First there was Stamkos, then Duchene, and the next one is.....
The top young hockey prospects will hit the ice in Orillia, Ontario this weekend!
The great ones – like Steven Stamkos played in the OMHA – and the #NextOnes like Barrie Colts Defenceman, Dennis Busby and Nathan Dunkley of the Quinte Red Devils will take to the ice at the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s Eastern AAA (ETA) Minor Midget Showcase Powered by Under Armour in Orillia December 5 and 6.
Thirteen Ontario Minor Hockey Association teams from the Eastern AAA Minor Midget League will battle head-to-head in a series of games in front of pro, junior and university scouts at the West Orillia Sports Complex. The event is a preview of the top picks in next spring’s Ontario Hockey League and, in a few short years, the National Hockey League draft. The OMHA is a premier development league with 76 players drafted from 22 different teams at the 2015 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, including three first round picks. Recent Ontario Minor Hockey Association grads now in the National Hockey League include Steven Stamkos, Matt Duchene, Corey Perry and Cody Hodgson.
The weekend will also include the OMHA Eastern AAA Midget All-Star Game. The inaugural Midget All-Star game was held in 1993 to acknowledge and recognize the hockey skills of Midget AAA players while providing a venue where these players could demonstrate their abilities. Rosters for the Midget All-Star Game are available below:
"The Ontario Minor Hockey Association has consistently developed bonafide prospects for the OHL year in and year out.” said Jason Ford, Barrie Colts General Manager & Head Scout. “This type of setting with all of the teams in the league playing in one place allows us to evaluate the league as a whole, and saves us a lot of time moving forward. This Showcase provides us with more information on players we are interesting in pursuing, and helps us pinpoint who we want to pay more attention to as the season goes on."
The participating clubs are the Whitby Wildcats, Clarington Toros, Peterborough Petes, Kingston Jr. Frontenacs, Central Ontario Wolves, Quinte Red Devils, Oshawa Generals, York Simcoe Express, Richmond Hill Coyotes, Barrie Jr. Colts, Ajax/Pickering Raiders, Markham Waxers, North Central Predators and 2 team representing the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.
“The Ontario Minor Hockey Association has a long and proud tradition of developing some of the top hockey talent in the world.” said OMHA President Rob Ring. “This event will be a step in identifying and developing the next crop of elite players in Ontario.”
The OMHA’s Showcase is also used to promote a path to post-secondary education for the athletes. Many OMHA graduates move on to attend and play at Ontario universities.
“The Ontario Hockey League offers student-athletes the best of both worlds when it comes to on ice development and opportunities in education,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch. “We look forward to the opportunity to meet so many of the OMHA’s great student-athletes and future stars of the OHL at these events.”
The OUA and OHL will host information sessions at the tournament to explain the pathways to junior hockey and university life.
“Ontario University Athletics would like to welcome all players to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association AAA Showcase. This is an opportunity for these exceptional athletes to showcase their talents while learning about the opportunities that exist for them beyond their junior playing careers. Ontario University Athletics would like to wish all players the utmost success as they pursue their academic and athletic goals,” said OUA Executive Director Bryan Crawford.
Partners for the 2015 OMHA ETA Showcase include: Under Armour, Ontario University Athletics [OUA], Ontario Hockey League [OHL], Gatorade & KIND Snacks. Local Sponsors of the event include: Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn, MD Marine Insurance, McLean & Dickey Insurance Brokers, Mid Ontario Disposal, Pitbulls, Orillia Montana’s Cookhouse & Bar and Orillia Kelsey’.
Here are some top players to watch during the weekend event.
Spencer is a big, thick winger that gets up and down the ice well for his size. He displays a consistent work ethic, battles for pucks and generates offence for his team. Looked on to be a leader, he currently has the most goals on his team and is a key factor in the Raiders offensive success.
Ingham is one of the best goalies in the ETA this season. In a day in age where so many goalies play the butterfly technique or a hybrid of it, one of the issues with younger goalies is to keep their upper body erect enough to cover the top half of the net – Ingham is very good at doing this. In addition, his athleticism is elite, he anticipates the game well and has excellent rebound control. He goes into the ETA Showcase weekend undefeated this season at 7-0-1.
Kirwin is an excellent example of how you do not need to be big to make an impact in today’s game. Coming in at 5’7” and 180lbs, Barret possesses high-end skill and generates a lot of offence for his team. Add great skating ability, a high hockey IQ, and a good work ethic into the mix and you have a complete hockey player.
If his teammate Kirwin is a great example of how small players have a place in the game, Busby is an even better example of the altered role of defensemen and how they are called on to transition, lead the attack, and generate offence. He has all the tools needed to be a successful defenseman; he is a very good skater, has high-end skill, thinks and processes the game very well and is deceivingly physical. He will be an early pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.
Comprising 1/3 of ‘the big three’ for Central Ontario (along with Dellandrea, and Yule), Leeking is the heart-and-soul of his team. The massive, 6’3” 185lbs. centre, has good skills, a high-level of hockey sense, a fabulous work ethic and adds a lot of sandpaper to his game. He is one of those player that the more you see him play, the more you will like him.
Dubbed by one ETA Minor Midget coach as ‘the most dangerous player with the puck in the ETA, Dellandrea may sometimes go unnoticed but by the end of the game he will be most definitely noticed on the scoresheet. The smallest of the big-three at 5’11” and 172lbs., he is not overly flashy, instead he relies on his hockey IQ and probably the best snap-shot in the ETA.
At 6’5” and 185lbs. he is a man amongst boys and one of the most physically dominant players within his peer group. In addition he generates offence and has a very strong work ethic. A great combination of skill and brawn, he is currently in the top 25 in league scoring and top 5 in penalty minutes.
