Alliance Series Preview: (3) Sun County Panthers vs. (6) Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs

The series between the Sun County Panthers and the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs may be the best series of the opening round. Both teams can lay claim to being the hottest team in the Alliance over the final month of the season. Sun County went on a great run to end the year, going 8-1-4 from the December showcase to the end of the year. The Chiefs were on the outside looking in before going on a run that saw them go undefeated in their final 11 games of the season. When looking ahead to this matchup, it is a classic offense versus defense battle.

Season Series:

Sun County defeated Elgin-Middlesex 8-5 on September 17th

Sun County defeated Elgin-Middlesex 4-3 on November 19th

Sun County defeated Elgin-Middlesex 4-0 on December 10th

Leading Scorers:

Sun County                                                    Elgin-Middlesex

Matt Maggio 20-24-44                                     Rylan Bowers 14-30-44

Zane Dalpe 16-22-38                                       Michael McKnight 16-24-40

Ryan Gagnier 19-11-30                                    Tyler Mosher 9-15-24

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2017/18 Alliance Player Rankings Top 5

Apologies for the long and lengthy delay, but the Alliance Scout Top 5 rankings are finally here. Unlike previous years, there is some competition for the top spot in the association. The gap between spots three and five is incredibly thin while the top two spots are a toss-up on a daily basis. The tight nature of these rankings makes the final month of the regular season and the playdowns all the more exciting for all these players.

5. George Diaco (London Jr. Knights)

Diaco is the engine that keeps the Jr. Knights offense rolling. Not only does he take charge of the forwards, but Diaco is the quarterback for their powerplay. An undersized forward, Diaco uses his speed to create space and blow past defenders. Many will compare Diaco to Hawks forward Joseph Serpa. The difference I see is that Diaco is a finisher. A fantastic shot and quick dekes is one reason Diaco is a top scorer in the league. Diaco could up his stock with an extended run by London in the post season.

4. Matt Maggio (Sun County Panthers)

The best pure goal scorer in the league this season, Maggio began this year like a bat out of hell. The first showcase of the year in Windsor hadn’t even started and we knew that Maggio was going to wreck havoc this season. Armed with a tendency to shoot for any angle possible, Maggio has shown repeatedly that he can score from these odd angles as well. Maggio has quick acceleration which allows him to deceptively get past defenders. Like Diaco, Maggio could vault himself higher with a strong run deep this season with Sun County.

3. Sheldon Serraglio (London Jr. Knights)

A calm defender at all times, Serraglio is criminally underrated in what he can create on the ice. Serraglio isn’t flashy nor does he have the size one would expect from a top defender, Serraglio is as effective as anyone along the boards. On the offensive size of things, Serraglio has the perfect low point shot you want on a powerplay and has the vision and ability to thread the needle for scoring chances. The more I see Serraglio, I see him as being similar to Owen Lalonde when he was with Windsor. As long as he stays healthy, Serraglio should see his name mentioned more often with the other top players in the Alliance.

2. Blake Butler (Lambton Jr. Sting)

An argument could be made for Butler to be number one on this list and that debate happened in my mind over and over again. Butler was the preseason top choice in the Alliance for his combination of size, speed and skill. There is no doub that Butler has an OHL calibre shot. He has scored some OHL level goals with one that sticks in my mind is his game winner against Hamilton at the Showcase in Woodstock in early December. Butler has taken Lambton on his back this year and has brought them into contention of a playdown spot. Don’t be surprised to hear Butler’s name called in the first couple of rounds come April’s OHL Draft.

1  Ben McFarlane (Cambridge Hawks)

McFarlane nabs the top spot in my initial rankings and as mentioned above, it wasn’t an easy decision by any means. McFarlane brings a big game in a small frame. A small player at the minor midget level, McFarlane has a lightning quick shot to go along with very good speed. Despite his small size, McFarlane plays a highly physical game and throws hits like he’s been shot out of a rocket launcher. Although on a team with loads of talent, McFarlane has been the one to take games over when the Hawks are in need of a boost. McFarlane has all the tools to be a great player at the next level, especially in this new age of hockey where size isn’t the be all end all.

