5 Greatest Threats to the Don Mills Flyers’ Perfect Season

The Don Mills are undoubtedly the top team in Ontario’s Minor Midget circuit, sporting a combined 34-0-0 record this year. This begs the question, which team boasts the greatest threat to breaking up the Flyers perfect season? We go through five teams who could surprise everyone and upset Don Mills at some point this season.

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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?

Chicago Mission

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.

Brantford 99ers

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.

Detroit Compuware

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.

2019 OHL Draft Ranking: November’s Top-60

Two months through the 2018-19 campaign, we are beginning to get an early sense as to who belongs in which tiers for the 2019 OHL Draft. In this month’s ranking, we include a Top-60 as well as 10 honourable mentions. Further, read up on 3 prospects on the rise after a spectacular month of October.

Quickly, we find ourselves nearly a third of the way through the Minor Midget regular season. Over this past month, we’ve gained an invaluable look into the top teams across the province, specifically those who have been able to play at a consistently high level and separate themselves amongst this year’s group of true contenders.

Related: Check out Prospect Pipeline’s Top 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles

As well, another major tournament has been checked off the list; the 2018 Wendy Dufton Memorial Tournament, hosted by the London Jr. Knights. It was a familiar result, with the Don Mills Flyers rolling their way to another tournament championship, this time on a combined 8-0-0 record, with a remarkable 51 goals for and just 4 goals against.

The Flyers continue to dominate the GTHL as well, boasting a perfect 13-0-0 record, with only the Toronto Young Nationals on their tails, with an 12-1-0 record. The Alliance has been much more competitive at the top of the standings, with the Brantford 99ers and Windsor Jr. Spitfires leading in terms of points percentage at the time of writing. However, there are seven teams within six points of the league lead.

Related: Look ahead to March, with our 2019 OHL Cup Ranking – October Edition

In the ETA, the Whitby Wildcats have established themselves as a true force to be reckoned with, boasting a league-best 11-1-3 record. On their tails remain the York Simcoe Express and North Central Predators, who should both be considered threats for the OHL Cup. In the SCTA, the Niagara North Stars are earning some separation, but the Halton Hurricanes, Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, Guelph Jr. Gryphons, and Burlington Eagles remain in a tight battle for the second seed.

3 Prospects on the Rise

Over the past month, a few prospects have been able to overcome sluggish starts and begin to show their true colours amongst this year’s crop of top prospects. Three players in specific have utilized a massive month of October to soar up the ranking.

Brennan Othmann:

While Othmann was already a highly touted prospect for the 2019 OHL Draft, October may have been enough to lock him down as a first rounder. At the Wendy Dufton Memorial Tournament, Othmann was unstoppable, piling up a ridiculous 16 goals and 25 points over just eight games.

One of the premier snipers in this year’s draft class, he boasts a pro-level release and precision accuracy. Othmann can get his shot off in tight spaces and changes up shooting angles with effectiveness. His recent play has been impressive enough to push him into consideration as a top-10 pick.

Kaleb Lawrence:

Lawrence has fallen into the shadows of the likes of Mason McTavish and Connor Lockhart for much of his minor hockey career. However, a blazing start to the 2018-19 campaign has brought his name forth in plenty of discussions. His 12 goals and 21 points in 14 games of HEO Midget action place him first among 2019 OHL Draft eligibles in points-per-game, with 1.50.

Further, his goals-per-game rate also places him second amongst the same group. Lawrence is an intelligent forward who processes the game at impressive rates. He can truly be a game-changer, and could push for the first round by year’s end.

Jesse Fishman:

When Pasquale Zito went down with an upper-body injury for parts of October, Fishman stepped up in a big way for the Rebels. Taking over the first line centre role, Fishman became an offensive catalyst for his team, proving that he has what it takes to be a leader of a top-tier squad.

A slick skater with impressive top speed, Fishman handles the puck with ease on the rush and is an intelligent playmaker with excellent vision, frequently dishing cross-crease passes. He has honed his shot as well, an accurate snap shot with a quick release, Fishman has been consistently improving his draft stock since game one.

November’s Top-60

Now five months away from the 2019 OHL Draft, we are beginning to get a feel for a consensus top-tier of prospects. Consistency is starting to show through for the best of players, who showcase an impressive compete level night in, night out. With that said, there’s still plenty of time for movement amongst the draft rankings as the 2003-born draft class continues to grow, mature, and develop.

Related: Look back and compare to our 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: October’s Top-20

A large theme in this year’s OHL Draft appears to be NCAA commitments. Among the top-20 prospects, six are currently committed to an NCAA program, with another four in the remainder of the list. Of course, these verbal commitments have a significant impact on the outcome of the draft. See Antonio Stranges, Owen Power, Stephen Halliday, and many more from the 2018 OHL Draft. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues throughout the year, or if some of those committed prospects end up in the OHL after all.

Note: This list compiles the Top-60 skaters available for the 2019 OHL Draft, as well as 10 honourable mentions (HM). The list does not include goaltenders, and is not a mock draft.

