More than 300 players from Ontario and USA set to participate in 20-team event

Some of the best 2008 and 2009-born youth hockey players will travel to Ontario this week for Play Hockey’s All-Star Prospects Showcase. Each birth year will consist of 10 teams, with participants taking part in on and off-ice combine testing as well as competitive games. Of the 300-plus players that will be attending, 114 played on world-ranked teams during the 2022-23 season. The exclusive, invite-only event is a perfect opportunity for players to test their skills against the best of their peers. 

Jr. Greyhounds well represented among ‘08s

Among the ‘08s will be 10 players from No. 9 Soo. Jr. Greyhounds, who make up a large portion of Team Northern Ontario. That includes top scorer Nik Rossetto, who finished the ‘22-23 season with 88 points for the Jr. Greyhounds. Several players from the No. 8 Peterborough Petes will be split between Prospects ETA and Prospects East. Teammates during the regular season, Colin Fitzgerald, Ryan Chamberlain, Matt Souter and Kale Mace will look to score on their fellow Petes goaltender Morgan Hyndman. They won’t be the only teammates competing against one another. Five players from the No. 1 Vaughan Kings will be split between Prospects GTA and Prospects East. That includes the team’s most prolific offensive talent Ben Bowen on one end, going against Kings goaltender Joseph D’Angelo

Three of the five skaters from No. 4 York Simcoe Express are set to fill out the roster for Prospects East. Two others were placed on Prospects ETA. Ten attendees from No. 5 Oakville Rangers will be split among the 10 showcase teams. Six of them have been placed onto Team SCTA. A pair of top players from the No. 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite will skate for The Ottawa District. Canadians Kent Greer and Alexander McLean look to continue strong off-season campaigns.

Jr. Canadiens, Marlboros, Sun County top lists of ‘09 players

No. 1 Toronto Jr. Canadiens will have nine representatives among the ‘09 group of players. Four of them will play for Prospects ETA, including Jax Pereira and Keaton Ardagh. That tandem topped the list of performers at the U14 OHL Cup two months ago. Four of Prospect East’s roster spots were given to invitees from No. 8 Toronto Marlboros. In total, 10 players from the Marlboros will compete in the ‘09 group. Seven skaters from No. 9 Huron-Perth Lakers will be divided among Prospects East and Prospects West. 

Fellow Toronto-based No. 4 Titans and No. 7 Red Wings will also have representation. Five players from No. 2 Don Mills Flyers were divided across four different teams. No. 5 Sun County Panthers and its nine invitees were placed on two teams. Seven of them found will play for Prospects West. Five of six participants from No. 10 Ottawa Myers Automotive will play for the Ottawa District. 

Chicago, Pittsburgh bring U.S. names to showcase

Since 2018, the All-Star Prospects Showcase has included one team of players from the United States. This year’s prospects include top talent from some of the best programs south of the border. Dominic Pajkic of No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s will patrol the blue line for Prospects USA. The No. 6 Los Angeles Jr. Kings will be represented by two players in Ontario as well. No. 1 Chicago Reapers and No. 5 Chicago Mission will bring three and two skaters, respectively, for the ‘09s. No. 4 Pens Elite’s Nolan Snyder will join them. High-profile forward Trevor Daley from Florida Alliance earned an invite as well. 

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Alberta South wins event loaded with top ‘09 players from Western Canada

Some of the best 2009-born players in Western Canada took part in DraftDay’s annual All-Star Prospects Showcase in Alberta this weekend. The competitive event serves as an opportunity for athletes to show off their skills during an important time in their youth hockey careers. Players from the 2009 birth year are just 12 months away from potentially being selected in the WHL Bantam Draft. The All-Star Prospects Showcase has served as a launching point for many, including 94 participants from last year’s event. 

