Here we are in mid-November, and the GTHL’s Don Mills Flyers are continuing to prove to be a historic team. Indeed, the Flyers 2003-born team has been consistently dominant for the past several years. Combined, they boast three GTHL Regular Season Championships, three GTHL Playoff Championships, and two OHF Provincial Championships over the past three seasons. Not to mention numerous tournament titles in between as well.
Now in the 2018-19 Minor Midget campaign, Don Mills appears set to smash records and leave a lasting impression as one of the greatest teams in Ontario history. Through nearly three months of the season, the Flyers have captured two major tournament titles, the Toronto Titans Early Bird and the Wendy Dufton Memorial, and have cruised to a combined 34-0-0 record. In total, the squad has tallied 217 goals for while allowing just 36 goals against.
These stats beg the question; who stands as the greatest threat to the Don Mills Flyers perfect season?
Arguably the top American 15U team in the OHL region this year, the Mission have had impressive showings at two major tournaments thus far, including a Final appearance at the Titans Early Bird, which was wrapped up in a highly competitive 3-0 loss to Don Mills. The squad currently leads the HPHL with a 10-0-0 record.
Chicago’s success stems from a deep offensive core, which packs in three lines which can find the back of the net on any given night. Most notably, Jack Devine, Davis Burnside, Dominick Rivelli, and Jack Silich lead the way in their contributions, and all have verbally committed to NCAA programs, with more sure to come soon.
That trend continues along the blue line, which is extremely mobile and fluid in transition. In fact, four of their six defencemen are contributing 0.7 points per game or better. All put together, the Chicago Mission display tremendous speed and puck movement within all three zones. They play a feisty style and can make any team pay for their mistakes within a few short moments. This style has the potential to challenge Don Mills and push the ability of their goaltending, and could make for a very interesting game if able to limit the Flyers’ top line of Shane Wright, Brennan Othmann, and Cole Eichler.
Toronto Young Nationals
Those two losses during the 2017-18 regular season? They both came against the Toronto Young Nationals. By scores of 3-2 and 6-4, the Nats took the season series with Don Mills by two games to one. Flash forward one year, and the Nats remain the greatest threat to the Flyers within the GTHL. In head-to-head meetings this year, Don Mills is two-for-two, winning by scores of 5-1 and 6-3.
With that said, the Nats boast the next deepest group of forwards in the league. Led by the likes of Zach Dean, Ryan Del Monte, and Josh Bloom, the Nats average nearly 4.5 goals per game. They find plenty of help along their blue line as well, with a strong and smooth skating corps, the Nats’ defencemen are often lugging the puck through the neatral zone and joining the rush to create odd-man rushes. Further, and perhaps most significantly, the Nats have an elite goaltender capable of stealing games in Samuel Moncada.
Putting these aspects together, the Nats truly don’t have a hole in their group. They are strong up and down the lineup at all positions, and have shown in the past that they are capable of not only challenging, but defeating the Flyers. With two more regular season games scheduled between the two teams, plus potential tournament and playoff matchups, the Nats may have a stronger chance than anyone to breakup the Flyers perfect season.
Another high-flying offensive juggernaut, the Brantford 99ers have been getting better and better as the season has worn on. Holding the top position in the Alliance standings with a 13-3-2 record, the 99ers possess a top line that could go toe-to-toe with Don Mills’ top line. Averaging over 4.7 goals per game, Brantford is led offensively by the trio of Maddox Callens, Steven LaForme, and Landon McCallum. Combined, the three have put up 102 points in just 18 games, including 54% of the teams goals.
But the offence doesn’t end there, with a strong, hard-working second line and a top-tier defenceman in Cole Hipkin, who is playing at a point-per-game clip. Champions of the Dale Parker Memorial Tournament, the 99ers also made it to the Quarterfinals at the Wendy Dufton Memorial where they were ousted 1-0 by Little Caesars. They also defeated the ETA-leading Whitby Wildcats 4-2 in Sweet 16 action, a testament to their cross-league abilities.
As a total package, the 99ers would likely be outmatched against the Don Mills Flyers. With that said, they remain one of the very few teams whose offence could compete with that of the Flyers. If Brantford were able to match up efficiently, their top line may offer just enough to push a high-scoring wing out against Ontario’s top team.
Toronto Red Wings
The Toronto Red Wings have flown under the radar for much of the 2018-19 season, but are beginning to make waves across the province. Despite a worrisome 0-3-3 start, the Red Wings have rallied with a 9-2-0 record over their past 11 games, including a huge win over the powerful Toronto Nationals. In the midst of that run came an appearance in the Sweet 16 at the Wendy Dufton Memorial, where the squad rolled to a 4-0-0 round robin record before being ousted by the very strong Sudbury Wolves.
The team’s success has come largely from a deep and potent offence. Led by a couple dynamic forwards in Francesco Pinelli and 2004-born Adam Fantilli, the Red Wings have been averaging 4.27 goals per game during their current 11-game stretch. However, their depth was also accredited by the GTHL, as the team’s top two lines were all selected to play in the 10th Annual GTHL Top Prospects Game. Further, the Red Wings boast solid goaltending from the up-and-coming Josh Rosenzweig, who has been consistently improving his game this year.
While the Red Wings are continuing to find their stride, they have proven their ability to battle with, and beat, the top teams in the GTHL. As their blue line continues to solidify and their goaltending becomes a valuable asset, this team is becoming a true threat to the GTHL’s ‘Big Three’. When they’re at their best, the Red Wings offence has the dynamics and electricity to go up against that of Don Mills. This matchup would make for quite a memorable playoff series, fingers crossed.
This is a bit of a curious and conditional case, because Compuware has iced an extremely young roster for their 16U team, comprised of almost all 2003-born players. As such, they would be able to call upon these prospects to join forces with their current 15U team to compose a powerhouse squad. Word was circulating at the OHL/HPHL Battle of the Border that Compuware would indeed do this for the International Silver Stick Tournament, but it remains to be seen for sure.
If they indeed decide to bring their ’03s from the 16U team to play for the 15U team for the weekend, then Detroit Compuware would very likely be the stiffest test that Don Mills will face all year. Up front, Compuware boasts three superstar forwards in Dylan Duke, Sasha Pastujov, and Red Savage. All three prospects are currently committed to an NCAA program, but would be considered amongst the top tier of prospects for the 2019 OHL Draft. Add in stud defenceman, Ty Gallagher, to that list and you have an exemplary core.
Be aware, if Compuware decides to truly send their best roster of ’03s to the Silver Stick, it would set up the potential for the most hyped game of the ’18-19 Minor Midget season in what would arguably feature the greatest possible composition of top prospects between the two sides. That is, if we are lucky enough for this matchup to come to fruition.