The 2018-19 Ontario Minor Midget Season is now well underway, with two of the year’s major tournaments already completed. With each respective league roughly a quarter of the way through the regular season, the approximate standings are beginning to take shape. We’ve witnessed a few early season surprises as well as a couple of letdowns, but overall it’s been a very strong start to the campaign and a promising look into the class of the 2019 OHL Draft.
Related: Check out Prospect Pipeline’s 2019 OHL Draft Rankings
As the unofficial start to the ’18-19 campaign, the Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament provided a fresh glimpse into what is a very deep ’03 prospect class. After a tightly contested round robin, it was the Chicago Mission, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Sudbury Wolves, and Don Mills Flyers who clinched a berth at the semi-finals. In the end, the Flyers capped off a dominant performance with a championship that featured 48 goals for and just seven goals against.
The team was led by Shane Wright, Alex Christopolous, and Cole Eichler up front, as well as Roman Schmidt and Brandt Clarke on the blue line. Other leaders in the tournament included Danil Zhilkin of the Toronto Marlboros, Jack Devine of the Mission, and Sean Clarke of the Vaughan Kings.
Related: Check out Prospect Pipeline’s 2019 OHL Draft Player Profiles
Later in October, the Wendy Dufton Memorial Tournament provided a early look into the development and improvements made by the top teams in the province. This time around, the Marlboros and Little Caesars cracked the semi-final, while Sudbury and Don Mills returned to the final four once again. Once more, the Flyers proved far too much for their opponents to handle, running away to an undefeated championship with 51 goals for and just four goals against.
This time around it was Wright along with Francesco Arcuri and Brennan Othmann leading the charge, combining to compile a ridiculous 16 goals and 25 points for Don Mills. Elsewhere, Justin Ertel of the Toronto Red Wings and Jordan Fuller of the York-Simcoe Express provided an impressive look into their offensive potential.
Without further ado, let’s delve deeper into Prospect Pipeline’s October OHL Cup Ranking.
October’s Top-10 Teams
10. Halton Hurricanes
- League Record: 6-0-1; 29GF & 13GA
- Tournament Record: 5-5-0; Quarterfinals at Wendy Dufton
The Halton Hurricanes got off to a rather slow start at the Titans Early Bird, but have quickly turned things around to reflect their true potential as a top team in Ontario. Holding the top points percentage in the SCTA, the Hurricanes have utilized a deep and responsible roster that have bought into a strong two-way game.
That style of play has been on display throughout their SCTA games as well as at the Wendy Dufton Memorial, where Halton consistently played a hard-fought game and ground out wins on their way to a quarterfinal appearance. Jordan Adams and Ethan Burroughs often lead the team’s offence which will cycle their way around the O-zone and keep their feet moving to generate scoring chances.
9. York-Simcoe Express
- League Record: 7-1-1; 42GF & 20GA
- Tournament Record: 5-3-1; Sweet 16 at Wendy Dufton
Seemingly a perennial contender, the York-Simcoe Express are proving to be a serious threat again in ’18-19. Off to a strong start in ETA action, where they place second behind only the Whitby Wildcats in points percentage, the Express have combined an underrated offence and stingy defence to become a brutal opponent to face.
Despite not showing their true potential at this year’s tournament thus far, York-Simcoe boasts a deep forward corps with three potent lines. Up front, Kaleb Nelson and Jordan Fuller often drive the Express offence with high-danger speed and skill. Along the blue line, captain Braden Haché and ’04 Thomas Sirman have consistently provided a lethal one-two punch of size and strength beside speed and skill, ultimately creating an impressive transition game.
8. Chicago Mission
- League Record: 17-5-3; 132GF & 45GA
- Tournament Record: 9-2-2; Final at Titans Early Bird; Sweet 16 at Wendy Dufton
One of this year’s top teams from the USA, Chicago Mission showcases a dynamic offence which can spread out the goals among all three lines. Running all the way to the final of the Titans Early Bird, the Mission were only defeated by Don Mills 3-0, impressive by the calibre of the Flyers. Chicago will likely battle Little Caesars all year long for the title of the top U15 USA team.
This is a team that finds success in its offence, and it’s distributing very well. Between Jack Devine, Davis Burnside, and Jack Silich, the Mission can turn a game on its head quickly. On the back end, Therien Thiesing has shown tremendous potential as a dynamic two-way defender, providing Chicago with difference makers at both ends of the ice.
7. Brantford 99ers
- League Record: 7-2-1; 53GF & 29GA
- Tournament Record: 6-3-2; Quarterfinals at Wendy Dufton
A highly touted roster, the Brantford 99ers got off to a slower than expected start before finding their groove after just a few short games. Quickly, Brantford has begun their ascent up the Alliance standings. Featuring a high-powered offence, this is a team that can defeat the best of lineups when they’re on their game. Unfortunately, they have shown a tendency to be somewhat inconsistent in their efforts.
Empowering their offence are forwards Maddox Callens and Steven LaForme, along with dynamic two-way defenceman, Cole Hipkin. Together, this trio can dictate the pace of the game and turn momentum on its head in an instant. If the 99ers are able to get their defensive woes under control and perform more consistently, they should be a force to reckon wit all year long.
