogether. Push these players in Senior hockey, or Juvenile loops. And take all five spots originally reserved for both overagers and underagers, and give them to 16-year-olds.

With these older players out, the league would be more welcoming for youth, and would still allow younger players to compete with older players, while also serving as a true development league.

I’m not a hockey genius, but as a sports lover, this just made sense. What are you thoughts? Do you agree with us? Disagree?

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  • comment-avatar
    Frank 8 months

    the teams that win are loaded with 19. 20 and 21 year olds.

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    Desiree 8 months

    I agree, it makes sense…as a development league, lets get the 16 year old impact players in there. He named significant 16 year olds that made a real difference for their teams. Let’s go, and get these young players great opportunities! 

  • comment-avatar
    Desiree 8 months

    I agree with the viewpoint of those folks at the table. With it being a development league, there should be those opportunities for the young 16 year old impact players. He named 3, and was spot on. 

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    Allan 8 months

    Look at the CCHL2 model. This is what junior C needs to adapt. That league is thriving. 

  • comment-avatar
    perry_vann 8 months

    I agree 100% with the 16 year olds get rid of the 21 year old goons who intimidate these younger players.Also maybe we would have better juvenile hockey which Mooretown struggles with as a host of juvenile silver stick

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    Ronny VanHeesch 8 months

    i agree with your premise that Junior c needs to be changed.  I think a good first step would be to get rid of the overagers and increase a teams ability to signup to 3 –16 year olds,  also i think that once a player has signed a junior “B” card whether as a 16, 17 , 18 or 19 year old then that player CANNOT drop down to Junior “C”, he can continue in “B” or higher classification. Need to make Junior C a development league so players move from minor hockey to C and then up to B, A. The current model is completely backwards with OHL teams and Jr. B teams able to sign more 16 year olds than the lowest category of Junior hockey in Ontario which is Junior C.

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    Shell 8 months

    Totally disagree with eliminating the 21 year olds! They deserve better than Juvie and the Senior men’s teams play their regs and rookies sit or are only allowed on the away games no matter how skilled. I’ve witnessed this too many times to count. I do agree that the roster would be better with more 16 year olds but not 5. Maybe go 3/3 with option of 4. I would also like to see them disallow any junior B player unless they commit to 2 or more seasons before their overage year. Certain teams have regularly had stacked rosters in the local junior C loop.

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      Todd 8 months

      Enjoy watching the 21 year old’s from the point of a paying consumer. Cam Symmons played all season with an overager and it was enjoyable to watch. Am I reminding anyone here that Hockey Canada does NOT consider Junior Hockey developmental and thus the ruling on 16 year olds. The OHA is governed by Hockey Canada. Don’t recommend holding anyone’s breath here. The article makes for good reading but Hockey Canada swings a bigger bat than coffee shop talk.

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    Kevin Drewery 8 months

    The current set up was created years ago at the OHF level to ensure the viability and competitiveness of Midget AAA. If all of the Midget AAA players were siphoned off to Junior there would be no Midget AAA in Ontario outside the of the GTA. To appease the OMHA etc. the OHA restricted the number of 16 year olds.

    The intent of the rules was to make the teams older and more community based. The only problem is that if you don’t have a university or college in your community you don’t have extra 18, 19 and 20 year olds to draw on. Essex, Amherstburg, and Lakeshore will continue to win the league

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    Richard bedford 8 months

    I am an old operator and past owner of junior hockey team and my most satisfying times when I had junior teams with average ages of 17 to 18 which included the allowable 6  players 15 and 16 years olds.
    Oha rule changes made junior c teams more like intermediate teams and leagues.
    Gone are the days of young junior hockey teams which I miss. Thanks to the oha and hockey Canada.

  • comment-avatar
    Todd 8 months

    Wish I was in on the coffee shop conversation. Too much typing to state my viewpoint properly. I can say that if you have a 16 year old you want more cards on a Jr C. team and if you have been around long enough to see the overagers play then they should stay. Don’t think it would be wrong for a team to be able to sign more 16 year olds but they still need to cut the team. Jr. C should not be forced to sign 16 year olds who cant cut the lineup. Good 16 year olds are not a dime a dozen. Cam Symmons had a 21 year old line mate all season!

  • comment-avatar
    Richard bedford 8 months

    Having past experience operating,owning a junior team some of my most cherished,memories when we where allowed 6 players under 17. It was a joy to see some of my players get drafted Jr. a and also move up to b hockey.

  • comment-avatar
    Duncan Miller 8 months

    So if you take away more 16yr olds what happens to Midget Hockey? The OHL has a Midget Draft now and those playing JR C don’t qualify. Anyone consider that? The 19 and 20 and 21 yr olds should be the stronger, faster and more skilled players, if not , maybe that team needs to be restructured? It good to ask questions and consider changes, but one needs to consider the ramifications of the change. Personally, I vote no. By the way , I have two sons playing JR C. Just my two cents worth.

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    Hockey fan 8 months

    If you did that the quality of the league would decrease. Some teams don’t even take a 16 year old depending on the quality year to year. I’d give the team the option to take three 16 year olds as long as they dress every game but keep the 21 year old rule. The 21 year old rule makes jr C unique and keeps the quality of hockey decent. I would have hated not being able to play my 21 year. It also allows OHL, Jr A and Jr B players to return home and play for their hometown if they choose too 

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    Johnny Hockey 8 months

    I bet you’d see a lot of 16 year olds released throughout the year if they allow 3 per team. 

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    FUTUR HOCKEY LLC 8 months

    This is absolutely necessary if JR C expects to be the jumping stone to JR B and A.
    Resoectfully if 21 year olds don’t have it at 21 groom some 16 year olds within that 3/4 years.
    This is long overdue.

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    Michael 7 months

    Jr C just can’t go and add more 16 year olds, the 16 year old allocation is governed by Hockey Canada through the Canadian development model. As long as the OHL and Minor Hockey associations want to keep their players longer Jr C will be void of any increase in 16 year olds, another reason is Hockey Canada does not recognize Jr C as a development league so until things change inside Hockey Canada and the OHF and the stigma of Jr C being “Beer league” nothing is going to change anytime soon.