While some parts of Canada have pressed pause on youth hockey activities, there was no such thing out in Alberta this past weekend, as the John Reid Memorial displayed some elite U15 hockey.
The John Reid Memorial U15 AAA Hockey Tournament — as it is officially called — took place in St. Albert this past weekend, bringing 16 teams together for the historic event.
In its 43-year history, the John Reid Memorial has seen its fair share of future hockey stars, including the likes of Jonathan Toews, Vincent Lecavalier, Jarome Iginla, Rod Brind’Amour, Eric Staal, and brothers Scott and Rob Niedermayer.
The members of Yale Academy will now have the honor of saying that they won the same tournament those aforementioned superstars once played in, as they emerged victorious at the end of the weekend.
Yale Academy beat Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna 6-2 in the championship game on Jan. 16 to secure the tournament title in convincing fashion.
Over the course of six games, Yale forward Braeden Cootes led the tournament in scoring, racking up 17 points. It’s a few points behind Toews’ tournament record of 30 in seven games, but it’s an impressive mark nonetheless.
Savin Virk finished with 10 points, as did defenseman Will Sharpe to lead all blueliners in tournament scoring.
Aiden Eskit played in four of the six games between the pipes for the Lions, finishing with a 3-1 record, a 2.33 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. Nate Stevens appeared in two contests, recording a 1.00 goals-against and .943 save percentage.
The Lions actually started the tournament with a loss, falling to Airdrie Xtreme 5-4 on Jan. 13.
It was clearly a wake-up call for the talented Yale Academy boys, as they really took out their frustrations on their next two opponents. In those two games on Jan. 14, Yale registered 17 total goals, as they beat the GPAC Golden Arrow Storm 9-1 and RHA Kelowna 8-1.
Jan. 15 featured the Lions’ quarterfinal and semifinal conquests; first up, they beat Delta Green 3-1. Sharpe scored the game’s first goal, before Iverson Graveline scored the go-ahead goal for Yale at the 16:37 mark of the third period. Stevens was between the pipes; he stopped 19 of the 20 shots sent his way.
In the semifinals, Yale Academy had their way with the host St. Albert Sabres. Cootes scored first for Yale, before adding two in the third period for a hat trick. Sharpe scored two goals, as well, while Eskit stopped 16 of the 17 shots the Sabres could muster at the other end.
The finals were a rematch with RHA Kelowna, and even having one of the former superstars behind the bench wasn’t enough for them to solve the Lions. Jerome Iginla’s RHA squad once again fell to Yale, with Cootes leading the way with three assists.
Cootes was presented with the Heart And Hustle Award after the contest, while Virk, who had a goal and an assist in the final, was given game MVP honors.
Eskit stopped 21 shots in the final win.
The Lions are used to winning; in Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) play, they are 14-1-1 on the season. In a talented U15 Prep division. However, they have plenty of challengers, as the Lions currently check in at No. 4 in the league rankings.
In CSSHL play, Virk leads the team in scoring, with 37 point in 16 games. Cootes is one point behind with 36, while Grant Reid has 31. Sharpe is leading all the Lions’ defensemen with 24 points.
Eskit is a perfect 9-0-0 in league play; he has a 1.66 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in those crease appearances.
The 60th edition of the Silver Sticks tournament took on a new look this season. Due to challenges regarding international travel and commuting across the U.S.-Canada border, the 2021-22 tournament was split into two events, with one crowning a Canadian champion and the other anointing an American champion.
While Canadian victors were determined in the fall, the American half of the tournament took place in Port Huron, Mich., over this past weekend. Teams from across the country showed up on a mission to leave the Great Lakes State with a shiny silver stick and banner.
The 2007 and 2009 birth-years in the United States had a big weekend, as teams converged in metro Detroit to battle for one of the coolest trophies in youth hockey.
For the 12U team that captured the title, the drive home’s pretty short. The 14U team had a bit more of a commute, but still manageable.
Little Caesars won the 2009 birth year division, while Chicago Mission won the 2007 division. They both did so in convincing fashion amongst intimidating fields of competition.
