Minor Midget Record: 11-15-7 (8th Place)
Minor Midget Result: Lost in quarter-finals to London in 3 games
Major Bantam Record: 13-14-5 (7th Place)
Major Bantam Result: Lost in semi-finals to Cambridge in 3 games
The Minor Midgets last season were a disappointment for the Sun County Panthers as they ran into the London Jr. Knights in round one. With the 2002 crop of Panthers, there is a legitimate shot at an OHL Cup appearance.
There were high hopes for the 2001 born Sun County team. Led in goal by arguably the top goaltender in the league Aidan Pitre, it was believed he would be able to lead the team to a strong season. In addition to Pitre, the Panthers were led up front by the criminally under rated Stephane Crevier, who was one of the best goal scorers in the Alliance last year. An inconsistent season led Sun County to an eighth place finish and a date with London in the first round and a quick postseason exit.
The season started out well for the bantam Panthers last season but it was a tale of two teams to conclude the year. The Panthers went into the postseason on a terrible slide, winning just three of their final 11 games. Once the playdowns got underway, Sun County turned it on to get past Lambotn and then sweep the Elgin Chiefs. It was a great end to the year and some confidence gained for the boys.
As the season gets ready to begin in a few days, Sun County will return an incredible 14 players from their bantam team of a year ago. One of the additions is Zane Dalpe, who played up with the Minor Midgets last season. Dalpe wasn’t exceptional, but also didn’t look out of place playing a year up. One would hope his experience will prove vital to other SCP players.
John Ulicny comes over from the Chatham-Kent Cyclones and adds another big threat up front. Davis Edmunds, who played last season at AA, is one I’m curious about. I’ve only heard positive reviews on Edmunds, which includes that he has quite the shot. When you talk about the additions, you almost forget some of the key players that will return. Matt Maggio and Ryan Gagnier were both reliable offensive threats last season while Brendan Kennette will be a rock on the back end. We’ve gone this far and not even spoken about Nicholas Chenard, who will try to stake his claim as the top netminder in the Alliance, following the likes of Sun County alumni’s Pitre and Michael DiPietro.
If you haven’t already noticed, I really like the potential of this team. Chemistry is something that can go a long way at this point. Look no further than the 2000 Windsor Jr. Spitfires team that went all the way to the OHL Cup. The Panthers will be deep up front, solid on defense with a fantastic goaltending duo. Sun County is my sleeper pick as a team to watch this season.