After a another competitive season in the east division of the OJHL, which saw the upset of the regular season champions Trenton Golden Hawks and the long, dramatic run made by the Kingston Voyageurs in the pursuit of the Buckland Cup. The offseason, comparatively, was just as competitive. Lots of signings and trades ,bringing in new faces and reloading these franchises for another fiery battle to the top. After looking over rosters and talking with coaches, staff and fans. I find this season will be the biggest toss up for what teams are and where they are going to end out. Enjoy!
After another heartbreaking defeat in the playoffs when they could literally taste victory, the Kingston Voyageurs looked to shake things up. “We want high end, young talent” said Head Coach Colin Birkas. “We recruit guys with speed, skill and toughness. Guys who play with a fearless style” And they did just that. The best way to describe this team is depth. At forward they are the deepest. With bringing in players like Adam Brady, Mason Nowak, Adam Moodie, Charles Dube and Cole Bolton they are pretty set, and with the maturing of Brett Seney and Alex Tonge they shouldn’t have any trouble scoring goals. The Blueline is just as deep, Stalwarts like Brett Dupuy and Blake O’neill are older and with the acquisitions of Patrick Volpe and Joey Rutkowski, they are a force from the point. The one question of this team lies in goaltending. Former CCHL goaltender Gunner Rivers, and Alex Brooks-Potts will split the time in the blue paint. Both are unproven in the OJHL but both have looked sharp in the preseason. So after a disappointing last two playoff runs, the team is pushing to prove that they are the real deal and they definitely have weapons to get over the hump.
The Whitby Fury are one of the harder teams to project because of the amount of new faces, mainly from the Championship minor midget Whitby programs. With nine new faces this season it is definitely a changed team, but not for the worse. They have brought in high end young talent from the minor midget program and from the Hill academy. The Hill academy has produced two high end talents for the fury in Defense man Adam Clements and Forward Mitch Emerson. Emerson playing on a line with ,also newly acquired from Newmarket, Jeff Murray should make a lethal combination to compliment the top line of Taylor Best, Mike Panowyk, and Henry Thompson. Tyler Feaver is back to tend the crease and will be depended on to carry a large work load, and new comer Boyd DiClemente will be there in case Feaver is not up to the challenge. Talking with Head coach Craig Fisher he is looking for a new outlook on his team. “We want, as a team, long sustained success and to become a franchise team that is always winning and developing high end talent.” Although they are young they should be a competitive team in the “up for grabs” East Division.
The Cobourg Cougars are going to be another team that will benefit from the success of the Whitby Minor Midget Championship team. From that team they have signed Liam Grande, Spencer Holt, Chris Turner and goaltender Mathieu Ouellet. Liam Grande is the most interesting signing of those names. The dynamic forward was a star for the Whitby midget AAA program, posting in 57 games played he amassed 50 goals and 96 points in two years in the program. With many players still returning including goaltender Nathan Perry and defenseman Rylee McKinnon. Fourth year forward, Connor Amour was named Captain of the 2013-2014 squad getting high praise from his coach Curtis Hodgins saying “Connor was our playoff MVP and is well respected by his teammates. He plays well at both ends of the ice and has a team first attitude”. Hodgins also had a positive outlook on his team going forward “We are much deeper team with good size and skill. We are more balanced all around and have a solid defense core.” With their new additions this offseason the Cougars should be a team to watch, they are a young team that is looking to upset some of the bigger clubs and defend the Cougar Den.
Trenton Golden Hawks
The Trenton Golden Hawks are probably the biggest question mark going into this season. After two seasons of exceptional regular seasons and disappointing playoff attempts, the team has hit there reset point in the cycle after graduating 12 players to either the NCAA or CIS. The team is bringing in a lot of 16 and 17 year olds to fill the holes and develop into a team. “ We want to develop these guys into players that play up tempo and in your face style of hockey.” Said Head Coach Jerome Dupont of his new team. “We are going to be a middle of the pack team, that is going to rely heavily on the returning players on this team.” Asking Dupont about his change in strategy he said “I want to build a group and not have to change that team to much in a year or two.” The team is going to miss the versatility of Loren Ulett as he has signed with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, but a diamond in the rough could be ’95 forward Hunter Fargey who was a star in the Empire B Junior C league last year. Fargey could be a star for the Golden Hawks in a season that could see less wins in the W column this year.
The Wellington Dukes are going to be in the spotlight all season long as they are hosting the Dudley Hewitt Cup. The last two seasons for the Dukes have been up and down, they saw glimmers of a great team and then at points they showed their inexperience. This season there will be a lot of new faces as players graduated and some players will dawning new jerseys this year. Craig Campbell,Jan Kaminsky and Matt Larose have graduated from the program, Brody Morris and Jake Marchment have both signed with the Belleville Bulls. Nik Coric, Cam Nicoll and Josh Finkelstein have opted to play closer to home. Goaltender Hayden Lavigne and Defender Dominic Nitti have decided to play in the U.S. But with all these departures the core is still there and has been completed by new players. The core of Forwards Erick Delaurentis, Joe Mckeown, Mike Soucier and Abbot Girduckis are going to be looked upon to step up and carry a large portion of the work load. But they will be complemented by new comers such as Cody Gratton and veteran Steven Deeg, and sophomore Evan Erickson could be a nice surprise this year. Rookie forwards Josh Supryka and Maurizio Colella could also be good fits with the club. The blueline is a bit of question but returning defensemen Austin Broadhurst, Kyle Paat and Jacob Hetherington will be relied on heavily, while Rookie Jacob Panetta could catch some eyes after a great season playing Junior C. The biggest concern for Dukes fan is the goaltending after Larose and Lavigne are both gone this year. But GM/HC Marty is not concerned,after bringing in Lucas Machalski from the Cambridge (GOJHL) and Adam Wood from affiliate Picton Pirates (EBJCHL). Both have looked sharp out of training camp, and if there is anything Marty Abrams knows its goaltending as Wellington is a well-known goalie factory.