2017/18 Alliance Player Rankings 6-15

Here we are, back at it with the second section of the inaugural Alliance Scout Player Rankings for the 2017/18 season. This list will bring us all the way to the top five and has some players who will be able to make a run at a top five position based on their play in the last few months of the season heading into the OHL Draft in April.

15. Matt Onuska (Waterloo Wolves)

Onuska is the lone goaltender to make the rankings in its first format. While there were a few goaltenders in the discussion for top netminder in the assocation, Onuska has done plenty to distance himself for the pack. Onuska has size on his side, already standing over six feet tall. He’s also incredibly agile for a bigger goaltender and rarely gives up bad rebounds. Onuska has been a key in the Wolves recent march up the Alliance standings.
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Alliance Showcase Day Two Recap

It was a quick day of games at the second day of the Alliance Showcase. While it was a shorter day for those watching in attendance, it was a busy day for the players as they went through both on and off ice seminars.

Back at Central Park for the games today, I do have one complaint about the venue. This may be splitting hairs, but I’ve found over the past couple of days that the sightlines at both rinks leave much to be desired. There are few places to watch the games with an unobstructed view so the lesson was learned during day one that early entrance is neccessary.

There were some real solid games on Saturday afternoon. Let’s go through some of the action.

Sun County Panthers hold on against Huron-Perth to remain undefeated

Sun County got out to an early lead and extended it with a couple of quick goals. Penalty trouble for the Panthers allowed Huron-Perth to get back into the game but the Panthers held on and remain undefeated to begin the season.

Davis Edmunds really had a good showing for Sun County. Whether it was on defense or when he was situated up front and attacking as a forward, his quick shot release gave the Lakers and goaltender Garrett Golley some issues. John Ulicny had another good game for Sun County, using his speed and shot to cause havoc. For the Lakers, Sheldon Pryce was all over the offensive zone and played his best game I’ve seen through the early point of the season. Carter Schoonderwoerd also had a great game and had a sweet goal to make it 4-3. This was also the first time I’d seen Schoonderwoerd play a physical game away from the puck which was nice to see finally.
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Alliance Showcase Day One Recap

It was a long trek to get to the Central Park Athletic Centre in Windsor, Ontario. Windsor is playing host to the 2017 Alliance Minor Midget Showcase event after two years of the event taking place in St. Mary’s under the Huron-Perth Lakers banner.

The September showcase is a little bit different than years past. Due to the Alliance running a second showcase weekend in December around their All-Star weekend, all teams will play just three games this weekend as opposed to the four they had previously played.

Here is a brief recap of some of the action that I was able to catch.

Sun County’s Offensive Prowess Powers Past Brantford

In my first viewing of this season’s Sun County Panthers squad, it did not take long to see why the offense has been so successful in the early part of the season. The Panthers used their speed and puck movement to get out in front early and despite a strong third period from the 99ers, held on for the win.

Matthew Maggio, John Ulicny, Ryan Gagnier and Zane Dalpe were all stellar in the contest. Ulicny’s shot and Maggio’s speed were on display in full force as Sun County improved to 3-0. For Brantford, their best players in the game were probably their youngest in Cole Hipkin and Maddox Callens. Hipkin showed he belongs as one of the top defenders in the Alliance while Callens had some of the best chances for the 99ers all day.
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2017/18 Sun County Panthers Season Preview

Minor Midget Record: 11-15-7 (8th Place)

Minor Midget Result: Lost in quarter-finals to London in 3 games

Major Bantam Record: 13-14-5 (7th Place)

Major Bantam Result: Lost in semi-finals to Cambridge in 3 games

The Minor Midgets last season were a disappointment for the Sun County Panthers as they ran into the London Jr. Knights in round one. With the 2002 crop of Panthers, there is a legitimate shot at an OHL Cup appearance.

There were high hopes for the 2001 born Sun County team. Led in goal by arguably the top goaltender in the league Aidan Pitre, it was believed he would be able to lead the team to a strong season. In addition to Pitre, the Panthers were led up front by the criminally under rated Stephane Crevier, who was one of the best goal scorers in the Alliance last year. An inconsistent season led Sun County to an eighth place finish and a date with London in the first round and a quick postseason exit.
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2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft Results

It is finally that time of the year. The OHL Priority Selection draft is upon us and as always it is a very exciting day.

