Size, speed, strength – all components of a winning team.  Most coaches and general managers would love to have a big team.  Large players have more reach and usually carry more weight with them than their smaller counterparts.  They are harder to stop, harder to defend against in front of the net and harder to win those one-on-one battles against along the boards.  Big defensemen make it more difficult for opposing forwards to get close to their goaltenders, they have a greater reach for clearing loose pucks and make it more difficult for players to get around them on a rush.

Foot speed is always a concern for the bigger player.  These young men are still developing their fine and gross motor skills and often for a tall player their motor skills have not caught up to their body.  An exception was Jeff Carter.  He joined the Strathroy Rockets as a 15-year-old after scoring 75 goals the previous year in AAA.  At 6’ 3” and now filled out to 217lb, Carter had the size but not the body girth when he played in this league.  Philadelphia Flyer general manager Bobby Clarke said that he drafted him because, “for a big man, he skates really well.”  Skating was not a problem for the 15-year-old Carter as he consistently outraced opponents around the ice.

Although every club would like a big team, it usually becomes a different story at training camp as GMs try to sign the most talented players on the ice regardless of their size.  When thinking of the greatest goal scorers that this league has ever produced most were small, fast and skilled.  Strathroy’s Jeff Campbell (5’ 9”), Sarnia’s Ron Fogarty (5’ 8”) and Chatham’s Brian Wiseman (5’ 7”) were all prolific goal scorers despite their stature.  Fogarty tallied 60 goals, Campbell had 62 and Wiseman thrilled Chatham fans with 70 goals.  All three players earned NCAA Division I scholarships and excelled at that level.

Let’s have a look at the 2017-18 Western Conference.  Only 2 teams have an average height above 6 feet – the Chatham Maroons and the London Nationals.  The remaining 7 teams are jammed between 71.47” and 71.89”.  London leads the pack with 15 players that are 6’ or taller, Chatham and St. Thomas have 13 each.  St. Marys and Leamington have the fewest with 9.

Here is the breakdown – Average height in inches by team:

72.65 Chatham                                                                                                                                                                                 72.04 London                                                                                                                                                                                      71.89 St. Marys                                                                                                                                                                                71.82 Strathroy                                                                                                                                                                                          71.81 Sarnia                                                                                                                                                                                       71.65 St. Thomas                                                                                                                                                                                 71.57 LaSalle                                                                                                                                                                                      71.50 Leamington                                                                                                                                                                              71.47 Komoka


Number of players 6’ or taller (take into consideration that the team’s rosters vary from 19-24 players):

15 London                                                                                                                                                                                               13 Chatham, St. Thomas                                                                                                                                                                     12 Strathroy, Komoka                                                                                                                                                                             11 LaSalle                                                                                                                                                                                                10 Sarnia                                                                                                                                                                                                  9 St. Marys, Leamington


Number of players under 6’ (take into consideration that the team’s rosters vary from 19-24 players):

6 Chatham                                                                                                                                                                                               8 London                                                                                                                                                                                                  9 Komoka                                                                                                                                                                                               10 LaSalle, St. Marys, St. Thomas, Strathroy                                                                                                                                      12 Sarnia                                                                                                                                                                                                    13 Leamington


If size does indeed matter, the West’s tallest player is Sarnia rearguard Ben Schoch at 6’ 7”.  Only 3 players in the West are 6’ 6”, Strathroy underage forward Emmet Pierce, St. Marys’ defenseman Oliver Wieringa and London netminder David Ovsjannikov.

At the opposite end of the spectrum the West’s smallest player is London’s Max Vinogradov at 5’5”.  Despite his small stature there isn’t a team in the entire GOJHL that wouldn’t want to add the National sniper to their roster.  Max is actually 2 inches shorter than the next smallest players in the West, Komoka forward Austin Hickner, Sarnia speedster Nolan DeGurse and St. Thomas’ outstanding defenseman Matt Couto at 5’7”.

Let’s turn our attention to weight.  Muscle does weigh five times more than fat and there is plenty of muscle among these fit young athletes.

Four teams tip the scales with an average player weight above 180 pounds – St. Marys, LaSalle, Chatham and London.  The Lincolns are the beefiest at 186.3 lb and command a 2.6 pound advantage over second place LaSalle.  The Vipers, Maroons and Nationals are all separated by just 1.5 pounds.

There is a big fall off to the lower 5 teams.  Sarnia comes in fifth, 3.3 pounds below the Nationals.  The Legionnaires, Kings, St. Thomas and Rockets are separated by just 1.9 pounds.  Leamington is easily the lightest, 2.4 pounds below the Rockets.  The average Flyer gives up 11.7 pounds to the average Lincoln.  That is a big difference.


Here is the breakdown – Average weight per player by team:

186.3 St. Marys                                                                                                                                                                                 183.7 LaSalle                                                                                                                                                                                             183.3 Chatham                                                                                                                                                                                       182.2 London                                                                                                                                                                                             178.9 Sarnia                                                                                                                                                                                       177.5 Komoka                                                                                                                                                                                   177.5 St. Thomas                                                                                                                                                                                177.0 Strathroy                                                                                                                                                                                 174.6 Leamington


The heavyweights – Number of 200+ pound players

4 St. Marys, LaSalle                                                                                                                                                                                3 Komoka, London, Sarnia                                                                                                                                                                   2 Chatham, Leamington                                                                                                                                                                          1 St. Thomas                                                                                                                                                                                            0 Strathroy


The lightweights – Number of players under 170 pounds:

3 Chatham                                                                                                                                                                                                 4 LaSalle, St. Marys                                                                                                                                                                                5 Komoka, Strathroy, Leamington                                                                                                                                                     6 Sarnia, St. Thomas                                                                                                                                                                                8 Leamington


Tipping the scales at 245lb, Lincoln Oliver Wieringa is the West’s heaviest player.  Sarnia’s Ben Schoch is just 5 pounds back at 240 but who knows what their post-Christmas weights would be.  Other big boys are Nat’s goaltender David Ovsjannikov at 229lb, Viper defenseman Cameron Cianek at 222lb and Chatham forward Noah Bushnell at 216lb.  I hope I never get behind these guys at a buffet.  The lightest West player is the Maroons’ Thomas Michaud at 145lb.

The average Western Conference player is 71.82” and weighs 180.1lb – sounds like a perfect GOJHL player to me.

David Honsberger

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