OMHA AAA proposes to dissolve Central Ontario Wolves

Sports Advocate

By Lindsay Advocate

The sun is setting on a chapter in the history of Ontario minor hockey via a motion to dissolve the Central Ontario Wolves AAA after almost three decades. Jeff Todd, chair of KL Hockey, hopes that the Ontario Minor Hockey Association will reconsider this course of action. File photo.

Sad and surprising news has shocked our local hockey community with the abrupt announcement of a motion to dissolve the Central Ontario Wolves AAA after this year. The motion will apparently be made at the November Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) board meeting.

The decision has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many hockey enthusiasts in the Kawartha Lakes region. For nearly three decades, the Wolves provided a vital local competitive option for talented young hockey players across our region, where small town players could play against the best in North America. However, with OMHA enacting strategies aimed at improving competitiveness at the AAA level, the Wolves have become the latest casualty in the pursuit of a more elite league.

Founded in 1993, the Wolves are more than just a hockey team; they are a symbol of community pride and an opportunity for local players to showcase their skills on a larger stage. As one of the original players and current U11 head coach, the recommendation to dismantle the organization will not only leave many local kids searching for new teams, but also leaves the Kawartha Lakes region with a stark choice: either settle for local hockey leagues that may lack the level of North American competition exposure offered by AAA hockey, or endure grueling, time-consuming drives to distant cities for games and practices.

While the OMHA’s intentions to raise the level of competitiveness in AAA hockey are commendable, it’s essential to consider the broader impact. By dissolving the Wolves, the OMHA has inadvertently created a gap in the local sports fabric, depriving talented young athletes of the chance to represent their communities and forcing families into challenging logistics. For years, the hockey options in Kawartha were AAA or local representative with nothing in between. One local minor hockey board director shared that already more than 10 per cent of local players leave local centres to play competitive hockey. Now, the OMHA has rendered local hockey as the only option within the Kawartha region and surely the ‘exporting’ of rural players into bigger centres will rise. We can’t help but watch OMHA governance and procedures unintentionally penalize our local youth here and elsewhere in rural Ontario as they vote to pass the dissolution of our cherished Wolves with what appears to be no plan in place for any new or competitive programming for over 1,100 local registered players.

Instead of dismantling and leaving behind no competitive local options, the OMHA should explore alternative strategies to foster competitiveness while preserving the spirit of community-based sports. Designating both AAA mega zones, and smaller AA zones could strike the right balance. And there appears to be nothing preventing the OMHA to designate AA ‘zones’ to offer small towns an opportunity to retain their local programs and have an elite option.

In the end, the proposed dissolution of the Wolves organization should serve as a reminder that there’s more to sports than just competition. It’s also about fostering a sense of belonging, nurturing local talent, and supporting the communities that have cheered on their young athletes for generations. As a proud former Wolves player, I hope the OMHA board and their representatives haven’t lost sight of that.

– Jeff Todd, chair, KL Hockey

2 Comments

  1. Catherine (Cathie) Dunk says:

    Well said Jeff Todd…I tried, but realized that you had said it all and much better than I…thanks, and hoping the right people are listening. Too many holes being punched into the fabric of rural life as we like it and minor hockey is a big piece of that cloth. Let’s leave “elitism” to the NHL and such and continue to support, nourish and develop young players from pond hockey on up though a system that produced not only a few Crosbies and Gretzkys but so many solid community citizens. No kid who wants to play should be excluded. It’s the playing that builds character not the winning.

  2. T. Lynch says:

    As one of the original organizers along with Kelly Doyle of Lindsay and Terry Ferguson of Oakwood the three of us work for two years to get off the ground along with others
    Thank you to all who have taken it this far

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