Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today hosted a media conference call to officially launch the start of the 2011-12 OHL regular season which begins Wednesday night.
“This is an exciting time of year and it is with great anticipation that we look forward to another season of OHL hockey,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch. “We have established ourselves as the number one supplier of talent to the NHL and to CIS which speaks volumes for the talented players and student athletes we have in our league. Players choose the OHL because of the tremendous coaches in our league and for the player environment we offer and we pride ourselves as being a leader both on and off the ice.”
Commissioner Branch highlighted that 156 OHL players attended NHL Training Camps this season following a successful 2011 NHL Entry Draft where 11 OHL players were selected in the first round. In addition, 231 graduate players are on scholarship for semester one of this school year including 36 players that were part of the overage class of last season that have committed to play hockey in various CIS programs. The OHL will continue to act in the interest of player safety with the directive that all players wear soft cap shoulder and elbow pads, and that the league will be more strict in the discipline of players who are repeat offenders for checking to the head.
General Manager and Head Coach of the Niagara IceDogs Marty Williamson and Captain Andrew Agozzino represented the OHL’s Eastern Conference providing their outlook on the season ahead.
“I am very excited about our team, we will have great veteran leadership” said Williamson. “The Eastern Conference will have great parity this season, I think the two most improved teams are the two clubs that missed the playoffs last season so things will definitely be close.”
Plymouth Whalers General Manager and Head Coach Mike Vellucci and Captain Beau Schmitz represented the OHL’s Western Conference.
“We are very excited once again in Plymouth,” said Vellucci. “We were fortunate enough to have some high NHL draft picks but it will be a tough conference once again. Last year may have been the toughest ever with only a few points separating five or six teams and this year should be no different.”
The IceDogs were listed as the number two ranked team in the preseason rankings of the BMO CHL MasterCard Top-10, with the Whalers listed as the next highest OHL team ranked at number five.
The Plymouth Whalers will open the 680-game regular season schedule on the road against the defending Robertson Cup Champion Owen Sound Attack Wednesday night at 7:00 pm.
Special Event Schedule:
- Subway Super Series – Ottawa Civic Centre, Ottawa, ON – November 10, 2011
- Subway Super Series – Essar Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, ON – November 14, 2011
- Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game – Kelowna, BC – January 31-February 1, 2012
- OHL Cup Showcase Tournament – Hershey Centre, Mississauga, ON – March 13-18, 2012
- OHL Priority Selection – April 7, 2012
- MasterCard Memorial Cup –Shawinigan, QC,– May 18-27, 2012