The 20 team stage is set as the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour is underway at the Scotiabank Pond in Toronto.
Here’s a fan’s guide to the competing teams:
Whitby Wildcats (Regular season: 31-3-2, 1st ETA East Division)
Qualified: OMHA Champion (Defeated Brampton 5-3 in Gold Medal Game)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2014 (2-2-1, lost in quarter-finals to Jr. Canadiens)
Players to Watch: Blake Murray (C), Colton Kammerer (D), Cole Perfetti (RW), Ryan O’Rourke (D)
Notable Alum: Justin Lemcke (Hamilton Bulldogs)
Outlook: The Wildcats are among the hottest teams in the province, entering the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour on a 25-game undefeated streak dating back to December 4th. Coached by former OHL star and Toronto Maple Leafs first round pick Rob Pearson, the Wildcats are on a mission and judging by their play of late, it’s going to take quite an effort to stop them. Keep an eye on underage talent in Cole Perfetti up front and Ryan O’Rourke on the blue line.
Waterloo Wolves (Regular season: 26-5-2, 2nd ALLIANCE)
Qualified: ALLIANCE Finalist (Defeated by London Jr Knights 7-1 pts.)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 5th consecutive (2016 – 1-3-0-0)
Players to Watch: Keean Washkurak (C), Nate Allensen (D), Riley McCabe (G), Cyrus Martin (G)
Notable Alum: Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires)
Outlook: A perennial contender, the Wolves reached the ALLIANCE Minor Midget Championship before coming up short against a high-powered London team. As always, the Waterloo brings a well-balanced group under head coach Shawn Dietrich. Keean Washkurak, Tyson Hillier and Brayden Krieger bring the offence up front while defenceman Nate Allensen will see plenty of ice this week. Goaltenders Riley McCabe and Cyrus Martin combined to surrender an ALLIANCE-low 46 goals this season.
Vaughan Kings (Regular season: 17-12-4, 7th GTHL)
Qualified: GTHL Semi-Finalist (Defeated by Toronto Marlboros 9-5 pts.)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2014 (2-2-1, lost in quarter-finals to Ottawa Jr. 67’s)
Players to Watch: Nathan Staios (D), Nicholas Porco (C), Thomas Harley (D)
Notable Alum: Adam Mascherin (Kitchener Rangers)
Outlook: Hampered by injuries during the season, the Kings hit their stride in the playoffs when they ousted the favoured Mississauga Reps in the first round. Vaughan features some high-end talent on the blue line including American-born Thomas Harley as well as Nathan Staios, the son of former NHL rearguard and OHL graduate Steve Staios. Fleet-footed forward Nicholas Porco drives the Vaughan attack.
Qualified: NOHA Representative
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2016 (2-2-0)
Players to Watch: Camaryn Baber (C), Payton Vescio (D), Cole Craft (RW)
Notable Alum: Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Outlook: Coming together and finding success in a short time is never easy. The best of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association assembles in Toronto this week to compete against the best teams in the province. Currently leading the Great North Midget League Finals 2-1, several members of the North Bay Trappers will feature prominently on Team NOHA including blueliners Payton Vescio and Jacob Peterson-Galema. It’s always intriguing to see how this group of Northern Ontario’s best young talent fares at the OHL Cup Showcase.
Regular season: 17-9-7, 41 pts., 6th GTHL
Qualified: Wild Card Play-In victory over Kitchener (W 7-1)
Players to Watch: Xavier Henry (D), Alex Dominique (C)
Notable Alumni: Markus Phillips (Owen Sound Attack), Joseph Garreffa (Kitchener Rangers), Nick Grima (Sarnia Sting)
Outlook: The Titans overpowered the Kitchener Jr. Rangers 7-1 in Wild Card Play-In action on Tuesday and are back on the war path after eliminating the Toronto Young Nationals in a GTHL Wild Card Series. The Nats finished sixth in the GTHL during the regular season, but have proven themselves capable of skating with the best Ontario has to offer.