Rank Player Team Position
1 Shane Wright Don Mills Flyers Centre
2 Brandt Clarke Don Mills Flyers Right Defence
3 Mason McTavish Pembroke Lumber Kings Centre
4 Roman Schmidt* Don Mills Flyers Right Defence
5 Maddox Callens Brantford 99ers Centre
6 Dylan Duke* Compuware Centre
7 Francesco Arcuri Don Mills Flyers Centre
8 Connor Lockhart Kanata Lasers Centre
9 Danil Zhilkin* Toronto Marlboros Left Wing/Centre
10 Francesco Pinelli Toronto Red Wings Centre
11 Luke Hughes* Little Caesars Left Defence
12 Brennan Othmann Don Mills Flyers Left Wing
13 Cole Hipkin Brantford 99ers Right Defence
14 Sasha Pastujov* Compuware Right Wing
15 Braeden Kressler Mississauga Senators Right Wing/Centre
16 Ryan Winterton Whitby Wildcats Centre
17 Pasquale Zito  Mississauga Rebels Centre
18 Dylan Gratton* North Jersey Avalanche Left Defence
19 Daniel Michaud Quinte Red Devils Centre
20 Deni Goure Chatham-Kent Cyclones Centre
21 Artem Guryev Toronto Marlboros  Left Defence
22 Colby Saganiuk Pittsburgh Penguins Elite Centre
23 Wyatt Johnston Toronto Marlboros Centre
24 Owen Watson Smiths Falls Bears Left Wing
25 Brett Harrison London Jr. Knights Centre
26 Ryan Del Monte* Toronto Young Nationals Centre
27 Cole Eichler Don Mills Flyers Centre
28 Kaleb Lawrence OHA Maroon Centre
29 Ethan Del Mastro Toronto Marlboros Left Defence
30 Cooper Way Waterloo Wolves Centre/Left Wing
31 Jeremy Wilmer* North Jersey Avalanche Centre
32 Jack Devine* Chicago Mission Centre
33 Marc Boudreau Toronto Marlboros Left Wing
34 Jesse Fishman Mississauga Rebels Centre/Right Wing
35 Liam Arnsby Don Mills Flyers Centre
36 Ranvir Gill Ottawa Jr. Senators Right Defence
37 Stuart Rolofs Kanata Lasers Left Wing
38 Davis Burnside* Chicago Mission Left Wing
39 Paul Christopoulos Don Mills Flyers Right Defence
40 Zacharie Giroux Sudbury Wolves Right Wing
41 Brenden Sirizzotti Whitby Wildcats Right Wing
42 Alex Christopoulos Don Mills Flyers Right Wing
43 Jordan Adams Halton Hurricanes Left Wing/Centre
44 Josh Bloom Toronto Young Nationals Left Wing
45 Vitaly Levyy Long Island Gulls Right Wing
46 Ryan Burke Elgin Middlesex Chiefs Centre
47 Wil Murphy Kingston Jr. Frontenacs Left Defence
48 Nathan Zadorozny Niagara North Stars Left Wing/Centre
49 Deven Nagra Toronto Young Nationals Left Defence
50 Jack Beck Toronto Marlboros Left Wing
51 William Gourgouvelis Whitby Wildcats Left Defence
52 Steven Laforme Brantford 99ers Right Wing
53 Camden Daigle Huron Perth Lakers Left Wing
54 Tucker Robertson Toronto Marlboros Left Wing
55 Braden Hache York-Simcoe Express Left Defence
56 Jack Matier Soo Thunderbirds Right Defence
57 Christian Catalano Mississauga Rebels Left Wing
58 Ethan Larmand North Central Predators Right Wing
59 Jake Coleman Pembroke Lumber Kings Left Wing
60 Chase Stillman* Sudbury Wolves Centre
HM Ryan Gillespie Toronto Red Wings Centre
HM Christian Campanelli North York Rangers Centre
HM Kyle Maloney Waterloo Wolves Centre
HM Justin O’Donnell Toronto Marlboros Centre/Right Wing
HM Ethan Gore Guelph Jr. Gryphons Centre
HM Ethan MacKinnon Elgin Middlesex Chiefs Left Defence
HM Logan Mailloux Toronto Marlboros Left Defence
HM Therien Thiesing Chicago Mission Left Defence
HM Sam Sedley Huron Perth Lakers Right Defence
HM Josh Kavanagh Sudbury Wolves Right Defence

* – Indicates the prospect is currently committed to an NCAA program.

2019 OHL Draft Ranking: October’s Top-20

The 2018-19 OHL season is officially underway, meaning there is no better time than the present to meet October’s Top-20 OHL Draft eligible prospects.

We are now one month into the 2018-19 Minor Midget AAA season and there are already plenty of headlines to jump on. After the Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament unofficially kicked off the year, with the Don Mills Flyers coming away as dominant champions, each team has now played several games in their respective league’s regular season as well.

Related: Check out Prospect Pipeline’s Top 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles

Of course, the majority of this year’s top prospects have gotten off to fast starts as expected, but a few lesser mentioned players are also quickly making a mark in their OHL Draft eligible campaign. As for the top teams across the province, the Don Mills Flyers have continued along their torrent path, jumping out to a 5-0-0 record in the GTHL. The Toronto Young Nationals remain the only other team with a perfect record in the league, while the Toronto Marlboros remain close behind.

Related: Look ahead to March, with our 2019 OHL Cup Ranking – October Edition

Over in the ETA, the Whitby Wildcats and Ajax-Pickering Raiders are off to the hottest starts, each led by a deep and potent offence, while the Niagara North Stars and Halton Hurricanes remain perfect in the SCTA. Meanwhile, the Waterloo Wolves and Kitchener Jr. Rangers currently lead the pack in goals for and in the standings in Alliance, while the Windsor Jr. Spitfires and Brantford 99ers are hot on their tails.

3 Players to Watch

A few players have stood out in the early portion of the season and have drastically boosted their draft stock. Utilizing their hockey sense and offensive instincts, these three players in specific have done well to catch the eyes of scouts with a combination of blazing speed and elite shots.

Mason McTavish:

McTavish is currently leading the HEO Midget AAA league with 16 points in 10 games as a member of the Pembroke Lumber Kings. In a league consisting of ’02 and ’03-born players, McTavish has been utterly dominant each game, showcasing a dynamic toolset including a pro-level release and tremendous physical abilities. Likely pushing for a top-5 selection, McTavish has surpassed Connor Lockhart as the HEO’s top prospect so far, boasting a mature game with game-breaking puck skills.

Francesco Pinelli:

As a member of the modestly mediocre Toronto Red Wings, Pinelli can often be lost in the shadows. However, his immense talents will not be overlooked for long. A tremendous skater with impressive lower-body strength, Pinelli is a beast on the puck and shows a compete level that makes him a great leader on the ice. He is the complete offensive package and a five-tool center, and has shown flashes of an electric and powerful release as well.

Braeden Kressler:

Kressler instantly made his presence known at the Titans Early Bird Tournament, where he put on a clinic en route to posting four goals in four games. A smaller but speedy winger, Kressler shows a compete level second-to-none and isn’t afraid to drive the danger areas against larger opponents. His greatest asset by far is his shot, with a tremendous release and precise accuracy, Kressler can beat goaltenders clean with regularity.

October’s Top-20

With the 2019 OHL Draft just about six months away, there still remains plenty of time for variations to the October Rankings. In fact, one of the greatest assets that a prospect can show is year-round consistency, meaning that several second-tier prospects will have room to improve their draft stock simply by maintaining their pace of play throughout the rest of the season.

Related: Look back and compare to our 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: Pre-Season Top-10

Clearly, the Don Mills Flyers remain the team to beat across the province. Boasting a combined 13-0-0 record this season, the team possesses a great portion of this year’s top talent, highlighted by three of the top four prospects in our ranking. By the end of the season, they could easily have as many as five first round picks on their roster. As a result, they are unanimous favourites for the 2019 OHL Cup.