Mission, specifically, had to navigate a field with three other teams ranked in the top 10 of the country. They ran into two of those during their trip to the top, but Mission — ranked No. 2 in the country — made sure to live up to their billing.
The Chicago contingent put the 16-team field on notice when they posted a 7-1 win over the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers on Jan. 6 to open the tournament in impressive fashion.
The following day, they scored 11 goals in two games, while only allowing two. Mission started with a 6-2 win over the No. 8 Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers before shutting out the Colorado Thunderbirds 5-0 in their nightcap.
To wrap up the preliminary round on Jan. 8, Mission muscled through to a 3-1 win over Victory Honda, securing top billing in the elimination rounds. In the quarters later that night, they posted a 4-1 win over Cleveland Barons Elite.
On Championship Sunday, Mission started things off with a 3-1 win over No. 6 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, which locked them in for a date with the Long Island Gulls in the final. The Gulls had eliminated No. 10 Compuware in the semifinals, but their luck ran out against Mission, as the black and neon green-clad squad skated away with the Silver Stick in a 5-2 championship matchup.
With the victory, the Mission ‘07s gave their parent club a Silver Stick winning streak, after they had also captured the Bantam AAA championship the last time the tournament was played in 2020.
At the 12U level, the ‘hometown’ Little Caesars bunch emerged victorious from a 12-team collection in Port Huron.
It was a familiar collection of Michigan and Illinois teams, as five of the eight Michigan AAA programs — Little Caesars, Compuware, HoneyBaked, Belle Tire and the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies — competed with Chicago Mission, Windy City Storm and Chicago Fury. The three outliers were the Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers, Arizona Jr. Sun Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins Elite.
Caesars started things off with a 5-2 win over the Gamblers in their Thursday night opener. On Friday, they woke up bright and early to beat Mission 4-1 in an 8 a.m. contest before wrapping up the day in the afternoon with a 2-1 win over the Sun Devils.
A 6-3 win over rival Compuware gave Caesars a spot in the semifinals, where they dominated the Windy City Storm 6-0.
In the championship contest, they ignored the Penguins’ No. 10 U.S. ranking and beat them handedly, capturing the Silver Stick hardware with a 4-1 win.
It wasn’t the usual size and scale, but it was great to see that the U.S. Silver Stick Finals were able to take place this past weekend. Over the following weekends, the tournament will crown champions at the 10U A, 10U AA, 12U A, 12U AA, 14U A, 14U AA, 16U A and 16U AA levels.
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It has went through different variations over the years, but the purpose has remained the same — promote some of the top American players hoping to be selected in the NHL Draft.
The BioSteel All-American Game, slated to take place at USA Hockey Arena on Jan. 17, brings together a collection of USHL players and members of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) for an all-star showcase event in front of scouts and media alike.
What was first a September game known as the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game played at NHL arenas, USA Hockey moved the event to the middle of the season and to its home in Plymouth, Michigan. Originally pitting the NTDP vs. a USHL all-star game, organizers have aimed to increase balance by splitting up the NTDP players, so both teams have the same dynamics of players skating alongside foreign teammates.
For the 2022 edition of the BioSteel game, the majority of the Team Blue and Team White rosters are made up of the top 2004 birth-year players eligible for the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft. USA Hockey also promotes elder statesmen still hoping for an NHL team to call their name on the second or third time through the draft process.
Forty-four players are on the initial rosters; they represent 20 different states. Minnesota leads the way with 11 players selected. Twenty of the players currently play for the NTDP, while two alums are suiting up, as well.
For our latest ‘Origins’ story, we’re taking a look at the 22 players who have made the BioSteel game rosters without playing for the NTDP (at least in a full-time capacity). The flagship program may be a top-tier destination for youth players trying to advance to hockey’s highest levels, but it’s not the only path. The USHL offers great opportunities for players, and this particular roster collection shows all the different ways to reach American junior hockey’s highest league.
The 22 players come from all over the continental United States; the collection reflects hockey’s expanding footprint into previously untapped areas like California, Arizona and Texas.
To see the full rosters for the game, click here.
