Minor Midget Record: 17-13-3 (5th Place)
Minor Midget Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Cambridge in 3 games
Major Bantam Record: 14-15-3 (6th Place)
Major Bantam Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Sun County in 3 games
For the first time in a long while, it will be a new coaching staff behind the bench for the Minor Midget Chiefs. The new staff is tasked with maintaining the history of competitive teams over the past few years.
Last year’s Minor Midget squad was one of the most underrated teams in the Alliance. While the season began with an equal amount of wins and losses, it was in late October that the team really turned on the gas and went on a serious run that included them being the first team to defeat the dominant London Jr. Knights. Elgin got great contributions from Navrin Mutter up front, Mark Woolley on the back end and from Jake Weston wherever he played that game. After a disappointing first round showing against Cambridge, the Chiefs went on to the consolation finals, falling to Sun County in five games.
The Bantam team in 2016/17 was known for the shootout, and not the one you see at the end of professional games. Elgin was second in the league in scoring, but was also in the bottom three in goals allowed. Despite their style and finishing in second place in the West Division, Elgin still did not have a winning record and were swept out of the playdowns, much the same as their Minor Midget counterparts.
As 2017/18 begins, there are plenty of new faces wearing the Chiefs white and orange. Only eight players will return from their bantam team last season. The key returning pieces are fowards Rylan Bowers and Tyler Mosher. Both were all-stars last season and Bowers specifically showed some incredible goal scoring ability in the many viewings last season. Colton Wiacek is another big forward who will once again be a Chief. The big losses for Elgin-Middlesex are Toby Rizzo, Matson Micallef, who is now with the Jr. Knights, and Tyler Alexander, who has joined the Waterloo Wolves.
The strength for this Elgin team should be on the defensive side. The Chiefs have some very big defenders in returning player Nathan Small and Jeff Carr who was with Huron-Perth last season. Both have incredibly long reaches and have a tendency to start the rush to the offensive zone. In addition to the defense, the Chiefs solidified their goaltending with former Jr. Knight Gordon O’Dwyer joining the returning Bryce Walcarius in net.
While the defense should be solid. it is the offense where there are concerns for the Chiefs. Though Bowers, Mosher and Wiacek should all be good offensive options, Elgin lacks key goal scorers in their forwards. There is a lot of talent, but as of right now, there isn’t that go to player that you want to have the puck in a tie game in the final minute. Bowers could be that player and it will be interesting to see if the captain makes that step in his progression.
Regardless of my concerns about the offense, there is no question in my mind that the Chiefs will be playdown team come January. Should the defense make improvements on last season and the offense finds a way to get back to their performance from last season, Elgin could surprise some teams throughout the year.