June 26, 2023, Mississauga, ON – The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) announced today that the Niagara Falls Canucks have been approved as a 2023-24 OJHL expansion team to begin play in the league next season.
In 2010, the OJHL Board of Governors passed a motion to undertake an extensive contraction program to decrease the number of teams within the league from 37 to 24. Through various processes, the league actually contracted to 22 teams, which allowed for the future addition of two additional teams to bring the total number of teams to 24.
After a two-year expansion process, the league now has those 24 franchises with the addition of two new franchises, the Leamington Flyers and Niagara Falls Junior Canucks. Leamington was announced May 17.
“The Niagara Region is a tremendous hockey community and the OJHL is extremely excited to be bringing Junior A hockey to the city of Niagara Falls,” said OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy. “The ownership of Brandon Boone and Frank Pietrangelo expressed not only their desire to join the OJHL but more importantly their commitment to bring Junior A hockey to Niagara Falls. That commitment to the city and Junior hockey will be a tremendous asset to all players, fans, sponsors who are part of the Junior Canucks Organization.”
The Canucks will play in the league’s 12-team West Conference. They were selected through an extensive process led by the OJHL Expansion Committee.
Canucks co-owners Frank Pietrangelo and Brandon Boone are excited to be welcomed into the OJHL family.
“The Niagara Falls Canucks are proud to be joining the OJHL,” said Pietrangelo. “This is great news for the Canucks organization, the City of Niagara Falls, and also for junior hockey in the Niagara Region, to be able to showcase our players’ talents at the highest level!”
“We could not be happier for our fans, sponsors and volunteers to be bringing Junior A hockey back to Niagara Falls for the first time since the Niagara Falls Flyers joined the OHL in 1980,” Boone said. “More importantly, we could not be happier for the players of the Niagara Region, who will no longer have to leave home as teenagers to play at the highest amateur level.”
“The OJHL is the largest Junior A hockey league in Canada, and truly the ‘League of Choice,’ generating dozens of NCAA, U SPORTS, CHL and professional commitments on an annual basis – including 30 alumni on NHL rosters at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season, leading the nine league CJHL in that category. We are humbled to be joining the OJHL and giving those associated with the Niagara Falls Jr. Canucks this golden opportunity. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”
The Canucks’ home base has plenty to offer.
“The Niagara Region, and the City of Niagara Falls in particular, is a world class destination,” Boone told the OJHL, “with dozens of world-class attractions, 12 golf courses and 66 wineries, not to mention the Falls themselves, that over 12 million tourists visit each year. The Gale Centre is a world-class facility, boasting four NHL-sized rinks, including the Canucks’ home rink, which has a seating and standing capacity of almost 2,300. We are proud to add the OJHL to the long list of esteemed users of the Gale Centre in its relatively short history, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Team Canada World Junior Championship team, Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Team Canada Women’s World Championship team and, coming this fall, the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.”
Boone praised the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“We wish to thank the GOJHL for their partnership over the years, he said. “The Niagara Falls Jr. Canucks were a Junior B team for 52 years, from 1971 until our recent reclassification to Junior A, winning Sutherland Cup championships in 1996 and 1998. Our alumni include two Stanley Cup winners and several others who have made NHL appearances or had NHL careers. We will strive to remain one of the most respected, stable and storied franchises in the OHA, within the OJHL. We wish the GOJHL nothing but the best.”
About the OJHL – “League of Choice”
The Ontario Junior Hockey League is the largest Junior ‘A’ league operating under the auspices of the Canadian Junior Hockey League with 23 member clubs. A proud member of the CJHL and Ontario Hockey Association, the OJHL was originally named the Ontario Provincial Junior ‘A’ Hockey League and it was formed out of the Central Junior ‘B’ Hockey League in 1993-94. With a long and storied history of developing players for the next level, including U SPORTS, the NCAA, CHL, minor pro ranks and the NHL, the OJHL had more than 75 commitments in 2022-23 including more than 36 NCAA Division I scholarships.
The Canucks are a partnership between two not-for-profit corporations, Pietrangelo Amateur Hockey Association (“PAHA”) and Brandon Boone Amateur Athletic Association (“BBAAA”).
Director of Hockey Operations & Head Coach
Frank is the president of PAHA and the Canucks’ director of hockey operations and head coach.
Frank was born and raised in Niagara Falls. He played all of his minor hockey in the Niagara Falls Minor Hockey Association (“NFMHA”) and one season of junior hockey with the Canucks in 1979-1980.
