While teams are starting to take shape in terms of expectations and where they may finish at the end of the season, it’s a big weekend that could see some of the landscape shift one way or the other for teams.
It is the All-Star Showcase weekend in Woodstock for the third consecutive year. The weekend, which sees teams play three games on Friday and Saturday caps off with the Bantam, Minor Midget and Midget all-star games on Sunday. Personally, I think this format is fantastic and a big improvement from a few years back when All-Star weekend consisted of four teams and a mini-tournament amongst those four teams. I found that during those events, the final day seemed to drag, and the games weren’t as fluid as players were still trying to figure out playing with one another.
As promised, this is the second edition of the Alliance Scout Team Rankings. While the top four in the league seems to have separated themselves from the pack, there are five teams that seem to be competing for what should be four playdown spots. There are some matchups this weekend that could become even more relevant when late January arrives.
A new year leads us to a new format for the Alliance Scout player rankings. In previous years, the site would release a top 25 player list during the Toronto Marlboros tournament and then a final list prior to the OHL Priority Selection.
This year, we are changing things up. Rather than just having two rankings, we will be releasing a new ranking every month. And rather than just doing the top 25, we will be modeling the list after how OHL and NHL Central Scouting does their lists. Doing these lists monthly will allow for a more accurate representation and also can allow for players who have been having strong months to make their way onto the lists.
Prospects have been split into three different categories. Those in the “A Prospect” pool are players who I see as the cream of the crop and those who could be hearing their name called in the opening four rounds of the OHL Draft. A player under the “B Prospect” heading I believe could be going in rounds 5-10 while players in the C category could be going in rounds 11-15. Players names are all listed alphabetically and not in any ranking order.
So without any further delay, here is our initial list.
As the calendar turns to November, the standings in the Alliance are starting to shape up more and more. Trends are starting to emerge, and we are getting close to the point where playdown matchups are being discussed according to who is in what position.
While the Alliance has now been putting out their bi-weekly top five rankings for the teams over the past month, I will begin bi-weekly league wide rankings for those weeks where the league focuses on the bantams.
Here we go with the first edition of the Alliance Scout Team Rankings, which I hope to put out every two weeks.
2018/19 Minor Midget Record: 13-14-6 (7th Overall)
2018/19 Minor Midget Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Waterloo
2018/19 Major Bantam Record: 20-8-4 (3rd Overall)
2018/19 Major Bantam Result: Won Alliance Championship over London (2-3-1 at OHF Championships)
Coming off an Alliance championship and an appearance at the OHF championships, the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs have loaded up for a run at a Minor Midget Alliance Championship and an OHL Cup appearance.
The 2003 born Chiefs had one of the best runs in the league last year. At the All-Star weekend showcase in Woodstock, the Chiefs went 0-2-1 and it seemed like they were destined to miss the playdowns. Fast forward to the end of January and the Chiefs went on a 6-2-1 run to surge their way into the 7th seed in the postseason. Led up front by sniper Ryan Burke and speedy Eric Bertelsen, the Chiefs pushed Waterloo to the brink before falling in the deciding sixth game.
2018/19 Minor Midget Record: 7-21-5 (10th Overall)
2018/19 Minor Midget Result: Did not qualify for playdowns
2018/19 Major Bantam Record: 11-16-5 (9th Overall)
2018/19 Major Bantam Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Elgin-Middlesex
After a string of strong seasons was snapped last year, the Sun County Panthers hope momentum from the end of last season will carry forward to this year.
The minor midget season last year could have gone better for the Sun County Panthers. Lacking significant impact players up front, the Panthers tried to play tight games and win more with defense than offense. SCP scored the fewest goals in the league last season with just 61 tallies in 33 games. While there was some strong play to close out the regular season, Sun County wasn’t able to compete with those near the top of the standings.
2018/19 Minor Midget Record: 5-25-3 (11th Overall)
2018/19 Minor Midget Result: Did not qualify for playdowns
2018/19 Major Bantam Record: 14-15-3 (6th Overall)
2019/19 Major Bantam Result: Lost in preliminary round to Chatham-Kent
Ever since I started this website, the Lambton Jr. Sting are the only team that has not played a playdown game. If I’m correct in my thinking, that streak should end in the upcoming season.
Last year was a tough year for the minor midgets. The struggles were there on both sides of the ice was the Jr. Sting were second to last in the loop in both goals for and goals against. There were some bright spots to the season. Carson Peer emerged early on as a player who could be relied on offensively while Ethan Mathews was a steady defender on a very physical blue line. At the end of things, Lambton missed out on the playdowns for the 4th consecutive year.
2018/19 Minor Midget Record: 16-13-4 (6th Overall)
2018/19 Minor Midget Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Kitchener
2018/19 Major Bantam Record: 14-15-3 (7th Overall)
2018/19 Major Bantam Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Hamilton
After a third consecutive year in the postseason, the Cambridge Hawks will need their defensive play to increase that streak to four year running.
There were some significant improvements for the 03 born team from bantam to minor midget. The team went from six wins the previous year to 16 at minor midget, which was good for sixth spot in the league. While not chalked full of offensive firepower, Mateo Amaral and Matthew Dimaline came up with timely goals while Kai Greaves improved leaps and bounds on defense. Ben Bates also emerged as one of the best goaltenders in the league. Injuries hurt the Hawks come playdown season, but it’s hard to not classify the year as a success.
2018/19 Minor Midget Record: 19-10-4 (5th Overall)
2018/19 Minor Midget Result: Lost in semi-finals to Brantford (2-2 OHL Cup Record)
2018/19 Major Bantam Record: 12-16-4 (8th Overall)
2018/19 Major Bantam Result: Lost in preliminary round to Sun County
Last year I called Windsor to break a dark horse team in the Alliance. This year could be the same if a couple of pieces fall into place.
Heading into last year, I didn’t feel the Jr. Spitfires were getting the credit they deserved. The 03’s were a finalist at bantam and with players like Ray Hamlin and Cayden Faust up front and Max Donoso in net, there was little doubt that would be a contender. Windsor ended up losing in double overtime to Brantford in the semi-finals of the Alliance Playdowns. Windsor also had the best showing of any Alliance team at the OHL Cup, going 2-2 with their losses coming to a strong Little Caesars team and the eventual champions the Don Mills Flyers.
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.
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.