2019 OHL Cup Ranking: February’s Top-10

The 2019 OHL Cup is less than 30 days away, meaning it’s time to unveil our top-10 tournament challengers as of the month of February. In this month’s edition the top-six remain unchanged, while a newcomer has claimed the 10th spot.

The 2018-19 hockey season if flying by, as the 2019 OHL Cup now stands less than a month away. Scheduled to begin on the 12th of March, the OHL Cup will once again showcase the top-20 minor midget teams in Canada and the USA — all of which vying to capture one of the most prestigious tournaments in all of minor hockey.

With the tournament less than 30 days away, the majority of teams viewed as legitimate contenders have begun to solidify their respective positions within our monthly OHL cup rankings. To none one’s surprise, the Don Mills Flyers continue to lock-down the top spot overall owing to their sensational team play and unparalleled team depth. Meanwhile, the Toronto Nationals and Toronto Marlboros continue to battle for the second spot, as both teams are evenly matched and incredibly competitive.

Outside of the top-six overall is where the majority of change took place over the past month, as the York Simcoe Express have leapfrogged the Kitchener Jr. Rangers while the Halton Hurricanes have bumped the London Jr. Knights from the top-10. Of these teams, it is the Hurricanes who should be considered as a legitimate threat ahead of the 2019 OHL Cup — Halton has been extremely consistent this season and have been red-hot to begin their playoff push.

One team which should also be viewed as a lethal threat in the upcoming OHL Cup is Team NOHA, whose roster was recently announced. Led by two excellent goaltenders, a blue line defined by its two-way play, and abundant talent up-front, Team NOHA should pose a significant threat throughout the tournament and more so than ever before.

February’s Top-10 Teams

With the OHL Cup looming, let’s take a closer look at February’s top-10 teams set to compete in the tournament.

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To simplify our ranking process, Team NOHA has not been included due to the fact that they are a tournament team and have not competed with any of the clubs listed above. Also, be sure to read our team-specific reports below, as the contain comprehensive statistics, prospect profiles, and in-depth information regarding each club.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to catch up on our past rankings in order to understand how each and every team listed above has altered and improved throughout the 2018-19 season.

Note: All team records and goal totals are up-to-date as of Thursday, February 14th. Playoff results will be included once a decisive team result has been reached.

10. Halton HurricanesHalton Hurricanes logo

  • Months Ranked:¬†2
  • 2018-19 League Record:¬†23-6-3; 127GF & 73GA
  • Tournament Record:¬†9-7
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial:¬†Quarterfinalist

The Halton Hurricanes have been a model of consistency all throughout the 2018-19 campaign, skating to a dominant 23-6-3 record and an SCTA-best 49 points. And, come the postseason, the Hurricanes have shown no signs of slowing down. In their eight games of action within Playoff Group A, Halton skated to a 7-0-1 record and outscored their opposition 41-18 in the process — an effort which ensured their presence in the semi-finals agains the Southern Tier Admirals.

Leading the way offensively for the Hurricanes in the postseason have been the likes of Ethan Burroughs, Brennan Kennedy, and Lawson Sherk — three highly talented youngsters who blazed the way for Halton during the regular season as well. One player in particular whose play has been impressive of late is Nolan Milne, a forward of smaller stature who is proving he owns the abilities necessary to stand as an offensive threat on a nightly basis. In the weeks ahead, expect to see the Hurricanes face off against either Guelph or Niagara in the SCTA championship.

9. Kitchener Jr. Rangersphoto

  • Months Ranked:¬†3
  • 2018-19 League Record: 18-6-9; 133GF & 78GA
  • Tournament Record:¬†5-6-2
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial:¬†Sweet 16

The Kitchener Jr. Rangers are a force to be reckoned with in the Alliance playoffs, as the team downed the Cambridge Hawks in three consecutive games in order to reach their semi-final showdown with the Waterloo Wolves. However, staring down this intriguing matchup is exactly where the Jr. Rangers deserve to be, as Kitchener rolled to a 18-6-9 regular season record and wound up just one point shy of first place in the league standings.

If the Jr. Rangers hope to cast aside an extremely competitive Waterloo squad, they’ll need their best players to be their best players on a game-by-game basis. And, for Marko Sikic, Braeden Bowman, and Matthew Sop, this will mean bringing their very best every single night. Further, Kitchener will need to receive solid goaltending in order to stifle the Wolves attack — fortunately for the Jr. Rangers, they boast two solid netminders capable of securing the crease in Brandon Abbott and Dawson Rowe.

8. York Simcoe Express York-Simcoe-Express-Logo

  • Months Ranked:¬†3
  • 2018-19 League Record: 17-8-8; 129GF & 83GA
  • Tournament Record:¬†10-6-2
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial:¬†Quarterfinalist

The York Simcoe Express are a hard-charging team defined by their impressive scoring depth, ample defending, and quality goaltenders in the crease. This broad team approach afforded the Express with a 17-8-8 record in regular season play — a mark good for 42 points and fourth-overall in the 2018-19 ETA standings.

