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About the orhl

What is the ORHL (Ontario Rep Hockey League)?
The largest Independent Hockey League in Ontario,  with over 50 league teams from Novice (U09) to Midget (U18).  Caliber of hockey is “rep level”, without specifically using the “AA”, “A” or “AE” descriptors.  
For the 2024-25 Season, the ORHL divisions (by birth year) are as follows:
  • U09 Novice - 2017 & 2016
  • U11 Atom - 2015 & 2014
  • U13 Peewee - 2013 & 2012
  • U15 Bantam - 2011 & 2010
  • U16+ Minor Midget - 2009 and a maximum of six 2008 
  • U18 Midget - 2007 & 2008 

In total 56 different teams played in ORHL events during 2023-2024, comprising a total of 809 games.  Key aspects / differentiators of the ORHL:
  • No address boundaries, No releases needed – players can play for the team or coach they want, without restrictions.
  • No League-scheduled or League-sanctioned regular season games on Monday through Thursday weeknights. 
  • In U15 and older age groups, no open-ice body checking permitted with modified rules for contact along the boards (see below).
  • Full ice U09 program.
  • Sanctioned by the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), based out of the US, the AAU is the largest amateur sport organization in North America with over 700,000 members.
How long is an ORHL season? What is an ORHL “event”?
Because the ORHL has chosen to be a school-friendly (or multi-sport friendly) rep hockey league, the only way to achieve a 28-game regular season is to play three “Showcase Events” during the year.  A “Showcase Event” is akin to a tournament atmosphere, where all teams in the ORHL will amass in a single location (London, Oakville and Brampton in 2023-24) to play 4 games each.   The first event is in October and the Championship is end of March.
  • 28-game regular season = 8 home + 8 away + 12 Showcase
  • "March Madness" style Playoff Championship Tournament, that uses the regular season results to seed the teams, with Championship and Consolation brackets
  • Two other ORHL tournaments, with 4 game minimums in each
  • In total, all ORHL teams are expected to play a minimum of 40 games 
 
What does "modified body contact" mean for U15, U16+ and U18?
The ORHL has always played with body contact (not body checking, key difference) where pinning an opponent and light contact while in pursuit of a puck has been permitted; however, new changes for the 2024-25 Season reflect a slight shift in that policy. Essentially, the Modified Body Contact rule allows players to continue in the existing body contact manner, but will now allow the player to deliver a body check if along the boards ONLY.  In the simplest way possible to explain it: if the boards “make a noise” it is permitted, if the boards “don’t make a noise” it is still strictly prohibited.  
The following are guiding principles of the Modified Body Contact rule:
  • The play must still be considered a “good hockey play”, in which one would normally make in the game of hockey, keeping in mind the balance between competitiveness and player safety. 
  • Puck must be in the proximity of a player, with an opposing player required to make a play to the puck first and in doing so permitted body contact may happen (as outlined in the rules herein).
  • If a player takes advantage of an unsuspecting player and trades off the body-check instead for trying for possession of the puck, this will still result in a penalty.
  • Plays in open-ice, or direct up-ice / down-ice without use of the boards or angling will be deemed as Illegal Body-Checks and strictly enforced with increased consequences.  In all such instances, players are not permitted to step up and make a body-check play on an opposing player in possession of the puck.  
  • Legal checks along the boards MUST be “torso to torso”, with any contact (accidental or otherwise) to the head, neck, knees, etc prohibited. 
  • A Minor penalty, double Minor penalty, or Major penalty and Game Misconduct, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be assessed to any player guilty of an Illegal Body-Check.
  • A Major penalty and Game Misconduct, or Match penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be assessed any player guilty of an Illegal Body-Check that results in an injury.

Why is the ORHL not part of Hockey Canada and the OHF – Alliance / OMHA? 
Good question, and wish we had an answer!  What we can offer is neither organization is “better” than the other, they are just “different”.  
 
Both require coach and trainer certification.  Both have ample insurance for their players.  Both can have great coaches, both can also have poor coaches. 

Hockey Canada ("HC") framework in Ontario requires geographical boundaries with player "ownership" in their local geography, ORHL does not. ORHL does not permit body checking at any level at any age, HC starts body checking at rep in minor Bantam.  ORHL doesn’t have weeknight games, HC does.   At the U09 Novice and U11 Atom levels, the ORHL plays full ice games whereas HC has varying half ice formats.
 
What is important to know is that you cannot play for both ORHL and Hockey Canada at the same time, according to Hockey Canada.  As of Sept 30 each year, you can select one or the other – but HC will not allow you to play on both sides at the same time.   The ORHL does not impose such a restriction, permitting players to play both if they desire.  The only ORHL caveat is that you must play a minimum number of regular season games in order to be eligible to play for your team in the ORHL playoffs (so Clubs cannot pick up HC players looking to join after their HC season is done in February or March as the case may be). 
 
Additional information can be found at the links below.
 
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