Key dates, favorites to win and more from the top league in youth hockey
On the list of important dates for the 2022-23 Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) season, Oct. 17 may be the most important.
It is officially ‘Game On’ for the arguably the most elite youth hockey league in the world.
With 51 different hockey clubs and associations — and a total of 508 teams competing — the GTHL is the largest minor hockey league in the world, located right in the heart of Canada’s most populated area. More than 40,000 players in Markham, Mississauga, Toronto and Vaughan skate in the GTHL each season.
Twelve of those clubs have teams competing in the AAA classification from U10 through U18.
GTHL Participating Teams
Don Mills Flyers
North York Rangers
Reps Hockey Club
Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Toronto Red Wings
Toronto Young Nationals
As we prepare for a new GTHL AAA campaign, there’s no better way to size up which teams are the favorites than by looking at who brought home the hardware last season.
Last Year’s GTHL Champions
U15 AAA (’07): Toronto Jr. Canadiens
U14 AAA (’08): Vaughan Kings
U13 AAA (’09): Don Mills Flyers
U12 AAA (’10): Markham Majors
U11 AAA (’11): Vaughan Kings
U10 AAA (’12): North York Rangers
Game action has already been underway, as the GTHL introduced a preseason schedule for the month of September. Meanwhile, the GTHL AAA schedule was increased at the older age groups; U10 through U14 will play 33 games, while U15 through U18 will play 36.
GTHL Teams in the World Rankings
Expect big things out of the U16 age group, as the top three spots in the 2007 Canadian rankings all belong to GTHL teams. The Jr. Canadiens — fresh off winning the GTHL and All-Ontario titles last season — currently check in at No. 3, behind the No. 1 Mississauga Senators and No. 2 Toronto Marlboros.
Last year, of course, the ’06 Mississauga Senators won the U16 OHL Cup with the help of a few under-agers in ’07 forwards Marcus Lagana, William Moore and Michael Misa. That last guy ended up getting exceptional status for the OHL Draft and was selected No. 1 overall by the Saginaw Spirit. Moore, however, is skating for the Marlboros U16 team this year, and Lagana is with the Don Mills Flyers.
The Senators and the Marlboros first meet on Oct. 28 for a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. Before that, the Marlboros and the Jr. Canadiens clash on Oct. 21.
Vaughan Kings Continue Its Reign over ’08s
In the ’08 birth year, the Vaughan Kings are ranked No. 1 in Canada and No. 3 in the world (behind just two Russian teams). Close behind are the No. 4 Toronto Marlboros and No. 5 Toronto Jr. Canadiens. The Vaughan squad is familiar with on-ice success, as they won the inaugural U14 OHL Cup last season after taking care of business in the GTHL.
Vaughan will get big tests early in November, starting on Nov. 6th when the Jr. Canadiens come to town. The next night, the Kings get the Mississauga Senators, and then on Nov. 11th, the Marlboros show up for another top-five battle.
Early Top-10 Matchups
Much like the two elder birth years, the ‘09s feature some highly-rated GTHL squads, as well. Don Mills, ready to defend its GTHL postseason championship from last spring, checks in at No. 1. Breathing down their necks are the Toronto Titans, who are ranked No. 2, and the North York Rangers aren’t far away at No. 4.
The Flyers, already with an 8-2 win over the Vaughan Kings under their belts, will play the No. 4 Rangers on Oct. 18th.
At the 2010 birth year, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens hold the top spot in the latest Canadian rankings, while the Vaughan Kings are No. 4, Markham Majors are No. 6 and Don Mills Flyers are No. 8.
We’ve already had one top-10 showdown, as the Jr. Canadiens blanked Don Mills 4-0 on Oct. 13th.
And at the 2011 birth year — the youngest the WHH rankings go — the Toronto Jr. Canadiens hold the top spot as well. Don Mills is No. 3, the Toronto Red Wings are No. 4 and Toronto Titans are No. 6.