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.

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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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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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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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3 Thoughts from Waterloo at Kitchener (January 20, 2016)

Despite the fact that they bordering towns and their home rinks are separated by just 20 minutes, Waterloo and Kitchener don’t play each nearly enough considering the calibre of games they have played this season.

In the previous two outings that I have taken in live, both teams played very competitively against each other especially in the semi-final of the Gold Puck tournament. In their last meeting of the regular season, you had Waterloo still technically fighting for top spot in the league and Kitchener running a six game winning streak and coming off a win at the Peterborough Tournament of Champions.

It was a physical game from the beginning even with Kitchener missing the suspended Zach Edwards. The battle between captains Luke Bignell and Chris Playfair was also one that escalated throughout the game.

Here are a few other things that stood out from the game in which Waterloo ended Kitchener’s win streak with a 5-2 victory.

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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 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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