Ten of the 22 are 2004 birth-year players preparing for their first NHL Draft opportunity. Eight are 2003 birth-year players, which means they were passed by in the 2021 draft, or their birthday came after the Sept. 15 cut-off date. The other four are 2002 birth-year players, with their last chance at being drafted.
Every single player played AAA hockey, while 11 played in some form of high school hockey. In Minnesota, high school hockey reigns supreme, while in other states, players are able to compete for their high schools alongside playing for AAA programs. Michigan is the lone state of the traditional hockey hotbed states to prohibit such dual-rostering.
World Hockey Hub also took a closer look at some of the major tournaments and showcases the players participated in during their formative years, as there’s always a debate as to what a player should and shouldn’t be doing to maximize their development.
Ten of the 22 players skating in the BioSteel game competed in the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament in their respective birth-years. Five, meanwhile, played in the Brick Tournament in Edmonton. Those statistics are based off each player’s Elite Prospects page – it’s certainly possible that there were more.
Twelve of the 22 competed in the World Selects Invitational tournament series, billed as the top spring event for elite hockey players.
Meanwhile, the numbers also show the importance of the players excelling in their state or USA Hockey region to secure a spot at the USA Hockey Select Camps each summer. Eighteen of the 22 players have skated in at least one of the national camps to train with USA Hockey’s best, and gain important exposure with national teams and scouts.
Nine of the players were selected to compete for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup; USA Hockey uses the their Select 17 camp to select their roster for the prestigious early-season tournament.
Top 2004 birth-year players to watch from the non-NTDP group include defenseman Vinny Borgesi and forward Zam Plante; both ranked in the top 20 in the country by PuckPreps.
Borgesi is no stranger to most of the highly-regarded players in the birth year after playing for Team USA at the Youth Olympic Games in 2019-2020 with a substantial amount of the NTDP ’04 group. After playing for Team Comcast and the Valley Forge Minutemen at the 13U and 14U age groups, Borgesi played one year at South Kent Selects Academy before making the jump to the USHL with the Tri-City Storm.
Plante, meanwhile, has been on the Minnesota elite hockey route for a while now, thriving in the AAA world and skating in the prestigious Upper Midwest High School Elite League around his high school hockey season with Hermantown High. This year, he played the start of the season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel before returning to Hermantown for his senior year of high school hockey – another testament to the skill level and dedication on display for the State of Hockey’s high school hockey scene.
The BioSteel game is a tremendous opportunity for the players, as the alumni list for the various incarnations of the game reads like a fantasy hockey wishlist. Last year, the game featured first-round picks in Matty Beniers, Cole Sillinger, Matt Coronato, Chaz Lucius and Mackie Samoskevich. Previous rosters are even more intimidating, with names like Seth Jones, Dylan Larkin, Alex Tuch, Jack Eichel, Zach Werenski, Kyle Connor, Clayton Keller, Josh Norris, Brady Tkachuk, Quinn Hughes, Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras and more.
It’s a good news, bad news type of situation for the young players who thought they would be having the opportunity to participate in one of hockey’s most prestigious tournaments in February.
Organizers for the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament announced on Thursday that their event will not be played next month.
However, the tournament will still take place — barring any future setbacks — in May.
With Canada’s provinces entering into various forms of lockdowns to combat the latest spread of COVID-19, the Quebec tournament is the latest casualty.
“It is highly unlikely that the situation will resolve itself to such an extent that the tournament can be held in February,” said Patrick Dom, general manager of the Pee-Wee Tournament, in a press release. “We believed in it until the end, but now it’s better to move forward with another solution. We have evaluated the different alternatives over the last few days and the best option for us is really to postpone early May.”
The press release went on to state that the organizers held discussions with various teams, volunteers, partners, funders and others in coming to the conclusion to reschedule the tournament.
Last year, the Quebec-based premiere youth hockey event was cancelled entirely as Canada’s youth hockey community missed an entire season due to COVID-19.
The revamped tournament will now take place May 1-15 with a new structure. From May 1-8, the AA-Elites, AA and A divisions will play their games, and from May 9-15 the AAA, BB and school divisions will play. It will be the first time that the tournament is played in the spring.
