In 2015, it was another team from the Greater Toronto Hockey League – the Toronto Young Nationals – that took home the top prize at Canada’s National Midget Championship.
The North York Rangers want to repeat that feat in 2016.
“To be honest, having the Young Nationals win the TELUS Cup last year sort of gave everyone in the GTHL some hope and confidence,” says Rangers head coach Rob Vessio. “They were a great team – don’t get me wrong – but having one of your peers winning the TELUS Cup showed us that we weren’t that far off.”
The Rangers started the season with a bang and never looked back. They went undefeated in their first 11 games and finished just as strong despite a loss in their regular season finale, their first in 14 games.
North York topped the GTHL standings with a 22-4-7 record largely thanks to the league’s top offence (3.64 goals for per game) and the second-ranked defence (2.03 goals against per game).
And it was almost unbeatable as the home team, finishing the season with a league-best 11-1-4 record as host.
North York carried its regular season momentum into the GTHL playoffs; it swept Markham 4-0 in the quarter-finals before knocking off the Don Mills Flyers in six in the semifinals.
The Rangers claimed GTHL supremacy by beating the Don Mills Flyers in five games (four wins and a tie) for the league championship, outscoring their opponents in the postseason by a 52-20 margin.
The Rangers only allowed more than one goal three times in their 15 playoff games and moved on to the Central Regional with tremendous confidence.
“It’s a little far-fetched to enter the OHF championship over-confident because we have a lot of respect for every team that was there,” said Vessio. “But we handled ourselves really good and came out on top there.”
North York exploded out of the gate at the regionals in Waterloo, winning its first four preliminary round games before falling to Kanata in a game that had no bearing on the Rangers’ round-robin finish.
The semifinals was a rematch against the only team to beat them, but North York dispatched Kanata 3-1 before blanking the Whitby Wildcats 4-0 in the regional final to clinch its first-ever TELUS Cup berth.
So what makes the Rangers a threat to win the national championship? Vessio thinks it lies in versatility.
“I think we have a very well-balanced team and we can adjust to any style of game that anybody throws at us,” he says. “If you want to play a defensive style of game, we have those types of players. If you want to play a run-and-gun offense, we have those types of players as well. Add in two good goaltenders on top of that and you have a team that’s tough to beat because you can play all those aspects of the game.”
HOW NORTH YORK GOT TO QUISPAMSIS
Greater Toronto Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Markham 4-0 (7-0, 4-1, 3-1, 5-1)
Semifinal: defeated Don Mills 4-2 (3-2, 2-4, 0-3, 3-1, 2-1, 7-0)
GTHL championship: defeated Mississauga 4-0-1 (5-1, 1-1, 4-2, 2-1, 4-1)
Round robin: first place – 4-1-0 (defeated London 4-3, defeated Sudbury 5-3, defeated Whitby 5-3, defeated Waterloo 7-4, lost to Kanata 3-1)
Semifinal: defeated Kanata 3-1
Championship: defeated Whitby 4-0
Record: 22-4-7 (1st in GTHL)
Goals For: 120 (1st in GTHL)
Goals Against: 67 (2nd in GTHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 5 (Nov. 22-Dec. 6 and Feb. 3-20)
Top 3 Scorers:
- Aiden Casey – 17G 21A 38P
- Sean Josling – 16G 14A 30P
- William Calverley – 11G 17A 28P
Goals For: 82
Goals Against: 37
Top 3 Scorers:
- Aiden Casey – 14G 16A 30P
- William Calverley – 14G 14A 28P
- James Turner – 11G 13A 24P
NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
PLAYERS TO WATCH
crafty and creative … very good hockey sense … good speed … strong on his edges … willing to go to the danger areas … has finesse to play a skilled game … smart player
provides leadership … undersized forward with plenty of speed … plays at a high pace … dangerous on most shifts … likes to make plays … does not give up the puck easily
two-way defenceman … strong hockey IQ … good puck-moving ability … not fun to play against … hit-first mentality … quarterbacks the PP … loves to log big minutes
OHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
Jett Alexander – Mississauga 2015 (12th round, 225th overall)