St. Catharines Falcons Preview

Sutherland Cup or bust

By Bill Potrecz, The Standard

A total of 13 new players will suit up for the Falcons this season, but that won’t change head coach and general manager Frank Girhiny’s goal of contending for another Ontario junior B championship.

“The only reason we do this is to win a Sutherland Cup,” Girhiny said. “We worked hard to recruit the players we have. I think we brought in the right young players and have a nice mix.”

The Falcons, who came within six minutes of going to overtime in Game 7 of last year’s Sutherland Cup final versus the Caledonia Corvairs, will feature a new cast of characters this time around. St. Catharines graduated several key pieces from that team including forwards Kyle Woodhouse, Mark Rodgers, Yanni Rallis and Aaron Taylor, defencemen Mitch Bursey, Brad Col and Dillan Walker, and goalie Knick Dawe.

That’s a huge turnover which resulted in a lot of hard work for Girhiny recruiting in the summer.

“I think we have 13 new players which we never had in previous years,” said Girhiny, who will be assisted this season by brother Rick Girhiny and former Thorold coach Dave Brennan. “We have to re-program the players where in previous years we didn’t have to do that which is why we got out of the chute real hard.”

With so many new faces — including more young players than in previous years — Girhiny is going to be preaching patience in the early portion of the season.

“We have two 1998s and four 1997s and that’s something we haven’t had in the last couple of years,” he said. “We’ve heard that the Falcons don’t take young guys. If young guys are available and good enough, obviously we’d take them and we have this year.

“The challenge for us is that it’s going to be a lot more teaching than just coaching. We’ve seen the boys starting to learn which is exciting and we expect by Christmas they will be even better as we go on. That’s something that is a little bit different than we’ve had the last few years.”

Back from last year’s team are forwards Ryan Doucette (20-30-50), Tyler Jackson (16-18-34), Cam Blakely (6-10-16), Tyler Hildebrandt (3-4-7), defencemen Broderick Kelly, Brandon Cercone, Brett Brooker, Jacob Parisotto, Zach Bishop, and goaltender Jon D’Ilario.

Girhiny has augmented the lineup with an impressive group of newcomers.

Up front, former OHL forward Devon Rymarchuk, Stoney Creek native Nicholas Dozzi and Tyler Morrison, a highly skilled forward from Mississauga who was the third leading scorer in Maritime Junior Hockey League last year, should help off-set the loss of so many experienced forwards. Brady Cranwell, a Grimsby native who fared well at the Oshawa camp and has performed well in pre-season, and speedy Paola DeSousa, who is expected to be a energy type player, have also been added.

On defence, the Falcons are excited with the acquisition of former Erie Otter Justin Felker as well as Lancaster native Manny Manns.

Overall, St. Catharines should have one of the deepest, most talented bluelines in the league.

“We’re very happy. One thing for sure, we have three dynamic defenceman in Kelly, Cercone and Manns,” Girhiny said. “You should see our D jumping up a lot, either as a fourth forward, or taking the puck up. Traditionally, we really haven’t had that a whole lot.”

D’Ilario, who also performed well in a couple of brief stints with the Niagara IceDogs last season, will team with 16-year-old Zach Moore, a St. Catharines native who was a sixth round selection of the Kingston Frontenacs and show well at their camp.

“We have no worries in net,” Girhiny said.

Girhiny can’t wait to get started and will quickly see how this season’s team stacks up against the best when they play host to Caledonia in the Golden Horseshoe season opener Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Gatecliff Arena.

“All indications from what we’ve seen in pre-season are that we’re going to be a fast team. Speed is something we also had on last year’s team and it’s key,” Girhiny said. “Our makeup is to play all four lines. Our young guys are on our fourth line and are going to get a whole lot better. We’ll let them grow into it.

“We’ll be tested Friday. They will be the team to look at to measure all teams by. Everything goes through Caledonia.”

bill.potrecz@sunmedia.ca

twitter@BillPStandard

2014/15 St. Catharines Falcons

Goaltenders

1. Zach Moore

47. Jon D’Ilario

Defence

5. Justin Felker

8. Jacob Parisotto

10. Broderick Kelly (C)

15. Zach Bishop

26. Brandon Cercone

44. Brett Brooker

77. Manny Manns

Forwards

7. Brady Cranwell

9. Tyler Morrison

14. Tyler Jackson (A)

18. Owen Peacock

19. Ryan Doucette (A)

43. Matt Jambrosich

72. Cam Blakely

74. Nicholas Dozzi

79. Devon Rymarchuk (A)

88. Paolo DeSousa

91. Tyler Hildebrandt

92. Jesse Anderson

96. Nick Prestia

You all know that I am a die-hard Rockets fan, but I am also a die-hard GOJHL fan, having been watching Jr. B hockey since I was 10 years old. I will only watch the GOJHL and during the hockey season, you never know what arena RG is gonna show up at.

I’m bringing you the games, news, and updates of the GOJHL.

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If you hear of anything about any of the teams in the GOJHL, or have questions about anything, feel free to post it. If I don’t know the answer, I know how to find it.

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