“It wasn’t a simple task to move the tournament,” Dom said. “Our biggest challenge was the availability of the Videotron Center. It is between shows and games of the Remparts de Québec that the schedule will be built. We have no choice but to hold the event over two weeks to get it all together.”
As the announcement has just been made, it’s unclear what it will mean for the teams originally slated to participate, as well as if this will offer an opportunity for more teams to participate. The announced field for the 2021 tournament had 32 teams from six countries committed; all of the players had to have two vaccination shots by a Feb. 2 cut-off date.
You can read more about what was expected for the February edition of the tournament here.
With the province of Ontario entering a lockdown reminiscent of the initial COVID-19 wave in 2020, Canada’s largest hockey league has hit pause once again.
The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) officially announced a halt in operations Monday, following the announcement from the Ontario government that youth hockey — like most everything else — would be put on the shelves until further notice.
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is sweeping through North America and causing another round of disruptions for normal activities in the youth hockey community.
Per the Government of Ontario’s new temporary restrictions, the province moves to a ‘Stage Two of the Roadmap to Reopen’ plan. That means indoor sports are paused for a period of at least 21 days beginning on Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m. Indoor sports facilities are closed until at least Jan. 26.
Similar lockdown measures are being enforced in British Columbia and Quebec, the latter of which has a strict 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. complete curfew.
An ominous photo of hockey nets padlocked together on an outdoor rink in Quebec has been making the rounds on social media as a statement about the severity of the lockdown.
The Quebec government has locked together hockey goals to prevent children from playing outdoor hockey. pic.twitter.com/7XyF0sPFyq— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) January 2, 2022
The GTHL Top Prospects Game, originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 13, has been postponed, and a new date will be announced when the lockdown measures are lifted.
The Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic, an annual tournament that brings top talent from both Canada and the U.S. together, was a recent casualty, as well.
No official word yet on the status of the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament; the iconic event was slated to proceed as usual after some heavy lifting by tournament organizers to secure fully vaccinated teams from six different countries.
“As we continue with our provincial vaccine booster efforts, we must look at every option to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant,” Ontario premier Doug Ford said in the official release from the province announcing the new policies. “Putting these targeted and time-limited measures in place will give us more opportunity to deliver vaccines to all Ontarians and ensure everyone has maximum protection against this virus.”
Canadian youth hockey players lost the entire 2020-21 hockey season, and the hope was that it would be the only time a youth hockey generation would have to experience something so drastic. With the IIHF World Junior Championship canceled, NHL games being postponed, it’s hard to know when Canadian hockey players will be able to get back onto the ice, but we hope it will be as soon as possible.
The Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament has announced its complete list of teams participating for the prestigious event in February, and while there won’t be as many teams as usual, there will be worldwide representation within each bracket.
At the AAA level, six countries will battle for the Pee Wee hockey supremacy. Teams from Canada, the United States, Czech Republic, Hungary and Latvia will all compete; at the AA/A levels, there are even more nations represented.
All participants must abide by a strict vaccination policy, which was announced in September. If you have your two vaccination shots by February 2, you’re in.
It doesn’t look like a typical slate of teams — for instance, U.S. hockey hotbeds like Illinois and Michigan will not be represented — but having any international participants is way better than what was expected in previous months. The fact the tournament is taking place at all is an accomplishment in itself, given that it was canceled last winter due to COVID.
Thirty-two AAA teams will battle for the crown in Quebec, as the field features top-notch talent across the board.
New Jersey Hockey Academy, ranked No. 3 in the world in the latest poll, will surely have a contingent of players skating for the New Jersey Devils squad that will be representing their region at the tournament.
The No. 8 ranked Huron-Perth Lakers will be the top intact team competing in Quebec, making them one of the heavy favorites for winning it all. Huron-Perth is 29-4-2 on the season as it stands right now, and they haven’t lost a game since Nov. 7.
Ranked No. 8 in the Canadian rankings, the Sun County Panthers will be looking to make some noise at the tournament, as will the No. 10-ranked North Shore Winter Club.