This draft will be different than in past years because of the fact that we now do have the Midget draft in play. Not to say that changes a whole lot but we still do not know what teams strategies will be, especially when it comes to goaltenders.

Looking back at 2016, the Alliance had 36 players taken in the priority selection draft. Of those 36, 22 were forwards, 11 defenseman and 3 goaltenders. Those 36 players represented all 12 teams in the Alliance. When we look at the draft this season, I would expect to see the number of players remain around the 35-40 mark with the possibility of surpassing 40.

Stay tuned at for all the up to date picks involving Alliance players. It’s going to be quite the day so come along for the ride beginning at 9am EST.

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2017 Final Alliance Scout Top 25 Player Rankings

Another season has come and gone and now it is time to look ahead to one of the final chapters of the season, the 2017 OHL Priority Selection draft. Prior to any draft, you will see hundreds of different rankings for hundreds of different things.

There wasn’t much change in my rankings from when they were released earlier this year. A couple of newcomers have joined the list and there was some shuffling around, but the top of the list remained the same.

  1. Ryan Suzuki (London Jr. Knights) – The reported favourite to go 1st overall come Saturday, Suzuki shows fantastic vision on the ice and pinpoint passing skills. A playmaker, Suzuki has shown the ability to light the lamp when needed.
  2. Brett Budgell (London Jr. Knights) – Budgell was a huge addition to London this season and helped them secure an Alliance championship and a semi-final run at the OHL Cup. Destined for the QMJHL, Budgell could be selected in the top 10.
  3. Grayson Ladd (Chatham-Kent Cyclones) – The best D in the Alliance this year, Ladd has fine tuned his play with the Chatham Maroons once his minor midget season ended.
  4. Aidan Prueter (London Jr. Knights) – Prueter has jumped up the list thanks to an impressive postseason run. Prueter has a knack for getting to the open areas and his puck control and possession is top notch.
  5. Keean Washkurak (Waterloo Wolves) – Washkurak’s speed is undeniable and the 110% he gives every shift is evident. His 200ft game will be coveted by many teams.
  6. Nathan Allensen (Waterloo Wolves) – Allensen was a workhorse for the Wolves near the end of the year. He defended many of the top players in Ontario this year with success and his offensive upside is very apparent.
  7. Stephane Crevier (Sun County Panthers) – Injuries slowed Crevier down a bit at the end of the year but the talented winger continued his strong play to the very end. A wicked shot from the slot and quick cuts allow him to create so many chances on the ice.
  8. Justin McCombs (Kitchener Jr. Rangers) – McCombs season was short due to injuries, but he showed in the postseason his value on the ice. Speed, vision and a strong defensive game should see him be one of the early Alliance picks.
  9. Jeffrey Burridge (London Jr. Knights) – The big winger was a hit at the OHL Cup due to his outstanding play. Burridge is a smooth skater with deceptive speed. Has the potential to develop into a strong power forward.
  10. Cole Mackay (Kitchener Jr. Rangers) – The Alliance leader in goals with arguably the best shot in the league, MacKay’s offensive upside could translate well to major junior hockey. His breakaway speed burned many teams this year.
  11. David Anderson (Cambridge Hawks) – Anderson really developed into a two way player through his minor midget season. A lethal scorer, his defensive skills were on display during the OHL Cup.
  12. Ryan Campbell (Cambridge Hawks) – Campbell had one of the best showings at the OHL Combine and that should boost his stock. Campbell’s play with the Winterhawks has also showed strong possibilities.
  13. Aidan Pitre (Sun County Panthers) – The top and only goalie in the rankings, Pitre helped carry Sun County to a playoff win over Elgin-Middlesex. Pitre has size and has great poise under pressure.
  14. Cole Schwindt (Kitchener Jr. Rangers) – Schwindt is a player many would enjoy on their roster as a strong defensive forward. Schwindt did a great job this season filling in as the top centre with McCombs out due to injury and impressed many onlookers.
  15. Jordan Stock (Hamilton Huskies) – One of my personal favourites in the Alliance this year, Stock is a smooth forward who was a nightmare for defenders down low.
  16. Navrin Mutter (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs) – Mutter joins the list after just missing out earlier this year. Mutter is a physical force combined with offensive prowess.
  17. Liam Van Loon (London Jr. Knights) – Many were raving about Van Loon at the OHL Cup and for good reason. The overtime hero for London in their Alliance clinching game, Van Loon gives it his all every second on the ice. He has an underrated shot that surprises many defenders.
  18. Mark Woolley (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs) – One of the best showings at the OHL Combine went to the Chief’s Woolley. Has speed and a bullet from the backend that compliments his physical style. Some added size will help propel him further.
  19. Mason Howard (London Jr. Knights) – Another physical defenseman, Howard uses his great hockey IQ to always put himself in a spot for success. With some of the biggest hits I saw all season, Howard could be a force at the Jr. B level next season.
  20. Nolan DeGurse (Lambton Jr. Sting) – DeGurse was the main offensive option for the Jr. Sting this season. A centre on the smaller end of the size chart, DeGurse uses his quick cuts and even quicker release to capitalize on small chances.
  21. Jagger O’Toole (Cambridge Hawks) – O’Toole played some major minutes for the Hawks this year which included time up with the Winterhawks. A two-way defender, O’Toole’s stick handling is vastly understated.
  22. Gavin Wood (Waterloo Wolves) – Wood showed a lot of improvement in multiple aspects of his game this season. He began the year as a solid defensive option and turned into an offensive threat, leading the offensive rush on several occasions.
  23. Brayden Krieger (Waterloo Wolves) – Krieger was a great secondary scoring option for the Wolves this season. Krieger has good speed and smooth puck skills that allow him to get solid shooting options.
  24. Aaron Shaw (Windsor Jr. Spitfires) – Shaw was a focal point of the Windsor offense this season playing alongside Tyler Tullio and Adam Jeffery. Shaw is underrated in my mind and could turn into a solid value pick for one lucky club.
  25. Jacob Bloomfield (Brantford 99ers) – Rounding out the list is Bloomfield, the shifty 99er forward. Bloomfield has speed and skill that can create ample amounts of chances, which was displayed during All-Star weekend. Small in size now, Bloomfield has loads of potential should a growth spurt occur.

