From the Alliance to the OHL – October Edition

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With the OHL season getting underway in late September, it was great to see so many 2001 born Alliance players making their OHL clubs. In addition to the 01’s, there were plenty of 2000 alumni who were also making the step to major junior hockey.

As we did last season, every month we are going to be taking a look at some of the Alliance standouts each month and how they are doing in the OHL. Having covered both the 2001 and 2000 age groups extensively, I will be looking at both years to see who is standing out in the league and there are plenty.
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Alliance Showcase Day Two Recap

It was a quick day of games at the second day of the Alliance Showcase. While it was a shorter day for those watching in attendance, it was a busy day for the players as they went through both on and off ice seminars.

Back at Central Park for the games today, I do have one complaint about the venue. This may be splitting hairs, but I’ve found over the past couple of days that the sightlines at both rinks leave much to be desired. There are few places to watch the games with an unobstructed view so the lesson was learned during day one that early entrance is neccessary.

There were some real solid games on Saturday afternoon. Let’s go through some of the action.

Sun County Panthers hold on against Huron-Perth to remain undefeated

Sun County got out to an early lead and extended it with a couple of quick goals. Penalty trouble for the Panthers allowed Huron-Perth to get back into the game but the Panthers held on and remain undefeated to begin the season.

Davis Edmunds really had a good showing for Sun County. Whether it was on defense or when he was situated up front and attacking as a forward, his quick shot release gave the Lakers and goaltender Garrett Golley some issues. John Ulicny had another good game for Sun County, using his speed and shot to cause havoc. For the Lakers, Sheldon Pryce was all over the offensive zone and played his best game I’ve seen through the early point of the season. Carter Schoonderwoerd also had a great game and had a sweet goal to make it 4-3. This was also the first time I’d seen Schoonderwoerd play a physical game away from the puck which was nice to see finally.
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Alliance Showcase Day One Recap

It was a long trek to get to the Central Park Athletic Centre in Windsor, Ontario. Windsor is playing host to the 2017 Alliance Minor Midget Showcase event after two years of the event taking place in St. Mary’s under the Huron-Perth Lakers banner.

The September showcase is a little bit different than years past. Due to the Alliance running a second showcase weekend in December around their All-Star weekend, all teams will play just three games this weekend as opposed to the four they had previously played.

Here is a brief recap of some of the action that I was able to catch.

Sun County’s Offensive Prowess Powers Past Brantford

In my first viewing of this season’s Sun County Panthers squad, it did not take long to see why the offense has been so successful in the early part of the season. The Panthers used their speed and puck movement to get out in front early and despite a strong third period from the 99ers, held on for the win.

Matthew Maggio, John Ulicny, Ryan Gagnier and Zane Dalpe were all stellar in the contest. Ulicny’s shot and Maggio’s speed were on display in full force as Sun County improved to 3-0. For Brantford, their best players in the game were probably their youngest in Cole Hipkin and Maddox Callens. Hipkin showed he belongs as one of the top defenders in the Alliance while Callens had some of the best chances for the 99ers all day.
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2017/18 Windsor Jr. Spitfires Season Preview

Minor Midget Record: 15-14-4 (6th Place)

Minor Midget Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Kitchener in 3 games

Major Bantam Record: 8-16-8 (10th Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in 1st round to Chatham-Kent in 4 games

Following a disappointing and inconsistent season for the minor midget team last season, the challenge is there once again for the Windsor organization.

There was plenty of talent on the 2001 born Windsor squad. Led by 2002 born Tyler Tullio and the likes of Aaron Shaw and Adam Jeffery up front, the Jr. Spitfires should have had a dynamic offense that should have been able to compete with the better teams in the Alliance. Windsor never got consistent play and was bounced quickly in the postseason by Kitchener.
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2017/18 Waterloo Wolves Season Preview

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Minor Midget Record: 26-5-2 (2nd Place)

Minor Midget Result: Lost in Alliance Championship to London in 4 games (Advanced to OHL Cup)

Major Bantam Record: 13-10-9 (5th Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in semi-finals to London in 5 games

A year after seeing their streak of three consecutive Alliance championships come to an end, the Waterloo Wolves are once again positioned to possibly start a new streak this season.

