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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From the Alliance to the OHL (November Edition)

Better late than never as they say. November was another good month for Alliance alumni when it came to Junior Hockey. While some players were sent back to Jr. B teams as players were returned to the OHL from their NHL clubs, many Alliance players were thriving at the Jr. B level while the ones left at the OHL level were still making their mark on games.

In addition to the 2000 born players getting their feet wet, you have the 1999 born players gaining traction as the 2017 NHL Draft is quickly approaching and players are either rising or falling down the mock draft lists.

Now that we have somewhat solidified where these guys will be playing for the remainder of the season, these won’t just include those that are in the OHL, but those were are making their impacts in others leagues across Southwestern Ontario.

Brady Hinz – Sarnia Sting (Huron-Perth Lakers)

Hinz continued to impress and even surprise some scouts as he has been steady in his production level for the Sting. Hinz put in three goals and six points over 11 games in the month of November and was solid on the defensive side of the puck as well, contributing a +1 rating.

Hinz will continue to gain more experience as the season progresses and could see a few extra minutes with Adam Ruzicka away at the World Juniors. With the role he currently sees on the team, Hinz is well on his way to becoming a key piece for the 2017/18 Sting team. Click here for full article

Jake Murray, Mitch Hoelscher among 15 Alliance Alumni named to GOJHL Top Prospect Game

The Alliance crop of players from the 2000 age group is really making its mark on the Junior B circuit.

On Wednesday, the rosters for the 2016/17 GOJHL Top Prospects game were released and the Alliance association was well represented. 15 players with Alliance roots were selected to represent their Junior B clubs with another four former Alliance members being named as alternates.

While some names were probably expected, it is also great to see five undrafted players from last season named to the squad.

Here is the full list of former Alliance players selected to the squad.

Mason Hardy – Stratford Warriors (Waterloo Wolves)

Spencer Lapointe – St. Thomas Stars (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs)

Luke Bignell – Kitchener Dutchmen (Kitchener Jr. Rangers)

Jake Murray – St. Thomas Stars (Elgin-MIddlesex Chiefs)

Richard Little – Brantford 99ers (Brantford 99ers)

Holden Wale – Cambridge Winterhawks (Brantford 99ers)

Tyler McBay – Elmira Sugar Kings (Waterloo Wolves)

Parker Jacques – Leamington Flyers (Sun County Panthers)

Brady MacDonald – Strathroy Rockets (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs)

Brett Fisher – Lambton Shores Predators (London Jr. Knights)

Mitch Hoelscher – Elmira Sugar Kings (Waterloo Wolves)

Spencer Kersten – Waterloo Siskins (Waterloo Wolves)

Jack Bowler – LaSalle Vipers (Sun County Panthers)

Kyle Fisher – Lambton Shores Predators (London Jr. Knights)

Wes Dobbin – Lambton Shores Predators (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs)

*Tristan DeJong – Cambridge Winterhawks (Waterloo Wolves)

*Issac Walker – London Nationals (London Jr. Knights)

*John Parker-Jones – Brampton Bombers (Brantford 99ers)

*Ty Glover – Strathroy Rockets (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs)

*Indicates alternate selection

A big congratulations goes out to all the players who were selected to appear in the event.

2016 OHL Priority Selection Draft Results

The day that so many players and families have been waiting for has finally arrived. The OHL Draft has arrived and with plenty of anticipation.

For the live blog today, we will go through with you every single round and discuss every Alliance player selected in the draft. Historically, the Alliance has produced approximately 42 players into the OHL Draft on a yearly basis. Not a lot considering that there are over 200 players combined in the league.

Just remember, if your name gets called to savour the moment. Do not dwell if it is lower than you were expecting as your draft position is just a number and your future play will determine everything. Those players who will not be as fortunate to hear their name, hard work can still present that opportunity to you. Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators knows that first hand and he is a story that should give motivation for any undrafted players still looking to make that jump to major junior hockey.

With everything said, sit back and relax if that’s possible. The draft begins at 9am and we will be here with you for its entirety.

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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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2015/16 Alliance Year-End Awards

Wow has it been a long time since anything has been posted here. Still feels like yesterday that I was in Toronto taking in the OHL Cup and still doesn’t feel all that long ago that the Alliance playdowns were getting underway during a blizzard in Perth County.

With that said, the 2015/16 season produced some memorable goals and some fantastic games. It is hard to believe that tryouts for next season are getting started in the next week or two.

Before we shut the door on this past season, I thought it would be apt to hand out some season end awards to those deserving of the praise. Some may be obvious while others may be a bit of a surprise. These were not easy decisions for some, but others just stuck out in my mind like a sore thumb that they should be recognized accordingly.

Stanley Cup – Waterloo Wolves

This was an easy one, although it was far from easy for the Wolves. Waterloo battled London tooth and nail down to the end before clinching their third straight Minor Midget Alliance championship. The biggest takeaway from the series was the depth that Waterloo had on their roster. Like guys like Liam Hartman and Mason McMahon missing most of the season and Mitch Hoelscher banged up for the final couple of games, others stepped up to help give Waterloo just enough to claim victory.

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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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