The third major tournament of the 2018-19 hockey season is now complete, and the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament was nothing short of a proving ground for this year’s top minor midget teams.
In all, 30 elite squads competed at the four-day long tournament, which saw a handful of clubs battle in an exhausting seven games from Thursday Nov. 23rd to Sunday, Nov. 26th. By the time the final buzzer had sounded, it was Detroit Compuware who had claimed the championship owing to a hard-fought 5-4 overtime contest against the previously unbeaten Don Mills Flyers.
In this final game — and throughout the entire tournament, in fact — Compuware forward Sasha Pastujov established himself as one of the very best 2003-born prospects competing within North America. Named as tournament MVP, Pastujov’s contributions — alongside those of teammate Dylan Duke — were essential to Compuware’s dominant play and ultimately historic win.
However, a great deal of other young prospects also enjoyed terrific tournament’s in Whitby, and proved to be crucial to the success of their respective teams throughout the event. Although Pastujov’s presence atop this list should come as no surprise, take a moment to learn the names of a whack of other players who were downright unstoppable — and impressive — throughout the event.
The Top-20 Performers
With this being said, here are the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament’s top-20 performers in 2018.
20. Christian Catalano – Mississauga Rebels
Despite struggling within the GTHL ahead of this event, the Mississauga Rebels entered the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament and exited with a wealth of success and confidence. One major driving force behind the Rebels’ startling 3-0-1 record within a challenging pool was Christian Catalano — a smooth skating forward who recorded one goal and six assists across his five games played.
With Mississauga scoring 11 total goals in the tournament, Catalano factored into more than half of his team’s tallies and stood as a persistent presence at both ends of the ice. Purposeful in his skating and in possession of a stellar shot, Catalano’s blasts on-goal produced rebounds for his teammates throughout the tournament, while his commitment to two-way play helped hold the Rebels to a mere six goals against.
19. Francesco Pinelli – Toronto Red Wings
Although the Toronto Red Wings did not enjoy a great deal of success throughout the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament given their 1-2-1 record, Francesco Pinelli continued to build his case as one of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection’s most underrated prospects. A driving force behind the Red Wings’ offence, Pinelli plays a professional style of hockey and can be counted upon to lead his team at both ends of the ice.
Across Toronto’s four games played, the team scored six goals. Of these six goals, Pinelli was involved in five, scoring two of which while adding three assists on the others — an indication of his undeniable value to the Red Wings’ on-ice success. A sturdy and strong skater who is a versatile threat on offence, Pinelli is a natural leader whose play has been vastly overlooked to date in the 2018-19 season. In short, expect Pinelli’s performance at this event to fuel his success in the GTHL.
18. Luke Hughes – Detroit Little Caesars
Luke Hughes is as slippery and calculated as they come, thinking through each and every decision he makes on the ice with not only haste but purpose. It is this ability to process the game at a rapid pace which has come to fuel Hughes’ on-ice success, as the undersized defenceman is remarkably lethal and productive from his perch on the blue line.
Throughout the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament, Hughes continued to put his awe-inspiring skill-set on display. In his five games played for Detroit Little Caesars at the event, Hughes recorded two goals and three assists for a total of five points — a total which placed him in a tie for the highest sum on his team. Like his older brother Quinn, Hughes as a smooth-skater who thinks before he acts. Not afraid to takes risks in order to generate offence, Hughes utilizes his creativity well and can act as a rover if not adequately protected.
17. Zachary Dean – Toronto Nationals
Zachary Dean is an electrifying center who can dictate the pace and momentum of the game. With tremendous agility and acceleration, Dean pulls off moves that will make you double-clutch. A QMJHL prospect due to his birthplace, Dean is the heart and soul of the Toronto Nationals, and pushed them as far as he could in the round robin before losing a deciding game to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, Dean was utterly dynamic and electrifying in those four games. En route to adding two goals and five points, he was a constant force at both ends of the ice, leading his team at both five-on-five and on the powerplay. Dean is an ultra smooth skater who can make high-end moves at top speed, and should be considered a top-end prospect regardless of his draft eligibility.
16. Cole Hipkin – Brantford 99ers
The Brantford 99ers endured an interesting tournament, to say the least. In their four round-robin games played, the 99ers tied all four contests while scoring 11 goals and allowing 11 against. Of these four ties, one came against the high-powered Don Mills Flyers and served as the Flyers’ first result other than a win all season.
Instrumental to the 99ers’ relative success during the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament was Cole Hipkin, a stellar puck-moving defender who plays the game with remarkable energy as well as poise and composure. In his team’s four games played, Hipkin led the 99ers in scoring with five assists while standing as a competent defenceman within his own zone. Next to Brandt Clarke of Don Mills, argubly no defender eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection boasts greater playmaking and vision than Hipkin.
15. Jack Devine – Chicago Mission
The Chicago Mission enjoyed a promising Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament, rolling to a 3-0-1 record in the round-robin alongside two shutout victories. Crucial to the high-powered offence put forth by the Mission was Jack Devine — a scrappy forward who is as lethal offensively as he is driven to succeed and irritate his opposition. In fact, in addition to scoring two goals and seven points in five games played, Devine added ten penalty minutes to the mix as well.
