Whatever it is that draws you in—goals galore, the opportunity to watch the NHL’s future stars develop, the luxury of having a team right in your backyard—junior hockey fandom is thrilling.
Yet, following a smaller league like the OHL also has its drawbacks. It doesn’t get the same media coverage as the professional leagues in print or on TV, and searching for OHL news or stats online is often more difficult. Many fans I’ve spoken with get most or all of their OHL fix from the league’s official website, which, while a decent resource, has many shortcomings.
OHL Website Leaves Much to Be Desired
The main problem with the OHL website is that, like any official league site, it is fundamentally an ad for the league. It’s designed to maximize the number of people interested in and spending money on the OHL, meaning it targets new or casual fans and isn’t designed to provide deep engagement for OHL fanatics because those fans aren’t necessary for the league to grow. They’re not going anywhere.
The website’s 2016 redesign gave it a nice, new, professional sheen, but the emphasis on graphics means it’s slow to load and the layout makes a chore of hunting for specific information, such as suspension or trade data. (Both features are listed in the Media Notes section.) Its player stats and standings sections only go back to 1997-98, a curious decision considering the league’s rich history.
That said, there are a few good things about the site. It’s your best bet for basic, unfiltered game info, like box scores and video highlights. Its league leaders tables are sortable and provide the essential stats. One of my favourite new flourishes is the inclusion of OHL and NHL draft history on player pages. Every other site I’ve seen separates this data, and it’s interesting to see which players exceeded the expectations their draft pedigree laid out. The team rosters include NHL draft information as well.
If basic stats, scores, and highlights are all you’re looking for, you could do worse than the OHL site. But fans looking for more advanced stats, historical info, scouting insight or fan community engagement would do well to check out the websites listed below.
Comprehensive League Info and Statistics
Elite Prospects is generally considered one of the best hockey resources on the Internet, and its OHL coverage is no exception. The EP OHL page provides a convenient snapshot of the league, with a wealth of information ranging from standings and league leaders to transactions, injuries, and league records. It also provides further links to individual team pages, league award winners, and past champions.
EP’s individual team pages include rosters, stats, transaction history, team records, and a list of notable alumni. The Where Are They Now? feature is a particularly nice touch. Here’s the London Knights’ list, with a staggering 34 former players on NHL rosters.
My favourite EP feature is their index of past OHL drafts. It’s the most complete OHL Priority Selection data available on the Internet, and you can toggle player data for the OHL or NHL to see at a glance which teams drafted well in a particular year or developed their players into future stars.
The Internet Hockey Database, or HockeyDB for short, bills itself as “the Internet’s largest repository of hockey data,” and I believe it. If you’re burning for information on the short-lived Tropical Hockey League (1938-1939), it’s all there, lending even more credence to the theory that if something happened there’s a record of it on the Internet.
All jokes aside, HockeyDB, like EP, is a useful resource for OHL info. I like it best for its franchise pages, which are sortable and offer a nice snapshot of a team’s history. Its individual team season pages are also useful, with both regular season and playoff statistics conveniently listed on the same page. There’s also some basic player biographical data, and my favourite feature, a link to each team’s game-by-game results. The Owen Sound Attack’s remarkable 33-2-3 streak to close last season looks even more impressive through this lens.
HockeyDB’s player pages are also colour-coordinated by league, a nice touch which makes them easily readable, if at times a bit depressing.
Advanced Statistics and Prospect Analysis
Prospect-Stats.com is the creation of programmer Hayden Speak, and like many websites of its ilk, its spartan aesthetic can be deceiving; there’s a ton of useful information there. Its team page includes a trove of useful statistics that aren’t readily available elsewhere, from straightforward statistics such as team shot differential and shooting percentage to more involved metrics like estimated Corsi-for percentage, which I used in my discussion of what makes an OHL contender last week.
The website’s player index provides more granular performance data as well, including a breakdown of each player’s assist total into first and second helpers and goal scoring heat maps. Here’s Alex DeBrincat’s goal-scoring prowess visualized.
For the more analytically inclined fan, Speak has also developed a metric, DEV, which is designed to predict a player’s NHL draft slot based on his junior performance and NHL projection.
The brainchild of former Hockey’s Future writer Brock Otten, OHL Prospects is a blog focused on exactly that: the OHL and its players best equipped to succeed at the next level. Otten is well connected in league and scouting circles, and his predictions and projections typically fold in the knowledge and experience of his contacts along with his own opinions.
What separates Otten’s site from others of its type is its exclusive coverage of the OHL. He publishes regular rankings of NHL prospects playing in the OHL, as well as lists of OHL rookies he thinks could make an immediate impact in junior. Other features include an annual awards predictions column and reviews of the OHL Priority Selection and the CHL Import Draft.
OHL Online Fan Community
Internet message boards may be a dying breed, but HFBoards (a THW partner) remains one of the largest collections of hockey fans on the web, with over 100,000 registered users. Its OHL Forum hosts a robust user base and includes a dedicated topic for each team. While discussion can occasionally get heated, most posters are respectful, and the quality of the discourse points to the knowledgeability of the OHL’s fans.
It’s probably obvious, but the quickest way to get the latest OHL news is the OHL Twitterverse. Less obvious is just how much great analysis some of the bright minds in the business can pack into 140 characters. The THW team (Mark Scheig, Andrew Forbes, Dave Jewell, and a host of other talented writers) is on Twitter, as are Prospect-Stats’s Speak and OHL Prospects’s Otten. OHL blogger Peter Kneulman is another well-connected, insightful resource. All of them are worth a follow.
Put these six resources together and there’s deceptive depth to the online OHL community. Didn’t see your favourite site listed? Let me know about it in the comments!
Matt Wilson covers the OHL for The Hockey Writers and has been following the league for 15-plus years. He holds a dual degree in English and mathematics and endeavours to take a stats-based, data-driven approach to hockey analysis.