No U16 AAA team for Sault

May 3, 2023

Sault Ste. Marie will not ice an Under 16 AAA hockey team for the 2023-2024 season after all. The executive of the Sault Major Hockey Association released the following statement.

“Sault Major Hockey Association board (has) decided that although we were granted the U16 AAA cards this year, we would take a leave of absence for the 2023-2024 season.

“The association submitted the application for this set of cards before the January 20 deadline. Currently there is a moratorium on new AAA teams within the (Ontario Hockey Federation.) The (Northern Ontario Hockey Association) is permitted to have 25 AAA teams across all age divisions and currently they have 24. We were notified by the NOHA on March 10 that while they supported our application, the remaining set of cards was granted to the Timmins U15 AAA. Due to the moratorium, our request would require OHF approval.  The request was put forward and we were notified on April 20 that we were approved for the U16AAA cards by the OHF.

“This was a difficult decision based on extensive discussion, but given the lateness that the OHF awarded the association the cards , and the insufficient numbers to carry both a U16 AAA and U18 AAA as seen by the registration numbers, this was the only option available to us at this time.

“It is the plan of the association to have the U16 AAA program up and running for the 2024-2025 season.  As an association, our goal is to promote, enhance, and develop hockey within our area at all levels and calibers. At present, our association oversees several AA and AAA Rep teams from U10 AA to U18 AA and U12 AAA to U18 AAA. We have been building our development base over the years to ensure we can support all of the teams in the future.

“We are striving to have a continuous development pathway and the U16 AAA team would provide an additional stepping stone by providing a setting where players can develop and showcase their skills at the highest level and reach their full potential.  With this in mind we will actively work on building our program starting this coming fall.”

Thus, Sault Ste. Marie will again be represented by only one team in the Great North Under 18 Hockey League for the 2023-2024 season, namely the Soo Jr. Greyhounds. The U18 AAA Hounds will be led by a new coaching staff with Sean Gagnon as the head coach.

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