Coming across the border will be five teams ranked in the top 10 of U.S. youth teams at the ’09 age group. The No. 6-ranked Los Angeles Jr. Kings lead the way for American clubs; the are 21-7-2 on the season. The remaining teams ranked in the top 10 are joining them — the No. 7 St. Louis Jr. Blues, the No. 8 Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers, the No. 9 Boston Jr. Terriers and the No. 10 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite.
The teams logging much longer travel times to reach Quebec are the Czech Knights (Czech Republic), the Hungary Talent (Hungary), the Slovakia K&B Stars (Slovakia) and Riga HS (Latvia).
Pee Wee Quebec tournament organizers deserve a wealth of recognition for making such a substantial event still take place amidst the global climate. Here were some of the special rules outlined for the 2022 tournament in the quest to make it happen:
World Hockey Hub will have extended coverage of the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament when the tournament gets underway in February. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for news, highlights and more from the world of youth hockey.
It was a big week for the 2006 class residing on the western side of North America.
The 2021 WHL Prospects Draft and the 2021 WHL U.S. Priority Draft took place on Dec. 8-9 instead of the traditional May timeframe, meaning some of the top ’06 players in the world now know which major junior team holds their rights.
Players eligible for the two-day selection had to be born in 2006 and reside in Canadian provinces Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Yukon, or Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming of the United States. The WHL held its U.S. draft on Wednesday; the Canadian edition took place on Thursday. A total of 214 players were selected; 119 forwards, 71 defensemen and 24 goaltenders.
The WHL made the decision to bump back the draft to allow more time for scouting purposes due to the missed games impacted by COVID-19.
The Spokane Chiefs made the first selection of the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft on Thursday, kicking off the 13-round process by selecting Berkly Catton of the Saskatoon Contacts U18 team. Catton is the first Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association player to be selected No. 1 overall in the WHL Draft.
He has already signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement, which means Catton can play in up to five games during the current 2021-22, and will be eligible for full-time status with the Chiefs next season.
Catton started this season with the Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U team, but after an injury, the 5-foot-11, 150-pound forward decided to return home to play for the U18 Contacts team for the rest of the season. In 2019-2020, he dominated at the U15 age group, racking up 108 points in just 30 games with the Saskatoon Bandits U15 AA.
Alberta led the way in the Canadian portion of the draft, as 75 players hailing from said province were selected. Sixty-five were selected out of B.C. and Yukon, 41 from Saskatchewan and 26 from Manitoba.
The first three rounds featured 40 players chosen from the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) – 59 percent of the total. In all, a record-breaking 94 players from the CSSHL heard their names called by WHL teams; 12 of the 22 in the first round were current CSSHL players and 14 of the 22 in the second round.
Forward Jordan Gavin from Delta Hockey Academy U17 Prep was selected at No. 2 overall by the Tri-City Americans. Charlie Elick of Edge School U18 Prep was the first defenseman selected, going at No. 3 to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Portland Winterhawks made Luke Brunen the first goaltender selected; the native of Warman, Saskatoon was claimed in the second round at No. 36 overall.
Here is a look at some of the top youth programs, in terms of WHL selections:
16 players selected from the Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA team
15 players selected from Yale Hockey Academy
14 players selected from Rink Hockey Academy
12 players selected from Delta Hockey Academy
10 players selected from Edge School
A look at the U.S. side
The first day of the two-part WHL selection process was the 2021 WHL U.S. Priority Draft, where 44 players residing in the 50 states were selected by the major junior league’s teams.
Macklin Celebrini, a native of North Vancouver, B.C. but currently living in Minnesota while skating for Shattuck-St. Mary’s, was the No. 1 overall pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds. A 5-foot-11, 181-pound forward, Celebrini has 42 points in 23 games with the Shattuck 18U team this season. It is his second season with Shattuck; last year he posted a mind-boggling 141 points in 50 games for the 14U squad that won a national title after only dropping one game all season.
Jack Lackas, a Las Vegas native and forward with the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes 15U team, was selected second overall by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Winnipeg ICE went third, claiming Upland, California native and center Nicholas Christianson of the Windy City Storm.