The 2023 class of participants at the showcase proved to be loaded with top talent as well. One player to make a significant impact was Mirco Dufour. He along with Matthew Hilderman and Brock England, formed a power trio that helped Alberta South to a first place finish. Hilderman led all skaters with 11 goals, followed closely by England’s nine. The two were strong finishers who were often the recipients of Dufour’s incredible play-making ability. Dufour topped all skaters with 21 points in six showcase games. 

Hilderman and Dufour’s chemistry leads to championship

After suffering a 3-1 loss to Saskatchewan in its opening game, Alberta South rattled off four consecutive wins to reach the championship game. It was an opportunity to exact some revenge on the very team who handed them that loss just a few days prior. Alberta took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to a goal from Nathan Cole. Once the second frame began, Dufour and Adam Halat each found the back of the net in just over two minutes. Before the period was over, Sam Failler made it a 3-1 game. 

Saskatchewan tied the game with two goals in seven seconds at the start of the final period. The teams would continue to trade goals until the end of the third, where things ended tied at five. In overtime, Hilderman secured the victory for Alberta when he once again took a perfect pass from Dufour and sent it into the net. Dufour and Hilderman had a hand in Alberta’s final three goals of the game. Dufour alone either scored or assisted on four of the team’s six total goals. 

Offense from Chorney and Stroeder not enough for Saskatchewan

Prior to their appearance in the championship game, no other team had been able to defeat Saskatchewan in five contests. A large portion of their high-powered offense was supplied by Blake Chorney and Kayden Stroeder. Chorney finished fourth in overall scoring with eight goals and 13 points. Stroeder ended up in a tie for fifth with Manitoba’s Tyden Lafournaise and Asher Gingras. Each player collected nine points. Both Chorney and Stroeder recorded hat tricks as well. Stroeder managed the feat in a 8-4 semifinal win over 2009 BC

Piling up points from the blue line

Alberta South and Saskatchewan had plenty of forwards with a knack for finding the scoresheet. But what helped the two sides reach the championship game were formidable attacks aided by offensively-gifted defensemen as well. Saskatchewan’s Calder Hamilton and Alberta’s Aden Bouchard finished tied for first among all defenders with seven points apiece. Bouchard’s biggest moment came in a semifinal battle with Manitoba. With the score deadlocked at 5-5 in the third period, Bouchard managed to put a shot through traffic into the net to break the tie. The goal would go on to serve as the game-winner, and was Bouchard’s only of the showcase. 

Next weekend, DraftDay heads to the other side of the country for a similar showcase that will be held for top Ontario prospects. The All-Star Prospects Showcase is an exclusive invite-only event and will have All-Star and prospects teams, Under Armour apparel, and both on-ice and off-ice combines. The Ontario event will also feature ‘08 and ‘09 age groups with 10 teams in each division.

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Provincial championships mark the end of youth hockey seasons, with U13, U14 and U15 OHF championships

It was a busy final weekend of youth hockey in the province of Ontario as winners walked away from the U14 OHL Cup and All-Ontario Championships. Both events — three age groups in total — determined provincial champions as the best youth hockey teams in Ontario were crowned on Sunday. The U14 Toronto Jr. Canadiens made it a clean sweep at the OHL Cup after the U16 team won the tournament earlier this month. Then, heavy favorites Markham Majors and Vaughan Kings won in the U13 and U15 tournaments respectively. 

Jr. Canadiens go undefeated at OHL Cup

The 2009 squad was able to give the program twin OHL Cup titles when they ended a 5-0-0 run with a 3-2 win over the Barrie Jr. Colts in the title game. A fitting end for a team that entered the tournament as the No. 1 ranked team in the world.

The Jr. Canadiens started the showcase with a 5-0 shutout of the OMHA champion Halton Hurricanes on Friday. Later that afternoon, they defeated the North Bay Trappers, 5-1. Having secured a playoff spot, next up was a date with the Sun County Panthers in the quarterfinals. Leading scorer Jax Pereira (6G, 4A) emerged as the hero, tallying the winning goal in a 4-3 double-overtime victory. JRC, who came into the tournament as the third seed out of the GTHL, defeated league champion Don Mills Flyers 5-3 on Sunday morning to advance to the championship game.