Ultimately, Chicago fell to Don Mills in the quarter-finals. However, Devine’s performance helped to once again establish the native of Illinois as one of the USA’s top 2003-born prospects. Committed to the University of Denver, Devine will undoubtedly become a tremendous NCAA player owing to his innate offensive abilities as well as willing to mix things up physically, too.
14. Marc Boudreau – Toronto Marlboros
Much like the Toronto Marlboros themselves this season, Marc Boudreau’s game continues to grow and impress. A sizeable and smooth-skating forward who isn’t afraid to play a physical game, Boudreau’s offensive play has grown dramatically this season alongside his responsibilities as a two-way player.
In his six games played at the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament, Boudreau tallied one goal while adding five assists for a total of six points. Although eliminated by Detroit Compuware in the semi-finals, Boudreau’s quick-hands and creativity were on display all tournament long and were critical to the Marlboros’ dynamic offensive game. Boasting size, speed, and a lethal skill-set, Boudreau’s growing game continues to draw a great deal of attention, and deservedly so.
13. Redmond Savage – Detroit Compuware
Playing on Compuware’s dynamic top line, Red Savage has consistently upheld his production to match that of Sasha Pastujov and Dylan Duke. While he wasn’t as much of a game breaking player as the two in this tournament, Savage was still a dominant force who played a huge role in Compuware’s run to the title.
Savage displays a heavy shot and the courage to drive the net to create scoring chances, using a strong lower-half to protect the puck or to battle for position in front of the net. He shows an uncanny ability to follow up on rushes in order to arrive just in time to be able to scoop up loose pucks. Savage wrapped up the tournament with five goals and six points.
12. Ty Voit – Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
One of the more surprising names that was consistently coming up at this year’s tournament was Ty Voit, who enjoyed a breakout of sorts in many eyes. A defensively strong team, the Pittsburgh Penguins were narrowly ousted at the quarterfinals, but may not have been there without the help of Voit, who tallied five goals in five games.
Voit displayed excellent sense of his positioning on the ice, as well as an understanding of developing plays. This ability allowed him to be in the right place at the right time in many occasions, slipping into the play just as the opportunity presented itself. A performance like this is a huge confidence builder for a player still looking to prove himself to the hockey world.
11. Cole Eichler – Don Mills Flyers
Cole Eichler may not be as flashy as some of his teammates, but he is just as consistent with his offensive production. Eichler is a beast in front of the net, whether that be in deflecting pucks, hunting rebounds, or slipping into a soft spot for a cross-crease tap-in. The majority of Eichler’s goals come within five feet of the crease.
Away from the net-front, Eichler is also a very talented playmaker who can dish impressive saucer passes on the tape over long distances. A grinder with excellent vision, Eichler’s hockey sense allows him to thrive on Don Mills’ top line with Shane Wright and Brennan Othmann. Eichler tallied five goals and nine points in the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament, which was good for seventh-best overall.
10. Justin O’Donnell – Toronto Marlboros
When it counted, O’Donnell brought out his best game. A strong skater with somewhat of a grinder mentality, O’Donnell is tough to defend due to his heavy forecheck and ability to turn defenders inside-out. Of note, O’Donnell added a hat-trick in the quarterfinal, the tying goal and game-winner in overtime, as well as the Marlboros’ lone goal in the semifinal.
O’Donnell plays a style that is very translatable to the OHL level, with the size and strength to overwhelm his opponents as well as a powerful release on his wrist shot. He finished the tournament with five goals and eight points. O’Donnell has continuously improved his skating over the course of the year and is becoming a very intriguing prospect for the 2019 OHL Draft.
9. Liam Arnsby – Don Mills Flyers
Coming back from a recent stint on the injured list, Liam Arnsby is quickly reasserting himself as a top-tier prospect for the 2019 OHL Draft. Generally lining up on the Flyers’ second line, Arnsby plays a skilled yet heavy game. He displays high-end vision of the ice as well as a powerful wrist shot.
Arnsby routinely finishes his checks, often separating opponents from the puck and drawing the ire of the crowd. In the offensive zone, Arnsby isn’t afraid to battle for pucks along the wall, and shows impressive vision with passes through skates and sticks to teammates across the ice. Arnsby totalled four goals and 11 points, which ranked fourth in tournament scoring.
8. Davis Burnside – Chicago Mission
The second of the dynamic duo that the Chicago Mission boast, Burnside continued to showcase his ability to thrive amongst the strongest of competition. An Ohio State commit, Burnside was a constant force at both ends of the ice, hounding the puck, creating turnovers to capitalize on, and distributing the puck to dangerous areas in the offensive zone.
Alongside a strong and accurate shot, Burnside is a smart playmaker too, with the ability to find teammates cross-ice. Strong on his feet, Burnside carries the puck with poise and authority, changing gears and distributing the puck at top speeds. He concluded the tournament with four goals and seven points, finishing top ten in points-per-game.