Frank moved on to the Brampton Warriors in what is now the OJHL for two seasons, from 1980-1982. He was drafted by the Brantford Alexanders of the OHL in the 3rd round, 34th overall, in 1981. However, Frank chose to pursue his education, accepting a scholarship to play NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Minnesota.
Frank was a standout at the University of Minnesota, appearing in 85 games over four seasons, from 1982-1986. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 4th round, 63rd overall, in 1983. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree, Frank moved on to Pittsburgh’s IHL affiliate, the Muskegon Lumberjacks, in 1986-1987.
Frank joined the Penguins the following season and played with them from 1987-1992, winning the Stanley Cup in 1991. In game 6 of the opening round of those playoffs, he made “The Save”, a point-blank glove save against Peter Statsny of the New Jersey Devils, widely regarded as one of the most significant saves in Stanley Cup history. Frank then shut out the Devils in game 7, propelling Pittsburgh to the next round and, ultimately, the Stanley Cup.
Frank was acquired by the Hartford Whalers the following season, where he played until 1994. He retired due to injuries in 1995, rehabilitating during the 1995-1996 season. But, he was enticed to play in Europe the following season, extending his career until 2001, while winning championships with HC Bolzano in Italy in 1996-1997 and the Manchester Storm in England in 1998-1999 and 1999-2000.
Frank was inducted into the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame in 1998.
Retiring again in 2001, this time for good, Frank returned to Niagara Falls with his wife, Kim, and their children, Paige, Jessica and Dylan, where he began his coaching career. He coached minor hockey, both boys and girls, and varsity at The Hill Academy from 2001-2011, until joining the Canucks as general manager and an assistant coach in 2011-2012.
Frank remained general manager and an assistant coach with the Canucks for three seasons, from 2011-2014, before purchasing them through PAHA, which he incorporated for that purpose, and becoming the Canucks’ head coach and director of hockey operations in 2014-2015. He has occupied those roles since then.
Frank was awarded the Tom Kelly Memorial Trophy as coach of the year in the GOJHL Golden Horseshoe conference in 2016 and 2017.
On the business side, Frank is a partner of the Niagara Bauer Hockey Challenge, “Niagara’s premier elite hockey tournament”, hosting teams from around the world in the spring and summer months since 2006.
Director of Community & Minor Hockey Involvement
Brandon is the president of BBAAA and the Canucks’ director of community and minor hockey involvement.
Brandon was born and raised in Niagara Falls. He played all of his minor hockey in the NFMHA and junior hockey with the Canucks and the Thorold Blackhawks in what is now the GOJHL in the mid to late 1980’s. He made one exhibition game appearance with the Newmarket Flyers in what is now the OJHL in 1985.
Having always been a better student than hockey player, Brandon left for York University in Toronto after graduating high school in 1987, returning for one final playoff run with the Canucks in 1988, commuting back and forth for games and practices. Brandon earned a bilingual Bachelor of Arts degree from Glendon College of York University in 1990 and a Juris Doctor degree from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in 1993.
Brandon returned to Niagara after graduation, articling with a major regional law firm from 1993-1994. After successfully completing the bar admission course, with honours, in 1995, he was called to the bar and has practiced business, real estate and wills and estates law for more than 28 years since then. In 2005, Brandon became a senior partner of Daniel & Partners LLP, one of Niagara’s oldest, largest and most prestigious law firms.
Brandon began his coaching career during the 1993-1994 season and is now a High Performance 1 certified coach, who has coached at every local level, from the initiation program (U7), to house league, to B, BB, AA and AAA, to Junior B and Junior C, both boys and girls and as a parent and non-parent. He has also been a director of the NFMHA since 2013 and the convenor of their initiation program (U7) for nine of those seasons. He has been a coach facilitator/instructor with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (“OMHA”) since 2015.
At the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season, Brandon was honoured at the OMHA’s annual general meeting with their Excellence in Development Award for his ground-breaking work with the NFMHA’s initiation program (U7).
Brandon and his wife, Jody, have raised four children, Brielle, Easton, A.J. and Aric. Only their youngest, Aric, still plays hockey. Not knowing when he will stop playing, and with few to no advancement opportunities in the NFMHA or the OMHA, Brandon approached Frank in the spring of 2022 about the possibility of purchasing an ownership interest in the Canucks, to ensure a future in the game. It was a short and easy conversation.
Brandon later incorporated BBAAA for the purpose of purchasing a fifty per cent (50%) interest in the Canucks from PAHA, which was completed in the summer of 2022.