Mississauga Rebels (Regular season: 18-7-8, 5th GTHL)
Qualified: GTHL Champion (Defeated Toronto Marlboros 8-6 pts.)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2016 (3-2-0, lost in quarter-final to York-Simcoe)
Players to Watch: Philip Tomasino (C), Anthony Aguanno (D), Evan Brand (D)
Notable Alum: Peter Stratis (Ottawa 67’s)
Outlook: Having been crowned both 2017 GTHL Champions and Silver Stick Champs, the Mississauga Rebels go for the trifecta at the OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour. A versatile blue line is their calling card as the foursome of Anthony Aguanno, Evan Brand, Michael Vukojevic and Arthur Kowara all give you a different dimension while talented twins Dylan and Tyler Jackson join star centre Philip Tomasino in providing a presence offensively. They had their bouts with inconsistency during the regular season, but the Rebels mean business this week and are a team you won’t want to miss.
Quinte Red Devils (Regular season: 28-5-3, 2nd ETA East Division)
Qualified: OMHA Bronze Medalist (Defeated Ajax-Pickering 4-2 in Bronze Medal Game)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 3rd consecutive (2016 – 3-1-1, lost in quarter-final to Jr. Canadiens)
Players to Watch: Daniel Panetta (C), Michael Andrews (LW), Emmett Pierce (RW), Cameron Supryka (D)
Notable Alum: Brady Gilmour (Saginaw Spirit)
Outlook: After providing fans with a number of exciting games in the past two OHL Cup Showcases, the Quinte Red Devils return for a third straight year, this time under former OHL grad and NHL defenceman Steve Bancroft behind the bench. The Quinte program has provided the OHL with a pair of high-end centreman in Brady Gilmour (Saginaw Spirit) and Nathan Dunkley (Kingston Frontenacs) in the past two OHL Priority Selections, but this group of Red Devils has a diverse base of talent and brings the usual hard-working approach. The Red Devils never seem to be out of things and have a knack for sticking around at the OHL Cup.
Cambridge Hawks (Regular season: 17-11-5, 4th ALLIANCE)
Qualified: ALLIANCE Wild Card Series win (Defeated Kitchener 2-0), eliminated by London (4-0 pts.)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2007 (1-3-0)
Players to Watch: Ryan Campbell (C), Jagger O’Toole (D), David Anderson (RW), Jet Greaves (G)
Notable Alum: Connor Hall (Kitchener Rangers)
Outlook: The beneficiaries of strong goaltending, hard work and some timely goal-scoring, the Cambridge Hawks make their first OHL Cup appearance since 2007 after defeating the Kitchener Jr. Rangers 2-0 in the ALLIANCE Wild Card Series. Scoring winger David Anderson led the Hawks in scoring with 19 goals, 20 assists and 39 points in 33 games. Front line centre Ryan Campbell is among the hardest workers in the Minor Midget ranks this season and netminder Jet Greaves has shown the ability to steal a game for his team on occasion.
Elite Hockey Group
Qualified: USA Invite
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2016 (1-3-0)
Players to Watch: Jacob Zacharewicz (G), Sahil Panwar (C)
Notable Alum: Cam Dineen (North Bay Battalion)
Outlook: Elite Hockey Group brings a crop of American talent to the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour. Of note, Canadian-born underage forward Sahil Panwar, currently playing with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U16 is considered a top prospect for the 2018 OHL Priority Selection. Big goaltender Jacob Zacharewicz of the PAL Islanders U16 will be one to keep an eye on this week. Also of interest, Cameron Recchi, the son of long-time NHL forward Mark Recchi, will compete for Elite Hockey Group.
Toronto Young Nationals
Regular season: 23-7-3, 49 pts. – 1st GTHL
Qualified: Wild Card Play-In victory over Grey-Bruce (W 4-3)
Players to Watch: Brandon Coe (RW), Ethan Keppen (C), Zachary Roy (G)
Notable Alumni: Steve Harland (North Bay Battalion)
Outlook: After being granted new life through the OHL Cup Wild Card Selection Committee, the Toronto Nationals made the most of their opportunity on Tuesday, defeating the Grey-Bruce Highlanders 4-3. Despite the absence of injured centreman Mason Primeau, the Nats held off a late Grey-Bruce surge to punch their ticket to the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour. Goaltender Zachary Roy was among the best in the GTHL all season. Big forwards Brandon Coe and Ethan Keppen are ones to watch.
