Yes, a little bit late but even the time off couldn’t erase what I saw in St Mary’s last weekend at the annual Alliance Minor Midget Showcase Tournament. There was a lot of hockey and a lot of teams to view last weekend and I was able to take in 13 games featuring almost all of the teams in the league.
The junior scouts were out in full force and all the players performed their best and left definitive impressions on everyone. With every positive that happened, I had to narrow it down to just three thoughts or else we’d be here forever.
With that said…
Waterloo Wolves show Titans Tournament a blip on the radar
After competing in the Toronto Titans tournament and compiling a disappointing record of 1-3, some thought that it would be an uphill climb for the Wolves to take home their third straight title. At the Showcase, the Wolves once again reminded the league they are the defending champions.
Despite winning only two games, Waterloo left St. Mary’s undefeated with two ties in games against London and Windsor. Their game against Windsor was just inches away from becoming a win after Mitch Hoelscher rung one off the crossbar in the final minute of the third period.
The Wolves played great team games and showed a very cohesive unit. Tyler McBay and Tristan De Jong continued to be the leaders on the back end and set up the powerplay for success. Chris Playfair’s playmaking and Alex Gritz hustle and quick shot helped get the Wolves offense off to quick starts. Not to mention the combo of Nathan Torchia and Alex Metzger held tough in net.
The most impressive thing about the Wolves play was their puck possession and lack of turnovers. It’s hard for opposing teams to get quality chances against solid goaltending when you can’t maintain possession long enough to create those chances.
There is a strong chance that by the time this season comes to an end, nobody will even remember how the Wolves’ season began, just how it has ended.
The emergence of Derek Seguin
There were many players who stood out with impressive showings. McBay in Waterloo, Evan Ferguson and Owen Lalonde in Windsor, Brett and Kyle Fisher in London and Tyler Parr with Huron-Perth. None stood out more though than Hamilton Huskies forward Derek Seguin.
Seguin was all over the ice in every Huskies game that I took in. He was a handful to defend in the offensive zone and his defensive pressure caused several turnovers, many of which Seguin turned into quality scoring chances. If you were looking for a specific performance that shows what Seguin can do, look no further than Hamilton’s win over Windsor on the Saturday afternoon.
It was a classic battle between Seguin and Lalonde. Anytime Seguin brought the puck into the offensive zone, Lalonde was on him. Anytime Lalonde held the puck in his own end, Seguin was pressuring him. It was the only time that I’ve seen Owen Lalonde a little frustrated on the ice and it was all caused by Seguin.
Seguin tallied an insane six goals and seven assists in just four game during the Showcase and now has an impressive 18 points through six games this season. Expect to see Seguin’s name among the top players that the Alliance has to offer for the rest of the season.
The Top is Getting Crowded
After the Showcase was complete, the majority of teams had played anywhere from six to eight games so far this season, with London and their four games being the exception. Now that most teams have played a good chunk of games, we are starting to see a divide in the standings and the top is getting more and more crowded.
Sitting atop is still the Huron-Perth Lakers and the Hamilton Huskies still do own an undefeated record so far this season. As stated earlier, Waterloo is trending upwards and London has seven points already in their first four games. Add in both Windsor and Kitchener who have been playing the top teams tough and half the league is playing in the top tier with an opportunity to defeat each other on any given night.
Let’s also not forget the very surprising Cyclones of Chatham-Kent who have quietly been close in all their games and have even pulled out a win against Kitchener and played to a tie with both Hamilton and the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs.
In a league with a full turnover every year, you always want to see parity amongst the teams and it appears that this year, at least early on, parity is a real possibility at the minor midget level.