Rank Player Team Position
1 Shane Wright Don Mills Flyers (GTHL) Centre
2 Brandt Clarke Don Mills Flyers (GTHL) Right Defence
3 Mason McTavish Pembroke Lumber Kings (HEO) Centre
4 Roman Schmidt** Don Mills Flyers (GTHL) Right Defence
5 Danil Zhilkin** Toronto Marlboros (GTHL) Centre/Left Wing
6 Maddox Callens Brantford 99ers (Alliance) Centre
7 Connor Lockhart Kanata Lasers (HEO) Centre
8 Luke Hughes** Little Caesars Left Defence
9 Francesco Pinelli Toronto Red Wings (GTHL) Centre
10 Cole Hipkin Brantford 99ers (Alliance) Left Defence
11 Daniel Michaud Quinte Red Devils (ETA) Centre
12 Artem Guryev Toronto Marlboros (GTHL) Left Defence
13 Francesco Arcuri Don Mills Flyers (GTHL) Centre
14 Wyatt Johnston Toronto Marlboros (GTHL) Centre
15 Deni Goure Chatham-Kent Cyclones (Alliance) Centre
16 Braeden Kressler Mississauga Senators (GTHL) Right Wing/Centre
17 Ryan Winterton Whitby Wildcats (ETA) Centre
18 Brett Harrison London Jr. Knights (Alliance) Centre
19 Zachary Dean Toronto Young Nationals(GTHL) Centre/Right Wing
20 Cooper Way Waterloo Wolves (Alliance) Centre/Left Wing
** Roman Schmidt (Boston University), Danil Zhilkin (Boston University), and Luke Hughes (University of Michigan) are all committed to NCAA programs.

OHL Prospect Profile: Shane Wright

Shane Wright is an exceptional talent. Despite being a year younger than his GTHL competition, Wright is dominating with ease and has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada — becoming the 6th player in CHL history to do so.

– Shane Wright –

Don Mills Flyers (GTHL) | Center | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Burlington, Ontario | January 5, 2004 | 6-foot, 168-pounds

Shane Wright is a dynamic center with game-breaking talent. He is an elite skater with high-end speed and a tremendous sense for the game. Despite his status as an early 2004-born prospect, Wright has been granted exceptional status by the Ontario Hockey Federation and will be eligible for the 2019 OHL Draft. Born just five days into 2004, Wright should have no issue transitioning to the OHL given his proven ability to consistently dominate the GTHL.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

In fact, Wright has long proven himself to be a head above the 2003-born draft class, and began to do so at the Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament. En route to leading Don Mills to the championship, Wright racked up eight goals and a tournament-leading 17 points in eight games. Then, mid-way through the campaign, Wright turned in a dominant effort at the Whitby International Silver Stick Tournament — notching seven goals and 12 points.

Strengths:

  • Hockey Sense
  • Skating
  • Playmaking

Shane Wright immediately catches your eye with an incredible ability to read the game one step ahead of real-time, analyzing and reacting to take advantage of developing situations. He showcases excellent vision and creativity, sliding the puck through defenders legs or under their stick, as well as chipping the puck past his opponents and using his speed to retrieve it.

Wright is an agile skater who visibly uses his edges to keep defencemen on their toes. He has strong acceleration as well, needing just a couple of steps to break away from opponents. Further, Wright seems to always know where his teammates are positioned on the ice, dishing behind the back and cross-ice passes through traffic onto the tape. He also shows defensive responsibility by back-checking deep into his own zone in order to support his defenders’ play.

Area of Improvement:

  • Shot Power

As an “exceptional” prospect, it’s not easy to pick out any distinct weaknesses in Wright’s game. There simply aren’t many. However, if one was to nitpick and draw out an area of improvement, it would likely be Wright’s wrist shot power. While his shot is by no means below-average, it lacks an electric release which can catch opposing goaltenders off guard.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Profiles

With this being said, Wright has the ability to beat goalies clean with a pin-point snap shot. He likes to use a curl-and-drag release to create new shooting angles and has quickly become a remarkably consistent sniper. Moving on to the OHL level, Wright would benefit tremendously from adding some power behind his snap shot in order to make him a sniper as well as an elite playmaker.

Future Potential:

Shane Wright looks to be the next great superstar of the OHL. Granted exceptional status, Wright has become just the sixth player in CHL history to earn the honour, following John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Joe Veleno.

In attaining eligibility for the OHL Priority Selection, Wright will likely be made the first overall choice come April of 2019. Truthfully, Wright has no holes within his game and possesses dynamic offensive abilities. Ultimately, Wright has the necessary size and strength to survive an OHL season as a 15-year-old. In the long-run, Wright must be considered as a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft, with the potential to become a franchise centre at the NHL-level for one lucky franchise.

Featured photo credited to Max Lewis.

2019 OHL Draft Ranking: Pre-Season Top-10

With the 2018-19 OHL season set to begin, Prospect Pipeline presents its first 2019 OHL Priority Selection Ranking of the season. In this pre-season edition, we highlight 10 stelar prospects who have continued to impress.

Although the 2019 OHL Priority Selection remains more than eight months away, there’s no time like the present to meet this year’s crop of incredibly talented OHL prospects.

With an entire season yet to be played, odds are a few of these names will change and the order of their positioning will fluctuate as well. However, for the likes of Brandt Clarke, Danil Zhilkin, Roman Schmidt, and Wyatt Johnston, their places within the top-10 of this year’s Priority Selection are almost guaranteed.

[RELATED: 2018-19 GTHL Season Preview]

Possessing elite-level talent and the ability to persist in the face of overwhelming pressure and odds, these four individuals will surely enjoy considerable success at the OHL-level. Yet, don’t count out those who failed to crack this pre-season’s top-10 and landed on the honourable mentions list, as there is no motivator more powerful than provocation.

The Top-10 OHL Prospects: Pre-Season Edition

10. Devon Savignac

Position: Right-Wing

2018-19 Team: Nickel City Sons Minor Midget AAA

If there were a heart and hustle award handed out at the Toronto Titans Early Bird Prospects Tournament to begin the month of September, Devon Savignac surely would have claimed the distinction.

All throughout the tournament, Savignac was an energetic force for the Sudbury Wolves’ Minor Midget AAA team. Founded upon a tireless engine as well as a seemingly endless amount of energy, Savignac was a presence in all three zones of the ice owing to his elite speed and determination. Eager to have the puck on his stick and capable of creating lethal offensive chances for his team, Savignac paced the Wolves’ offence and recorded five points in seven games in the process.

Although he will need to improve his overall strength over time, Savignac has the offensive tool-kit and hockey sense necessary to succeed at the OHL-level. If able to sustain his play over the course of the 2018-19 season, Savignac will surely push for a place in the top-10 overall come next April.

9. Francesco Pinelli

Position: Centre

2018-19 Team: Toronto Red Wings Minor Midget AAA

Although he didn’t light up the scoresheet at the Toronto Titans’ Early Bird Prospects Tournament — netting one goal and two points in four games played — Francesco Pinelli was a persistent force who proved himself as a dynamic offensive player.