7. Brennan Othmann – Don Mills Flyers
A prolific sniper for the powerhouse Flyers, Brennan Othmann continued his trend as a natural goal-scorer. With an electric release and pin-point accuracy, Othmann can find the smallest of holes and pick them with ease. He gets the puck on and off his blade in an instant, giving opposing goaltenders no time to transition and adjust their positioning.
Playing the wing on Don Mills’ top line and first powerplay unit, Othmann displayed impressive puck movement along the wall and behind the net, effectively spreading out the opposition to create time and space for his teammates. Othmann finished the tournament with five goals and 10 points, good for fifth in tournament scoring.
6. Ty Gallagher – Detroit Compuware
A big, two-way defenceman with great strength on his feet, Ty Gallagher proved to be one of the top defencemen in this year’s Silver Stick. Impressive skating abilities accompanied by an excellent understanding of his position make Gallagher a defenceman that can be relied upon under any circumstances. Showing the capability to join and lead the rush, Gallagher exhibits high-end offensive potential.
A Miami University of Ohio commit, Gallagher plays a mature game with good sense of his surroundings. He maintains tight gaps and directs opponents into the corners and away from danger areas. He shows the talent to not only force turnovers, but to take advantage of them by creating offensive opportunities as well.
5. Brenden Sirizzotti – Whitby Wildacts
Brenden Sirizzotti has continued to improve his draft stock over the course of this season. He has put up elite offensive numbers in the ETA through half of the season, playing at nearly a three points per game clip. Sirizzotti was able to further cement his status as a potential first-round pick with a spectacular performance at the Silver Stick which included eight goals — a total which ranked as the second-best in the tournament.
Showcasing dynamic speed and puck skills, he made plenty of defencemen and goaltenders look silly on his way to potting eight goals. Simply put, Sirizzotti is a high-skilled, offensive-minded winger who can put his team on his back. With excellent vision and instincts, he can go coast-to-coast with relative ease.
4. Dylan Duke – Detroit Compuware
On a strong, mature, and hard-working Detroit Compuware squad, Dylan Duke is the leader. As the team’s first line centre, Duke shows off impressive instincts and positioning at both ends of the ice. He is a workhorse, applying an aggressive forecheck to force turnovers and making the players around him better.
Duke displayed a heavy and accurate shot, as well as elite playmaking skills. A testament to his innate sense and vision of the ice, Duke and Sasha Pastujov teamed up to become a dynamic duo, and one which teams including the Don Mills Flyers simply could not contain. Duke rapped up the tournament with six goals and 14 points, good for fourth in goals and second in points.
3. Brandt Clarke – Don Mills Flyers
Brandt Clarke continued to separate himself from the pack of 2019 OHL Draft eligible defencemen. A workhorse on the Don Mills blue line, Clarke is one of the most intelligent defenders we’ve seen in a long time. He plays an incredibly poised game and constantly makes effective plays under immense pressure, very rarely giving away the puck. Quarterbacking the Flyers’ power play, Clarke has very intriguing offensive upside, as shown by his four goals and seven points.
Along with impressive hockey sense, Clarke is as smooth of a skater as they come. He combines a strong lower-body with excellent edge-work to protect with puck with ease, and is able to quickly pick up speed and blow through the neutral zone. A fantastic two-way defender, Clarke remains reliable in his own end by boxing out opponents and forcing turnovers along the wall with impeccable gap control and stick work.
2. Shane Wright – Don Mills Flyers
By now, everyone knows the story behind Shane Wright. An ’04-born center, Wright will likely apply for Exceptional Status in order to join the OHL as a 15-year-old. At this year’s Silver Stick, he continued to solidify his application. After missing game one of the tournament, Wright quickly climbed the leaderboard en route to finishing with seven goals and 12 points. Wright consistently proves to be above the class in nearly every aspect of the game, specifically with his skating, speed, and smarts.
An offensive dynamo, Wright is the catalyst for Don Mills’ offence. He protects the puck as well as anyone and is incredibly strong on his stick. He is tremendous from the half wall, effectively moving the puck north-south and east-west. Combined with great instincts, Wright is an offensive threat each time he takes the ice, and should almost certainly be in the OHL for the 2019-20 season.
1. Sasha Pastujov – Detroit Compuware
Well, the kid is alright. After weeks of speculation as to whether or not Sasha Pastujov and Duke would be included in Detroit Compuware’s roster, the duo came into Whitby and stole the show. Particularly, Pastujov really caught the eyes of everyone in attendance and brought forth a conversation comparing he and Wright for the 1st overall pick at the 2019 OHL Draft.
By tournament’s end, Pastujov had nine goals and 16 points to show for his efforts, good for MVP honours. What sets him apart from the competition is his ability to read the play and make instantaneous decisions with the puck. He displays tremendous vision and has incredible puck skills which churn out highlight reel goals with regularity. Pastujov is committed to the University of Notre Dame, a reality which makes his future in the OHL questionable.