2019/20 Chatham-Kent Cyclones Season Preview

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2018/19 Minor Midget Record: 14-15-4 (8th Overall)

2018/19 Minor Midget Result: Lost in 1/4 finals to Brantford

2018/19 Major Bantam Record: 7-21-4 (10th Overall)

2018/19 Major Bantam Result: Lost in 1/4 finals to London

Followin a bantam season that saw the Cyclones surpass expectations and make an unexpected postseason run, Chatham is once again hoping to surprise some and secure a postseason spot.

At the beginning of last season, I was one person who was very high on the 03 Cyclones. Led by dynamic forward Deni Goure, I felt like Chatham could be a dark horse team that could even challenge for home ice in the opening round of playdowns. A very slow start by the team seemingly dashed that thought, but a resurrgence in November and December and the Cyclones were making moves. A sweep at the hands of eventual champions Brantford was nothing to scoff at, but injuries to both goalies Ethan Labbe and Ty Cirillo didn’t allow for the Cyclones to truly show what they may have been capable of.

It was a struggle through the regular season at bantam for Chatham as well. Scoring less than two goals per game on average, the Cyclones finished at the bottom of the west division and had a preliminary round date with the Lambton Jr. Sting. Chatham would surprise many as they defeated the Jr. Sting 7-3 in their six point series thanks in part to huge goaltending from Ethan Everaert. Although an exit at the hands of London followed, it’s hard not to deem the conclusion of the season a success.

Fast forward to this year and it will be a much different Cyclones team than a year ago. More than half of the roster did not wear the Cyclones red and black last season. The biggest change happened up front as the team will look to improve on his goal scoring from a year ago. Gone is one of their more productive forwards as Brady Stonehouse has moved over to EMC. In fact, only Cameron Graham, Ayden Blain and Ryan Gagner are returning to the forwad group. Both Ryan Richardson and Beau Depencier moved from Lambton while Jacob Julien comes over from a succcessful London seeded team.

The defensive core brings back many familiar faces with the likes of Alec Webster and Blain Bacik returning. Webster is the anchor for the defense and should be relied heavily upon for big minutes in big situations. In goal, Everaert has departed which leaves the Cyclones crease in the hands of Maddox Nazwaski and John Chartrand. Nazwaski showed well last year as an emergency call-up for the 03 team in their postseason series against Brantford. While he didn’t secure any wins, Nazwaski was great in goal considering he was going up against arguably the best offense in the league from a year up. It’ll be interesting to see his development this year. Chartrand comes over from Lambton and has already seen some time as an AP for the junior B team early in the year.

So much when it comes to the outlook of this team is dependant on the improvements in offense. Of the teams who contended for playdown positions last season at Minor Midget, the lowest goals per game average was 2.67 and even that wasn’t good enough to get in. I think the defense and goaltending will open some eyes for this season, but it may not be enough to make a jump into the top eight.

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