The great ones – like Steven Stamkos – played in the OMHA, and the #NextOnes like Grey Bruce Highlanders defencemen Connor Roberts and Hunter Holmes of the Niagara North Stars will take to the ice at the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s Minor Midget Showcase in St. Catharines January 23 and 24.
Ten Ontario Minor Hockey Association teams from the South Central AAA Minor Midget League will battle head-to-head in a series of games in front of OHL & OHA scouts and personnel at the Seymour Hannah Sports & Entertainment Centre. 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.
A list of players to watch, including Roberts and Holmes are listed below.
The weekend will also include the OMHA Eastern AAA vs. South Central AAA Midget All-Star Game along with a South Central AAA Bantam Prospects game. The South Central AAA Bantam Prospects will also take part in the first ever OMHA Combine Powered by Under Armour. All 40 players will be put through both off-ice and on-ice drills by Sport Testing, measuring their speed, agility and power. The Combine will be hosted at Ridley College on the morning of Saturday January 23rd.
"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 include the Brampton 45’s, Buffalo Regals, Burlington Eagles, Grey Bruce Highlanders, Guelph Jr. Gryphons, Halton Hurricanes, Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, Niagara North Stars, Oakville Rangers and Southern Tier Admirals.
“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 Director of Sport Operations, Wally Gabler.
Partners for the 2016 OMHA Showcase include Under Armour, Ontario University Athletics [OUA], Ontario Hockey League [OHL], Gatorade & KIND Snacks.
Here are some top players to watch during the weekend event.
Jacobs joined the 45’s in late-November and since then has consistently been one of their better players. The big winger plays with a high compete level and is not afraid to mix it up physically. A versatility player, Jacobs has the skill set and hockey smarts to be effective as both a forward and defenceman.
Kujawa does a little bit of everything for his team. He has a good skill set and has the ability to lead the rush. In addition, he works hard, battles for pucks and has a strong physical game. He is a leader on his team and like every leader, he brings it every shift and does whatever he can to make his team successful.
Daws is the backbone of a hard-working Eagles team. Blessed with great physical attributes at 6’4” and 205 lbs., he follows this up with athletic ability and a calmness in the net. He is very intelligent and processes the game well; attributes that are always high on the list for skaters but are sometimes forgotten when it comes to goaltenders. Big, athletic, calm, and smart are all touch-points for most of the great goalies in the game today, a big reason why Daws has a lot of upside.
Roberts will represent Team Canada at the Winter Youth Olympic Games coming up in February in Lillehammer, Norway. He is one of the best prospects to come out of Owen Sound in quite some time. At 15 years old he already has a man’s body at 6’3” and 205 lbs. He uses his size to win space, pushing the opposition off the puck and to protect himself from getting knocked off of the puck once he has possession of it. He skates very well for a player of his size. In addition, his skill level and hockey smarts are outstanding.
Cederberg, the other half of the twin towers along with Roberts, is the captain and heart and soul of his team. He does a lot of things well – strong, skilled, with a good work ethic, he is usually the first Highlander on the puck. He plays a strong two-way game and he is ahead of his peer group when it comes to grasping the finer points of the game.
Pfeil is a good size goalie with a lot of athletic ability. He moves well laterally, post-to-post, taking away the bottom part of the net. He has a good butterfly technique and competes on a consistent basis.
Morrison is one of the most talented players in the SCTA this season. His hockey IQ and anticipation are off the charts and blends well with his high-end skill set. In addition, he is the captain of his team and makes his teammates a lot better.
The prototypical power-forward, at 6’3” 205 lbs. Hewiston is a linebacker on skates with the hands of a wide receiver. He is equally adept at banging and crashing and winning pucks as he is at gathering the biscuit and generating offence. He has the will to make a difference and his team needs him to be at the top of his game if they want to be playing in March.
Halton is a solid team and is considered a dark horse in the SCTA post-season. A big reason for this is the consistently outstanding play by their netminder Mamone. Technically sound and quick, he follows the puck well, competes, and is very smart in the net.
At close to 6’ and possessing high-end ability, Wismer is one of the best OHL prospects in the SCTA this season. Like many of the great ones, what separates him is his hockey intellect and ability to anticipate and process the game in a timely and efficient manner. Currently leading the SCTA in scoring, he is one of the main ingredients in a powerhouse Jr. Bulldogs team.
The little ball-of-hate is probably the toughest forward to play against in the SCTA. He skates very well, competes hard, and hits like train. In addition, he has very good skills, makes plays with pace, and wants to make a difference every time he is on the ice.
Sheppard, who started playing goaltender when he was in Pee Wee, has a lot of upside. He is huge, standing at 6’3” and 210 lbs. but he moves like a goalie half of his size. Calm and cool in the net, he is very good at using his size by consistently taking the correct angles on shooters. In addition, his butterfly is technically sound.
If you want to see what it looks like to be launched out of a rocket on ice, watch McMaster as he grabs the puck and goes on the attack with it. He is probably the best skater in the SCTA and in addition to this, his skill set is very good and he has a high compete level. In the top five in the SCTA in points and goals, he is a big factor in the North Stars high-octane offence.
McCourt is an example of the altered role of defencemen – how they are called on to transition, lead the attack, and generate offence. He has all the tools needed to be a successful defenceman – he is a very good skater, has very good skills, and thinks and processes the game well. He competes and wants to consistently make a positive influence in the game.
At 15 years old it is a challenge to project pro upside but Holmes has as much of it as any player in the SCTA. A great combination of size, skating ability and skill, he competes hard and is equally effective on both sides of the puck. Make sure to get a good glimpse of him now because he is going to be in the OHL in the near future.
The catalyst to a very good Rangers team, Cerantola has a lot of upside. At 6’3” 175 lbs., he has the size to go along with very good skills and hockey sense. He competes on both sides of the puck and is only going to get better as he fills out his big frame.
Groulx has high-end skill, possesses arguably the best hands in the SCTA, and is dynamite in the scoring areas. He has a good stick and adept at using his body to protect the puck. He has some edge to his game and is not afraid to mix it up with the opposition.
Cole is another big contributor to the North Starts. Not only is he excellent on the offence, he is a very good two-way player and does not give up much defensively. He skates very well and has a high-level of hockey intellect.
Angle is a great example of how size is not a big factor in the game these days. Blessed with high-end skill, his compete level is excellent and he is constantly generating offence for his team. He never backs down and does whatever he can to put the puck in the back of the net. In addition to this, he has a high hockey IQ and processes the game far ahead of his peer group.