2019 OHL Cup Ranking: January’s Top-10

Unbelievably, Ontario’s minor midget regular seasons are just about wrapped up, as we prepare for the playoff season that’s just around the corner. And with playoffs come the all important implications for the 2019 OHL Cup. Before we know it, teams will be punching their tickets into the year’s biggest showcase, making January’s OHL Cup Ranking all the more crucial.

Since last month’s ranking, we have witnessed some truly valuable showings, namely at the Marlboros Holiday Classic. Perhaps most notably was the strong showing put on by the HEO’s two teams comprised of 2019 OHL Draft eligible players. Both teams displayed impressive depth and high-end talent, which drove them through the round robin.

Related: Check out the Top-20 Performers from the Marlboros Holiday Classic

In the end however, it was once again the Don Mills Flyers who powered their way to the team’s third tournament championship on the campaign. Another perfect 8-0-0 record combined with 41 goals for versus just seven goals against provided a true testament to the Flyers’ consistent dominance.

In league play, Don Mills continues to push the pace of the GTHL, recently clinching their fourth straight GTHL Pro Hockey Life Cup, which is awarded to the top team in the regular season. Meanwhile, the trio of the Toronto Marlboros, Nationals, and Red Wings continue to play a fast-paced, high octane style which have them in a tight competition for seeds two through four.

Related: Don’t miss out on any of out 2019 OHL Prospect Profiles

In the ETA, the Whitby Wildcats continue to be the team to beat, building a massive lead in the standings which can’t be overcome. While York-Simcoe and North Central remain the other prominent figured in the league, the Quinte Red Devils can’t be forgotten either, as they boast an 8-1-2 record over their past 11 games played.

In SCTA action, the Halton Hurricanes have caught and surpassed the Niagara North Stars as the league’s first seed, while the Guelph Gryphons continue to stick around as a strong third seed. Out in the Alliance, there is a dogfight for seeds one through five, with all teams separated by less than 4% in terms of winning percentages.

Related: January’s OHL Draft Rankings – Top-160 Skaters and Top-20 Goaltenders

In all, the past four weeks have offered a deeper and further consistent look into the trends of the top teams eligible for the OHL Cup. However, it is crucial to remember that all 10 teams, and even a few teams outside the top-10, should be considered legitimate threats to come out as champions.

January’s Top-10 Teams

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

This month’s ranking remains relatively consistent with December’s edition. In fact, of last month’s top-10 teams, eight of them remain within January’s top-10 — with all teams in the top-six positions in that tier. For the first time this year, the Brantford 99ers are out of the top-10, as well are the SCTA’s Niagara North Stars. Taking their places in January’s ranking are the London Jr. Knights and the York-Simcoe Express.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

With this being said, let’s dive into this month’s ranking. Please find all three of our previous rankings below, as well as in-depth team reports regarding this month’s top clubs.

Note: All team records and goal totals are up-to-date as of Saturday, January 12th.

10. London Jr. Knights

  • Months Ranked: 2
  • League Record: 19-8-5; 140GF & 93GA
  • Tournament Record: 9-7-1
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Sweet 16

A deep and dynamic roster filled with high-octane offensive players, the Jr. Knights have led the Alliance in scoring all year long. Playing strong hockey of late, with a 5-0-1 record since our last ranking, the Knights have consistently been soaring up the standings just in time for the playoff season. At the Marlboros Holiday Classic, London was able to show their ability to compete and succeed against some of Ontario’s team, playing to a 3-1-0 round robin record, with their only loss coming to the Mississauga Rebels. Unfortunately, the team’s goal differential came up just short from advancing them to the round of 16.

London has been led up front all season by Brett Harrison, the Alliance’s leading goal and point scorer by a wide margin. A strong skater with high-end puck skills, Harrison has a lethal shot and is as dangerous of an offensive producer as they come. The Knights depth offers the team two prominent lines which can generate offence on a nightly basis. With secondary scoring coming from Riley Wood, Tyler Hotson, Jordan D’Intino, Cole Watson, and William German, London’s matchups are consistently high scoring affairs, by an average score of 4.375 goals for to 2.9 goals against per game.