This level of success also pushed the Express into a first-round playoff matchup with the talented Barrie Jr. Colts — a series which York Simcoe claimed in decisive fashion while outscoring the Jr. Colts 11-3 in the process. Now, the Express will head into semi-finals against the ETA-best Whitby Wildcats, a team defined by its devastating first-line trio. Ultimately, if York Simcoe hopes to knock off the Wildcats and claim a place in the OMHA Championship, they’ll need to stifle Whitby’s top-line while securing depth scoring and dynamic defending from their roster.

7. North Central Predators

  • Months Ranked:¬†4
  • 2018-19 League Record:¬†21-8-5; 133GF & 94GA
  • Tournament Record:¬†8-5-1
  • Titans Early Bird: Sweet 16
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic:¬†Sweet 16

The North Central Predators skated to a 21-8-5 record during the ETA’s regular season, a mark which afforded them with 47 points and second overall in the league’s standings. Unlike some teams in the ETA and minor midget hockey as a whole, the Predators rely upon scoring depth rather than a slew of superstars in order to achieve success on the ice. Yes, Ethan Larmand and Cole Patey were by and far North Central’s top offensive players during the regular season, however, contributions from the likes Nicholas Dowling, Jacob Ventrella, Connor Punnett, and Ian Phillips proved crucial to the Predators’ success and will be essential to the team’s playoff push.

To open their 2018-19 postseason campaign, North Central faced off against the Ajax-Pickering Raiders in what proved to be a competitive and surprisingly close series. In the end, the Predators knocked off the Raiders six points to four in a five game series which saw North Central outscore Ajax-Pickering by a slim margin of 16-14. Although no stranger to close one-goal games, the Predators will need to play a much sharper game if they hope to cast aside the Quinte Red Devils in semi-finals action.

6. Mississauga Rebels

  • Months Ranked:¬†4
  • 2018-19 League Record: 19-12-2; 87GF & 58GA
  • 2018-19 Playoff Outcome:¬†Eliminated in Round 1
  • Tournament Record: 17-4-1
  • Titans Early Bird:¬†Quarterfinalist
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial:¬†Sweet 16
  • International Silver Stick:¬†Quarterfinalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic:¬†Quarterfinalist

Despite enduring a mini-slump half-way through the 2018-19 GTHL season, the Mississauga Rebels re-gained their composure en-route to a fifth-place finish in an extremely competitive league standings. Along the way, the Rebels played incredibly successful tournament hockey, rolling to a 17-4-1 record and a trio of quarterfinal appearances which solidified their status as a legitimate OHL Cup contender. Sure, they’ll need to win a GTHL Wild Card Game in order to reach the OHL Cup, however, overcoming adversity is something which the Rebels are no stranger to.

If the Rebels hope to overcome their opening round playoff loss to the Toronto Red Wings and reach the OHL Cup, they’ll need to receive consistent contributions from throughout their lineup. Jesse Fishman, Pasquale Zito, Christian Catalano, and Justin Wu have been relatively consistent all season, but the Rebels will need others such as Joshua Cini, Jake Barkley, Maxwell Donohoe, and Jack Guvenal to achieve new levels of consistency if Mississauga wishes to transform into a lethal offensive team capable of going on a legitimate OHL Cup run.

5. Toronto Red Wings

  • Months Ranked:¬†4
  • 2018-19 League Record:¬†23-5-5; 135GF & 64GA
  • Tournament Record:¬†8-8-2
  • Titans Early Bird:¬†Sweet 16
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic:¬†Sweet 16
  • OHL Cup Berth Officially Clinched

After cruising through the second half of their GTHL season owing to overwhelming offence, solid defending, and lights-out goaltending, the Red Wings faced a significant test in the opening round of their postseason push. Tasked with handling a hard-working Mississauga Rebels squad, it took the Red Wings a full seven games to defeat the Rebels — a testament to Mississauga’s work-ethic and competitiveness.

Now slated to battle the Don Mills Flyers in the semi-finals, the Red Wings will face their biggest test of the season as they look to knock-off this year’s powerhouse squad. If the Red Wings hope to defeat the Flyers — who failed to lose a single GTHL this campaign — they will need to hem Don Mills in their own zone and expose a goaltending duo which has been average at times this year. If the Red Wings can receive consistent contributions from Francesco Pinelli, Nolan Dann, Ryan Gillespie, and Adam Fantilli, the team could pull off a major upset. If not, the team’s place in the OHL Cup is secure regardless.