Yoonho (Roy) Chung was the first defenseman chosen – the Rolling Hills, Calif., native and Los Angeles Kings 15U blueliner was chosen No. 4 overall by the Prince George Cougars.
At No. 20 overall, the Medicine Hat Tigers selected the first goaltender of the U.S. Priority Draft, claiming Phoenix Jr. Coyotes 15U goaltender and Phoenix native Ben Vatis.
California produced the most American players in the draft; the Golden State was responsible for 15 selections as it continues to establish itself as a new-age hockey hotbed. Arizona had six, as did Minnesota; Alaska produced four and Texas produced three.
Seven players were selected from the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes 15U team, five players were selected from teams at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and four were selected from the Los Angeles Kings 15U team.
The Russian Hockey Federation hosted the U16 Federal District Championships in an 11-day showcase of its top talent in youth hockey. It is an annual event the features all-star teams from each of the country’s nine districts: Central, Far Eastern, Moscow, Northwestern, Southern, St. Petersburg, Ural, Siberian and Volga. This is a culmination of the best players in the age group from across the country and regularly serves as an evaluation opportunity for the Russian national team.
From Nov. 23 through Dec. 3, the all-star squads played in a round-robin tournament structure, with the winner going to the team with the most points in the standings after all games have been played. The Moscow Federal District posted a 7-1 record over the course of the 11 days, giving them 20 points in the standings for the top spot when all was said and done.
Moscow started strong, posting a 5-1 victory over the Far Eastern Federal District in the opening day of the tournament. In the second game, the Siberian Federal District dragged them to overtime, before Moscow was able to prevail with a 3-2 victory. From there, it was a 6-1 victory over Northwestern, 5-2 over Central, 5-2 over Ural and 5-2 over Volga.
On Dec. 2, the boys from St. Petersburg dealt Moscow its only loss.
Moscow was fueled by a balanced scoring attack, with only one player cracking the top ten in scoring in the tournament. That was Sergei Savinov, who tied with five other players with 10 points in eight games. Danila Poroshkov was right behind Savinov with nine points, while four players – Vitaly Korolyuk, Ilya Pautov, Ivan Patrikhaev and Timur Kol – had eight. Those eight points for Patrikhaev and Kol came from the blue line; the two defensemen were both one point off from the tournament lead in that category.
Yaroslav Kuzmenko took care of the majority of the goaltending for Moscow; he finished with a 1.98 goals-against average. That average put him at No. 4 in the tournament rankings, but his 333:30 time-on-ice was at least a full game more than the three net minders listed above him.
Mikhail Egorov also appeared in three games, and finished with a 1.04 goals against.
The Volga Federal District finished in second place in the tournament; their losses came to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Volga was led by a pair of talented scorers in Andrey Krutov and Nikita Rakcheev – they both led the tournament with 17 points each, as well as goals – Krutov had 11 and Rakcheev had 10.
The Central Federal District finished in third; Roman Lutsev posted a whopping 16 points in his eight games to finish just behind the two aforementioned Volga players.
Nikita Sotnikov of the Ural Federal District was the top goaltender at the tournament in terms of goals against. He posted a 1.13 goals-against average in 158:49 worth of time spent between the pipes. Georgy Plotnikov was close behind; the Central Federal District net minder had a 1.37 average after competing against elite competition for 218:31.
It is one of the most prestigious youth hockey showcase games, and it’s back for 2022.
After not taking place last season, the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) has announced that the 2022 GTHL Top Prospects Game will take place on Jan. 13 at Scotiabank Pond in Downsview Park.
Forty of the best Under-16 AAA players from the league have been selected for the 12th edition of the annual event to showcase their skills. They will be split into Team Black and Team White, with each roster featuring 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies.
Celebrity coaches will be announced at a later date, as well.
“The GTHL is excited and grateful for the return of this event,” said Scott Oakman, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the GTHL. “Many current NHL players have competed in this event and we always take pride in getting the chance to give our players the opportunity to showcase their skills. The League appreciates the continued support from Under Armour, providing fans and our players with the best possible experience.”
