Kings look to stand above the rest at annual tournament
This weekend, the Vaughan Kings will play host to a variety of Canadian youth hockey teams at the 7th Annual Vaughan Kings Classic. In total, more than 70 programs from the U18 and 2008 through 2013 birth years will be in attendance. Action will commence Thursday night with 19 games across all divisions.
Given the sheer talent across the board, we are going to focus on the two divisions of U15 teams, which contains three clubs in the 2008-born World Hockey Rankings. Making up Division A of this group are the host team No. 1 Vaughan Kings, the Barrie Colts, Markham Majors, Mississauga Senators, Peterborough Petes and Soo Jr. Greyhounds.
Division B will feature the No. 4 Elgin-Middlesex Canucks and No. 11 York Simcoe Express, as well as Greater Kingston Jr. Gaels, North York Rangers, Quinte Red Devils and Toronto Red Wings.
The Kings are the only world-ranked team in Division A. In the four games they have played already this season vs. Division opponents, they are 3-0-1, with a 1-1 tie coming against Barrie. They have yet to play the Jr. Greyhounds or Petes this year. After winning the U14 group last year, they will be out looking for a repeat performance.
In Division B, the Canucks have not faced any of the clubs in their division.York Simcoe, on the other hand, has split two games against the Gaels and edged out the Devils, 3-2 back on Nov. 27.
Proceedings should be high-level and emotional, as both divisions have their equal share of repeat matchups and first-time meetings. Where things can get interesting is if the Kings, Canucks or Express meet in the group final, as neither have played the other this season.
What the Kings do have, however, is tournament experience. They bested some of the premier ‘08 teams from the U.S. en route to the championship at the Little Caesars Invitational back in October.
Group Favorite: Given the lack of firepower of the clubs surrounding them, Vaughan should come out of Division A with relative ease. Division B is more tricky, but in the end York Simcoe comes through. While EMC has the slightly better record, Simcoe’s familiarity with some opponents in the division will prove to be crucial. In the championship game, it’s battle-tested Vaughan for the win.
Division A has only one ranked team amongst the group, the Toronto Marlboros, ranked No. 10 among 2009-born Canadian teams. Also here are the Markham Majors, Mississauga Rebels, Nickel City Sons and Whitby Wildcats.
Division B is comprised of the Vaughan Kings and York Simcoe Express, both sitting just outside of the Top 10. Joining them are the North Bay Trappers, Peterborough Petes and Waterloo Wolves. Vaughan went undefeated to win the group last year, so they won’t make it easy.
Group Favorite: The Marlboros have two sound victories against the Rebels this season, outscoring them 11-3. They also have one against Markham, 3-1, so there should be no issues in them getting out of their Division. Vaughn or York Simcoe could come out of Division B, which should be much closer. In the end, the Marlboros take the crown.
Expect No. 11 Vaughan Kings and Peterborough Petes, the No. 10-ranked team in Canada, to duke it out in Division A among 2010-born teams. The rest of the Division is home to the Kitchener Jr. Rangers, North York Rangers and Ottawa Myers Automotive. With all three on the cusp of cracking the world rankings, they view any success here as a boost to their resume. Plus, the Rangers won the group going 6-0-0 a year ago. As a result, it will be no cake walk for the Kings or Petes to come out of the Division.
Division B includes two other fringe teams, the Toronto Titans and Whitby Wildcats. Joining them are the Eastern Ontario Wild, Nickel City Sons and Toronto Red Wings.
Group Favorite: While it will be a dogfight to get out of Division A, expect Vaughan to edge out there. Division B is much more interesting, as the Wildcats can put up a fight as well as anyone. Not to mention, the Titans tied the Vaughan Kings 1–1 back on Nov. 28. It’s a Vaugh/Titans matchup in the final with the Kings sliding by for the win.
This group is the biggest one heading into the tournament, and as a result has 16 teams split into four divisions.
No. 13 Vaughan Kings are the lone ranked team in Division A, joined by the Hamilton Huskies, Markham Waxers and Ottawa Valley Titans. Standing out in Division B is the No. 4 Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Don Mills Flyers. Rounding out this batch is the Ajax-Pickering Raiders and Eastern Ontario Wild.
The Peterborough Petes and Toronto Marlboros look to separate themselves from the rest in Division C and try to hold off the Nickel City Sons and Little Caesars — the lone U.S. team in any division. Division D currently has one club, the Toronto Red Wings, on the outside looking in of the world rankings. Trying to increase that gap will be the Mississauga Reps, Ottawa Jr. 67’s and Soo Jr. Greyhounds.
Group Favorite: Vaughn and the Jr. Canadiens get through their divisions with little issue. Little Caesars has defeated both the Petes and Marlboros in cross-border matchups already this season, so expect them to come out of Division C. The Red Wings have won and tied the Reps, and soundly bested the Jr. Greyhounds, 6-1. In addition, they have put up admirable fights against the Jr. Canadiens, splitting two games with them and tying a third. They are the ones victorious in Division D. When it is all said and done, however, the one team that will be left standing from this birth year will be the Jr. Canadiens.
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