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 Ontario Hockey League

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 5, 2024 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL)


BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The city of Gastonia (NC) has chosen a new Atlantic League team that will operate at the city's ballpark for the 2024 season. Additional details are to be announced next week.

California Winter League: The developmental showcase CWL, which is the "Official Winter League of the Frontier League" and is also scouted by other independent summer leagues, started its three-week season last week with eight teams aligned in a single-table format. Teams include the Alberta Grizzly, British Columbia Bombers, Canada A's , MLB Development Center China, Oregon Lumberjacks, Palm Springs Chill, Palm Springs Power, and Washington Blue Sox. Each team will play 16 games through February 14, 2024, with all games played at a baseball complex in Palm Springs (CA).

Eastern League: The Akron RubberDucks of the Double-A Eastern League will become the Akron White French for a game in the 2024 season as a tribute to a variety of French salad dressing popular in the area.

Florida State League: The Clearwater Threshers of the low Class-A FSL will play as the Clearwater Beach Dogs for home games on the last Friday of each month during the 2024 season.

Southern League: The Biloxi (MS) Shuckers of the Double-A Southern League will play four games as the Biloxi King Cakes in the 2024 season to honor the king cakes that are part of Mardi Gras celebrations.

West Coast League: The summer-collegiate WCL recently announced a 2025 expansion team has been awarded to Salem (OR) and it will be the league's fifth Oregon-based team. In addition to the four other Oregon teams, the 2024 WCL will have teams in Washington (6), British Columbia (5) and Alberta (1).

BASKETBALL

The Basketball League: The semi-pro TBL held a player combine and draft this weekend for its 2024 season that starts next month. The league has 38 participating teams that are aligned in a 12-team East Conference, a 9-team Midwest Conference, a 7-team Central Conference and a 10-team West Conference.

National Basketball League - United States: The semi-pro NBL-US, which refers to itself as "The Exposure League" recently announced several new teams for 2024 and 2025. A proposed Florida-based Sunshine Conference for the 2024-25 fall season will include the Fort Lauderdale Herd, Palm Beach Thunder, Florida Storm and Miami Vibe. A team called the Connecticut Surge (Waterbury) will be part of a proposed new Northeast Conference and the West Virginia Highflyers will be part of a proposed new Mountain Conference.

FOOTBALL

United Football League: With the recent merger of the United States Football League and the XFL to create the new springtime United Football League (UFL), another 8-player outdoor version of the UFL has disappeared without ever playing a game. This UFL was announced in 2021 but failed to start proposed spring-summer seasons in both 2022 and 2023. At the end, the now-defunct UFL had 14 phantom teams called the Atlanta Wildcats, Charleston Pirates, Mississippi Mudcats, Pittsburgh Pioneers, Richmond Iron Horses, Rochester (NY) Firehawks and Virginia Beach Destroyers in an Eastern Conference, and the Arkansas Twisters, Baton Rouge Redsticks, Chicago Blue Bombers, Houston Bighorns, Kansas City Kapitals, Oklahoma City Wranglers and St. Louis Stampede in a Western Conference.

HOCKEY

British Columbia Hockey League: The 17-team independent Junior-A BCHL announced the Alberta-based Blackfalds Bulldogs, Brooks Bandits, Okotoks Oilers, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints have officially defected from the Junior-A Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) to the BCHL. These five Alberta teams will be a separate BCHL division and play games against each other for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. The AJHL is now reduced to 11 teams and still aligned in a single-table format. The AJHL is one of nine leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) that operates in conjunction with Hockey Canada. The BCHL left the CJHL after the 2020-21 season and broke away from the governance of Hockey Canada before the 2023-24 season.

National Junior Hockey League: Canada's independent six-team NJHL announced a new team in Lac La Biche (Alberta) will be added to a new North Division for the 2024-25 season.

Ontario Hockey League: The Mississauga Steelheads of the major-junior OHL announced the team will be moving to nearby Brampton where the team is expected to be called the Brampton Steelheads starting with the 2024-25 season. The team will remain in the Greater Toronto Area as the team's new home arena in Brampton is only about five miles from its current home. The Mississauga Steelheads became part of the OHL after the league's Toronto St. Michael's Majors became the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors for the 2007-08 season and were then renamed the Mississauga Steelheads for the 2012-13 season. Brampton had a previous OHL team called the Brampton Battalion that moved to North Bay for the 2013-14 season.

United States Premier Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level USPHL announced the Red Bank (NJ) Generals will join the league's top Premier Conference for the 2024-25 season. The Generals' hockey organization has been around for 22 seasons but this will be its first junior-level team.

Union Hockey League: The new Senior-A semi-pro UHL, which started its inaugural 2024 season last month with 12 teams, announced an expansion team called the Kenosha (WI) Americans has been added for next season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: MLS announced the groupings for the group-play portion of the 2024 in-season Leagues Cup tournament, which will run from July 26 through August 25 and feature 47 teams-29 from MLS and 18 from Mexico's Liga MX. The 2023 MLS Champion Columbus Crew and the Liga MX winner Club America, which had the most points across the league's 2023 Apertura and Clausura seasons, will receive byes for the group-play. The remaining 45 teams will be aligned in 15 three-team groups across East (7 groups) and West (8 groups) regions. The 30 teams qualifying from group-play, plus the Columbus Crew and Club America, will then participate in the single-elimination Knockout Stage.

Liga de Balompié Mexicano: Mexico's independent professional LBM (Mexican Football League) announced the first part of its 2024 season will feature ten teams aligned in two five-team groups. The LBM will start play on February 16, 2024.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The men's pre-professional USL League Two announced the addition of four more teams for the 2024 season: the Union City FC Macomb (Michigan), Sueño FC (Joliet, IL), Coachella FC (California) and Inter Gainesville KF (Florida).

USL W-League (United Soccer League): The women's pre-professional USL W-League announced the Tacoma Galaxy will join as a 2024 expansion team. The Tacoma Galaxy is associated with the Tacoma Stars, which operates a men's indoor team in the Major Arena Soccer League and recently announced a Tacoma Stars men's outdoor team will join the pre-professional USL League Two for the 2024 season.

United Women's Soccer: The national pro-am UWS recently announced the addition of seven teams for the league's upcoming 2024 season. These include the Elite 14 SC (Southeast Michigan), Pass FC (Grand Rapids, MI), Players SC (Las Vegas), Hudson Valley Crusaders (New Paltz, NY), Cap Athletic 1847 (Lansing, MI), Troy City WFC (Michigan), and the Steel United New Jersey (Cedar Knolls) from last season's UWS League Two.

OTHER

Northwoods League Softball: The La Crosse (WI) Steam and Minot (ND) Honeybees are the names announced this week for two of the four teams that will be part of the new women's summer-collegiate softball league known as Northwoods League Softball that starts play in June 2024. Other teams are the Mankato (MN) Habaneros and a yet-to-be-named team in Madison (WI).

Pro Volleyball Federation: The new women's professional indoor PVF, which recently started its inaugural 2024 season with seven teams, announced its 2025 Indianapolis expansion team will be called the Indy Ignite. The league will also add new teams in Kansas City and Dallas for its second season in 2025.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking the changes in the sports world's leagues, teams, and nicknames since April 2007.


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