The game serves as an annual ‘names you should get to know’ showcase for the hockey world. Past participants include Connor McDavid, Mitch Marner, Darnell Nurse, and last year’s No. 1 overall NHL Draft pick Owen Power.
The Mississauga Senators — ranked No. 3 in the latest World Hockey Hub rankings for the 2006 birth year — led the way with nine players listed on the initial roster. Two of their brightest stars, however, are a year younger than most of their peers. Michael Misa, projected as the top Canadian player in the 2007 birth year by Puck Preps, will be one of the headliners of the Top Prospects Game. His teammate and fellow ’07 forward William Moore has been selected to skate in the TPG, as well; Moore is listed as the No. 3 player in Canada in his birth year by Puck Preps.
The two lit up the Silver Stick tournament in Whitby, Ontario to close out November; Moore registered a tournament-best 13 points, while Misa was one behind with 12 in seven games. Malcolm Spence, the top-ranked ’06 on the Senators roster at No. 4 in all of Canada, had 11 points, and he’ll be suiting up for the TPG, too.
Their Sens squad didn’t leave Whitby with the acclaimed Silver Stick, however. That honor went to the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, which sees seven of its players appearing on the TPG Team White roster. Jack Van Volson and Porter Martone led the way for the Jr. Canadiens in their Silver Stick-winning weekend; the forwards both racked up 10 points apiece. Henry Mews may be the top defenseman to participate in the TPG; the Jr. Canadiens blue liner is listed as the No. 9 player in Canada for his birth-year per Puck Preps.
The Jr. Canadiens are ranked No. 1 in the World Hockey Hub rankings; it’s easy to see why.
The two Silver Stick finalists aren’t the only ones sending a bunch of players to the GTHL all-star event, however. The Toronto Marlboros are represented with seven players, as are the North York Rangers. Kieron Walton of the Rangers is ranked the No. 6 player in Canada for the 2006 class, while Beckett Sennecke is certainly one to watch from the Marlboros.
As always, we tip our caps to the goaltenders who will do their best in an all-star game. On Team Black, Ryerson Leenders of the Toronto Young Nationals and Landon Miller of the Vaughan Kings will do battle between the pipes. For Team White, it will be Karsen Chartier of the North York Rangers and Andrew Gaulton of the Markham Majors. Gaulton’s a big reason why his Majors are in third place in the GTHL Under 16 league standings at the moment.
It also helps that the Majors have Zayne Parekh helping in front of Gaulton; Parekh will get to show the fans in attendance at the TPG why he’s one of the best defensemen the GTHL has this season.
World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the GTHL Top Prospects Game next month. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok for the latest news, updates and more.
The last time Silver Stick champions were crowned in Whitby, Ontario, an American team won the prestigious title at the U16 age group.
This time around, only one U.S.-based program was even in attendance for the premiere November event – but nobody was complaining.
It’s great to have events like the Gloria Rints Memorial International Silver Stick Tournament taking place once again, even if it means spectators didn’t get to see many border battles.
After missing an entire year of Silver Stick because of COVID-19 last season, a field of Canadian teams (and one American) returned to Whitby to battle for the best trophy in youth hockey, and memories of the good kind were made for all the participants.
Here is a look at how the four AAA age groups – U16, U14, U12 and U10 – played out last weekend at the prestigious tournament:
U16 Canada/15O U.S. AAA (2006)
The Toronto Jr. Canadiens are ranked No. 1 in Canada on the World Hockey Hub’s rankings, and after this past weekend’s performance, they will be staying at the top. They opened tournament play with a 1-0 nail-biter against the Waterloo Wolves on Nov. 25; the Jr. Canadiens’ offense exploded the next day, as they beat the Lambton Jr. Sting 7-2 and the York Simcoe Express 7-1. Saturday started with a 3-3 tie against the Niagara North Stars, before the Jr. Canadiens started elimination-round play with a 4-3 win over the Vaughan Kings in the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, they posted a convincing 4-0 win over the Ajax Pickering Raiders to secure a spot in the title game. There, it was a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, as the Jr. Canadiens faced off against the Mississauga Senators. The Sens brought with them four of the five leading scorers in the tournament – William Moore (13 points), Caden Kelly (12), Michael Misa (12), and Malcom Spence (11) – but it didn’t matter, as the Jr. Canadiens skated to a 4-2 win and major bragging rights moving forward.