Toronto Marlboros (Regular season: 22-8-3, 3rd GTHL)
Qualified: GTHL Finalist (Defeated by Mississauga Rebels 8-6 pts.)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 15th consecutive (2016 – 5-2-0, 2OT loss to York-Simcoe in Championship)
Players to Watch: Jack Hughes (C), Graeme Clarke (RW), Kyle Harris (C), Billy Constantinou (D)
Notable Alum: Dylan Strome (Erie Otters)
Outlook: After back-to-back OHL Cup titles, the Toronto Marlboros were stopped in double overtime last year, falling 2-1 to the York-Simcoe Express in a thrilling finish. Ontario’s most consistent Minor Midget program is back with a vengeance this year, bringing several high profile forwards to the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour following a GTHL Championship loss to the Mississauga Rebels. Standout forwards Jack Hughes and Graeme Clarke suit up in their second OHL Cup Showcases after competing as underagers last year.
Ajax-Pickering Raiders (Regular season: 23-6-5, 2nd ETA West Division)
Qualified: OMHA Semi-Finalist (Defeated by Quinte Red Devils 4-2 in Bronze Medal Game)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: First OHL Cup Appearance
Players to Watch: Connor McMichael (C), Ian Martin (RW), Cole Brady (G)
Notable Alum: Andy Andreoff (Oshawa Generals 2007-12)
Outlook: The Raiders had one of their most successful Minor Midget seasons in recent memory, reaching the OMHA Championships where they fought to a fourth place finish. Star centreman Connor McMichael has been one of the best players in the province this season while scoring winger Ian Martin is back from injury and contributing regularly. The goaltending tandem of Cole Brady and Damon Beaver has kept the Raiders in close games all season and they’ll need to continue their stellar play this week.
Eastern Ontario Wild
Qualified: 2016 HEO Bantam Champion
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2013 (0-3-1)
Players to Watch: Alexandre Hogue (D), Curtis Fabbro (C), Zachary Paputsakis (G), Luke Cavallin (G)
Notable Alum: Nicolas Mattinen (London Knights)
Outlook: The 2016 HEO Bantam Champion Eastern Ontario Wild has been re-assembled along with a few significant additions as they represent the HEO at the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour. The Wild are headlined by a strong blue line that features power play quarterback Alexandre Hogue and the well-rounded Simon Rose. They might feature the best goaltending duo in the entire Showcase with Zachary Paputsakis and Luke Cavallin as the last line of defence. They’ve been champions once, can the Wild do it again?
Thunder Bay Kings (Regular season: 10-11-0-1, 9th NAPHL U16)
Qualified: HNO Representative
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2016 (1-3-0)
Players to Watch: Owen Belisle (LW), Joseph McCollum (D), Zach Fortin (D)
Notable Alum: Kyle Auger (Ottawa 67’s)
Outlook: After a rough go of things at last year’s OHL Cup, the Thunder Bay Kings return with some added depth looking to make life hard for the opposition. They’ll get right at it first thing Wednesday morning against Eastern Ontario and will need a strong start to the tournament. Power winger Owen Belisle (8-14–22) joins Keighan Gerrie (9-13–22) as the Kings leading scorer this season as both players recorded 22 points. Joseph McCollum and Zach Fortin give Thunder Bay some sandpaper on the back end.
Regular season: 20-5-8, 48 pts., 2nd GTHL
Qualified: Wild Card Play-In victory over Halton (W 5-2)
Players to Watch: Jamieson Rees (C), Lucas Rowe (C), Igor Chibrikov (D), Klim Georgiev (D)
Notable Alumni: Mario Peccia (Kingston Frontenacs), Gianluca Fuoco (Saginaw Spirit)
Outlook: The Reps are back at the OHL Cup after missing out on the event last year. Cole Burtch had two goals and an assist to lead Mississauga over the Halton Hurricanes 5-2 in Wild Card Play-In action on Tuesday. Standout forward Jamieson Rees controls the pace with outstanding puck control and agility. He’ll need to be at his best as will Russian blueliners Igor Chibrikov and Klim Georgiev if the Reps hope to find success this week.