It was going to be hard pressed for the Wolves organization to top the talent level that the 2000 born team had. When the days of the 2016/17 began to end, many thought that the 2001 team was more talent laden than their predecessor. Led up front by Keean Washkurak and on the back end by workhorse Nathan Allensen, the Wolves ended their regular season winning 16 consecutive league games and continued that with a sweep in the opening round. A phenomenal series against Kitchener followed and after a grueling eight game series win, the Wolves fell short against a dominant London squad.
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2017/18 Sun County Panthers Season Preview

Minor Midget Record: 11-15-7 (8th Place)

Minor Midget Result: Lost in quarter-finals to London in 3 games

Major Bantam Record: 13-14-5 (7th Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in semi-finals to Cambridge in 3 games

The Minor Midgets last season were a disappointment for the Sun County Panthers as they ran into the London Jr. Knights in round one. With the 2002 crop of Panthers, there is a legitimate shot at an OHL Cup appearance.

There were high hopes for the 2001 born Sun County team. Led in goal by arguably the top goaltender in the league Aidan Pitre, it was believed he would be able to lead the team to a strong season. In addition to Pitre, the Panthers were led up front by the criminally under rated Stephane Crevier, who was one of the best goal scorers in the Alliance last year. An inconsistent season led Sun County to an eighth place finish and a date with London in the first round and a quick postseason exit.
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2017/18 London Jr. Knights Season Preview

Minor Midget Record: 27-2-4 (1st Place)

Minor Midget Result: Won Alliance Championship over Waterloo in 4 games (OHL Cup Semi-Finalist)

Major Bantam Record: 19-7-6 (2nd Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in Alliance Championship to Cambridge in 4 games

After a stellar season that saw the London Jr. Knights reign as the top Ontario team for the majority of the season, the 2002 crop comes up with loads of talent and a shot at another Alliance championship.

The Minor Midget Jr. Knights were probably the best team in minor hockey last season. Even though they didn’t win the OHL Cup, the amount of talent that was on that team to go along with how well they played together made it a treat to watch them every single game. Led by Ryan Suzuki, the first overall pick in the OHL Draft, the Jr. Knights had a laundry list of guys who you will probably see playing in the OHL either this year or next. Names like Prueter, Burridge, Van Loon, Drewitt and Say are just some of the guys you could see in the OHL shortly.
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2017/18 Lambton Jr. Sting Season Preview

Minor Midget Record: 6-24-3 (11th Place)

Minor Midget Result: Did not qualify for playdowns

Major Bantam Record: 8-19-5 (11th Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in first round to Sun County in 5 games

After a season that saw the team basically start from scratch, the Lambton Jr. Sting will try and bring the program back to prominance and back to the postseason.

The 2016/17 season was quite the anomaly for the Lambton Jr. Sting. After having their bantam season cancelled the year prior, the Jr. Sting gathered a collection of players who played all levels from AAA to MD the year before. There were some standouts, such as forward Nolan DeGurse and goaltender Andrew MacLean, but the team struggled for the entirety of the season.
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2017/18 Kitchener Jr. Rangers Season Preview

Minor Midget Record: 17-9-7 (3rd Place)

Minor Midget Result: Lost in semi-finals to Waterloo in 8 games (Lost in OHL Cup Play-In Game)

Major Bantam Record: 12-15-5 (9th Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in first round to Waterloo in 4 games

Following another disappointing end to their season at the OHL Cup, the Kitchener Jr. Rangers will once again aim for a permanent spot in the provincial championship tournament.

Last year’s Minor Midget team was one of the more surprising teams in the league. After finishing bantam in last place, the 2001 version of the Kitchener Jr. Rangers were a top tier team in the Alliance thanks to the offensive additions of Cole Mackay and Justin McCombs. In addition to Mackay and McCombs, it was the emergence of Cole Schwindt and the play of Zach Russell that got Kitchener to the semi-finals of the playdowns, culminating in one of the best postseason series I’ve ever seen.
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2017/18 Huron-Perth Lakers Season Preview

Minor Midget Record: 5-26-2 (12th Place)

Midget Midget Result: Did not qualify for playdowns

Major Bantam Record: 5-22-5 (12th Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in quarter-finals to Cambridge in 3 games

After finding a home in the basement of both Minor Midget and Major Bantam, the Lakers will look towards a dominant forward to propel them closer to a playdown spot.

Minor Midget proved to be a difficult season for the Huron-Perth association. A year after arguably having a top two team in the Alliance, the Lakers could not find any consistent scoring and they couldn’t consistently keep the puck out of their net. Despite solid play from Tyson Koopman and Max Mulder, the Lakers spent the vast majority of the season looking up at the competition.
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