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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Waterloo completes Three-Peat; takes out London is 6 games

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Image courtesy of Twitter.com/Alliance_Hockey

When the dust settled after an incredible winner take all game at RIM Park Sunday night, the Waterloo Wolves claimed the 2015/16 Minor Midget Alliance Championship, their third straight title at the age group.

There were many questions heading into the final game of the series. London had looked dominant in game 5 behind stellar play from Jukka Schotter in goal. The Wolves were the walking wounded. Mitch Hoelscher, Mason McMahon, Liam Hartman and Evan Kula were all banged up and the Wolves were unaware whether some or any of them would suit up. In the end, Hoelscher and Kula would play and Waterloo would bring up Bantam players Keean Washkurak and Callan Christner.

The physical tone of the series reached a peak in game 6 with many players getting into heated battles. Some of the standout ones were Mason Hardy and Joel Mazzilli going back and forth along with Eric Guest and Alex Gritz having some moments along the boards. Early on in this one, the goaltenders were stealing the show. Both Schotter and Nathan Torchia was tasked with making some big saves in order to keep the game scoreless. The save that stands out the most was Schotter absolutely robbing Chris Playfair on a shorthanded breakaway with his right pad.

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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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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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3 Thoughts on Chatham vs. Waterloo (Oct. 2, 2015)

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For the first time this season, I was able to take in a full game experience watching the Chatham-Kent Cyclones. Definitely the surprise team this year in the Alliance, the Cyclones have made a name for themselves this season by playing everybody tight and pulling out some big wins, a big change from their season a year ago.

Against Waterloo, they just weren’t able to keep up with the speed and precision of the Wolves, falling 7-1. For Waterloo, they were on point for the entire game, something we have seen time and time again this season.

Mitch Hoelscher Continues Rapid Scoring Pace

There are lots of guys on Waterloo who can put the puck in the net, but none are doing it at the pace of forward Mitch Hoelscher. Hoelscher was a key contributor a year ago when the Major Bantam Wolves took home the Alliance title and that success has transitioned to this season rather seamlessly.

Playing alongside captain Chris Playfair, Hoelscher not only has a dynamic playmaker to help set him up, he also has the experience of playing alongside Playfair in the past, a rare feat for a Wolves team that had a high turnover rate from last season.

One thing I really do like about Hoelscher’s game is his physicality. He isn’t afraid to throw the body in the corner and plays with an edge that sees him involved in many of the scrums after the whistle. That edge he plays with is a key factor why Hoelscher is Waterloo’s leading scorer.

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