As a strong and sturdy skater with speed to burn, Pinelli plays a professional-style of game. Capable of protecting the puck as he flies up the ice as well as when he cycles the puck below the goal line, opposing defenders face a huge battle when tasked with handling Pinelli’s agility, creativity, and size. What’s more is the Pinelli is a player who can be utilized in all situations — an indication of the strength of his all-around game.

Skating for the Toronto Red Wings Minor Midget AAA team this coming season, Pinelli will be able to maintain his standing as a first-round prospect in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection if he can improve his offensive totals.

8. Francesco Arcuri

Position: Centre

2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget AAA

Slowed by an injury at the Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament which limited his exposure and abilities, Francesco Arcuri is simply too strong of a player to fall out of the Prospect Pipeline’s top-10 to begin the 2018-19 season.

Boasting solid size and excellent skating abilities, Arcuri is a dynamic offensive player who can spearhead his team’s offensive attack. In possession of quick and decisive hands, Arcuri makes difficult, high-risk plays with relative ease and is remarkably consistent in his abilities to do so. Although his shot continues to improve, Arcuri’s ability to see the ice and play-make within it drives his current value as an OHL prospect.

Skating for a stacked Don Mills Flyers team this coming season, Arcuri will be afforded with ample opportunities to pad his offensive totals ahead of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Unless his production slips this season, expect Arcuri to be nothing other than a top-10 selection next April.

7. Maddox Callens

Position: Forward

2018-19 Team: Brantford 99ers Minor Midget AAA

The Brantford 99ers Minor Midget AAA Team didn’t compete in September’s Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament, but that didn’t stop Maddox Callens from cracking Prospect Pipeline’s pre-season OHL Draft Ranking.

As a crafty and creative forward, Callens is well-known for his ability to play-make as well as shoot the puck. Boasting incredible vision on the ice, Callens can move the puck to his fellows teammates in high-quality scoring positions with ease or fire a well-placed shot on goal instead. What’s more is that Callens is an excellent skater, as his sharp edges and impressive agility allow him to maneuver throughout the ice with ease.

In 2017-18, Callens played his bantam season with the 99ers at the minor midget level. Despite competing against competition a year older than himself, Callens did not look out of place and managed to record 15 goals and 33 points in his 33 games played.

6. Wyatt Johnston

Position: Forward

2018-19 Team: Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget AAA

The Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget AAA team has become a perennial powerhouse, and the 2018-19 version of the club will surely be no different.

Although the roster doesn’t boast the same depth of talent which it did last season, the Marlboros still stand as one of the GTHL’s most promising and dominating teams. Helping to lead the way for the Marlboros offensively this season will be Wyatt Johnston — an incredibly intelligent forward who can analyze the ice and operate within it with remarkable efficiency.

[RELATED: Toronto Titans Tournament Top-20 Performers]

As a strong and sturdy skater who is difficult to knock off of the puck, Johnston dominates possession of the puck for his team and is next to impossible to dispossess.

Further, with quick hands and a lethal release, Johnston can move the puck without issue before ripping the puck on goal. Although he only recorded seven points in six games played at the Toronto Titans Early Bird Prospects Tournament, Johnston has the skill-set necessary to dominate the GTHL this coming season.

5. Luke Hughes

Position: Defence

2018-19 Team: Little Caesars Minor Midget AAA

Well, you can squash any doubts as to whether or not elite-skill runs in the Hughes’ family genes.

Much like his older brothers Quinn and Jack Hughes, Luke Hughes in an immensely talented young player with the potential to become a star at the next level. Although exactly where he will play next season remains uncertain, Hughes would surely be a highly sought after prospect if he intends to play at the OHL-level.

Similar to his brother Quinn, Hughes is a fleet-footed defenceman who loves to rush the puck. Immensely confident in his abilities, Hughes will lead or join his team’s attack and stands as a versatile force in the offensive zone. Capable of moving the puck to his teammates with ease and poise, Hughes is a pillar of strength on the blue line who loves to contribute offensively.

One aspect of Hughes’ game which must improve, however, is his overall strength. Like his brothers, Hughes is slightly undersized and can be knocked off of the puck too easily. If able to improve his lower-body strength throughout the course of the coming season, Hughes will become a dominant two-way defender of ample upside.

4. Mason McTavish

Position: Forward

2018-19 Team: Pembrooke Lumber Kings Minor Midget AAA

Mason McTavish dominated the OEBHL last season as a member of the Ottawa Valley Titans, recording a league-high 83 points in just 30 games played. In fact, McTavish was so potent that he earned four games of action with the Pembroke Lumber Kings’ minor midget team, during which time he added another five points in four contests.

For McTavish, his game begins in the defensive zone.

Capable of battling for possession of the puck before rushing it out of harm’s way, McTavish can lead the rush and loves to drive to the net.

Once in the opposing zone, McTavish will unleash his wicked wrist shot — a shot defined by its ample velocity and a lightning-quick release. Boasting arguably the best shot of any 2019 OHL Priority Selection eligible player, it should come as no surprise to learn that of McTavish’s 83 points last season, 49 of which were goals.

3. Roman Schmidt

Position: Defence

2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget AAA

Roman Schmidt is — without a doubt — one of the most promising defencemen eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

Boasting intimidating size and solid skating abilities, Schmidt is an imposing force on the blue line who can punish opposing players before pounding the puck on goal. In fact, Schmidt potted six goals and 10 points in his eight games played at the Toronto Titans Early Bird Prospects Tournament — a glaring indication of his lethal offensive abilities in addition to his strong defensive play.

Roman Schmidt
Schmidt is a dominating defender whose size, strength, and skill combine to make him an intimidating force. (Photo Credit: Max Lewis)

Committed to Boston University to begin the 2020-21 season, it is unclear whether or not Schmidt will lace up his skates at the OHL-level or honour his commitment to the Terriers. However, the fact remains that Schmidt’s unique combination of size, skill, and mobility make him a prospect of immense potential and value.

2. Danil Zhilkin

Position: Forward

2018-19 Team: Toronto Marlboros

No goal-scorer was more lethal at the Toronto Titans Early Bird Prospects Tournament than Marlboros forward Danil Zhilkin.

In his six games played, Zhilkin potted nine goals and 12 points while helping to lead his team to a berth in the quarter-finals. Although the Marlboros would eventually fall to a strong Pittsburgh Penguins Elite team, Zhilkin’s ability to directly influence the outcome of any specific game came to define his play on a nightly basis.

