Ontario’s top young prospects are suiting up for their respective minor hockey associations at the 2019 OHL Gold Cup taking place at the Activa Sportsplex in Kitchener this weekend.
Of the 160 players competing at the event, 129 were chosen in April’s OHL Priority Selection, representing approximately 80% of the young athletes taking the ice at the annual event that runs from Thursday through Sunday.
32 players from the 2018 OHL Gold Cup represented Hockey Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Saint John and Quispamsis, New Brunswick
For the second straight year the Ottawa 67’s feature the most prospects in the annual showcase with 11 followed by the Kingston Frontenacs and North Bay Battalion with nine.
All 21 players chosen in the first round of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection will compete led by first overall pick Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs) of the Don Mills Flyers. Wright (GTHL) is one of seven competing players to receive Minor Midget Player of the Year honours from their respective associations. He is joined by Jack Michaelis (HNO), Chase Stillman (Sudbury Wolves, NOHA), Brenden Sirizzotti (Ottawa 67’s, OMHA), Lawson Sherk (Hamilton Bulldogs, OMHA), Deni Goure (Owen Sound Attack, ALLIANCE) as well as Mason McTavish (Peterborough Petes, HEO).
Exceptional performances at past OHL Gold Cup tournaments have provided a glimpse of what a player is capable of further on in his career. Several future OHL standouts have made strong impressions at the event.
Now preparing for the Rogers OHL Championship Series, Ottawa 67’s forward Kyle Maksimovich enjoyed a successful 2014 OHL Gold Cup, finishing the tournament with four goals, three assists and seven points in five games. The Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget graduate provided Team GTHL Blue with a timely overtime winner in the tournament as he helped lead his team to a second place finish. Maksimovich led the Otters in scoring this past season, scoring 31 goals, 35 assists and 66 points in 65 games.
The 2015 OHL Gold Cup showcased a pair of talented present day OHL stars. Edmonton Oilers first round pick and 2019 OHL Defenceman of the Year Evan Bouchard (London Knights) led the tournament in scoring with 11 points (5-6–11) in five games, six of which came in Team OMHA White’s final game of the tournament. Talented Los Angeles Kings prospect Gabriel Vilardi (Kingston Frontenacs) and speedy centre Brett Neumann (Oshawa Generals) were also top performers, each registering nine points in the showcase. Goaltender Jake McGrath (Niagara IceDogs) would backstop Team GTHL Blue to a 6-2 Championship Final victory over Team ALLIANCE.
Team GTHL Blue was crowned OHL Gold Cup Champions for the second straight year in 2016, taking a 6-1 win over Team ALLIANCE in the Championship Final. Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs) led the way with two goals and an assist while Riley Damiani (Kitchener Rangers) pitched in with a pair of assists. Thomas led the 2016 event in scoring with 11 points including six goals and five assists in five contests. Fellow first round OHL Priority Selection choice Allan McShane (Oshawa Generals) finished second in tournament scoring with nine points (6-3–9) while 2017 first overall pick Ryan Merkley (Peterborough Petes) led all defencemen with eight points (1-7–8). In goal, OMHA Black goaltender Blair Coffin (Sarnia Sting) led netminders with a 0.81 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage over 147 minutes played.
GTHL Red won it all in the 2017 OHL Gold Cup. OHL Cup Champion Jamieson Rees (Sarnia Sting) scored the game winner, leading his club to victory over OMHA Black by a score of 3-1. Philip Tomasino (Niagara IceDogs) of GTHL Blue led the tournament in scoring with 10 points while teammate Nicholas Porco (Saginaw Spirit) came in second with eight. In goal, Ryan Dugas (Kingston Frontenacs) of GTHL Red led all netminders with three wins and was among the event leaders in goals-against average (1.67) and save percentage (.934).
The GTHL claimed its fourth straight title last year as GTHL Blue trounced GTHL Red 8-2 in the Championship Final. Will Cuylle (Windsor Spitfires) and Dylan Robinson (Oshawa Generals) each scored twice in the showcase finale as GTHL Blue played to a perfect 4-0 record. Tristan Lennox (Saginaw Spirit) backstopped GTHL Blue to victory while Jake Uberti (Niagara IceDogs) became the third straight IceDogs prospect to lead the OHL Gold Cup in tournament scoring. Other tournament standouts included OMHA Black defenceman Alec Belanger (Ottawa 67’s) who wrapped things up with eight points (1-7–8) while Cuylle and Logan Morrison (Hamilton Bulldogs) of OMHA White each led the way with five goals.
The GTHL looks to win its fifth straight title this year when the event gets underway on Thursday afternoon.
||Jake Uberti (GTHL Blue)
||Philip Tomasino (GTHL Blue)
||Akil Thomas (GTHL Blue)
||Evan Bouchard (OMHA White)
||Will Bitten (HEO)
||Ian Johnston (ODHA)
COMPLETE SCHEDULE: ohlgoldcup.com
FULL ROSTERS: ALLIANCE, GTHL BLUE, GTHL RED, HEO, HNO, NOHA, OMHA WHITE, OMHA BLACK
Live streaming available at hockeytv.com.
For more information, please visit www.ohlgoldcup.com or follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/OHLGoldCup.
About the OHL Gold Cup
The OHL Gold Cup is an annual showcase event featuring top under-16 talent in Ontario. As part of the Hockey Canada Program of Excellence, select players from the OHL Gold Cup will be invited to attend the National Under-17 Selection Camp, where they will have a chance to compete with other top talent from across Canada, to earn a spot at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.