Alliance Hockey takes on OHL Cup – OHL Cup Preview

With the OHL Cup set to kick off this evening, three Alliance teams will be given the chance to step up on the big stage and try to upset the tradition of GTHL dominating this tournament.

After the Kitchener Jr. Rangers lost in double overtime to the Don Mills Flyers, the three teams challenging for the title will be Alliance champion Waterloo Wolves, the London Jr. Knights and the Windsor Jr. Spitfires. All three teams are in tough with some very talented squads in each division. Luckily, no Alliance teams are in the same division so fans will be able to see some fresh matchups.

Subban Division:

York-Simcoe Express

Toronto Red Wings

Windsor Jr. Spitfires

Mississauga Senators

Kingston Jr. Frontenacs

The team from Windsor is in the only division at the OHL Cup to feature two wild card teams with both Mississauga and Kingston gaining entry with the extra win. Windsor is coming into this tournament playing their best hockey of the season and they showed some great heart in their final game of the Alliance season, coming from behind to take down Kitchener in their four point mini series.

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Alliance Championship Preview: London Jr. Knights vs. Waterloo Wolves

Season Series:

London and Waterloo tie 22 (Sept. 25)

London over Waterloo 6-3 (Jan. 11)

Waterloo over London 4-2 (Jan. 23)

For the second straight season, the London Jr. Knights and the Waterloo Wolves will do battle with the title of Alliance Champion at stake. London will look to end the dreams of the Wolves as Waterloo is trying for their third consecutive championship. It is already difficult enough to win three championships in a row, but in order for Waterloo to achieve that goal, they will need to shut down a London offense that has been rolling all season long.

The beginning of the playdown session went about as perfect as it could for the Jr. Knights. They went in guns blazing and swept the Chatham-Kent Cyclones and then won the opening three games against a tough Windsor squad. But after going up 6-0 in points, it then took London four games to get the remaining two points to punch their ticket to the final. They were unable to stop Kory Silverio and Jacob Rosa and goalies Keaghan Brett and Jukka Schotter were not as strong as they had been the entire season. While they did eventually find their way into the final, London wasn’t able to bring plenty of momentum with them.

Waterloo played a tough seven game series against Kitchener, winning three of the final four games in the series. The Wolves relied heavily on defense and their goaltending to bring victories their way as the offense wasn’t able to click and beat the strong Kitchener defense. Both Nathan Torchia and Alex Metzger saw time in net for the Wolves and while he did get pulled in Game 2, Torchia played maybe his best three game stretch of the season to clinch the win. Forward Alex Gritz continued to pile on the points and still leads the league in playoff scoring, averaging two points per game.

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Series Preview: (2) Waterloo Wolves vs. (4) Kitchener Jr. Rangers

Season Series:

Kitchener over Waterloo 3-2 (Oct. 4)

Waterloo over Kitchener 3-2 (Oct. 24)

Waterloo over Kitchener 4-2 (Dec. 13 Gold Puck Semi-Final)

Waterloo over Kitchener 5-2 (Jan. 20)

The rivalry will be renewed as the Waterloo Wolves and the Kitchener Jr. Rangers will each travel down Highway 85 with a spot in the Alliance Championships and a guaranteed spot in the OHL Cup on the line.

The first round didn’t go exactly as Waterloo planned, although they did eventually come out on top. The Wolves dropped their first playdown game against the Hamilton Huskies and then needed strong 3rd periods in order to take a couple more games. It was the dynamic and skilled forwards that the Wolves possess that helped them to victory in four games, along with some more strong play from Nathan Torchia in goal.

Kitchener seemingly cruised their way past a hobbled Huron-Perth Lakers squad with a combination of stingy defense and a consistent offensive attack. The offense was led by captain Luke Bignell and Eric and Rhett Kimmel was solid in net playing all three games. The Jr. Rangers got into penalty trouble, but that wasn’t much of a concern for them as they scored three shorthanded goals in their three game series.

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Alliance Quarter-Finals Roundup

It took a little over a week, but the quarter-finals have finally been settled and the final four teams have been decided. London, Waterloo, Kitchener and Windsor will battle it out for the chance to be crowned the Alliance champion. While no series went to a deciding 5th game, the series were close for the most part. The lone series that saw a large discrepancy was London’s win over Chatham, which was a #1 seed against a #8.

With the semi-finals now set, we will see top seeded London take on the lone upset winner of the first round Windsor. While Waterloo will battle with their highway 8 rivals the Kitchener Jr. Rangers. Each series brings different questions will some key factors that could determine who comes out on top. Previews for those series should be released this week.

