HOLES TO FILL

As the 26 member teams of the GOJHL solidify their rosters, we prepare ourselves for the start of another hockey season. This coming weekend all three conferences will meet in London for the 2015 Showcase Event. Every club will play a pair of games against an opponent from another conference.

Icing a team at this level is no easy matter. Every team has to deal with player turnover. Teams can lose players in a variety of ways but the most obvious holes to fill are those of the graduating players. Players can only play in the GOJHL until they are 20-years-old, so let’s have a look at all of the players born in 1994 who will not be back this year.

In the Golden Horseshoe my hometown of St. Catharines has the highest turnover losing 8 players to age. On the opposite end of the scale Pelham has the fewest with just two.

In the Midwest we find three clubs, Cambridge, Guelph and Kitchener with 8 overagers while Listowel and Brantford could in theory ice the same teams as they lost no players to age.

In the West the Chatham Maroons led all GOJHL teams with 11 graduating players while Sarnia wasn’t too far behind with ten holes to fill. Lambton Shores iced a very young squad last year and had no 20-year-olds on the roster.

Let’s break things down further and look at the key areas that the teams will have to address due to overage. (Please take into consideration that not every team kept their rosters updated on Pointstreak so this summary may not be entirely accurate.)
GOLDEN HORSESHOE CONFERENCE

Ancaster (3) – Despite losing just 3 players the Avalanche will need to find replacements for starting goaltender Blake Richard and top defenseman Lucas Triemstra.

Caledonia (6) – The two-time defending Sutherland Cup champs look in pretty good shape to vie for their third straight Provincial championship but they will have to fill the skates of the GOJHL’s top netminder, Kevin Entmaa, who lost just a single game in regulation time in 22 outings.

Fort Erie (3) – Only 3 overagers for the Meteors but they include their top scorer from last season, Richard Demarco and Wade Kenney who was third in team scoring.

Niagara Falls (6) – The Canucks will have a little work to do finding replacements for top goaltender Dylan Pietrangelo and second leading scorer Nigel Slade. (Although not an overager, the Canucks has also lost their top defenseman from last year, 16-year-old Mac Hollowell, to the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.)

Pelham (2) – Just a pair of overagers but the biggest hole would be former St. Thomas Star and Strathroy Rocket goaltender Tynan Lauziere who has bolted back to the Western Conference. Lauziere surfaced in Sarnia trying to earn a spot on the Legionnaire roster.

St. Catharines (8) – Lots of holes to fill in the Garden City, both goaltenders, Ben Cziernik and Jonathan D’Ilario as well as the Falcon’s first, third and fourth leading scorers, Tyler Morrison, Ryan Doucette and Brock Ackerman. Morrison was the Golden Horseshoe Conference’s leading scorer last season.

Thorold (3) – The biggest replacement for the Blackhawks will be goaltender Ian Shorthouse.

Welland (6) – The Junior Canadians have lost much travelled netminder Hunter Johnson, who also guarded the twine in Sarnia, Niagara Falls and Chatham and their third and fourth leading scorers Kris Melna and Matt Cuglietta. Team leaders in captain Gabe Ruggi and alternate captain Mitch Reid will also be missed.
MIDWEST CONFERENCE

Brampton (1) – Just one lone overager but it is goaltender Shane Dietl.

Brantford (0) – The 99ers have their entire roster from last year eligible to return.

Cambridge (8) – Missing among their top overagers will be goaltender Lucas Machalski, top two scorers Mitch Alkins and Maxime Lamontagne along with top D-man Phil Caputo.

Elmira (6) – The Sugar Kings will miss Mitch Wright’s 24 goals as third leading scorer and former Chatham Maroon Eric Palazzolo who finished fifth in team scoring.

Guelph (8) – Missing from the Hurricanes this year are second leading scorer and top goal scorer Craig Martini (26) and third in team scoring, Brooker Muir.

Kitchener (8) – The Dutchmen’s top two defensemen Kyle Ellis and Harrison Domagala are overage. They have also lost their second, fifth and sixth scorers in Mitchell Smith, Jordan Delaurier and Keegan Calder.

Listowel (0) – It sounds like a pretty simple training camp in Listowel this year with everyone eligible to return.

Stratford (6) – The perennially strong Cullitons will be without their number one puck stopper Nicholas Caldwell and their second and fourth leading scorers, Shane O’Brien, who led the team with 25 goals, and captain Trevor Sauder.

Waterloo (5) – The Midwestern Conference’s leading scoring Christian Mroczkowski, who narrowly missed the GOJHL scoring title to Chatham’s Brennan Feasy by a single point will be a big loss for the Siskins. They will also be hurting on the backside with the loss of four defensemen, Matt Romund, Anthony Guido, Eric Cimino and Matt Martin.
WESTERN CONFERENCE

Chatham (11) – You will certainly need a program in Chatham with eleven graduating players. Up front the GOJHL leading scorer and former St. Catharines Falcon, Brennan Feasey is overage. There will be quite a contest in goal as the Maroons lost both goaltenders, Bo Bessette and Jake Paterson. Also absent are their top three defensemen, Nate Pietens, Steven Szekesy and Connor Annett.

LaSalle (5) – The Sutherland Cup runnersup lose just five players to age. They will miss leading scorer Korey Morgan and his 31 goals and three of the GOJHL’s top defensemen in MVP Chris Pignanelli, Brett Langlois and Nicholas Crescenzi.

Lambton Shores (0) – The youthful Predators will have another year of experience to help them move up the standings losing no players to age.

Leamington (5) – The two-time defending Western Conference champs will lose a big part of their offense in their top two scorers, Chris Scott and Kyle Quick and with former Rocket captain and penalty killing specialist Tyler Duarte (photo credit Nick Branaccio, The Windsor Star). Also gone is dependable defenseman Ryan Muzzin.

London (2) – The Nationals have flown through the preseason with ease and are early favourites to contend for the West title with just two holes to fill in goaltender Justin Tugwell and defenseman Michael Wooley.

Sarnia (10) – A ton of talent left the Legionnaires. Gone are their top three scorers in Davis Boyer, Cody Trowell and his 35 goals and former Leamington Flyer Riley Babkirk.

St. Marys (1) – The Lincolns are looking to move up the standings after losing just a single player to age, goaltender Tyler Beattie.

St. Thomas (4) – The Stars iced a very young team last year. Gone are overagers goaltender Brendan Polasek, acquired late in the season from Caledonia, their fourth scorer Jordan Babb and solid defensemen Blair Mincer and Matt Simsons.

Strathroy (7) – No team may have lost as many players as Strathroy in the off season with only seven returning players. Gone are their top six scorers, Stuart King, Nick Boyer, Brett Dalton (work), Dan Chapman, Mark McAulay and Sam Vokes (work). The Rockets will also dearly miss defenseman Kurtis Sander who quarterbacked their powerplay and physical defender and National High School Shot Put champion Andrew Martin (school).

David Honsberger

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