To cap off the 2018-19 minor midget season, 160 of the top 2003-born players from Ontario recently gathered to participate in the 2019 OHL Gold Cup.
The tournament — which took place over roughly a week’s time — pitted eight regional teams against one another in what is essentially a year-ending best-on-best tournament. Representing the province in the tournament were two teams from both of the GTHL and OMHA, as well as clubs which showcased the top talent from each of Alliance Hockey, HEO, HNO, and the NOHA.
Come the championship game, it was GTHL Red and GTHL Blue who clashed — with the latter of which taking home the OHL Gold Cup owing to an electrifying 5-4 victory. Despite trailing by three goals mid-way through the second-period, GTHL Blue rebounded to tie the game before taking the lead for good with less than five minutes remaining in the third periods. Of note was the play of Pasquale Zito, who picked up two points including the game winning goal to seal GTHL Blue’s championship.
However, plenty of exhilarating hockey took place over the course of the week outside of the championship game, as the very best talent which the province has to offer showcased their elite talents. With this being said, we’ve highlighted five players and one goaltender who stood out significantly over the course of the 2019 OHL Gold Cup.
While others surely could have made this list, the six youngsters below consistently impressed in our tournament viewings.
The Top Performers
Here are our top performers from the 2019 OHL Gold Cup. The players we have identified below are listed in alphabetical order rather than in order of their respective performances.
2018-19 Team: Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
Drafted: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, 59th Overall
Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 2A, 5PTS
Although his team came up short in their Gold Medal game against Team GTHL Blue, Marc Boudreau proved to be an unrelenting force throughout the 2019 OHL Gold Cup. Owing to his hard-working nature and determination on the ice, Boudreau played an influential role in all three zones and came to be counted upon by his coaching staff regardless of the situation.
Come to the end of the tournament, Boudreau had tallied three goals and two assists for a four game total of five points. Placed in a tie for fifth-overall in tournament scoring, Boudreau’s ability to impact the outcome of every single game in a variety of different ways spoke to his value as a prospect and bright future within the game. A downright steal by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the third-round of the 2019 OHL Draft, Boudreau’s consistency and raw lethality should allow him to translate to the OHL-level with ease in the year’s ahead.
2018-19 Team: Elgin Middlesex Chiefs (Alliance)
Drafted: Sudbury Wolves, 155th Overall
Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 4A, 7PTS
Despite his smaller stature, Ryan Burke played a crucial role in Team Alliance’s success throughout the 2019 OHL Gold Cup. Although the likes of Brett Harrison, Cayden Faust, and Maddox Callens were expected to lead the way offensively for Team Alliance, it was Burke who instead took the tournament by storm. Once the dust had settled, Burke stood as the tournament’s third-highest scoring player with three goals and seven points in his four games played.
A tireless force on the ice who can overwhelm his opposition with his tenacity and determination, Burke’s endless fore-checking and pursuit of the puck helped to generate countless offensive opportunities for his team. Moreover, Burke was wildly unpredictable once in possession of the puck, as his speed alongside his offensive creativity forced opposing defenders onto their heels with impressive consistency.
2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)
Drafted: Barrie Colts, 4th Overall
Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 5A, 8PTS
Brandt Clarke is — without a doubt — one of the most talented defenders poised to enter the OHL in quite some time. As confident and creative as they come, Clarke can control and dominate the pace of play when in possession of the puck and has the ability to dictate the play at both ends of the ice. It is this skill set which Clarke once again placed on full display in the OHL Gold Cup, driving his team’s success in all three zones while standing as a pillar defensively to boot.
Although his team ultimately fell in the Gold Medal game, Clarke had once again put on an overwhelming display offensively. In fact, despite his position on the ice, Clarke finished in a tie with former Don Mills Flyers teammate Brennan Othmann for the tournament lead in point-scoring with eight total points. Come the 2019-20 OHL campaign, expect Clarke to ascend to the major-junior level with absolute ease.
2018-19 Team: Mississauga Senators (GTHL)
Drafted: Flint Firebirds, 28th Overall
Gold Cup Statistics: 2G, 3A, 5PTS
Braeden Kressler was a vastly underrated player in the months preceding the 2019 OHL Draft — a reason why he wrongfully fell into the second-round and was selected by the Flint Firebirds at 28th overall. In time, expect Kressler to emerge as one of the clear-cut steals of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Emphasizing this point was again was Kressler and his play at the 2019 OHL Gold Cup, as the youngster put forth an impressive two-way display for tournament champion GTHL Blue.
Although many view his stature as a negative, Kressler once again proved that his speed, strength, and immense skill-set can overcome any obstacle placed in his way. And, such was once again the case in the OHL Gold Cup, as Kressler routinely dissected opposing defences en route to creating devastating offensive opportunities for his squad. What’s more is that when tasked defensively, Kressler had no issue dismantling plays devised by his opposition — an indication of his versatility and well-rounded game.
2018-19 Team: Smiths Falls Bears (HEO)
Drafted: Oshawa Generals, 158th Overall
Gold Cup Statistics: 2W, 1.53 GAA, .929 SVP
Although he only played in two games for Team HEO at the 2019 OHL Gold Cup, goaltender Patrick Leaver was nothing short of stellar when called upon. In his first start of the tournament, Leaver allowed just one goal in his team’s 4-1 victory over Team HNO. Then, when tasked with shutting down a high-powered team in GTHL Blue, Leaver turned aside 26 of 28 shots despite playing to a highly entertaining 3-1 loss.
What separated Leaver from his competition throughout the OHL Gold Cup was the youngster’s composure and raw athleticism in-goal. Calm and poised in his crease, Leaver allowed the play to come to him and didn’t take himself out of position in order to make saves. However, when the situation demanded, Leaver was quick to display the athleticism and focus which made him an eight-round choice of the Oshawa Generals in the 2019 OHL Draft.
2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)
Drafted: Flint Firebirds, 2nd Overall
Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 5A, 8PTS
Winning has a way of following Brennan Othmann, and such was once again the case in the OHL Gold Cup as the youngster helped lead GTHL Blue to a tournament championship. Across his games played in the event, Othmann fired home three goals and added five assists for a tournament-leading eight points. Utilizing his size and skill, Othmann regularly picked apart opposing defences while standing as a versatile presence as well.
Nabbed by the Flint Firebirds with the second overall choice in the 2019 OHL Draft, Othmann showed once again why he should have little trouble adjusting to the pace of major-junior hockey. A fluid skater who can accelerate to full speed in a matter of strides, Othmann’s creativity and shot should see him become a premier OHL talent ahead of his NHL Draft season.