Who will survive and advance, and who will be sent home before Saturday
Pool play for the 2023 OHL Cup gets underway at 8 a.m. sharp, Wednesday morning. Twenty of the top teams in Ontario will compete over the next three days for a spot in the playoffs. Who will survive the grind of pool play, and who’s season will come to an abrupt end this week? World Hockey Hub takes a close look at all four groups, with predictions for how pool play will shake out at the OHL Cup.
Can both York-Simcoe and the Jr. Canadiens move on?
They are the top two teams in the Shanahan Division, but only one of York Simcoe Express and Toronto Jr. Canadiens may end up advancing. YSE seems like the safer option, as they’ve proved to be one of the top teams in the OMHA all season long. Forward Owen Griffin led the team in scoring with 94 points in 35 games. It’s a high-powered offense that has out-scored opponents 444-142 this season, averaging 6.08 goals scored per game.
While the Jr. Canadiens should advance to the elimination rounds, I have just a bit more concern for them than I do YSE.
There’s a couple head-scratching results on JRC’s resume, where I just expected more dominant performances against a few opponents and didn’t get it. Plus, while they’re 3-0-0 against the Thunder Bay Kings this season, all three of those were tough, close games. That familiarity can play a factor, especially with the stakes as high as they come. Also worth noting, That matchup will be the second game of the day for the Jr. Canadiens on Wednesday, which can always present a challenge.
- York Simcoe Express
- Toronto Jr. Canadiens
- Vaughan Kings
- Sun County Panthers
- Thunder Bay Kings
Hurricanes Join Marlboros to solidify playoff spots
The Toronto Marlboros have been one of, if not, the best 2007 team in Canada all season long. They come in as the early odds-on favorite to win the whole tournament, fueled by OHL Cup veteran William Moore. This team has it all, from highly-skilled offensive prospects to shut-down D in Luke Dragusica and top-notch goaltending with Jaeden Nelson and Crosby DaCosta. I expect them to dominate the Nash Division, especially given the Marlies have impressive wins over Halton and HP earlier this season. Don’t expect TPH or Wild Card Team to provide much resistance either.
Halton will play the Marlies tough in its Thursday night matchup. But even with a loss in that game, I could see the Hurricanes run the table through the other three games to solidify their spot in the OHL Cup playoff round. They’ve got top talent in guys like Tyler Hopkins and Matthew Schaefer who were part of Team Ontario’s gold medal winning squad at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. They may finish second in pool play, but a deep playoff run could set up a potential rematch with the Marlies later in the week.
One more note on this division: Of all the Wild Card teams to enter the tournament from Tuesday’s games, I think the Toronto Nationals have the best shot at qualifying for the playoffs. Marlies and Hurricanes are still heavy favorites, but the Nats play teams tough and are capable of playing spoiler. One Wild Card team snuck their way into the quarterfinals last year; the Nats have the best case to repeat that tournament trend in 2023.
- Toronto Marlboros
- Halton Hurricanes
- Toronto Nationals
- Huron-Perth Lakers
- TPH Hockey
Peterborough Petes continue hot streak into OHL Cup
If the Marlies are the favorite to win the tournament, Peterborough isn’t too far behind. Petes come into the 2023 OHL Cup as the hottest team in Ontario, with a 22-0-1 record since Jan. 22nd. They feel invincible, especially after surviving a triple overtime, 1-0 barn burner in the OMHA championship. Momentum is a real thing, and when you’ve got a team that just knows how to win — and win in close games, and win in high-pressure situations — you’ve got a Peterborough team that will feel like an impossible ‘out’ in the tournament.
While the Petes are white hot, let’s not overlook that fact that both the Mississauga Rebels and Waterloo Wolves tied Peterborough at different points this season.
Sure, both games were early in the season, but both teams will be tough games for the Petes. Plus, both will go down on Friday within five hours of each other at Scotiabank Pond. There is a scenario for Waterloo to wear out Peterborough in the morning, and the Rebels to pull off a win early afternoon. Not only is it two games in one day, but their third and fourth games in 48 hours.
The second team to come out of the Lindros Division could potentially be determined on the first day of pool play. Waterloo and Mississauga clash at 1:15pm to start the tournament. The winner will likely have a two-game swing, and a head-to-head tiebreaker in its back pocket. That will make it incredibly difficult for the loser of that game to claw its way into a top two position.
- Peterborough Petes
- Mississauga Rebels
- Don Mills Flyers
- Waterloo Wolves
- Team NOHA
Subban Division up for grabs in toughest pool of the OHL Cup
The London Jr. Knights were one of the most popular teams to talk about this season. They have one of the top prospects in the province in Ryan Roobroeck. The power forward scored 79 points in 30 ALLIANCE games and has drawn plenty of attention, as the team has gone 49-8-6 this season. However, some skeptics were quick to point out the Jr. Knights’ schedule is one of the weaker ones, when compared to other top teams like the Marlboros, YSE and Peterborough.
The 2023 OHL Cup will provide an opportunity for the Jr. Knights to silence the skeptics and show they belong among the top teams in Ontario. However, it won’t be an easy road, given the draw for the Subban Division.
It’s the only division in the tournament with three of the five teams ranked in the Top 10 in Canada. And that spells trouble for London, Mississauga Senators and Southern Tier Admirals. I expect it to be a logjam at the top, with an incredibly small margin for error. London beat Mississauga in a one-goal game earlier this season. Mississauga beat Southern Tier in a one-goal game earlier this season. I fully expect these rematches at the OHL Cup to be just as close, and only time will tell how it truly shakes out.
- Mississauga Senators
- London Jr. Knights
- Southern Tier Admirals
- Whitby Wildcats
- Barrie Colts