London Jr. Knights (Regular season: 27-2-4, 1st ALLIANCE)
Qualified: ALLIANCE Champion (Defeated Waterloo Wolves 7-1 pts.)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 3rd consecutive (2016 – 0-3-1)
Players to Watch: Ryan Suzuki (C), Aidan Prueter (C), Jeff Burridge (LW)
Notable Alum: Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack)
Outlook: Seated atop the OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour Minor Midget Top-10 Rankings throughout much of this season, the London Jr. Knights rolled to an ALLIANCE Championship and now seek to win it all. The Jr. Knights defeated the GTHL Champion Mississauga Rebels to win the Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic back in December. With Ryan Suzuki, Aidan Preuter and QMJHL Draft eligible prospect Brett Budgell powering a potent offence, can the Jr. Knights become the first ever OHL Cup Champion from the ALLIANCE ranks?
Brampton 45’s (Regular season: 27-6-3, 2nd SCTA)
Qualified: OMHA Silver Medalist (Defeated by Whitby Wildcats 5-3 in Gold Medal Game)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: First OHL Cup Appearance (Brampton Battalion competed in 2007)
Players to Watch: Andrew Horsley (LW), Brayden Guy (LW), Sebastian Labora (G), Owen Porter (G)
Notable Alum: Ian Blacker (Oshawa Generals)
Outlook: The Brampton 45’s come off an outstanding season in the OMHA’s SCTA circuit to make their first ever appearance at the OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour. The 45’s earned successive playoff sweeps over the Halton Hurricanes and Guelph Jr. Gryphons to reach the OMHA Championship where they reached the Gold Medal Game and were edged by the Whitby Wildcats. Big contributions from leading scorer Andrew Horsley and captain Brayden Guy will be key to their success this week. Goaltenders Owen Porter and Sebastian Labora will need to continue their solid play.
Toronto Jr. Canadiens (Regular season: 11-13-9, 8th GTHL)
Qualified: GTHL Semi-Finalist (Defeated by Mississauga Rebels 8-2 pts.)
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 5th consecutive (2016 – 4-2-0, lost in semi-final to Toronto Marlboros)
Players to Watch: Cody Morgan (C), Mathew Hill (D), Brendan Hoffman (RW)
Notable Alum: Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm)
Outlook: They didn’t wow anyone during the regular season, but the Toronto Jr. Canadiens played a reliable brand and reached the GTHL Semi-Finals to earn their fifth straight OHL Cup berth. Intelligent two-way centreman Cody Morgan has been a driving force for the Jr. Canadiens all season while steady blueliner Mathew Hill eats minutes in the red, blue and white. They certainly aren’t the big fish at the showcase, but the Jr. Canadiens have shocked a few teams this season and may have a few more admirable efforts in store.
Qualified: USA Invite
Last OHL Cup Appearance: 2016 (0-3-1)
Players to Watch: Tag Bertuzzi (C), John Beecher (C)
Notable Alum: Jack Studnicka (Oshawa Generals)
Outlook: This year’s version of the TPH club features a wellspring of talent beginning with top 2017 OHL Priority Selection prospect Tag Bertuzzi, who recorded four goals at the OHL Cup as an underager last year. He’s joined by Salisbury Prep. centreman John Beecher and OHL Priority Selection eligible Russian winger Egor Afansyev of Detroit Little Caesars as impact performers up front. The Detroit Belle Tire duo of Dylan Wendt and defenceman Marcus Gretz is also on the 2017 OHL Priority Selection radar. This talent-laden group should be fun to watch.
Regular season: 20-6-7, 47 pts. – T-3rd GTHL
Qualified: Wild Card Play-In victory over York-Simcoe (2-1 2OT)
Players to Watch: Nick Wong (C), Anthony Tabak (LW), Jordan Frasca (C)
Notable Alumni: Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting), Michael Pezzetta (Sudbury Wolves), Givani Smith (Guelph Storm)
Outlook: Deacon Holmes was the hero on Tuesday, scoring in double overtime to lift the Senators over the York-Simcoe Express 2-1. Dante Fernandes provided some big saves in goal as the Sens are back in business after being chosen to compete in Wild Card play by the OHL Cup Selection Committee. Forwards Nick Wong, Jordan Fresca and Anthony Tabak push the pace up front.