2019 OHL Cup Ranking: December’s Top-10

We’re now less than four months away from the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, and this season’s top minor midget teams are gearing up for what will surely be an exciting conclusion to the 2018-19 campaign.

Since we last convened, each of North America’s best teams have played a whack of games — and have formulated a number of intriguing storylines in the process. Perhaps the most interesting case of all this season is the Don Mills Flyers, a GTHL team who began their year on an absolute tear yet have been humbled multiple times of late. The first — and most entertaining — instance of which came at the 2018 Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament, where the Flyers were handed their first loss of the season in dramatic overtime fashion by a deep and highly skilled Detroit Compuware team.

Since being handed with this defeat, Don Mills has appeared to be human — collecting three ties in league action to each of the Toronto Nationals, Toronto Marlboros, and Toronto Red Wings, a trio of dominant teams on the rise. Of the three, it is the Red Wings who are undoubtedly the most intriguing of which. Despite stumbling out of the gate early, the Red Wings have been on fire of late and posted a sparkling 9-0-2 record in their 11 games preceding this ranking.

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Meanwhile, in the ETA, the Whitby Wildcats have continued their absolute dominance and could stand as a legitimate threat to the GTHL’s top-four teams come the OHL Cup. Although the North Central Predators have made a push of late, the Wildcats are flush with skilled forwards, a deep defence, and consistent goaltending — in other words, the Wildcats’ overall record of 33-4-3 should come as no surprise. Then, in the SCTA, the Niagara North Stars have continued to impress owing to their balanced attack, yet will surely have to fend off the hard charging Halton Hurricanes in the month ahead.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Player Profiles

All in all, the month of November was a wildly exciting month of hockey in the minor midget world. And, although this ranking will surely generate a great deal of discussion, plenty of time remains for those teams on the outside looking in to seize a permanent place in our OHL Cup Ranking.

December’s Top-10 Teams

Well, here they are, December’s top-10 minor midget teams eligible for the 2019 OHL Cup.

In short, this month’s ranking is not wildly different than November’s edition. In fact, of last month’s top-10 teams, eight of which remain within December’s top-10 — with one familiar foe returning to the mix owing to a stellar run in November and superb showing at the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

With this being said, let’s dive into this month’s ranking. Please find both of our October and November Rankings below, as well as in-depth team reports regarding this month’s top clubs.

10. Niagara North Stars

  • Months Ranked: 2
  • League Record: 17-3-6; 93GF & 50GA
  • Tournament Record: 4-4-4

Despite a mediocre tournament record thus far this season, the Niagara North Stars have continued to dominate the SCTA circuit with both consistency and lethality. Since we last convened on Nov. 14th, the Stars put together a sparkling 6-1-2 record in league play alongside a whopping 35 goals scored for — or, in other words, 3.8 tallies per game. Now, although their early exit from the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament was less than ideal, Niagara North’s competition within Pool D was not only deep but remarkably skilled.

Leading the charge for the Stars has continued to be both of Matteo Giampa and Liam Shwedyk, as the two forwards have come together to act as dynamic pillars within the Stars’ offensive attack. Further, there has been the increasingly impressive contributions put forth by defenceman Trent Swick. Although born in 2004, the young defender has shown remarkable poise and maturity in his game — a major reason why he has averaged over a half a point-per-game thus far in 2018-19.

Niagara North’s next significant challenge? The Toronto Marlies Holiday Classic, slated to begin on Dec. 27th.

9. North Central Predators

  • Months Ranked: 2
  • League Record: 16-5-2; 91GF & 62GA
  • Tournament Record: 5-4-0
  • Titans Early Bird: Sweet 16

Although the Whitby Wildcats stand high atop the ETA standings, the North Central Predators aren’t ready to surrender the title without a fight. Battling neck and neck with the York Simcoe Express all season for the top spot in the West Division, the Predators have finally gained some separation owing to their impressive play over the past month. In fact, North Central played to a 6-2-1 record in ETA play since November’s OHL Cup Ranking was released — defined by hard-fought victories over the Central Ontario Wolves and Ajax-Pickering Raiders.

In the midst of this success was the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament, a gathering which saw the Predators put forth two stellar games of shutout hockey before dropping their final two contests of the tournament.

One major reason for North Central’s continued success this campaign has been the significant contributions which the club has received from throughout its lineup. Sure, the likes of Cole Patey, Ethan Larmand, and Nicholas Dowling have led the charge offensively, but other assets such as Connor Punnett and Brett Bressette have proven crucial to the on-going success of the Predators. Further, mix in a rock-solid goaltender in Wade Monague, and North Central suddenly stands as one of the ETA’s deepest and most capable teams.

8. Kitchener Jr. Rangers

  • Months Ranked: 1
  • League Record: 14-6-6; 107GF & 64GA
  • Tournament Record: 7-5-2
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Quarterfinalist

The Rangers are a fast-paced squad with high-octane offence. Over the past month, Kitchener has played to a 6-1-1 record in Alliance, driving themselves up to second in the league standings, only three points behind the Brantford 99ers. At the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament, the Rangers were placed in what was arguably the toughest pool and battled to a 1-2-1 record. However, the team has continued along on a roll since their return to league action, piling up the goals while maintaining a solid defensive mindset as well.