However, Zhilkin’s shot is just one aspect of his overall game — a game which is not only well-rounded but remarkably consistent. As a strong and sturdy skater, Zhilkin protects the puck with ease and is a possession dynamo. Capable of cycling the puck to his teammates and fending off opposing defenders, Zhilkin’s size allows him to see the ice well and navigate within it with both poise and confidence.

Although he is committed to Boston University for the 2021-22 season, Zhilkin stands as one of the most dynamic offensive players eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

1. Brandt Clarke

Position: Defence

2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget AAA

If Shane Wright isn’t granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada to enter the OHL a year ahead of schedule, then it is Brandt Clarke of the Don Mills Flyers who should — at the moment — be chosen with the first overall selection in the event.

The younger brother of Ottawa 67’s forward Graeme Clarke, Brandt is a smooth-skating and poised defenceman competing for the GTHL’s Don Mills Flyers this season. Boasting great size and excellent hockey sense, Clarke is a presence at both ends of the ice who never buckles under pressure — instead, he thrives within it.

Brandt Clarke
Clarke’s impressive composure and stellar two-way game make him one of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection’s most promising prospects. (Photo Credit: Max Lewis)

Defensively, Clarke uses his size to his advantage in order to overwhelm and pin opposing forwards. Once in possession, Clarke’s silky skating allows him to power his way up the ice with ease — an ability which allows Clarke to lead offensive rushes with remarkable frequency.

Once established in the offensive zone, Clarke handles the puck extremely well and rarely commits turnovers. Capable of walking the blue line with ease in the face of pressure, Clarke moves the puck to his teammates extremely well and can fire the puck on goal through traffic with consistency.

In all, Clarke is an incredibly poised blueliner who boasts the complete package of size, speed, skill, and on-ice intelligence.

Honourable Mentions:

The top-10 prospects eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection are anything but set in stone. Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of honourable mentions whose strong play this season could catapult them into Prospect Pipeline’s top-10:

  • Liam Arnsby (Don Mills Flyers, GTHL)
  • Eric Bonsteel (Mississauga Senators, GTHL)
  • Alex Christopoulos (Don Mills Flyers, GTHL)
  • Sean Clarke (Vaughan Kings, GHTL)
  • Cole Hipkin (Brantford 99ers, AHMPL)
  • Thomas Johnston (Whitby Wildcats, ETA)
  • Joshua Kavanagh (Nickel City Sons, GNML)
  • Connor Lockhart (Kanata Lasers, HEO)
  • Daniel Michaud (Quinte Red Devils, ETA)
  • Max Smolinski (Little Caesars, USA)

The Exceptional Exception:

Shane Wright

Born on Jan. 5th, 2004, Shane Wright finds himself ineligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

At the moment, that is.

Having proven himself capable of dominating his peers with relative ease, there is no reason why Wright shouldn’t be made eligible for the coming OHL Priority Selection by Hockey Canada. Although one of the youngest players competing at the GTHL’s minor midget level this season, Wright is undoubtedly a step above his competition and would not benefit whatsoever from an additional season of play in the GTHL.

Shane Wright
Shane Wright of the Don Mills Flyers is a legitimate candidate for exceptional status. (Photo Credit: Max Lewis)

Incredibly strong on his skates and boasting natural speed, Wright is a gifted talent who sees the ice incredibly well. As creative as they come, Wright can play-make with ease and owns a stellar shot to boot. What’s more is that Wright is a well-rounded, 200-foot player who can be utilized and succeed in all situations.

In short, Wright should be playing in the OHL next season, not the GTHL.

If awarded exceptional status, expect Wright to sky-rocket to the top of Prospect Pipeline’s monthly OHL Priority Selection Rankings. Until awarded exceptional status — if at all — Wright will stand as an endlessly talented youngster whose immediate future remains uncertain.

Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament: Top 20 Performers

The Toronto Titans Early Bird Prospects Tournament has come and gone, and a number of this year’s top prospects used the showcase the promote their potential. In this tournament recap, see how the 2019 OHL Draft’s elite talent fared.

Just like that, the 11th Annual Toronto Titans Minor Midget Prospect Tournament has come and gone. As the unofficial start to the season, the tourney never fails to disappoint, offering scouts from all over Ontario and parts of USA an early glimpse into the top prospects eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

This year’s edition was no different, showcasing the top tier of teams for the 2003-born age group. Leading the way through the round-robin portion of the tournament with perfect 4-0-0 records were the Don Mills Flyers, Toronto Nationals, Mississauga Senators, and North York Rangers of the GTHL, the Whitby Wildcats of the ETA, the Chicago Mission from the HPHL, and the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite from the TIEHL.

After a memorable elimination round which featured a number of tight games, it was the Don Mills Flyers who came away as the 2018 Champions, defeating Chicago Mission in the Final. The Flyers were dominant from start to finish of this tournament, rolling over their opponents with ridiculous depth at both ends of the ice to finish with a combined 8-0-0 record, with 48 goals for and just 7 against. Heading into the 2018-19 season, they appear to be early favourites for the 2019 OHL Cup.

Top Performers

1: Shane Wright – Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)

Shane Wright put his application for Exceptional Status on display early and often. Born on January 5th, 2004, Wright showcased elite acceleration and top-end speed, as well as phenomenal puck skills and exemplary vision of the ice. He is an excellent playmaker, and has an above average shot as well, beating goaltenders with clear shots. His hockey IQ is what clearly sets him apart from the 2019 OHL Draft class. Wright finished the tournament with eight goals and 17 points in eight games, ranking second and first in those categories, respectfully.

2: Danil Zhilkin – Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

Danil Zhilkin quickly, and often, made an impact at the tournament with his innate goal-scoring abilities. The Boston University commit established his role as the Marlboros trigger man, boasting an elite level shot with a lightning-quick release and tremendous accuracy. Zhilkin skates well and can weave through traffic as well as protect the puck from defenders. He led the tournament with nine goals in just six games, while the Marlboros were ousted by the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite in quarterfinal action.

3: Roman Schmidt – Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)

Roman Schmidt is as solid a defenceman as they come. Another Boston University commit, Schmidt enforces his strength on his opponents to separate body from puck, or to protect the puck with ease on a rush. A solid two-way defenceman, Schmidt has a smart shot from the point, throwing wristers on net with excellent accuracy that beat goaltenders through screens. Schmidt finished the tournament with six goals and 10 points in eight games, leading all defencemen in both categories.

