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.
Congratulations to the Markham Majors on winning the U13 AAA All-Ontario Championship! 🏆— GTHL Hockey (@GTHLHockey) April 17, 2023
The Majors captured the title with a 5-0 victory over the Nickel City Sons on April 16.@OHFHockey | @MarkhamIslande1 pic.twitter.com/Nq3MewugWc
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.
Congratulations to the Vaughan Kings on winning the U15 AAA All-Ontario Championship! 🏆— GTHL Hockey (@GTHLHockey) April 17, 2023
The Kings downed the Soo Jr. Greyhounds 4-0 on April 16 to become OHF Champions.@OHFHockey | @vaughankingsAAA pic.twitter.com/pjgFgIoCMM
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.