Taking on the Barrie Jr. Colts, Noah Laus and Connor Adam each notched a goal in the first period. Kaden Rolling cut into that lead with a power-play to get the Jr. Colts on the board at 13:57 of the second period. A few minutes later, Benjamin Marling knotted the score at 2. Marling finished as the top-scoring defenseman in the showcase with eight points in five games. Lucas Quain put home a feed from Keaton Ardagh on the man advantage to put JRC back on top 3-2 before the period came to a close. That goal would go on to serve as the eventual game-winner, as the score remained the same throughout the final period. 

Both Jr. Canadiens netminder Ethan Maniaci and Barrie’s Malcolm Rose received Player of the Game honors for their respective teams. Ardagh would finish tied with Marling for second in overall points with eight (2G, 6A). 

“At the beginning of the year we all set goals,” said Jr. Canadiens head coach Matt Viola. “Every kid on the team wrote it down on a piece of paper. I am happy for all these boys to have accomplished something they’ll remember forever.”

Markham’s depth a major advantage en route to championship

In the Markham Majors’ first four matchups, they outscored opponents 29-5. Much of that was fueled by their depth, as seven skaters average a point per game in the tournament. 

In their next contest, the Whitby Wildcats had them up against the ropes, trailing 3-2 with under five minutes left to play. But with 3:37 remaining in the third period, Cam Johnson managed to find space and slip the tying goal in the net, salvaging the Majors’ unbeaten record. 

Markham would continue to nab wins in its next three games, including a 5-0 shutout in the championship game against Nickel City Sons. Justin Boudreau finished first on the team and third overall with eight goals and 14 points. Behind him, Carter Cross (3G, 9A), Jack Samek (6G, 6A), and Maddon Walsh (12A) rounded out the Markham skaters in the Top 10 for points. While the team’s offense was nearly unmatched, it helped that Markham had the two best netminders of the tournament as well. Dylan Sack allowed only six goals, leading to a 1.44 goals-against average and .906 save percentage with one shutout. His counterpart, Massimo Tomassi, recorded a 1.58 goals-against average and .915 save percentage and one shutout in four games. 

Vaughan’s revenge on Soo comes in title clash

The Vaughan Kings lived up to lofty expectations as No. 1 team in the World Rankings when they secured a title at the U15 All-Ontario Championships. A 4-0 win over the Soo Jr. Greyhounds cemented themselves as the top team in the birth year. Coming into the tournament as the two best teams in the field, they seemed destined to battle it out for provincial bragging rights. 

The two teams managed to meet twice in the final two days of the season. On Saturday, Dalton Hoornstra did something no other team had done to Vaughan in 74 games this season. He shut them out in a 2-0 win that put the Jr. Greyhounds into the playoffs as the top seed. The top team in ‘09 team in the world that averaged 4.49 goals per game was kept off the scoreboard completely.

Alexander Hage (2G) and Ben Bowen (3A) helped the Kings get back on track with a 4-2 win over York Simcoe Express in the semifinals. With Soo defeating the Upper Canada Cyclones 5-1 in their following game, the table was set for a rematch between the two with the championship on the line. 

It would be a much different affair than the previous meeting. Despite their best efforts, Hoornstra and the Jr. Greyhounds were unable to keep Vaughan’s impressive attack at bay for a second time. Bowen opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period, and later increased the lead to 2-0 in the second period. In the third frame, Elijah Chavez and Zach Nyman scored ten seconds apart to put the game out of reach for the eventual 4-0 final. Joseph D’Angelo was huge in net, collecting his second shutout of the tournament. He would finish with a 0.77 goals-against average, allowing only three goals in four appearances. Bowen would finish atop the leaderboard with six goals and 13 points, tied with Soo’s Nikolas Rossetto

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