Final Alliance Scout Top 25 Player Rankings

Just a couple days out from the OHL Priority Selection Draft and so much is still happening. The excitement for players, parents and coaches starts to hit its peak as the anticipation grows.

Plenty is still happening on the team front as it was announced today that the #3 overall pick was going to be forfeited by the Flint Firebirds due to the abomination that was their ownerships first season. With that news, there is even more talk about plenty of possibilities on who could fall where.

A lot of the talk includes Alliance Player of the Year Owen Lalonde. The Windsor defenseman seems to be a lock to be selected in the top 10 with some mock drafts placing him top five or in a couple cases top three. High praise for the young man, but that leads us into the final player rankings.

The top 25 saw some changes from its predecessor as playoff performances had some players jump while other players took a step back. Although a player does not make the top 25, that most certainly won’t exclude them from possibly hearing their name on Saturday. On average, the Alliance produces upwards of 45 picks every year. Look for a more in depth look at those stats before Saturday.

With that said, let’s begin the countdown and there is only one place to begin.

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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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Series Preview: (1) London Jr. Knights vs. (6) Windsor Jr. Spitfires

Season Series:

London over Windsor 5-2 (Nov. 8)

London over Windsor 4-2 (Dec. 13)

London over Windsor 2-1 (Jan. 4)

The top seed in the Alliance this year, the London Jr. Knights, will do battle with the only team to score an upset based on the standings in the Windsor Jr. Spitfires.

In their first round series, London relied on an unstoppable offense to blast their way past Chatham-Kent while Windsor used their tight defense and some surprising offense to get by Elgin-Middlesex in four games. You could consider this series as London’s offensive power against Windsor’s defensive prowess and that is one reason I absolutely love this series.

When you look at the season series, it’s easy to look at the fact that London went 3-0 and think that this series would be no different. In those three games though, Windsor was never actually out of a game and were always just a goal away from changing the game. Their first meeting in November had Windsor battle back from being down 3-0 early to close the gap to 3-2 at the flood. Same results in December with the exact same score at the flood. The one thing you can look at is the fact that Windsor was never out shot by London, which you would expect to happen at least once with the multiple weapons the Jr. Knights have.

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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: (3) Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs vs. (6) Windsor Jr. Spitfires

Season Series:

Elgin-Middlesex over Windsor 6-3 (Nov. 21)

Elgin-Middlesex over Windsor 4-3 (Dec. 19)

Windsor over Elgin-Middlesex 5-0 (Dec. 20)

Out of all the series that will be taking place in the first round of playdowns, the closest one in my opinion will be between Windsor and Elgin-Middlesex.

In their three meetings this season, both teams had chances to take the victory and change the final results. Their first meeting in November saw the two teams tied after two periods before the Chiefs exploded for three in the final 20 minutes to take the win. Move on to December and the teams were once again tied late, with the Chiefs grabbing a 3rd period goal with just a couple of minutes remaining to take yet another victory. Their finally meeting is the anomaly of the three with Windsor and James Walker completely shutting down the Chiefs offense and grabbing a 5-0 shutout.

The Chiefs, since probably early October, have consistently been one of the top teams in the Alliance. They have solid goaltending that is helped out by safe defensive play and a balanced offense that can grab goals any any time from any line. The big line consists of Aidan Reid, Wes Dobbin and Alliance scoring champion Jake Murray. Considering they were shut out in the final matchup, the three combined for 16 points in the first two games. Should they continue to produce at that level, the Chiefs should experience plenty of success.

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Alliance Scout Player Rankings 6-15

We’re back once again to continue our trek towards the top of the Alliance talent pool. On this day, we are looking at the players ranked from 15 all the way up to six.

When we look at the players featured in this set of rankings, you will see a good variety of talent. There are a couple strong blue line forces, some power forwards, two gifted scorers and the top goaltender in the Alliance.

Many of the players listed here have incredible potential, including the opportunity to move even higher in the rankings and even possibly crack the top five.

If you missed the 16-25 rankings, they can be found here.

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Alliance All Star Day 1 Recap

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The best of the best from the Alliance came out to the Sun Life Financial Arena in Waterloo yesterday for the beginning of the Alliance All Star festivities. While the Bantam and Major Midget players played in one isolated game, the Minor Midget’s are competing in a mini four team tournament that will showcase the best attributes from each and every player.

The first day saw lots of action and lots of players were playing their best hockey of the season. There were four games in total, with Team Navy and Team Grey both going 2-0 while Team White and Team Blue both went winless in  their respective two games.

Here are some of the highlights from the first day.

Team Navy defeats Team White 5-4

The first game of the All Star weekend saw both Team Navy and Team White come out blazing with each team scoring a goal within the first 90 seconds of the game. It was two Jr. Knights who opened the scoring with Joel Mazzilli scoring for Navy and Brett Fisher for White.

London’s Keaghan Brett played the full game for Team White and played very well. He made some big saves including one on a breakaway by Sun County’s Jake Nimmo. James Walker got the start for Navy and definitely improved as the game progressed. Walker was fantastic for the third period, stalling the offensive pressure of White.

During the game, Team Navy was led offensively by Elgin-Middlesex’s Aidan Reid and Windsor’s Evan Ferguson offensively. Reid was especially impressive as he was all over the puck and when he was on the ice, plays went through him. The surprise player for Navy was Grant Spence who had lots of scoring chances and was a constant threat whenever in the offensive zone. Team White had many players who shined despite the loss. Isaac Taylor and Kyle Fisher were the stars on offense while Tristan DeJong and Duncan Core had great games on defense. Hometown guy Mason McMahon played probably the best game that I’ve seen him play this season and was constantly threatening and throwing heavy body checks.

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Alliance All Star Weekend Preview

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The Alliance will take a break this coming weekend to showcase all of the talent in the association with their All-Star Weekend festivities in Waterloo. The Minor Midgets take centre stage with a four team tournament while the Bantams and Midgets will send their best out there in a single exhibition game.

With the Minor Midgets bringing out four teams, there were plenty of players who were chosen to represent their teams. The Minor Midget Teams are as follows:

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3 Thoughts from the Alliance Showcase Tournament

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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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Alliance Faceoff Day 2 Recap

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Day 2 at the Alliance Faceoff with 12 games in total over a 13 hour stretch. There were several close back and forth games to go along with a couple of lopsided games. Many players continued to stand out on their respective teams while other continued to try and make a name for themselves for the many scouts in attendance.

London Jr. Knights 8 – Cambridge Hawks 0

This was a tough one for the Cambridge Hawks as they continue to struggle. For London, they had this game under complete control from start to finish with few moments of worry.

All of the Jr. Knight players seemed to have their feet moving at all times, beating Cambridge to every lose puck throughout the game. It was both Brett and Kyle Fisher who were the stand outs for this game. The chemistry the two have is obvious and Kyle specifically was making some very crisp passes. Eric Guest continued to show obvious skill, but a six minute penalty midway through the 3rd period ended his day early.

For Cambridge, they just could not get any rhythm on offense to try and get any pressure. Despite London being the much faster team, Cambridge continued to try and dump the puck and beat London on the jump. I was again impressed with Cooper Page on defense. Despite his small stature, he players a big game especially in front of the net.

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