2017/18 Minor Midget Record: 9-19-5 (10th Place)
2017/18 Minor Midget Result: Did not qualify for playdowns
2017/18 Major Bantam Record: 23-7-2 (2nd Place)
2017/18 Major Bantam Result: Lost in semi-finals to Windsor Jr. Spitfires in 5 games
After a rare down year for the Jr. Rangers last season, the 03 group looks like a team that could inflict some serious damage on the Alliance this year.
It was a tough season for Dean DeSilva and the 2002 born players last season. While nobody was projecting them to be a top-tier team, I personally thought they would easily slide into the 6-8 range of the Alliance. That wasn’t the case as injuries to key guys along with a lack of scoring hurt the team down the stretch as they fell down to 10th place once the season was complete.
It was a totally different story at major bantam with the 2003 born players. A team that has seen success throughout their minor hockey career, the Jr. Rangers were once again a top team in the association and many expected a showdown against Brantford come finals time. While the 99ers were dumped in the first round, Kitchener fell to a hard-working Windsor team in the semi-finals, marking a disappointing end to the year.
As we prepare for the upcoming season, this Jr. Rangers team should once again be near the top of the Alliance. Offensively, this team is deep with guys who can score goals. Marko Sikic and Braeden Bowman, who have played on the same line to begin the preseason, are at the top of the list as legitimate goal scorers. Logan Crans and Matt Sop also add in with secondary scoring. The blue line is solid but not flashy. Luc Brzustowski will lead the way while both Jack Dupont and Angelo Duscio bring a fun, physical style.
For the first time in a long while, Kitchener will be able to stake the claim as having arguably the best goaltending tandem in the association. Brandon Abbott is the early favourite as top netminder in the Alliance while Dawson Rowe adds size and good agility.
Very few changes for Kitchener this year. Dupont, along with forward Pat Brown, have come over from Grey-Bruce. Maddux Pepin returns to Kitchener after spending last year in Waterloo with the Wolves. The biggest could be from the Kitchener seeded team with Preston Smith. Smith is a high energy forward who has deceptive speed and uses it will on the outside to beat defenders and cut to the net.
Overall, this should be a fun and successful year for Kitchener. I’d argue this is their strongest squad since the 99 team led by Owen Lane and Jason Willms. That 99 team was the last Kitchener squad to make it to group play at the OHL Cup, but there is a strong possibility in my mind that this 03 team will be playing hockey come March Break 2019.