That does it for the Alliance Scout Top 25 player rankings. This was not an easy list to compile and there were a lot of players that just missed out. During the 2016 OHL Priority Selection draft, 22 out of the 25 players listed in the final top 25 rankings were taken.

Follow all the action right here at beginning at 9am on Saturday. We will be keeping you up to date on all Alliance players and goalies selected by OHL clubs.

Series Preview: (1) London Jr. Knights vs. (4) Cambridge Hawks

The London Jr. Knights cruised into the semi-finals by further cementing their offensive prowess against the leagues best goaltender. Cambridge also swept their way into the final four in a physical affair that featured a home away from home game. The obvious question heading into this 8 point series is whether the Hawks defense and stellar goaltending can last a full 50 minutes against London’s powerhouse forwards.

London, who still own top spot in the OHL Cup rankings, made a definite statement in their first round series with the Sun County Panthers, outscoring them 17-3 through the three game series. The Jr. Knights were lead by a few familiar faces as Ryan Suzuki (4G, 5A), Aidan Preuter (2G, 6A) and Brett Budgell (2G, 5A) led the way offensively. The offense was spread out though with London having the top five scorers during the postseason thus far.

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

A rematch of last year’s first round series, the Waterloo Wolves quest for yet another Alliance championship will need to go through a Hamilton team that has been playing tight, defensive hockey over the past month.

The Waterloo Wolves are on an incredibly impressive run heading into the postseason. The Wolves have won 16 straight games which includes a huge win over the London Jr. Knights just a couple weeks ago. While Waterloo has not dominated throughout their win streak, they have found a way to pull out games when they needed to and get timely scoring along the way.
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