4. Whitby Wildcats

  • Months Ranked:¬†5
  • 2018-19 League Record:¬†30-1-5; 178GF & 62GA
  • 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 Whitby Wildcats lost just one ETA contest this season, posting a sparkling 30-1-5 record in their 36 league games alongside a whack of success in various tournaments. The driving force behind the Wildcats’ continued success has been the play of the team’s first line — a trio comprised of Brenden Sirizzotti, Ryan Winterton, and Thomas Johnston which has been downright unstoppable on the offensive side of the puck.

Now in the midst of the ETA playoffs, the Wildcats knocked off the Kingston Jr. Frontenacs in their opening round and are slated to battle the York Simcoe Express in the semi-finals. However, as the top team in the ETA, Whitby already holds a place in the OMHA Championship and will stand as a lethal force once their ticket to the OHL Cup has been officially punched. In short, Whitby could prove to be one of the only teams outside of the GTHL capable of knocking off one of the top-three teams in our ranking.

3. Toronto Marlboros

  • Months Ranked:¬†5
  • 2018-19 League Record:¬†24-6-3; 134GF & 63GA
  • Tournament Record: 18-4-3
  • Titans Early Bird:¬†Quarterfinalist
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial:¬†Finalist
  • International Silver Stick:¬†Semi-Finalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic:¬†Quarterfinalist
  • OHL Cup Berth Officially Clinched

The Toronto Marlboros are a perennial powerhouse in the GTHL, and this year’s minor midget team has proved to be no different. Although they didn’t dominate the GTHL like they did during the 2017-18 season, this year’s edition of the Marlboros have been promising — skating to a spectacular 24-6-3 record during the regular season in addition to numerous high-end tournament results.

Unlike in seasons passed, this year’s Marlboros were defined by their depth rather than the outstanding play of a select few prospects. Sure, Danil Zhilkin and Wyatt Johnston were stellar up-front, but so too were the likes of Marc Boudreau, Jack Beck, and Tucker Robertson. Moreover, the Marlboros’ intimidating defence-core was as solid as any within the GTHL, as the hard-hitting Artem Guryev and puck-moving Ethan Del Mastro stood as towers of power all season long. With a berth in the OHL Cup already secured, the Marlboros will take on the Toronto Nationals in what should be a wildly entertaining semi-final series — a fiery matchup which will likely not be the last between the two.

2. Toronto Young Nationals

  • Months Ranked:¬†5
  • 2018-19 League Record:¬†24-5-4; 139GF & 72GA
  • Tournament Record:¬†13-5-0
  • Titans Early Bird:¬†Quarterfinalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic:¬†Finalist
  • OHL Cup Berth Officially Clinched

The Toronto Nationals could be the Don Mills Flyers’ stiffest competition come the 2019 OHL Cup. Although the Nationals played the Flyers to a 0-2-1 record during regular season GTHL play, Toronto appears to be one of a slim few teams capable of playing with the same pace and physicality as the Flyers. What’s more is that the Nationals’ roster matches up extremely well with that of Don Mills’, as the Nationals boast stellar depth up-front, on defence, and in-goal.

Before the Nationals and Flyers meet in the OHL Cup, however, they very could meet with the GTHL championship on the line. As of the semi-final round, the Nationals faced the Marlboros in one half of the playoff tree, while the Flyers faced the Red Wings in the other. Although overcoming the Marlboros will be no easy chore, the Nationals’ ability to do so could set up one of the most thrilling series’ of minor midget hockey in recent history. In late December, an injury-depleted Nationals’ squad faced the Flyers in the championship game of the Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic, with the latter of which scraping by on an overtime goal by Shane Wright.

1. Don Mills Flyers

  • Months Ranked:¬†5
  • 2018-19 League Record:¬†30-0-3; 208GF & 43GA
  • Tournament Record:¬†29-1-1
  • Titans Early Bird: Champions
  • Wendy Dufton Memorial: Champions
  • International Silver Stick:¬†Finalist
  • Marlboros Holiday Classic: Champions
  • OHL Cup Berth Officially Clinched

For the fifth-consecutive month, the Don Mills Flyers stand as the team beat and most dangerous club set to compete in the 2019 OHL Cup. Boasting oodles of depth, plenty of offensive flair, and a dynamic blue line to boot, the Flyers are an overwhelming force who have the unique ability to win extremely close games — including those in which they trail with seconds remaining on the clock.

Although they have already clinched a berth in the 2019 OHL Cup, the Flyers’ focus undoubtedly remains on the GTHL playoffs. Set to clash with the upstart Toronto Red Wings in the semi-finals, the Flyers must not take Toronto lightly — the two teams played to a thrilling 3-3 draw in mid-December, a game in which the Flyers trailed on multiple occasions. If Don Mills hopes to claim the GTHL championship and 2019 OHL Cup, contributions from their second and third lines as well as the blue line will be critical. One potential game-changer in the months ahead will be Roman Schmidt — a dynamic and sizeable defender who needs to play to his strengths, being his heavy shot and gifted physicality.

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