The Jr. Rangers boast two strong lines of offence, led by Marko Sikic — a dynamic playmaker with tremendous vision and hockey sense. A player who can make those around him better, Sikic has been Kitchener’s go-to offensive catalyst, while the likes of Matthew Sop, Braedon Bowman, Logan Crans, and Patrick Brown have also contributed consistent offence to the team. On the back end, Lucas Brzustowski and Angelo Duscio have led a two-way defensive mindset which sees Kitchener’s defencemen jump into the rush whenever possible.

7. Brantford 99ers

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 17-6-3; 105GF & 61GA
  • Tournament Record: 6-3-6
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Quarterfinalist

Despite somewhat slowing down from their early season pace, the Brantford 99ers remain the team to beat in Alliance, maintaining the top position in the standings despite a modest 5-4-1 record over their past 10 games. At the recent Silver Stick Tournament, the 99ers were placed in the rough Pool B alongside their Alliance rival the Jr. Rangers. Brantford fared a little better, but not by much — riding to a 0-0-4 record and bowing out after the round robin. Despite holding the league lead, the gap is thinning quickly as Kitchener, Waterloo, and Windsor are all within striking distance.

Brantford is an offensive-minded team who is led by one of the most dynamic first line’s in the league, perhaps even in the province. The trio of Maddox Callens, Landon McCallum, and Steven LaForme have been giving teams fits all year long, accounting for 50% of the 99ers goals this season. But, stud defenceman Cole Hipkin might be the best of the bunch. With excellent strength, an intelligent shot, and smooth skating, Hipkin regularly stands outs as a notable prospect.

6. Mississauga Rebels

  • Months Ranked: 2
  • League Record: 13-9-2; 62GF & 43GA
  • Tournament Record: 12-3-1
  • Titans Early Bird: Quarterfinalist
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Sweet 16
  • International Silver Stick: Quarterfinalist

The Mississauga Rebels have been wildly inconsistent in GTHL action this year, falling from as high as the 3rd seed all the way down to 8th, and now back up to 5th overall. However, the roller coaster ride has always seemed to come together just in time for the major tournaments. At last month’s Silver Stick Tournament, the Rebels cruised to the quarterfinals, where they were narrowly defeated by the eventual champion, Detroit Compuware, by a score of 3-2. Playing to an 8-2-1 record over their past 11 games, the Rebels have reinstated themselves as a true contender.

The Rebels play a sound all-around game, playing to relatively low scores and finding ways to win tights games. Up front, the trio of Pasquale Zito, Jesse Fishman, and Christian Catalano continue to provide most of the team’s offence, while goaltender Justin Wu may be one of this year’s most underrated goaltenders. Defenceman Judd Katz has also been one of the most improved players over the course of this season, using his size and strength to his advantage while finding the confidence to rush pucks up ice himself to generate offence.

5. Toronto Red Wings

  • Months Ranked: 2
  • League Record: 14-5-5; 95GF & 53GA
  • Tournament Record: 5-6-2
  • Titans Early Bird: Sweet 16

One of the hottest team’s in the province, the Red Wings have overcome a slow start to the season — reeling off an impressive 9-0-2 record in their past 11 GTHL games to solidify their standing as a top-four seed. Unfortunately, that success didn’t translate to the Silver Stick Tournament, where the team went 1-2-1 in the round robin. However, upon their return to league play, the Red Wings upset the Toronto Marlboros before playing to ties against the Toronto Nationals and Don Mills Flyers — legitimizing their position as a true contender in the GTHL.

An explosive offence is led by a dynamic top line for the Red Wings. Potential 2019 OHL first-rounder Francesco Pinelli centres Ryan Gillespie and Adam Fantilli — an ’04-born prospect who will likely be a top-three pick for the 2020 OHL Draft. Tending the twine, Joshua Rosenzweig has established himself as one of the GTHL’s top goaltenders, utilizing excellent rebound control and coverage of the bottom-half of the net, as well as spectacular desperation saves to keep his team in the game each night. Defenders Chandler Romeo and Joshua Orrico have also improved to stabilize the Red Wings backend.

4. Toronto Young Nationals

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 19-3-3; 104GF & 52GA
  • Tournament Record: 7-3-0
  • Titans Early Bird: Quarterfinalist

The Toronto Young Nationals continue to be a major presence amongst the top tier of GTHL teams, playing to a 6-0-3 record since November’s OHL Cup Ranking to hold onto the second seed, with a four point gap ahead of the Marlies. Unfortunately, their opportunity to make an impression on the big stage went for not, as they fought for a 2-2-0 record in the round robin of the Silver Stick Tournament before heading home.

In any case, there’s no denying the talent and potential that the Nationals offer each night. With no true holes in their lineup from top to bottom, the Nationals boast three lines that can find the back of the net on any given night. Led offensively by Zach Dean, Ryan Del Monte, and Josh Bloom, the Nationals can dominate the possession game against any opponent. With Deven Nagra, Landon Cato, and Declan Ride leading their blue line, the Nationals’ line of defence can shut down high-powered offences with relative ease. Not to mention the duo of Samuel Moncada and Forbes Andersen in between the pipes, the Nationals are destined to be a force until the end.

