General News

They may be different on the ice, but off of it they all want the same thing

March 18, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Robert Belardi 

Caledon Bombers forward Nicholas Rotatore has begun a petition to Hockey Canada and the Ontario Hockey Federation to permit over-aged players to play next season. 

Rotatore started this petition with last year’s Jr. B player of the year and Kitchener Dutchmen forward Sean Kawalec. The two competitors have now become friends over this cause.

The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s proposal to permit three players above the age of 21 and reduce seven players of the age of 20 to four for the 2021-22 season has been denied by the OHF this past week.  

“I know for a fact that our league was in favour of the over-agers and that they supported us 100 per cent after they had their meeting on discussing whether or not to have us back,” Rotatore said. 

According to Mark Bryson from The Record, AYR Centennials general manager Tim Barrie said that more than 75 per cent of GOJHL directors were in favour of bringing back the over-agers.

Waterloo Siskins Director of Hockey Operations/General Manager Curtis Clairmont was one of those who voted no to this. However, he was respectful that if the vote was put through he would honour it and believes this league can carry itself. 

Rotatore, who has been off the ice for the past year was knocked out of the playoffs last season by Kawalec and the Dutchmen when in Brampton, he didn’t know that was potentially going to be his last game in Jr. B hockey. 

Since being off the ice, he said the debacle COVID-19 has brought to sport is mentally affecting players. There are a lot of players who are stressed and sad with this entire situation. 

Rotatore has been searching for opportunities to go play hockey in Europe. The Canadian-Italian dual citizen, has been looking in Italy as well as chances to play for professional teams in France. 

He says French clubs would have offered an apartment, a car, and a salary per month under normal circumstances. Now, he explained, clubs are not willing to take that much of a risk for a player that has not competed in a year. International clubs might cover the flight and the hotel and the rest is on the player to prove himself. 

“It pulls a lot of opportunity from us. It sucks. Another big debate the OHF has is that we’re putting younger guys at risk. One thing we’re trying to preach is we’re getting younger guys to take some videos and explain why they want us here as well.” 

When a younger player enters the league, they rely on veteran protection and leadership. When Rotatore entered the GOJHL he said he felt safer on the ice. The Caledon native and another teammate of his currently take care of a 16-year-old on their roster right now who is living with a billet family in Caledon and has yet to make an appearance on the ice. 

He argues that one year taken away from someone who is 16 isn’t as severe as taking away the final year of playing the sport. Younger players have more opportunity to play for longer while over-agers are looking for scholarships and opportunities elsewhere. 

Of course, scouts from the United States and from other countries internationally cannot travel to Canada to look at players. That will be done next year if all goes well and the players who missed out on this past season will not have a chance to be seen. 

Rotatore says the GOJHLPA wants to work hand-in-hand with the OHF and the GOJHL.

As of now, the petition has over 1,300 signatures. It will be sent to Premier Doug Ford, the OHF and to Hockey Canada. 



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