The GMHL is a Junior A league based in Ontario. It’s also one of the biggest independent Junior A leagues in North America and attracts players from around the world. The Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League forwards players to other junior leagues and to division III colleges, Canadian universities and European pro leagues.
What You Will Learn:
- Why the GMHL may be your option for playing junior hockey
- Where GMHL players come from and where they end up going
- What the talent level is like in this league and who scouts it
- What a “pay-to-play” league is and what bang your son gets for your buck
- Everything you need to know about off-ice life: travel, school, working out and dressing rooms
How To Play In The GMHL
North American players can enter the GMHL through a number of avenues, including
Midget AA and AAA, as well as Junior B and American tier III junior. It is also not uncommon
for overage Junior A players to come join this league for an extra season of junior.
GMHL teams scout locally in Ontario to find top talent, as well as at showcases, tournaments
and games in the United States (and other parts of Canada).
Furthermore, the league has longstanding connections to Europe where it regularly recruits.
This is not to mention the past players from Asia and Oceana.
Many players enter this league through its annual draft and subsequent training camps.
However, players need not be drafted to play in this league.
Some teams in this league recruit harder than others and have a stronger reputation of
winning. As such, there is some disparity between top-level teams and those who fill in the
bottom half of the league.
Average Age To Break Into The GMHL
Player ages in the GMHL are wide-ranging. While players can and do start as young as 16
and 17, the league also accepts 21 year-old players.
Midget-aged players will use this league as an alternative to AAA or Junior B depending on
their situation. By playing in the GMHL these players get exposed to the junior lifestyle and
get to go up against older, more mature players.
At the same time, some teams in this league skew toward older players, with 21 year-olds
from the OJHL crossing over to play another year of junior. Sometimes these players can
land division III scholarships from this move.
Import Players – American and International
Since the GMHL is outside of the Hockey Canada system, it doesn’t face import restrictions
that other leagues do.
The league not only is open to import players, but also it gets a fair number of players from
around the world. Popular spots players have come from are Russia, Sweden, Latvia, and
Great Britain. Others have also come from Asia and Oceana.
Of course, the league is also open to American players and has a fair amount of them playing.
Simply put, the GMHL will go to great lengths to find talent, and foreign talent seeks out the
NHL Draft Prospects
GMHL players do not get drafted to the NHL, nor is it really the league’s goal. The league
does, however, send players to the lower tiers of European pro hockey—particularly its
On top of that, players have been taken as high picks in the Kontinental Hockey League
(KHL) draft. Other European (and Oceanic and Asian) players have also played for national
teams in the division II and division III World Junior Championships.
The GMHL has also forwarded players on to semi-professional leagues in America.
Although the core of the GMHL is centred around the Greater Toronto Area, the league
does extend northward, even dipping into Quebec.
The league corrals travel for teams by playing an unbalanced schedule, a common practice
in all junior and pro leagues. Teams play nearby rivals more often than those teams further
away. Every second year a team will make a trip across the league.
Unlike in America, players in an independent league like the GMHL cannot transfer to a
Hockey Canada league during the same season. These Hockey Canada leagues include the
GOJHL and EOJHL Junior B leagues, the CCHL and OJHL Junior A leagues and the OHL.
Players who play games with a GMHL team will have to wait until the completion of the
GMHL season before they can sign or affiliate with a Hockey Canada league team. At
season’s end, all restrictions are lifted. These restrictions do not exist in America and player
can move south at any time.
Entry Draft: Yes
The GMHL draft takes place in early May of every year. Players 16 – 21, i.e. junior aged
players, can be drafted.
Like all drafts, this one aligns future players to teams, creates investment by both parties
and starts the recruiting process.
Pay to Play: Yes
The GMHL is a pay-to-play league. Players fees cover everything from ice time to equipment
to travel and billets. Parents must also purchase insurance. With stable ownership in
place, players get good bang for their parents buck within a the typical Tier III pay to play
Nicknames you’ll hear: Greater Metro league
Provinces/States covered: Ontario, Quebec
Games Played: 42
Trophy Name: Russell Cup
Reigning League Champion: Bradford Bulls
There are currently no hard numbers for commitments for recent years on the GMHL
website. However, the league consistently sends a couple dozen players to American
division III schools each season.
126 Bridge Street
Phone: (905) 775-0062
Commissioner: Ken Girard
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