Director of Marketing & Branding, Sponsorship, Ticketing & Game Day Operations
Frank’s wife, Kim, is the Canucks’ director of marketing and branding, sponsorship, ticketing and game day operations. In 33 years as a hockey wife and mom, she has seen the best and worst of minor, junior and professional hockey operations. Always aspiring to be the best, Kim has been the “engine” that runs the Canucks off-ice since 2014.
Jim is the Canucks’ general manager. He was born and raised in Niagara Falls and played all of his minor hockey in the NFMHA. He went on to play junior hockey for the Niagara Falls Flyers in what is now the OHL in 1977-1978, the Aurora Tigers in what is now the OJHL in 1978-1979, the Canucks in 1979-1980 and the Dixie Beehives in what is now the OJHL in 1980-1981, before accepting a scholarship to play NCAA Division II hockey at American International College (“AIC”).
Jim was a standout at AIC, appearing in almost 90 games, from 1982-1986. He returned to Niagara Falls after graduation and has coached and managed at virtually every local level since then, including minor hockey, both boys and girls, and Junior A and B
Dr. Drew Girard
Dr. Girard is the Canucks’ team physician. He graduated from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1984 and has been a specialist in family medicine for almost 37 years, with hospital privileges at the Niagara Health System – Niagara Site. He practices in Niagara Falls.
Dr. John Mignelli
Team Therapist & Trainer
Dr. Mignelli is the Canucks’ team therapist and trainer. He graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2015 and from D’Youville University with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 2020. He is certified in Titleist Performance Institute golf fitness, Precision Nutrition and RockTape Fascial Movement Taping. He practices at Zero Gravity Physiotherapy in Welland.
Assistant General Manager
Steve is the Canucks’ assistant general manager. He was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but raised in Niagara Falls and played all of his minor hockey in the NFMHA. He was drafted by the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL in the 8th round, 115th overall, in 1984 and was a standout there, recording 178 points in 208 games over three seasons, from 1984-1987.
Steve was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 9th round, 187th overall, in 1985. He played with their AHL affiliates, the Binghampton Whalers and the Baltimore Skipjacks, and their IHL affiliate, the Fort Wayne Comets, until 1990. He finished his career with EHC Freiburg in Germany in 1990-1991. Steve returned to Niagara Falls after retirement and has coached and managed at virtually every local level since then, including minor hockey and Junior A and B.
Chris is one of the Canucks’ assistant coaches. He was born and raised in Niagara Falls and played all of his minor hockey in the NFMHA. He went on to play junior hockey with the Canucks from 1979-1981, before accepting a scholarship to play NCAA Division III hockey at Rochester Institute of Technology (“RIT”).
Chris was a standout at RIT, recording 250 points in four seasons and was a two time All-American and team captain. After graduation, he coached one season at RIT before returning to Niagara, where he has coached at virtually every local since then, including minor hockey and Junior A, B and C. Chris was the head coach of the Niagara Falls Thunder of the OHL for their final three seasons, 1993-1996, and the head coach of their successor, the Erie Otters, in 1996-1997. He was inducted into the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame in 2023.
Greg is the other Canucks’ assistant coach. He was born and raised in Niagara Falls and played all of his minor hockey in the NFMHA. He has coached at virtually every local level since then, including minor hockey and Junior A and B, most recently as an assistant coach with the Canucks from 2016-2018, an assistant coach in the NFMHA from 2018-2022 and returning as an assistant coach with the Canucks this season. He is Chris’ brother.
Anthony is the Canucks’ goaltender coach. He was born and raised in Thorold and played minor hockey there, before moving on to the Southern Tier Admirals AAA’s from 2014-2016 and the Niagara North Stars AAA’s in 2016-2017. He was drafted by the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL in the 4th round, 72nd overall, in 2017.
Anthony had a stint with the Fort Erie Meteors, before moving on to the Thorold Blackhawks, both of the GOJHL, for 2017-2018 and part of 2018-2019. The Canucks acquired Anthony in 2019 and he was integral part of their GOJHL Golden Horseshoe conference championship that season. He finished his career with the Canucks in 2019-2020, shortened by COVID, and lost his 20 year old season entirely. He has remained with the Canucks, as their goaltender coach, since then.
Anthony was recently selected as the head goaltender coach for China’s women’s national ice hockey team that will compete at the U18 World Championships in the Netherlands in January and the Women’s World Championship in Utica, New York, in April.