Here’s to an NOJHL showcase

May 27, 2015

It has expanded to become a 12-team league with a firm grasp on a northern region that extends from Kirkland Lake to Sault Ste. Marie and towns in between.

With such growth, perhaps it is time for the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League to showcase all of its players at once with an annual pre-season — or mid-season — tournament.

In fact, to make it easier for American college recruiters to attend, an idea might be for the showcase to be held outside NOJHL territory in the Greater Toronto Area.

And why not?

Every year, the North American Hockey League — which, like the NOJHL, is tier 2 junior level — holds a pre-season showcase tournament in Blaine, Minnesota, which is part of the large Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

Over the years, the NAHL showcase has grown to the extent that about 200 — yes, 200 — college recruiters from all over the United States converge in metropolitan Minnesota for the annual event.

All NAHL teams play four games at the Minnesota showcase — with all games counting in the regular-season standings.

To be sure, the time is right for the NOJHL to begin the process towards putting on an annual showcase where college recruiters know they can see all players from all teams in a four-day span.

And instead of having the tournament in an NOJHL town that is considered remote to American college recruiters, have it in the GTA — which would make it that much-easier to showcase all players and teams.

What you think about “Here’s to an NOJHL showcase”

  1. Innovative thinking RR, no one will argue with the potential benefits and purpose behind your suggestion.

  2. having it in Detroit might be a good idea to.
    or maybe at the Pullar or Taffy Abel in Sault Mich?
    either way a Showcase is a great idea I agree with you RR.

  3. This will assist in moving more Players on to School which is what the NOJHL is sposed to be doing. Good thinking RR like usual.

  4. Fabulous idea. That, and finding a way that imprv the quality of Fasthockey broadcast, would do wonders to promote what a wonderfully spirited league the NOJ is. Iroquois Falls are a good example of clear and well-commentated broadcast. Love the Showcase idea!

  5. I agree, North Bay would be an ideal location, as would Sudbury and the Twin Soos.

    But American college recruiters will not go to Timmins or Kirkland Lake — as examples — en masse, not a chance.

    And personally, I love Kirkland Lake, its hockey history, and mine.

  6. It would make sense to do this. They did do it with pretty darn good success in Espanola before the owner bailed on the league and eventually got ousted by the town for his rushed and sloppy league he opened in its place. The showcase tournament was called the annual showcase, but I don’t remember seeing one in 2014.

    Anyways…the showcase game was Espanola vs Elliot Lake on the Friday, with Espanola winning the game in front of over 600 strong in the seats. The other 3 games featured drew about 200-250 fans (they played in front of a larger crowd than they did at home..well 4 of the 6 (SBY/BLIND RIVER/SOO/MATTAWA).

    I watched 3 of the 4 games and it was good hockey and I had plenty of discussions with scouts in attendance. They really dug the fact the showcase was held in Espanola. Great fan turnouts, great location. Only downside is the arena feels quite small when the building is packed having to make your way from one end of the arena back to the exit. A second entrance would probably really help allieviate the congestion in the arena at the end of periods.

  7. The showcase was great with a weekend full of hockey. Hey Brad the only other entrance goes to the dressing rooms and really no one wants people walking through there with there dirty boots etc… So really no way to alleviate that problem,small price to pay.

  8. Why not in Soo Canada? It is an international location, you have a beautiful arena, lots of motels and fans, airports close by on both sides of the border, good highway conditions and easily accessible to everyone.

  9. A Showcase would be really helpful.. two would be better. I don’t see an early season showcase as being very helpful. But one at U.S. Thanksgiving and one at either MLK birthday or Presidents Day weekend when U.S. NCAA scouts are more likely to have time off and where players are in mid-season form would seem to be more productive. My son and I recently met with a number of NCAA D3 coaches in the north east. Almost none scout the NOJ, and those that did used FastHockey. Most often the complaint was it was too far away. So a showcase in North Bay or Sudbury does not solve that problem but one in Toronto does. Aside from the WIAC and MIAC ( Wisconsin and Minnesota NCAA D3 leagues) all the other NCAA D3 leagues are in the north east, so Detroit makes less sense as a central location than does Toronto. All of these coaches scouted the OJHL. One because its closer and two because of the belief that it is a better league. To some extent commitments bear this out: the OJ had about 75 D1 commits and about 25 D3 commits this year, the NOJ had 2 D1 commits and about 35 D3 commits. If the NOJ is going to dispel the notion that the OJ is better then it better get its players in front of these coaches and scouts. Second issue is that given that most scouting seems to be “virtual”, the league needs to assure that FastHockey production values increase, I watched a lot of games last year and camera placement was poor and none of it was broadcast in HD. I watched a lot of NAHL games too…. world of difference. An HD broadcast with quality camera placement makes a huge difference. This is a development league with a stated goal of moving its players up to the next level…. Showcases in the right geographic area and targeting the right audience and better FastHockey production values would be significant moves in the right direction.

  10. Have a showcase in Soo Mich during t he week so college teams can come and watch like week of Christmas and then give whole league off till the week after the new year

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