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Asian Heritage Month Spotlight: Canadian Japanese Hockey League

In honour of Asian Heritage Month, the Greater Toronto Hockey League is shining the spotlight on the Asian hockey community this May. Kicking off the series is the Canadian Japanese Hockey League (CJHL), home to many past and present GTHL and Metro Toronto Hockey League players.  

The CJHL was formed in 1961 by Mel Tsuji, who recently passed away in 2022. The league was first known as the Japanese Canadian Hockey League. The name was later changed to the Canadian Japanese Hockey League as league managers wanted to put an emphasis on the Canadian foundation of the players in the league.

In 1961-62, the CJHL crowned its first champion in league history: the Main Auto Body team (pictured).

In the early days of the league, player eligibility was exclusively for those of Japanese heritage. Today, the league welcomes any and all players of different ethnicities and skill levels, with approximately half of the league’s players being of Japanese heritage. Player recruitment is done largely via word of mouth, with many players in the league inviting friends and family members.

Today, the league is home to many Sansei and Yonsei (third and fourth generation) Japanese Canadians. It is estimated that over 5,000 players have participated in the league throughout its history. This number includes many former GTHL and Metro Toronto Hockey League (MTHL) players, and bench staff of Asian heritage.

For the last 35 years, Wayne Yamashita has been running the CJHL. The 2022-2023 season featured four teams in the CJHL: Team Japan, Smokes Poutinerie, Hockey Lion, and Progressive Health. The CJHL typically runs on Sunday nights at George Bell Arena. The closure of the facility this past winter forced the CJHL to move to nearby Central Arena for the foreseeable future. 

GTHL Alumni – Active CJHL Players (2022-2023) 

First Name 

Last Name 

Last GTHL Team 

Geoff 

Iwasa 

Lorne Park Ojibwa 

Kyle 

Jageshar 

Scarborough Ice Raiders 

Trent 

Jennett 

Etobicoke Canucks 

Jude 

Maeda 

West Mall Lightning 

Ryan 

Maeda 

Leaside Flames 

Tyler 

Nakamura 

Vaughan Rangers 

Derek 

Sakauye 

Goulding Park Hockey Association 

Justin 

Yeung 

Humber Valley Sharks 

 

GTHL Alumni – Past CJHL Players 

First Name 

Last Name 

Last GTHL Team 

Cliff 

Amemori 

NYHL 

Ryan 

Chong 

North York Knights 

Kenji 

Goto 

East York Hockey Association 

Koji 

Goto 

East York Hockey Association 

Carson 

Hau 

Toronto Marlboros 

Gary 

Imai 

Ted Reeve Hockey Association 

Warren 

Iwasa 

Applewood Coyotes 

Nicholas 

Kissoon 

Vaughan Rangers 

Randy 

Kitagawa 

NYHL 

Lucas 

Kitazaki-Hall 

Streetsville Hockey League 

Brandon 

Lum 

North York Knights 

James 

Maeda 

Toronto Aces 

Noah 

Matsui 

Thornhill Community Hockey 

Calvin 

McAnsh 

Leaside Kings 

Tim 

Mitsubata 

NYHL 

Sean 

Mori 

Erindale Spitfires 

Adam 

Nishino 

Mississauga Braves 

Corey 

Nishio 

Goulding Park Hockey Association 

Justin 

Saisho 

North York Knights 

Ryan 

Sakauye 

Goulding Park Hockey Association 

Jaeden 

Sasaki 

North York Knights 

Thomas 

Shin 

Willowdale Sports Club 

Andrew 

Toong 

West Hill Golden Hawks 

Wilson 

Toong 

Scarboro Sabres 

Trevor 

Tsuji 

Toronto Marlboros 

Bruce 

Yamamoto 

NYHL 

Glenn 

Yamamoto 

NYHL 

 

GTHL Alumni – Bench Staff 

First Name 

Last Name 

Role 

Last GTHL Team 

Glenn 

Abe 

Trainer 

North York Rangers 

Richard 

Goto 

Coach 

East York Hockey Association 

Doug 

Ikeda 

Assistant Coach 

East York Hockey Association 

Richard 

Maeda 

Trainer 

West Mall Lightning 

Burke 

Sasaki 

Assistant Coach 

West Hill Golden Hawks 

Antoine 

Shiu 

Coach 

West Mall Lightning 

Gary 

Tsuji 

Trainer 

Willowdale Blackhawks 

 

Click here to learn more about the Canadian Japanese Hockey League.  


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