4: Jack Devine – Chicago Mission (HPHL)

Jack Devine, one half of the Chicago Mission’s “Jack Duo” plays a similar style to his linemate, Jack Silich. Backed by excellent agility and solid top-end speed, Devine utilizes his superb hockey sense to visibly read the game one step ahead of his opponents. He is a multi-faceted weapon up front, with the capability to make back-door, cross-ice passes for tap-in goals, or to weave though defenders and snipe goals past the tournament’s top goalies with regularity. A University of Denver commit, Devine finished second in tournament scoring with 15 goals, including seven goals.

5: Brandt Clarke – Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)

Brant Clarke, the brother of Graeme of the Ottawa 67’s, is an offensive defenceman with elite skating abilities and hockey sense. Clarke has exemplary edgework and can walk the blueline with the puck with confidence and creativity before firing a shot through traffic to generate scoring chances. He is strong on the puck and uses smart stick positioning to be effective at both ends of the ice. Clarke reads developing plays well and can recognize safe opportunities to jump into the rush. He tallied three goals and eight points in the Flyers championship run.

6: Jack Silich – Chicago Mission (HPHL)

Jack Silich showcased elite level puck skills and skating abilities to lead the Mission to the tournament final. He excels at finding open space on the ice and battles hard for possession of the puck. A Quinnipiac University commit, Silich has an electric shot and loves to rip one-timers from the circle.  Along with linemate, Jack Devine, the duo proved to be too much for even the tournament’s top teams to handle. Silich finished the tournament third in points with 13, along with six goals.

7: Nick Sewecke – Pittsburgh Penguins Elite (TIEHL)

Another skilled forward with quick hands and a strong snap shot, Nick Sewecke sets himself apart through a determination to play a responsible two-way game as well. Leading Pittsburgh to the semi-finals where they were finally eliminated by the Mission, Sewecke showcased excellent offensive instincts and a shot which can be unloaded in tight and under pressure. Despite being a December-born prospect, Sewecke showed no signs of being overwhelmed by bigger and stronger opponents. He ranked fourth in goals in the tournament with six in seven games.

8: Artem Guryev – Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

One of the most exhilarating defenceman to watch at this year’s tournament was Artem Guryev, who plays an all-around style and is seemingly always involved in the play. Guryev is a slick skater who is strong on his feet, often using his body to lay booming open-ice hits, or to close gaps along the wall. He loves to join the rush and has the capability to carry the puck through the neutral zone himself. From the blueline, Guryev shows promising potential to either move the puck or fire shoots on net, collecting six points in six contests.

9: Cole Eichler – Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)

Cole Eichler crept out of the shadows cast by Shane Wright upon the Don Mills lineup by putting in a consistent effort each game. Eichler is a strong skater with elite vision of the ice who can find passing lanes through all kinds of traffic. He has a natural sense of where the soft spots will open up and goes to them to make himself a viable passing option. Eichler kept up with Wright’s speed when playing on his wing, but also showcased the ability to generate offensively as well. He finsihed sixth in tournament scoring with 11 points, including five goals, in eight games.

10: Jack Beck – Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

Often slotted along the Marlboros’ first line, Jack Beck is a powerful skater who can protect the puck as well as anyone. He is a playmaker by nature, with the capability to curl out from the half-wall before dishing tape-to-tape, cross-ice passes. Beck is trusted to play in all situations and has shown the effort to always compete hard in the defensive zone as well. Beck finished second in Marlboros scoring and tied fr seventh in the tournament with 10 in six games.

11: Ryan Winterton – Whitby Wildcats (ETA)

Ryan Winterton boasted elite level abilities during the round robin portion of the tournament, before the Wildcats were upset by the Vaughan Kings in a 1-0 Sweet 16 loss. Winterton has an innate understanding of the of his positioning on the ice and the importance of playing a strong two-way game. His offensive abilities are led by a smooth stride with smart edgework, as well as a quick and powerful release to his snap shot. Winterton placed seventh in points-per-game at the Titans Early Bird with four goals and eight points in five games.

12: Ryan Del Monte – Toronto Nationals (GTHL)

Ryan Del Monte has a proven capability to lead the offence on a talented Nationals team that were ousted by their rival, Don Mills, in the Quarterfinals. A Harvard University commit, Del Monte leads by example with a responsible 200-foot game. He has a high compete-level and shows a willingness to drive to the dirty areas. Del Monte’s top asset appears to be his knack for finding the back of the net, usually with a quick and deceptive snap shot. He finished tied for 13th in tournament scoring with five goals and eight points in six games.

13: William Gourgouvelis – Whitby Wildcats (ETA)

A reliable two-way defenceman, William Gourgouvelis showed flashes of a capacity to dictate the game at both ends of the ice. He is smart in his own zone, closing gaps to force opponents into the corners and using smart stick positioning to close off passing lanes and break up offensive rushes. On the offensive side, Gourgouvelis often joins the rush to create odd-man rushes and isn’t afraid to fire wrist shots from the point through traffic to generate deflections and rebounds. Gourgouvelis ended the tournament fourth in defencemen scoring with six points.

14: Wyatt Johnston – Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

Wyatt Johnston is a responsible center with a high level of hockey sense. He is an efficient skater who utilizes great agility and edges to dance through opponents before often dishing off the puck to an open teammate. Johnston is a natural playmaker who seems to think pass before shot, and loves to maintain puck possession through effective cycling and shot selection. Johnston appears to have strong offensive upside, but could benefit from taking advantage of shooting opportunities. Johnston finished the tournament with two goals and seven points.

15: Sean Clarke – Vaughan Kings (GTHL)

Sean Clarke represented the little engine who could on a surprising Vaughan team that battled and forced its way into Quarterfinal action. Through a team-first approach, Clarke led the Kings’ offence through a combination of high-end speed and quick hands. He was like a hound on the puck at all times and showcased an ability to rush the puck end-to-end. Clarke also has a deceptive and accurate shot that can beat goaltenders in tight. He went on to finish fourth in tournament points-per-game, with nine in five games, including five goals as well.

16: Josh Bloom – Toronto Nationals (GTHL)

Josh Bloom is an energetic skater whose engine never stops. He is consistently pressuring the opposition and skating hard in all three zones to force turnovers. Bloom has creative hands and can waltz his way through traffic with ease, while his shot remains powerful with a quick release to catch goaltenders mid-transition. He reads the ice very well in order to predict where open lanes will develop and uses his flashy speed to infiltrate them. Bloom concluded the tournament with four goal and eight points in six games, tied for 13th in tourney scoring.

17: Tucker Robertson – Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

Tucker Robertson may very well possess the quickest and most dynamic set of mitts in this year’s draft class. He regularly turns defencemen inside-out with silky moves, utilizing his edges and agility to maneuver his way through and around traffic. Robertson also has above-average speed when he opens it up, able to fly past defencemen before cutting in front of the net. His shot is also hard off of the release and he loves to change shooting angles in order to catch goaltenders off guard. Robertson finished tied for 12th in goals with four, along with seven points.

