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: (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: (1) London Jr. Knights vs. (8) Chatham-Kent Cyclones

Season Series:

London over Chatham-Kent 5-0 (Oct. 5)

London over Chatham-Kent 5-3 (Nov. 30)

London over Chatham-Kent 4-3 (Dec. 20)

It’s very hard to say that a team with the record London had would have preferred to not play the Chatham-Kent Cyclones, but it would be hard to say the Knights didn’t have their fair share of troubles with the Cyclones despite sweeping the season series.

Their first meeting is exactly as shown in the score with London getting ahead early and really shutting down the Cyclones offense. But their second and third meetings actually had Chatham-Kent leading in both those contests. Back in November, Chatham-Kent took a 3-0 lead into the 3rd period and had still had that same lead midway through before the floodgates opened and London scored five unanswered, led by a natural hat trick by Joel Mazzilli.

December saw the same story as the Cyclones held another 3-0 lead 30 seconds into the 2nd period before London scored four unanswered once again to claim victory. Some people would say this could be a case of London not taking Chatham-Kent seriously, but if that is the case then those feelings better be long gone before Game One Saturday.

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Alliance Scout Player Rankings 16-25

Well, it’s finally here. After weeks of watching and observing Alliance games left, right and centre, I’ve finally compiled the top 25 players in the Alliance.

Needless to say, this was not the easiest task in the least. Even after sorting through all 12 rosters and doing my initial lists, I was still sitting at about 45-50 players that I then needed to cut in half to make up the inaugural Alliance Scout rankings.

It must be stated that this is the initial rankings based on play from the first few months of the season. This includes all regular season games, the Alliance Showcase and All Star Weekend as well as other tournaments such as the Whitby Silver Stick and Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament.

For those players that did not make the initial 25, that does not mean they will not make the list in the future. There are still plenty of tournaments and the playdowns for players to make an impact and make that leap into the top 25.

For today, we will release the players ranked from 16 to 25. The following list will hold players six through 15 while the final list will be a look at the top five players in the Alliance in my opinion.

Here it goes:

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Alliance All Star Day 2 Recap

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The final day of the Alliance All Star weekend went today with four games, but two of the same games. In the early action, Team Navy took on Team Grey in a game that saw Grey take the win 7-4 behind a three point game from Hamilton’s Derek Seguin who took home the player of the game honours for Grey.

In the 2nd game, Team White shutdown the high powered offense of Team Blue with a 5-0 victory behind the stellar play of London’s Keaghan Brett. As it so turns out, the way the standings ended up we go these exact two same matchups for the afternoon games.

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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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The Weekend That Was in the Alliance (Oct. 23-25)

It was another busy weekend in the Alliance as October comes to a close. Almost every team was in action this weekend with the exception of top dog Huron-Perth. Some teams had impressive showings such as the Windsor Jr. Spitfires as they claimed a 5-0 shutout over the Chatham-Kent Cyclones. Then there was Kitchener, who followed up a 3-2 loss in Waterloo with a stunning 3-1 loss to Sun County as the Panthers claimed just their second win of the season while the Jr. Rangers have now lost three straight.

With that said, there were a few things that stood out from the rest.

The Chiefs are making a comeback in Elgin-Middlesex.

After the Toronto Titans tournament at the beginning of September, there was plenty to be excited about in Elgin-Middlesex. The Chiefs had a solid round robin and made it to the round of 16 before being bounced. As the Alliance regular season began though, the Chiefs found themselves with some inconsistent results. Over the past couple of weeks, this week especially, the Chiefs are reminding the rest of the league that they are for real.

It really began to flow on Thursday when the Chiefs went into Hamilton and took down the Huskies in a big way with an 8-4 victory. Following that they took home a 3-2 victory over Cambridge (a game we will discuss in a minute) and they have now won three straight games and have climbed into 5th place in the standings and are knocking on the door of the Alliance Minor Midget Top 5 Rankings.

Offensively, the Chiefs have been led by top scorer Jake Murray and Wes Dobbin while Lucas Bain has been stellar in goal recording an undefeated record through six games this season. Elgin heads into the week with matchups against Sun County and Kitchener, both winnable games so we could see this streak reach the five game mark.

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