The Icehawks are one of the most historical teams in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, having been formed in 1966. The Icehawks (2003–present) have previously been known as the Milton Flyers (1971-1983), Milton Steamers (1983-1986), and Milton Merchants (1966-1971, 1986-2003).
In the 1970s, Vern Gooding owned the local team when they were known as the Milton Flyers.
In 1974, three players including the team captain and top scorer left the team mid season over an imposed curfew dispute. Two of the three players had had tryouts with OHL clubs, and all three were club veterans.
Grant Turner, Mark Grenier, Howie Scannell, and John Morgan owned the Milton Steamers in the early 1980s. Morgan sold his stake in the club to Turner, prompting Scannell to announce that he was preparing to sell his stake as well. On April 10, 1986, Turner, Grenier and Scannell sold the Steamers to Brad Grant who owned trucking company Sandstone Transport.
Trucking magnate Brad Grant purchased the team in April 1986 when it seemed like the organization might fold. For the 1986-87 season, he immediately changed the team's name from the Steamers to the Merchants after the Junior C team of old, and brought in former coach Gerry Inglis, who had also coached the Georgetown Raiders and had won five intermediate championships at the time.
Grant led the team to tremendous success in the late 1990s. During his 15-year ownership run, the team captured four division crowns, three league championships and a provincial title.
In 1992, the Milton Merchants were Central Junior B Hockey League champions with a 4-2 victory in Game 7 over the Aurora Eagles. They made the Ontario Hockey Association Sutherland Cup Junior B championship but lost in five games to the Mid-Western Junior B Hockey League's Kitchener Dutchmen.
The 1994-95 season marked the beginning of a historical run for the franchise as the club won five straight division titles. The surge of success increased when the Merchants were crowned league champions in 1997, winning the Buckland Trophy after defeating the Newmarket 87's. In the 1997 Dudley Cup playoffs, the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats (NOJHL) beat Milton four games to one.
In 1998, the Milton Merchants repeated their Buckland Trophy title, dispatching the Newmarket Hurricanes this time, and then went on to become Central Canadian Junior A Champions by winning the Dudley Hewitt Cup, defeating the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats (NOJHL) four games to two, and exacting revenge for the previous year's loss to Rayside-Balfour.
At the 1998 Royal Bank Cup, the Milton Merchants went 1-3 in round robin play. In the semifinal game, Milton lost 6-2 to the South Surrey Eagles and were eliminated from the tournament.
In 2001, Grant sold the team to an Oakville trio that consisted of ex-NHLer Dave Gagner, Mario Forgione who owned the Mississauga IceDogs at the time and was an automotive parts manufacturing president, and wine distillery consultant Ken Chase.
For the 2003-04 season, Forgione changed the team's name from the Merhcants to the IceHawks to reflect the team's connection with the local minor hockey programs called the Winterhawks, and Forgione's ownership of the Mississauga IceDogs. In 2005, the Ontario Hockey Association fined the Icehawks $12,000 and suspended then-General Manager George Dupont for signing two players outside of OHA guidelines. In 2006, Forgione officially affiliated the Icehawks with the IceDogs.
In the spring of 2006, ex-NHL goaltender Rick Heinz' attempt to purchase the nearby Tier-2 Junior Georgetown Raiders fell through, but by July 2006 the local Campbellville resident Heinz had talked Forgione into selling the Icehawks, and the affiliation with the IceDogs ended. Heinz sold the team just nine months later after starting the season with essentially no committed players.
Dean Piett, a commercial real estate businessman from Burlington, and Rob DeVincentis, the Ancaster owner of a construction business, purchased the team from Heinz and have owned the team ever since the sale in 2007.1992
: Kitchener Dutchmen
defeated Milton Merchants 4-games-to-1
Many notable players have suited up for Milton over the years including NHL stars John Tavares, Daniel Carcillo, Sam Gagner, Rich Peverley, Darren Haydar, Cody Goloubef and Matt Read.
Some Famous Miltonians have also played for the franchise, including four-time Stanley Cup champion John Tonelli, AHL star Darren Haydar, two-time NCAA Frozen Four Champion Boston College Captain Matt Price, and his brother Jeremy Price (Vancouver Canucks draft pick).Akim Aliu