3. Whitby Wildcats

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 20-1-3; 111GF & 39GA
  • Tournament Record: 13-3-0
  • Titans Early Bird: Sweet 16
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Sweet 16
  • International Silver Stick: Semi-Finalist

Whitby has continued their run as the ETA’s most dominant team with consistency through two-thirds of the regular season. On pace to best their impressive 27-5-4 record from Bantam, the Wildcats have been a notable team at each of this year’s major tournaments thus far. Most recently, the team put an impressive performance on display at the International Silver Stick, a tournament which they hosted. The team rolled into the quarterfinals with relative ease before losing a battle to Don Mills in a game that was much closer than the 4-1 score indicated.

As the Wildcats continue along in ETA action, they have posted a 7-0-0 record since our last ranking, further legitimizing themselves as the top team in OMHA. Featuring a deep attack highlighted by a superstar top line of Brenden Sirizzotti, Ryan Winterton, and Thomas Johnston, the Wildcats boast a high-scoring lineup from top to bottom. Not to mention a solid group of defenders, most of whom are able to contribute at both ends of the ice, and you get a tremendously balanced team who has played to a combined 33-4-3 record this year.

2. Toronto Marlboros

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 17-5-3; 96GF & 44GA
  • Tournament Record: 13-3-3
  • Titans Early Bird: Quarterfinalist
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Finalist
  • International Silver Stick: Semi-Finalist

A perennial powerhouse in the GTHL, the Toronto Marlboros may not be the favourite this year, but they must be taken seriously nonetheless. Cruising along in GTHL action, the Marlies posted a 5-2-1 record over the past month, maintaining their position in the third seed. Putting forth an impressive performance at each major tournament this season, the Marlies made their mark once again at the Whitby International Silver Stick. After cruising to the top seed in Pool E, the Marlies battled through the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite squad before finally falling to the eventual champion Detroit Compuware in semi-final action.

As usual, the Marlies display a deep group of talented youngsters at both ends of the ice. With two dynamic scoring lines, notably led by the likes of Danil Zhilkin, Wyatt Johnston, and Jack Beck, the Marlies are able to run their opponents out of the game quickly on some nights. On the back end, studs in Artem Guryev and Ethan Del Mastro lead a blue line which can throw their weight around and also contribute offensively by rushing the puck up ice and getting heavy shots on net from the blue line.

1. Don Mills Flyers

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 21-0-3; 144GF & 34GA
  • Tournament Record: 21-1-1
  • Titans Early Bird: Champions
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Champions
  • International Silver Stick: Finalist

Although the Don Mills Flyers no longer hold a perfect record this season, the club remains as the minor midget team to beat in 2018-19. The first and only dent in the Flyers’ seemingly impenetrable armour thus far came against Detroit Compuware, who managed to defeat Don Mills in an electrifying clash at the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament. Despite tying the championship game in the dying seconds, the likes of Sasha Pastujov and Dylan Duke were simply too powerful to overcome for the Flyers.

Outside of this loss, however, Don Mills has continued to roll.

Although the team picked up ties against the Marlboros, Nationals, and Red Wings in GTHL action, the Flyers continue to stand as a runaway train capable of dominating their competition on a nightly basis. Averaging six goals for per game, Don Mills boasts a deep offensive attack supplemented by its potency on the blue line. And, while Shane Wright and the Flyers’ top line continues to lead the way, the breakout play of Edward Moskowitz and Paul Christopoulos has added yet another dimension of lethality to Don Mills’ devastating attack.

4 thoughts on “2019 OHL Cup Ranking: December’s Top-10

  1. You can tell these authors are from the GTHL area. Never posting anything Northern Ontario Hockey related, and although the OHL has released these rankings with the Sudbury Wolves AAA ranking #5, I find it odd that Sudbury has never appeared on any of Prospect Pipeline’s top 10…This is one of the strongest Minor Midget AAA groups to ever come out of Northern Ontario.

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    1. Hi Gavin, thank you for your comment. We didn’t include the Sudbury Wolves MM AAA Team because they aren’t eligible to compete in the OHL Cup. As per the OHL Cup website, the NOHA will send one tournament team (Team NOHA) to the OHL Cup which represents the best which the Northern Ontario Hockey Association has to offer. So, yes, the Sudbury Wolves MM team is incredibly strong. However, at the end of the day, they aren’t eligible.

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      1. Okay thank you, I did not realize that they weren’t eligible, I know about Team NOHA but I did not know it made teams like Sudbury not eligible for rankings, thanks again

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      2. Not a problem at all Gavin! It appears as though the OHL’s Ranking lists the top-10 teams overall rather than the top-10 teams eligible to compete in the OHL Cup itself. If we were doing a top-10 team ranking for minor midget, the Sudbury Wolves MM would certainly be included — they’ve been impressive and consistent all season long. However, given the fact that our OHL Cup Ranking follows the league-based allocation framework, we have to exclude Sudbury and consider Team NOHA instead.

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