18: Deni Goure – Chatham Kent Cyclones (Alliance)

After a rough 10-1 loss to the Toronto Marlboros to start off the tournament, the Cyclones gradually found their rhythm and proved to be a tough out in the end. The squad is led at both ends of the ice by Deni Goure, an elite two-way center who leads by example. A terrific skater, Goure’s compete level sets him apart from others, while his skating ability allows him to generate plenty of successful carry-ins. He’s a shifty player with quick hands, and his snap shot features a brisk release. Goure totalled two goals and six points to lead the Cyclones in four games.

19: Daniel Michaud – Quinte Red Devils (ETA)

Daniel Michaud was seemingly the lone bright spot in what turned out to be a rather disappointing tournament for the Red Devils. Expected to be one of the top teams in the ETA this year, Quinte fell victim to a slow start, losing its first two contests. However, Michaud only got stronger as the tournaments wore on, inflicting his high-paced style and sense of the game onto his opponents. He skates well and has a strong shot as well as an elite sense of the ice around him. Michaud wrapped the tournament up with three goals and six points to lead his team.

20: Braeden Kressler – Mississauga Senators (GTHL)

The Senators dearly struggled with depth issues at the Titans Early Bird, with only one goal coming from someone outside their top line, and a defenceman at that. With that said, Braeden Kressler was the offensive catalyst for his team, showcasing a dynamic ability to burn defenders with speed combined with an electric release that catches goaltenders off-guard before they have time to set themselves. He also boasts quick hands and an underrated sense of vision. Kressler closed out the tournament with four goals and five points in just four games.

Photo credit to Max Lewis.

2018-19 GTHL Season Preview

The GTHL is loaded with elite young talent, and this year’s crop of minor midget players are no different. Expected to comprise the majority of the 2019 OHL Draft’s first round, meet this year’s best GTHL talent.

2018-19 GTHL Season Preview

The 2018-19 GTHL Minor Midget season is looming just around the corner, with the first games of league action beginning on Monday, September 10th. This year’s crop of prospects come from the 2003-born age group, who will undoubtedly make up a great portion of the top selections at the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

Overall, it appears to be yet another strong season for GTHL draft talent, led by a select few elite teams. In the 2017-18 GTHL Bantam season, it was the Don Mills Flyers who walked away as the Regular Season Champions with a 30-2-1 record. Following close behind were the Toronto Marlboros at 27-6-0 and the Toronto Young Nationals at 26-6-1.

In playoff action, the three aforementioned teams cruised to the semi-final round, along with the North York Rangers. The Rangers faced off against the Flyers and gave them a tough run, eventually falling 8-4 in points to Don Mills. On the other side, the Marlboros overcame a 7-3 point deficit against the Nationals, eventually capping off the series with a memorable 3-2 win in a game eight.

The final round featured two high-powered teams with tremendous depth at both ends of the ice, but in the end it was the Don Mills Flyers who proved too much to handle for the Toronto Marlboros, capturing the Playoff Championship in a 9-1 points series win.

Heading into their Minor Midget season, Don Mills brings with it three consecutive Regular Season Championships, three consecutive Playoff Championships, as well as OHL Provincial Championships in 2016 and 2018. They also captured the 2018 Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament in a dominant performance, rolling to an 8-0-0 record with 48 goals for and just 7 against.

Perhaps most notably, and most tragically, was the passing of their goaltender, Roy Pejcinovski, in the middle of their playoff run. Roy was an imperative cog within the Don Mills organization, both on and off the ice, and will be missed dearly by all who knew him.

On Thursday, October 25, 2018, the Inaugural Pejcinovski Legacy Gala will take place at the Hazelton manor in support of The Pejcinovski Family Memorial Fund in an event which will honour the lives of Krissy, Roy, and Vana, all of whom were taken from us too soon. Donations, ticket information and opportunities to help their legacy live on forever are available at krvgala.com.

– Teams to Watch –

Don Mills Flyers

Coming off of yet another dominant season in the GTHL, the Flyers appear destined to be a front-runner for the league championships once again. They’ve re-stocked their roster and appear to be stronger than ever in ’17-18 with key additions of Francesco Arcuri, Cole Eichler, and Roman Schmidt, as well as a new goaltending tandem in Sergei Litvinov and Anson Thornton.

Led by Shane Wright, who hopes to attain Exceptional Status by Hockey Canada in order to be eligible for the upcoming OHL Draft, the Flyers roll three evenly-distributed lines of offence, all of which are capable of generating goals. On the back end, Brandt Clarke and Roman Schmidt lead the charge of five defencemen who can be trusted to play in all situations.

There are simply no holes to this roster, who enter the ’18-19 season as favourites in the GTHL.

Players to Watch:

Shane Wright – C – The Flyers’ top center, Wright combines an exemplary skating ability with incredible hockey sense to be a threat each time he takes the ice. The early favourite to go 1st overall at the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

Brennan Othmann – LW – A winger, Othmann has an electric and powerful release. He skates well and has impressive puck skills. A trigger-man on the powerplay.

Francesco Arcuri – C – A highly-skilled puck handler, Arcuri has speed to burn and is an impressive playmaker who sees the ice extremely well.

Brandt Clarke – D – An uber-talented, two-way defenceman who skates effortlessly. He can weave through traffic with ease and hold the line under pressure. Excellent offensive upside.

Roman Schmidt – D – A towering defenceman who can throttle opponents with checks, Schmidt is a smooth skater who efficiently transitions the game. He is a threat from the blueline with a bomb of a shot.

Toronto Marlboros

Well, you can’t be surprised here. The Marlboros boast yet another incredibly talented roster with high-end players at all positions. Coming off of a tough loss in the ’17-18 finals to their rival Don Mills, the Marlboros head into the 2018-19 season with a chip on their shoulder.

Backed by some strong acquisitions, including Danny Zhilkin, Tucker Robertson, and Artem Guryev, the team appears to have more upside than it’s ’17-18 version. Their defensive corps is massive, with everyone lining up over 6-feet tall. Up front, returnees Wyatt Johnston and Jake Beck lead an offence that oozes with speed and skill.

Players to Watch:

Danil Zhilkin – C – A natural goal-scorer, Zhilkin has an elite shot and a nose for the net. He skates well and has a knack for being in the right position at the right time. Overall, the league’s most potent shooter.

Wyatt Johnston – C – An excellent skater with a smooth stride and good edgework, Johnston showcases some of the highest hockey sense in the league. A playmaker by nature, he can thread passes with ease.

