2017/18 Minor Midget Record: 18-8-7 (3rd Place)
2017/18 Minor Midget Result: Lost in semi-finals to London Jr. Knights in 3 games (Lost in OHL Cup Quarter-Finals to Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
2017/18 Major Bantam Record: 11-18-3 (8th Place)
2017/18 Major Bantam Result: Lost in 1/4 finals to London Jr. Knights in 3 games
Following an appearance in the OHL Cup quarter-finals last season, the Sun County Panthers have some big shoes to fill in order to replicate that success.
When the 2002 born Sun County Panthers were on, there wasn’t a more entertaining team. Chalked full of speed, the Panthers had a deadly first line that included Matt Maggio, Ryan Gagnier and Zane Dalpe that took the league by storm to begin the year. While the offense was always there, the defense left the team wanting more and it was the defense that ultimately saw their demise in the semi-finals against London. A wild card win over the Toronto Titans was the beginning of an OHL Cup run that got the team to the final 8.
The story of the bantam team from a year ago is similar in some ways to that of the minor midget’s. While not as prolific, the offense was able to score in bunches. On the defensive side, struggles just like their 02 counterparts. Sun County allowed an average of 3.7 goals per game, second highest in the Alliance. It was there that halted Sun County’s season as London scored 15 goals in their three game sweep of the Panthers.
As we get ready for the new season, the first thing that comes up for Sun County are the losses from last year’s team as they are quite significant. Big D Logan Mailloux is gone as he is now with the Toronto Marlboros in the GTHL. Also gone are forwards Jake Eaton and Kole Couvillon, both are now in Windsor with the Jr. Spitfires. Those are some big shoes to fill for the Panthers, but they are not the only departed players. Sun County comes into the season with nine new faces.
Four forwards are back and they are led by Cody Mackenzie. Trevor Larue, Patrick McManus and Ewan Johnson will also don the Panther colours once again. Jake DeSantis, Josh Cyenne and Aydon Novacco will be relied upon much more with the absence of Mailloux and they will be joined on defense by former Windsor defenseman Shaun Horne. The goaltending duo of Luka Dobrich and Kyle Metson will once again be back and will be key to the improvement of this team.
It is hard to ignore the losses for this team from a personnel side of things, but this team cannot be written off based on that premise. It will take time for the new players to gel and it won’t be until October that we really know where this team stacks up against the rest of the Alliance. One thing is for sure, they are a big, physical team and that will make them tough to play against. The jury is out for another six weeks on this squad but the intrigue is there.