9. York-Simcoe Express

  • Months Ranked: 2
  • League Record: 16-7-7; 109GF & 67GA
  • Tournament Record: 5-6-2
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Sweet 16

York-Simcoe’s campaign has been inconsistent at times, battling through their fair share of ups and downs, the team remains third in the ETA behind only Whitby and North Central. In any case, the team is trending up of late, sporting a 4-1-2 record since December’s ranking. The Express have also maintained a very impressive goals for percentage, a showing of their true capabilities to produce offence and limit opposing team’s forecheck. Unfortunately, the Express did not participate in the Marlboros Holiday Classic, missing out on a huge opportunity to prove their talent against Ontario’s top teams.

York-Simcoe boasts high-end talent on both ends of the ice, but are generally led by Kaleb Nelson, a swift skating centre and lethal shooter. The Express receive solid depth scoring as well, getting consistent offence from the likes of Ryan Cutler, Jordan Fuller, and Cole Turcotte. Further, the squad has become one of the top defensive teams in the league through a combination of an effective blue line and solid goaltending. Sound defensive leaders, Jacob Holmes and Braden Haché provide stability on the back end, while the underaged Thomas Sirman has had a dynamic year, adding plenty of offence from the blue line.

8. Kitchener Jr. Rangers

  • Months Ranked: 2
  • League Record: 18-6-7; 130GF & 75GA
  • Tournament Record: 10-6-2
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Quarterfinalist

Without a doubt, the hottest team in the Alliance right now is the Kitchener Jr. Rangers. Boasting a record of 5-0-1 over the last month, and 12-1-2 over their last 15, the Rangers have quickly shot up the rankings and are now challenging for the number one seed heading into the playoffs. At the recent Marlboros Holiday Classic, Kitchener put on an impressive showing, putting up a 3-1-0 record in the round robin before being narrowly eliminated by a goals for percentage tie-breaker. The team’s only defeat of the tournament came to the highly-touted Whitby Wildcats by a score of 3-1.

Kitchener has constantly proven to be an offensive dynamo along with a strangling defensive game. Up front, Marko Sikic continues to be the team’s leader, on and off the ice. However, the Rangers receive impressive scoring up and down the lineup, with seven players boasting double-digit goal totals. Notably, the likes of Matthew Sop, Logan Crans, and Braeden Bowman have done well to improve their OHL Draft stocks. On the back end, Luc Brzustowski has shown the ability to shut own opposing rushes as well as to move the puck up ice effectively. Goaltender, Brandon Abbott, has also kept the team in close games all year long.

7. North Central Predators

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 17-7-5; 106GF & 78GA
  • Tournament Record: 8-5-1
  • Titans Early Bird: Sweet 16
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Sweet 16

The North Central Predators have been a tough team to keep track of this year. At times, they appear set for a major breakthrough on the biggest stage, while at other times, they can look modest in league play. The past four weeks of ETA action have been tough for the Predators, going 1-3-3 over that time and missing out on an opportunity to seize control of their division over York-Simcoe. However, they looked tremendous at the Marlboros Holiday Classic, riding into the round of 16 after going 3-0-1 in round robin action, including an impressive victory over the Sudbury Wolves.

North Central features a slew of highly-talented prospects, led by a fantastic trio up front of Ethan Larmand, Cole Patey, and Nicolas Dowling, the three have competed and improved to become one of the ETA’s top lines. Along the blue line, Connor Punnett should be considered one of the most improved players amongst the 2019 OHL Draft class, adding an elite offensive side to his game while remaining reliable in his own zone. In the crease, Wade Monague has been one of the league’s most consistent keepers, providing a reliable last line of defence for the Predators.