Tucker Robertson – LW – A pair of silky smooth hands lead to Robertson turning heads each time he takes the ice. A gifted puck-handler with good speed, Robertson has exciting offensive upside.

Ethan Del Mastro – D – A towering defenceman, Del Mastro plays a calm and poised game at both ends of the ice. He forces opponents to the outside with his body and stick, and outlets passes to transition the game.

Artem Guryev – D – Another strong defender, Guryev loves to throw booming open-ice checks before jumping into the rush to generate offence. He has the potential to play to over a point-per-game rate.

Toronto Nationals

After a heartbreaking loss to the Marlboros in game eight of the semi-finals last year, the Nationals are back to prove they have what it takes to be mentioned among the top tier of the ’03 age group. The Nats play a smart game with an emphasis on a strong, 200-foot game. They delivered both regular season losses to Don Mills.

Led up front by the likes of Ryan Del Monte, Josh Bloom, and Zachary Dean, the Nats have high-end scoring backed by depth on all three lines. On the blue line, they play a responsible and efficient game by limiting the time of attack by their opponents and constantly hounding the puck.

Players to Watch:

Ryan Del Monte – C – Committed to Harvard University, Del Monte plays an intelligent game backed by a strong snap shot and incredible vision of the ice. He backchecks deep into the defensive zone to support his defenders.

Josh Bloom – LW – Led by noteworthy offensive instincts, Bloom can do it all. He skates effortlessly and has strong top-end speed along with above average puck skills and a strong shot, making him a constant threat.

Zachary Dean – LW – A natural playmaker, Dean has tremendous vision of the ice and can sense where his teammates are at all times. He can find passing lanes through traffic and throw saucer passes past defenders regularly.

Deven Nagra – D – A smooth skating, puck-moving defenceman, Nagra excels in transitioning the game up ice. He has great lower body strength that allow him to separate opponents from the puck.

Owen Forester – D – Forester is a solid, all-around defenceman who makes a difference at both ends of the ice. He uses smart body and stick positioning to limit offence, and also patrols the blue line well.

Mississauga Rebels

After playing to a 17-12-4 record in ’17-18, the Rebels were ousted in a tough first round matchup against the North York Rangers that went to eight games. Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Rebels are motivated to prove that they should be considered a team to beat.

The Rebels play a low-scoring game backed by superior defensive awareness that has been coached into their forward group. With that said, their defensive corps are set free to contribute offensively, so long as they are responsible in their decisions of when to jump into the rush.

Players to Watch:

Maxwell Donohoe – LW – A smart, two-way forward, Donohoe is often looked upon as the trigger-man for the Rebels. He has good vision of the ice and skates well, but also plays a sound positional game as well.

Pasquale Zito – C – Another reliable forward at both ends of the ice, Zito reads the game well and utilizes his vision to be an impressive playmaker. Above average skater with strong top-end speed.

Anthony Russo – D – A two-way defenceman, Russo has a strong shot from the point and works the blue line well on the power play to generate scoring chances. He skates well and isn’t afraid to engage physically.

Jack Guvenal – D – An excellent transition game, Guvenal is a break-out artist who utilizes several options to move the puck up ice, either through a strong outlet pass, or by rushing the puck himself.

North York Rangers

Playing to an identical 17-12-4 as their first round opponent, Mississauga Rebels, the Rangers play a similar style which locks down the neutral zone and makes them a tough team to play against. North York will be looking to build upon a second round appearance by cracking the top-four in the league standings.

Their defence are a puck-moving group who can all skate well and box-out offensive threats in front of their net. However, they will likely need an offensive boost if they hope to compete with the league’s top tier of teams.

Players to Watch:

Christian Campanelli – C – The Rangers’ offensive leader, Campanelli has a quick release that he can get off in tight spaces under pressure. He has the ability to slip behind defenders and create a passing lane for himself.

Patrick Saini – C – A skillful, two-way center, Saini can skate and protect the puck well. He reads the ice well and can weave through traffic or dish out cross-ice passes on the tape to his teammates.

Toronto Red Wings

After playing to a 15-13-5 record last year, the Red Wings are motivated to improve their record through a potentially potent offence. The team plays a fast and heavy game, and have frequently given top teams in their age group a run for their money.

The Red Wings feature a number of big, strong, mobile defencemen who can keep games close. Up front, they boast a few highly-skilled forwards, but lack the depth that the high-end teams are able to roll with over three solid lines.

Players to Watch:

Francesco Pinelli – C – An uber-talented center with a motor that doesn’t quit, Pinelli took over as the team’s captain this year and appears to be their offensive leader as well. He has a strong shot and battles for puck as hard as anyone.

Ryan Gillespie – C – A responsible, two-way center, Gillespie is often relied upon in defensive situations and on the penalty kill. He has some offensive upside, but needs to add some aggression to his game.

Mississauga Senators

The Mississauga Senators may be this year’s candidate for a breakout campaign. The team has promising offensive capabilities but needs to hone it’s defensive game. After playing to a 14-12-7 record in ’17-18, the Sens will look to improve upon their 7th seed finish.

The issue that has been nagging the Sens ’03 group has been a lack of depth at both ends of the ice. They are hoping that the addition of skilled forward, Ethan Esposito, can help to build three solid forward lines.

Players to Watch:

Eric Bonsteel – D – A smooth skating, two-way defenceman, Bonsteel is the backbone of the Sens’ defence corps and is relied upon to chip in offensively as well. He is trusted to play in all situations of the game.

Braeden Kressler – RW – Appears to be the team’s offensive leader, regularly carrying possession of the puck in successful offensive zone entries. Kressler has a quick and accurate shot, and is always willing to battle for loose pucks.

Jacob Frasca – C – Centring the top line, Frasca skates well and is strong on the puck, with impressive hands. He is more of a passer than shooter, and often tags up with Kressler for one-timer goals.

Vaughan Kings

The Kings look poised to significantly build on their 9-22-2 record from last season, which left them out of a playoff spot. The team struggles at both ends of the ice for much of the year, but finished out strong with a 5-5-0 record to cap off the year, including some close losses to the league’s top teams.

Vaughan has two strong offensive lines that can produce offence in any given shift, as well as a nice blend of two-way and defensive defencemen. If the Kings can play a consistently fast-paces game, they should improve upon their record from ’17-18 and potentially crack the playoffs.

Players to Watch:

Sean Clarke – C – A skilled player with quick hands, Clarke has a deceptive and accurate snap shot that can beat goaltenders one-on-one. He skates well and has solid top-end speed.

Jack Price – RW – A big, strong skater who protects the puck well, Price plays an impressive all-around game. He has a strong shot with good power and can also make cross-ice passes through traffic.

Featured photo is credited to Max Lewis.