Jack Van Volsen and Porter Martone led the Jr. Canadiens in scoring with 10 points apiece, while Antonio Tersigni had nine and Anthony Cristoforo and Micheal Hage both had eight. Paolo Frasca is listed as the starting netminder for all seven of the Jr. Canadiens’ games at Silver Stick, which means he registered a 6-0-1 record with a 1.64 goals-against average and two shutouts.
This age group offered a rare glimpse into how one of the top American teams stacks up against their Canadian counterparts this season, as the Bishop Kearney Selects sent a mix of their ’06 and ’07 players to Whitby – the only American participants in this Silver Stick tournament. The BK Selects beat the host Whitby Wildcats 4-1 on Thursday to start the tournament before tying the Thunder Bay Kings and losing to the Mississauga Senators 5-2 on Friday. They also beat the Huron Perth Lakers 6-3 on Saturday.
U14 Canada/13U U.S. AAA (2008)
Much like the older age group, the No. 1-ranked team in the country took care of business in Whitby. The Vaughan Kings emerged victorious, and their final day at the tournament was a gauntlet of other ranked teams.
The Kings started with a 6-1 win over the Huron Perth Lakers on Thursday before a pair of ties on Friday — 4-4 against the Soo Greyhounds and 1-1 against the Ottawa 67’s. To wrap up the preliminary round, the Kings posted a 7-0 win over the Kingston Jr. Gaels in their lone game on Saturday.
The quarterfinals, semifinals and final were all played Sunday, and they featured an impressive collection of top teams at the ’08 age group. First, the Kings battled the No. 4 Peterborough Petes to a 3-2 win. Then, they knocked off the No. 6 Jr. Canadiens 2-1. In the final, the Kings could breathe a little easier, as they topped the No. 8 Toronto Marlboros 4-1 to capture a Silver Stick banner and hardware.
U12 Canada/11U U.S. AAA (2010)
While the two older age groups played out as expected, the 2010 age group introduced some surprises, with the Peterborough Petes taking it all. The No. 1-ranked Toronto Marlboros weren’t in attendance, but the rest of the World Hockey Hub’s Canadian Top-10 clubs were. That didn’t scare the Petes as they marched through the tournament en route to the Silver Stick.
After recording a 2-2 tie in their tournament opener against the Gloucester Rangers, the Petes racked up six consecutive victories. They beat the Niagara North Stars 4-2 and then from there, the Petes won five games against ranked opponents in two days. On Saturday, they started with a 3-1 victory over the No. 8-ranked Brantford 99ers, and then they posted a 2-0 win over the No. 6 Sun County Panthers.
On Championship Sunday, Peterborough started with a 4-1 win over the No. 2-ranked Vaughan Kings in the quarterfinals, followed up with a 2-1 win over the No. 3 Markham Majors. In the final, the Petes bested the No. 7 Soo Jr. Greyhounds 4-1 to capture the title.
U10 Canada/9U U.S. AAA (2012)
The North York Rangers captured the youngest division at the Whitby Silver Stick, and to say they did so convincingly would be an understatement. They out-scored the competition 84-8 in a dominating weekend. To start things off, the Rangers posted a 17-2 win over the Oshawa Generals, and if that wasn’t enough to scare the rest of the field, they registered a mind-boggling 32-0 win over the Cumberland Jr. Grads in their first game on Friday. What did they do in their second game? Only a 9-1 victory over the Sun County Panthers.
On Saturday, the Rangers recorded a 9-3 win over the Oakville Rangers, storming into the elimination rounds with more than enough momentum. There, they shut out the London Jr. Knights 5-0 before beating the Mississauga Rebels 7-1 in the semifinals and the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs 5-1 in the final.
Five different players registered 20 points or more in the seven-game span for the Rangers in their dominating Silver Stick championship.