6. Whitby Wildcats
- League Record: 7-0-2; 53GF & 19GA
- Tournament Record: 8-2-0; Sweet 16 at Titans Early Bird; Sweet 16 at Wendy Dufton
One of the most gifted teams in all of Ontario, the Wildcats have only missed out in the games that count most thus far. At both major tournaments in 2018, Whitby has gone undefeated in the round robin before bowing out in the round of 16, making up for the team’s only two losses of the ’18-19 season. Other than those few blemishes, the Wildcats have been virtually perfect, racking up an impressive goal differential.
Whitby boasts a deep and potent lineup, led largely in part by Ryan Winterton, Brenden Sirizzotti, and Tommy Johnston up front, who create three lines of offence that can cause havoc for opponents. On the back end, William Gourgouvelis and Owen Brady make up a quick and smart blue line who can transition the game with ease and strange the creativity out of their opponents.
5. Mississauga Rebels
- League Record: 4-2-1; 24GF & 10GA
- Tournament Record: 9-2-0; Quarterfinals at Titans Early Bird; Sweet 16 at Wendy Dufton
Although they don’t boast an elite young player, per se, the Mississauga Rebels have quickly established themselves a ferocious force within the GTHL this season. Scoring and defending by committee, the Rebels’ success to date has been driven by the team’s excellent depth, as Mississauga has received substantial contributions from throughout their entire lineup.
Leading the attack thus far for the Rebels has been Pasquale Zito, Christian Catalano, and Jesse Fishman — three extremely competitive forwards who play strong, two-way games. Further, the Rebels have been stabilized on the blue line by Jack Guvenal and Anthony Russo — two puck-moving defenders who pose a threat in all three zones of the ice. If the Rebels can continue to receive significant contributions from throughout their lineup, the team’s impressive tournament and league showings to date could be an indication of greater success this season.
4. Waterloo Wolves
- League Record: 8-1-2; 40GF & 23GA
- Tournament Record: 4-4-1; Sweet 16 at Titans Early Bird
A well-rounded and well-coached roster, the Waterloo Wolves consistently bring an unparalleled work ethic to the rink and have bought-in to a team-first approach. However, despite their nearly flawless record in Alliance, the Wolves have been unable to translate that success into tournament action so far. Nonetheless, this is a team to be reckoned with, and one which prides itself on finding ways to win tight games.
Led up front by a trio uber-talented forwards, the Wolves have received over half of their offence from the combination of Cooper Way, Kyle Maloney, and Owen Parsons. These three are the game-breakers for Waterloo and have proven to be virtually unstoppable on any given night.
3. Toronto Marlboros
- League Record: 5-1-1; 21GF & 11GA
- Tournament Record: 9-2-2; Quarterfinals at Titans Early Bird; Final at Wendy Dufton
The Toronto Marlboros are a perennial powerhouse in the GTHL, and the 2018-19 season in quickly proving to be no exception. With a slew of immensely talented forwards and defencemen within their roster, the Marlboros once again boast a deep and intimidating attack capable of overwhelming their opponents on a nightly basis. Bringing speed, size, and elite skill to the table, the Marlboros’ impressive showings at the Toronto Titans Tournament and Wendy Dufton Memorial should come as little surprise.
Like most successful teams, the Marlboros are defined by their depth.
Although the likes of Danil Zhilkin, Wyatt Johnston, and Jack Beck have regularly led the team offensively, contributions from other notable players such as Tucker Roberston, Marc Boudreau, Ethan Del Mastro, and Artem Guryev have helped to push the Marlboros into elite territory. Backstopped by an impressive duo in goal to boot, the Marlboros are a team not to be taken likely.
2. Toronto Young Nationals
- League Record: 9-1-0; 38GF & 18GA
- Tournament Record: 5-1-0; Quarterfinals at Titans Early Bird
Depth is the name of the game for the Toronto Nationals, who arguably boast one of the deepest and strongest rosters within the GTHL this season. Spearheaded by a relentless offence and stabilized by a sizeable yet mobile blue line, the Nationals stand as a tireless force capable of defending and attacking at will.
Perhaps the most overlooked asset — no pun intended — within the Nationals’ locker-room is goaltender Samuel Moncada. Although he is somewhat undersized for a goaltender given his 5-foot-9 frame, Moncada has compensated for his perceived deficiency through extremely tactile and athletic play. Eerily similar in playing style to Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Moncada is an sensational young goaltender whose game should lead the Nationals to a wealth of success this season.
1. Don Mills Flyers
- League Record: 9-0-0; 46GF & 10GA
- Tournament Record: 16-0-0; Champions of Titans Early Bird and Wendy Dufton
There’s no surprise here.
Throughout the 2018-19 season to date, the Don Mills Flyers have stood as a dominant and unrelenting force. Sure, they have faced their fair share of legitimate challengers, however, the Flyers had yet to lose a game this campaign as of mid-October and boast the roster necessary to embark upon a long and fruitful run.
What separates the Flyers from their competition this season is the team’s unique combination of elite skill as well as depth. Unlike other teams who boast one of these qualities or the other, the Flyers are fortunate to feature a whack of elite young talent throughout their roster and at all positions of the ice.
Leading the way offensively for the Flyers thus far has been Shane Wright, Liam Arnsby, and Brennan Othmann — three immensely talented and consistent players who can single-handedly drive Don Mills’ offence. However, it would be wrong not to mention the contributions of Cole Eichler, Alex Christopoulos, Brandt Clarke, and Roman Schmidt — four players who have been remarkably lethal in addition to playing strong, all-around games.
In short, it will take a massive effort on the part of an other team on this list to dislodge Don Mills from their standing atop October’s OHL Cup Ranking.
* All team records are as of October 16th, 2018*