6. Mississauga Rebels

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 17-11-2; 79GF & 56GA
  • Tournament Record: 17-4-1
  • Titans Early Bird: Quarterfinalist
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Sweet 16
  • International Silver Stick: Quarterfinalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Quarterfinalist

The Mississauga Rebels are another team that have been tough to get a true feeling for this season. In the GTHL, they’ve been dominant at times, and modestly average at others. Their season has gone like this: 5-2-1 in their first eight games, 0-5-0 over the next five, and now 9-3-1 since. They’re locked into the fifth seed for playoffs, meaning they’ll be in tough for the first round against one of the Marlboros, Nationals, or Red Wings. However, the Rebels have been consistently impressive in tournament action, posting undefeated round robin records at all four of the year’s major tournaments, and making it to the final eight at three of them.

From start to finish, the Rebels have succeeded when their defensive play has been on point from all positions. Boasting the third best goal against average in the GTHL, Mississauga shuts own the neutral zone with authority. On offence, the likes of Jesse Fishman, Pasquale Zito, and Christian Catalano has consistently led the charge this year with speed, skill, and grit. On defence, Owain Johnston and Judd Katz offer intriguing two-way potential and can consistently rush the puck through the neutral zone. Sometimes taken for granted, their tournament record is amongst the best of all Ontario teams.

5. Toronto Red Wings

  • Months Ranked: 3
  • League Record: 21-5-5; 130GF & 63GA
  • Tournament Record: 8-8-2
  • Titans Early Bird: Sweet 16
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Sweet 16

By know, we all know the story. The Toronto Red Wings started slow out of the gate and didn’t look like they had any chance of becoming a contender in the GTHL. However, after starting the year 0-3-3, the Red Wings have gone 21-2-2 since, including a current 16-0-2 run, cementing themselves amongst the top four teams in the league. Despite their marvelous play in league action, the Red Wings have been unable to translate that success into a long tournament run. At the recent Marlboros Holiday Classic, they rode a 3-1-0 record in the round robin into an unfortunate matchup against the Don Mills Flyers. Ultimately, they were ousted 2-0 in a game that could’ve gone either way.

The Red Wings are the second highest scoring team in the GTHL, and also boast the fourth-best goals against average. A lineup loaded with talented forwards, the team has three lines capable of generating offence. With that said, Francesco Pinelli leads the way on and off the ice, centering the top line alongside Ryan Gillespie and the underaged superstar, Adam Fantilli. Nolan Dann is another prospect who has taken great strides this year to become a potent goal scorer. On defence, Chandler Romeo and Joshua Orrico have become reliable in all three zones, while Josh Rosenzweig has drawn praise as one of Ontario’s top goaltenders.

4. Whitby Wildcats

  • Months Ranked: 4
  • League Record: 26-1-5; 161GF & 55GA
  • Tournament Record: 19-4-0
  • Titans Early Bird: Sweet 16
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Sweet 16
  • International Silver Stick: Semi-Finalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Semi-Finalist

The ETA’s runaway regular season champions, the Whitby Wildcats have dominated their competition from start to finish this year. With the league’s best offence and defence, the Wildcats will head into the playoffs as undisputed favourites. Whitby as even been improving in their tournament performances of late, pushing to the semi-finals of both the Silver Stick and the Marlboros Holiday Classic. After going 4-0-0 in the round robin, the Wildcats defeating the Mississauga Senators and Rebels before finally being ousted in a tight 4-2 contest against the Toronto Nationals.

Whitby is backed by one of the most dynamic lines in Ontario, centred by Ryan Winterton with Brenden Sirizzotti and Thomas Johnston on the wings, the trio represent the top three scorers in the ETA. Their scoring depth is unparalleled, with none of their forwards scoring at a rate lower than half a point per game. On the back end, Douglas Carr and Josh Simpson thrive in the transition game, while Owen Brady and his battle remain the driving force behind the team’s passion to win. In net, Sebastian Resar has held the fort with control and poise, allowing the team to take more risks.