London explodes offensively to take down Cyclones

The Jr. Knights were able to find the back of the net 18 times in three games as they completed the sweep of Chatham-Kent. The names you would expect to see on the game sheet were there, but there was one prominent name that was missing from this series.

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Series Preview: (2) Waterloo Wolves vs. (7) Hamilton Huskies

Season Series:

Waterloo over Hamilton 6-1 (Oct. 5)

Waterloo and Hamilton tie 2-2 (Dec. 17)

Waterloo over Hamilton 3-2 (Jan. 9)

When you look at the four playdown series, probably the series that featured the closest games throughout the regular season is the one between Waterloo and Hamilton. Despite the early 6-1 loss, all three of their regular season games featured fairly even play with just some swings in momentum playing the difference in Waterloo winning two of the three meetings.

Waterloo is heading into the playdowns with a lot of momentum and confidence after downing top seeded London in the final weekend of the season. While Hamilton fell to Kitchener in their final regular season game, the Huskies have played significantly better over the past few weeks than they did in December. The turning point for Hamilton could be the Marlies tournament, where they were able to secure a spot in the final 16.

The Wolves have gone through the season playing with a stellar combination of offense, defense and goaltending. Nathan Torchia, a consensus top five goalie in this years OHL Draft has been strong in net and Alex Metzger has statistically been a top goalie in the Alliance this year as well. Waterloo also plays with big defenseman and have more than a handful of options up front to put the puck in the net.

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3 Thoughts from Waterloo at Kitchener (January 20, 2016)

Despite the fact that they bordering towns and their home rinks are separated by just 20 minutes, Waterloo and Kitchener don’t play each nearly enough considering the calibre of games they have played this season.

In the previous two outings that I have taken in live, both teams played very competitively against each other especially in the semi-final of the Gold Puck tournament. In their last meeting of the regular season, you had Waterloo still technically fighting for top spot in the league and Kitchener running a six game winning streak and coming off a win at the Peterborough Tournament of Champions.

It was a physical game from the beginning even with Kitchener missing the suspended Zach Edwards. The battle between captains Luke Bignell and Chris Playfair was also one that escalated throughout the game.

Here are a few other things that stood out from the game in which Waterloo ended Kitchener’s win streak with a 5-2 victory.

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Waterloo at Cambridge Game Recap (Nov. 19/15)

waterloo logo

In all reality, you could look at the standings in the Alliance and believe that this game was going to be a cake walk for the Wolves. They were sitting near the top of the standings, riding a seven game winning streak while Cambridge was sitting at the bottom still searching for their first win.

Needless to say, this game did not go that way whatsoever. As I have talked about for a while now, Cambridge another very tight game and gave Waterloo everything they could handle.

The game began with what has become quite a trend for Wolves games of the past few weeks, Waterloo getting off to a terribly slow start, much to the chagrin of head coach Shawn Dietrich. Cambridge was forcing many missed passes and seemed to anticipate a lot of Waterloo moves, intercepting the puck which turned into a couple of quality chances against Wolves netminder Alex Metzger.

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3 Thoughts from the Alliance Showcase Tournament

alliance

Yes, a little bit late but even the time off couldn’t erase what I saw in St Mary’s last weekend at the annual Alliance Minor Midget Showcase Tournament. There was a lot of hockey and a lot of teams to view last weekend and I was able to take in 13 games featuring almost all of the teams in the league.

The junior scouts were out in full force and all the players performed their best and left definitive impressions on everyone. With every positive that happened, I had to narrow it down to just three thoughts or else we’d be here forever.

With that said…

Waterloo Wolves show Titans Tournament a blip on the radar

After competing in the Toronto Titans tournament and compiling a disappointing record of 1-3, some thought that it would be an uphill climb for the Wolves to take home their third straight title. At the Showcase, the Wolves once again reminded the league they are the defending champions.

Despite winning only two games, Waterloo left St. Mary’s undefeated with two ties in games against London and Windsor. Their game against Windsor was just inches away from becoming a win after Mitch Hoelscher rung one off the crossbar in the final minute of the third period.

The Wolves played great team games and showed a very cohesive unit. Tyler McBay and Tristan De Jong continued to be the leaders on the back end and set up the powerplay for success. Chris Playfair’s playmaking and Alex Gritz hustle and quick shot helped get the Wolves offense off to quick starts. Not to mention the combo of Nathan Torchia and Alex Metzger held tough in net.

The most impressive thing about the Wolves play was their puck possession and lack of turnovers. It’s hard for opposing teams to get quality chances against solid goaltending when you can’t maintain possession long enough to create those chances.

There is a strong chance that by the time this season comes to an end, nobody will even remember how the Wolves’ season began, just how it has ended.

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