The offensive catalyst on his team, Girard has excellent skills and good hockey smarts. He brings it every shift and makes the players around him much better. Currently, Riley leads his team in points with 23 and penalty minutes with 54.
Snell, a solid all-around defenseman was outstanding last hockey season at the OHFs for the 2015 OMHA Bantam AAA Champions scoring 5 points in 7 games. Even though he missed some time due to injury earlier in the year, he has picked up where he left off. Possessing very good skills, tremendous skating ability and a mean streak, he projects to be a top-4 defenseman at the OHL level in the future.
The captain of his team, Doyle is a very good all-around defenseman. He excels in practically every aspect of the game; he has good size, a high hockey intellect and good skills. The ‘straw that stirs the drink’ for the Toros, he provides a great transition game from the back end and at the same time gives up very little offensively to the opposition.
Hutcheson is a big (6’2” 182 lbs.) winger with very good hockey skills and hockey sense. Ask any goal scorer and they will tell you one of the secrets to scoring goals is finding ‘quiet ice’ - when gaining control of the puck in the offensive end, this is creating separation from the opposition and finding scoring areas on the ice. Hutcheson does it as good as any player in the ETA and this is a big factor to why he goes into the weekend leading the ETA in goal scoring with 18.
Duff has a good combination of size and ability on the backend. He thinks and anticipates the game well, has good compete level and he looks to make a difference each and every time on the ice. Jack has a lot of upside and as a result he is high on the radar of OHL teams.
At 6’1” and 193lbs., Davis is a big, strong power forward that is very hard to play against. Blessed with a combination of very good skills and a physical game, he has the ability to beat the opposition both offensively and physically. Scouts got a taste of him last year as a call-up for the Minor Midget AAA Waxers and have not been disappointed by him in his draft year.
Emon is a very smart winger that plays a 200-foot game and is effective in all situations. Not overly flashy, however, he does have very good skills and generates a lot of offence for his team. What sets him apart from his peer group is his hockey IQ; no matter what situation he is in, he anticipates the game well and consistently makes good decisions.
Dudas is absolutely electrifying and a player that keeps fans on the edge of their seats every time he has the puck on his stick. A tremendous skater, he has high-end skill, and has the ability to shred opposing defenseman with his elite-level one-on-one ability. He may be small in stature at 5.08 and 155lbs., but in the ‘new-game’ that has a focus on speed, skill, and work ethic, Dudas has all of these in spades and as a result will be an early pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.
Masternak has as good of a compete level as any goalie in the ETA. He is extremely quick, reacts well, and is very focused in the net. Even though the Generals have struggles this year, Tyler is capable of stonewalling a team each and every time he is in the net.
McNamara is a leader on his team and does a little bit of everything. He is a defenseman that does not give up much to the opposition. In addition, his puck skills are very good, he has an uncanny ability of when to join the rush and he makes his teammates around him better. All in all, McNamara is one of the better all-around defensemen in the ETA. He is tied for the lead in points on his team and is one of the top point-producers on the backend in the ETA.
Widely touted as one of the best, if not the best OHL Prospect in the ETA, Dunkley gave scouts a sneak-peek with what to expect as a call-up with Quinte last season. On route to the OMHA Minor Midget AAA Championship, he capped off an impressive run with the 99-age-group scoring the game winner in overtime to capture the title for the Red Devils. Dunkley is the prototypical ‘new forward’ in hockey. Cut from the mold of such NHL players as Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos, Dunkley is not overly tall at 5’10” but he is strong and thick with a low centre of gravity. He protects the puck well and is hard to knock off the puck. In addition, he has high-end skill and looks to make a difference every time he is on the ice.
There must be something in the Trent River flowing through Campbellford, Ontario. Sherwin, along with his teammate Dunkley and Jakob Brahaney (a 1999 year-of-birth Quinte product that currently plays for the Kingston Frontenacs) all call the town of approximately 3,000 people home. Sherwin is a tall and lanky forward with a lot of upside. He has a lot of skill and compete in this game. Tied for 4th in ETA goal scoring, he will only get better as he grows into his big frame.
Quest is a hard working winger the offers a lot to his team. He has good skills and is effective on both the offensive and defensive sides of the puck. Rodin is a leader on his team, he consistently wins puck battles and provides offence for his team.
Blimkie is a very good all-around defenseman. He skates well, has excellent gap control and has a solid transition game. Rounding out his game Sean combines a strong work ethic with a simple game that limits mistakes.
One of the most underrated forwards in the ETA, Yetman is a consistent point producer for the Wildcats. He has elite level skills and a great work ethic. An offensive catalyst for his team, he is dynamic and has the ability to change the complexion of a game every time the puck is on his stick.
Offensively gifted rearguard, Robertson leads the ETA in defenseman scoring. He has all the tools to be an impact player at the OHL level. He has good size, skates very well, has very good skill, and he processes the game at an elite level. He seems to get better and better and as he continues to fill-out his 6’1” frame he projects to be a top-pairing defenseman at the next level.
The ETA is loaded with offensive dynamos this season and Hillis may very well be the best of the best. Blessed with elite level skill and hockey sense, he generates offence on a shift-by-shift basis. The leader in points in the ETA and widely regarded as the best player at the recent Whitby Silver Stick Tournament that his Express won, Hillis will be a top pick in the OHL Priority Selection and projects to be a top point getter at the Major Junior level.
Playing up last year with the 99-year-birth Express, Vucko was a main contributor to a team that was one-goal away from winning the OMHA Minor Midget AAA Championship. Participating this year in his own age group, he has picked up where he left off as a leader on a team that is projected to win the 2016 OMHA Minor Midget AAA Championship. He has a lot of tools – high-end skill, very good hockey sense and a great work ethic. He plays both sides of the puck effectively.