3. Toronto Marlboros

  • Months Ranked: 4
  • League Record: 23-5-3; 127GF & 57GA
  • Tournament Record: 18-4-3
  • Titans Early Bird: Quarterfinalist
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Finalist
  • International Silver Stick: Semi-Finalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Quarterfinalist

A perennial powerhouse, the Toronto Marlboros are one of the greatest threats for the OHL Cup once again in 2019. Playing their best hockey of the year at the most imperative time, the Marlboros have rode an eight-game winning streak to take ahold of the GTHL’s second seed. They’ve been just as dominant in tournament action all year – going undefeated in all round robin games – and were only defeated by the top notch Gentry Galaxy in the quarterfinals at their own Holiday Classic. As the Marlies continue to mesh together and grow as individuals, they become more and more of a serious threat heading into the OHL Cup.

One of the most balanced attacks in Ontario, the Marlboros ice three lines that all capable of making opponents pay. Playing a fast and heavy style, Toronto has the ability to plow through opponents if they aren’t wiling to play up to their weight. On offence, Danil Zhilkin, Wyatt Johnston, and Marc Boudreau tend to lead the charge, while all six other forwards are capable of finding the net as well. Along the blue line, Ethan Del Mastro has developed into one of the top defenceman in the 2019 OHL Draft class, while Artem Guryev and Logan Mailloux aren’t afraid to lay booming checks or fire cannons on net from the point.

2. Toronto Young Nationals

  • Months Ranked: 4
  • League Record: 21-5-4; 118GF & 64GA
  • Tournament Record: 13-5-0
  • Titans Early Bird: Quarterfinalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Finalist

The Toronto Nationals finally had a minor breakthrough in tournament action in December by battling their way to the final of the Marlboros Holiday Classic. With a depleted lineup, the Nats played a strong team game and held a 1-0 lead until midway through the third period against a stacked Don Mills Flyers squad. Despite limited results to show for it, the Nats’ tournament record remains reminiscent of Ontario’s top teams. In GTHL action, the Nationals have fallen to fourth in the standings, although they still hold a strong shot at finishing second by the time the season wraps up.

Like most great teams, the Nationals remain so successful as a result of their incredible depth all over the ice. There are no holes in their lineup, with three tremendous lines of offence and defence, as well as two of the league’s premier goaltenders in Samuel Moncada and Forbes Anderson. Leading the team’s offence has consistently been the trio of Zachary Dean, Ryan Del Monte, and Josh Bloom. On the back end, Deven Nagra and Landon Cato provide a stable presence with offensive upside, while Declan Ride has made great strides to becoming one of their most relied upon defender’s.

1. Don Mills Flyers

  • Months Ranked: 4
  • League Record: 28-0-3; 191GF & 41GA
  • Tournament Record: 29-1-1
  • Titans Early Bird: Champions
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Champions
  • International Silver Stick: Finalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Champions

Well, here we are in our fourth version of the 2019 OHL Cup Rankings, and for the fourth consecutive month, it’s the Don Mills Flyers who remain a step ahead of the competition. With a combined record of 57-1-4 in the 2018-19 season, there’s not denying that the Flyers will head into the OHL Cup as unanimous favourites. With their only loss of the season coming in overtime of the Silver Stick final, Don Mills has seemed virtually unbeatable this year. And they flashed their strength once again at the Marlboros Holiday Classic, taking down a handful of North America’s top U16 teams.

As could be expected, the Flyers boast a solid lineup from top to bottom. While there remain a few undeniable leaders on this otherworldly squad, it’s important to recognize the players lower in the lineup who never fail to have a positive impact on the game. Specifically, Edward Moskowitz has been playing on another level of late, showing an admirable compete level and strong skills in tight and under pressure, as well as a dominant cycle game. Further, Payton Robinson is a defenceman who doesn’t receive enough praise. A smooth skater with good sense of the ice, Robinson makes reliable breakout passes and is beginning to rush the puck up ice more often as well.

Perhaps one of the most impressive traits of the ’03 Don Mills Flyers is their uncanny ability to battle in tight games and come out with one-goal victories. Sometimes down, but never out, this is one of the best minor midget teams we’ve seen in Ontario in recent memory.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s