2019/20 Kitchener Jr. Rangers Season Preview

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2018/19 Minor Midget Record: 18-6-9 (3rd Overall)

2018/19 Minor Midget Result: List in Alliance Championship to Brantford (0-4 at OHL Cup)

2018/19 Major Bantam Record: 5-21-6 (12th Overall)

2018/19 Major Bantam Result: Lost in preliminary round to Waterloo

Following a season that saw the Kitchener Jr. Rangers Minor Midgets comes within a single win of an Alliance Championship, lots has changed for the team on numerous fronts.

Last year’s team was a product of a very strong age group for KMHA. Long a contender at the AAA loop, the 03’s in Kitchener were now going to play under Dean DeSilva. Led by the likes of Marko Sikic, Braeden Bowman and Luc Brzustowski, the Kitchener Jr. Rangers didn’t really hit their stride until later in the first half of the season. Once they did hit that stride, they were nearly unbeatable. Kitchener ended the year unbeaten in their final 13 regular season contests. Their hot streak continued with sound victories over Cambridge and Waterloo in the postseason before coming just short against the 99ers. It was quite the team for DeSilva’s swan song with the association.

Fast forward to this year and gone is DeSilva, off to the WHL and the Vancouver Giants. In is Tyler Bracken who has previously coached at the AAA level with Kitchener at younger age groups. Bracken has his work cut out for him as the 04 Jr. Rangers have struggled over the years and large amount of new faces is tasked with helping to right the ship.

Kitchener has a couple of returning players up front who should provide some level of offense. Ben Oliver should be on the top of that list followed closely by Ben Habel. Chadd Langlands comes over from the Huron-Perth Lakers and has also shown an ability to chip in offensively and I have liked what I’ve seen in limited viewings of Roenick Jakielaszek, who played in Guelph last season.

Half of the defense has joined the team from elsewhere with the likes of Riley Noble (Waterloo), Lucas Decaluwe (Brampton) and Kael Kleinbub (Guelph) joining mainstays Carson Cocchiola and Kian Harron. The team will need the defense to heavily improve on last seasons play, which may be difficult as they did lose Jesse English, who arguably was their best defenseman last season.

In net is where things could be interesting. Will Galloway returns as one of the netminders for this team but he is joined this year by Dylan Grover, who played with the U14 Syracuse Nationals last season. While I haven’t seen Grover play in person, this does remind me a bit of the 01 Lambton Jr. Sting. That team came into the year with low expectations and a goalie by the name of Andrew Maclean who came from the US. Maclean kept them in big games, made lots of stops and now is getting serious played time with the Owen Sound Attack. Not saying Grover is the next Maclean, but the situations are somewhat similar and begs to be watched more closely.

Following an OHL Cup appearance, this could be a long season for the Jr. Rangers. It could be a rough start to the year, but if the progression happens with the players on the ice, Kitchener could be in a position to play spoiler much like Hamilton and Sun County did last season during the stretch run.

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