2018/19 Sun County Panthers Season Preview

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2017/18 Minor Midget Record: 18-8-7 (3rd Place)

2017/18 Minor Midget Result: Lost in semi-finals to London Jr. Knights in 3 games (Lost in OHL Cup Quarter-Finals to Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

2017/18 Major Bantam Record: 11-18-3 (8th Place)

2017/18 Major Bantam Result: Lost in 1/4 finals to London Jr. Knights in 3 games

Following an appearance in the OHL Cup quarter-finals last season, the Sun County Panthers have some big shoes to fill in order to replicate that success.

When the 2002 born Sun County Panthers were on, there wasn’t a more entertaining team. Chalked full of speed, the Panthers had a deadly first line that included Matt Maggio, Ryan Gagnier and Zane Dalpe that took the league by storm to begin the year. While the offense was always there, the defense left the team wanting more and it was the defense that ultimately saw their demise in the semi-finals against London. A wild card win over the Toronto Titans was the beginning of an OHL Cup run that got the team to the final 8.
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Final 2017/18 Alliance Scout Top 25 Rankings

After a six month period that felt like it took no time at all, we have finally reached the unofficial end to the 2017/18 campaign on April 7th with the OHL Priority Selection Draft.

As always, AllianceHockeyScout.com will be there for the entirety of the draft, giving updates and keeping tabs on those Alliance players who find news home with OHL clubs. The Alliance is coming off one of their best showings at the draft last year and it will be hard to duplicate that success this year. In the 2017 Priority Selection Draft, the Alliance saw 46 players taken with all 12 teams being represented. While I can see all 12 teams having at least one player selected, it would be quite the surprise to see the 2002 born players reached the quantity of the 01’s.

With all of that said, here is the final set of rankings prior to the selection draft. There are definitely some changes from the midseason rankings with some new faces also making appearances.
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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 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 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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Series Preview: (1) London Jr. Knights vs. (8) Sun County Panthers

The London Jr. Knights are currently the number one team in the province according to the OHL Cup rankings and have been nearly untouchable for the Alliance season. Sun County recently clinched a playoff spot and a some recent tough games led them to falling into the 8th seed.

London only lost two season games all year and dominated the majority of the teams. The one team they did not totally dominate was the Sun County Panthers. In three league games this year, London went 2-0-1 but their largest victory was just two goals. Only Waterloo and Kitchener played the Jr. Knights tougher than the Panthers did this season.
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Alliance All-Star Rosters Released

Coming up this weekend, Waterloo will host yet another Alliance All-Star weekend. The event, which showcases players from Bantam to Midget, is also the beginning of the selection process for the Alliance OHL Gold Cup team as well as the first viewing for some looking to represent Team Canada next year at the U16 tournament.

68 Minor Midget players were selected as part of the four team mini tournament that occurs throughout the weekend. 36 forwards, 24 defenseman and 8 goalies in total will make the trek.

Here are the full team rosters.

Team Blue:

G – Corson Marit (Kitchener)

G – Lewis Boulton (London)

D – Stefan Dobrich (Sun County)

D – Mason Howard (London)

D – Stefan Panzalovic (Sun County)

D – Dylan Schives (Chatham-Kent)

D – Michael Van Loon (Elgin-Middlesex)

D – Gavin Wood (Waterloo)

F – David Anderson (Cambridge)

F – Cal Christner (Waterloo)

F – Stephane Crevier (Sun County)

F – Nolan Degurse (Lambton)

F – Luke Drewitt (London)

F – Tyson Hillier (Waterloo)

F – T.J. Hughes (Hamilton)

F – Jakob Marche (Elgin-Middlesex)

F – Keean Washkurak (Waterloo)
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Whitby Silver Stick Day Two Recap

It was an early Friday morning for Day Two of the Whitby Silver Stick tournament. The Alliance teams got into action at around 8am and there was lots to take in. By the end of the 2nd day of action, three out of the five Alliance teams were still alive for a spot in the quarter-finals. Not only that, but two teams still have a shot at winning their divisions with one being a bit of a surprise based on how the season had played out to this point.

Sun County Comes Up Big In Tournament Opener

In their first game of the tournament, Sun County came out blazing against a tough Soutern Tier team. The Panthers started out the game more shorthanded then they were expecting. With Josh DiCarlo out for the tournament, Sun County began the game without leading scorer Stephane Crevier as he appeared to have an equipment issue.

Without Crevier, the Panthers were still able to strike first thanks to Hunter Hutchins banging home the loose puck in front of the net. Crevier returned to work a Panther powerplay when the Admirals turned it around a scored a shorthanded goal on a nice breakaway, sliding it underneath and outstretch Aidan Pitre.

Prior to the flood, 02 born Zane Dalpe capitalized on another scramble in front of the Admirals net to give Sun County another lead, this time 2-1 this lead would hold until the flood.

Starting the third period off strong, Marcus Joughin, probably the Panthers strongest player in this game, put Sun County up 3-1 and they never looked back. An empty netter gave Sun County a 4-1 win and their first win of the tournament. Joughin was big in this game along with Everett Parent. Aidan Pitre, would is getting his work in this weekend, had another great game for the Panthers.
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Alliance Showcase Day 1 Round-Up

First off, I’d like to give a big thumbs up to the organizers from the Huron-Perth association and those working at the Pyramid complex for setting up a fantastic first day of the weekend. The home baked treats were an added bonus this year.

Secondly, the net at this arena are atrocious. I have never in all my years involved in hockey ever seen the nets come off its pegs as often as I did today, and we’re only one day into the event. Hopefully something can be figured out overnight to save us from having an extra 10 stoppages per game.

Now over to the actual games being played. Day one saw a couple of close games and a couple of blowouts. The close games had the drama while the blowouts showcased some big games for the forwards. As I am only one person, not every game could be viewed in its entirety, but I was able to catch at least a chunk of every game today.

Elgin-MIddlesex edges past Cambridge Hawks

The Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs picked up their 2nd win of the season in what could be described as an upset, 3-2 over the Cambridge Hawks. The Hawks thought they were headed for a tie after Jagger O’Toole tied the game with just over a minute remaining. But the Chiefs stormed right back and Hunter Monkhouse banged home a rebound to put the Chiefs back up for good with 26 seconds remaining.
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