GOJHL Showcase Preview Sept. 11-13

Welcome to the 2015-2016 season hockey fans.  This year, the regular season starts with the Showcase.  It’s on a new weekend and at a new venue, the Western Fair Arena in London.  If you’re interested in attending, here are the details.


Western Fair Sports Centre

865 Florence St.

London, Ontario

N5W 6G6

Ticket prices:

Adult weekend pass, $20.00

Adult single day, $12.00

Senior/Student weekend pass, $15.00

Senior/Student single day, $10.00

Kids under 6 are free


This is also the first of my game previews for the season.  This is more of a preview of each team, rather than the game.  I’ve decided to include predictions on how I think each game will go and also where I think each team will place in the standings in their Conferences.

So let’s get to it!

Friday, September 11

Western Conference London Nationals vs. Midwest Stratford Cullitons, 7:15

The Nationals have a good core returning from last year, but have a whole new coaching staff.  It was announced in early August that coach Kelly Thomson had decided to not return to the team, to focus on his career, and the team hired Pat Powers.  Powers is a Western University Alumni and last coached in the GOJHL in the 2007-2008 season in St. Thomas.  In pre-season, the Nats went 6-0 with 2 games against Strathroy, St. Marys and St. Thomas.

The Cullitons also have a good core from last season returning, and a totally new coaching staff.  After making it to the Cherrey Cup Finals 5 of the last 6 years with no Championship, the team has hired Dave Williams, who coached the Kitchener Dutchmen in the 2013-2014 season, and played for Stratford in the 1995-1996 season.  In pre-season, the Cullitons split going 2-2, having beat St. Marys, but lost to St. Catharines.

Prediction: This should be a good game and this is the one I’m going to pay close attention to. I’m expecting it to be a close game.  I’m not sure who’s going to take the points here, it could very well end in a tie, but I’m leaning towards London.

As for the season, I think both teams will be top 4 in their Conferences.

Midwest Brantford 99er’s vs. Western Conference St. Marys Lincolns, 7:30

Last season, Brantford missed out on the play-offs by 4 points.  After missing the play-offs for 2 straight seasons, they’ve made it their mission to make the post-season this year and have completely rebuilt their team.  Brantford had an impressive pre-season, having played 8 games and going 5-2-1.

The Lincolns have had a rough few years, last year being the worst.  In 49 games, their record was only 2-43-4.  St. Marys has only had a few vets return from last year’s team and it looks like this could be another trying season in Stonetown.  In pre-season, they went 0-4 with games against London and Stratford.

Prediction: Based on the pre-season record, I’m giving the edge to Brantford.  First game of the year, St. Marys could surprise you, but I think Brantford is the better team.

I think Brantford will make the play-offs and I’m going to put them at at least 8th.  Unfortunately, I think St. Marys will miss out on the post-season once again.  I’d like to see the Lincolns return to their once glory days, but I think it’ll be another couple seasons for that.

Midwest Brampton Bombers vs. Golden Horseshoe Thorold Blackhawks, 7:45

The Bombers have mostly new faces this season, with four veterans from last year.  They finished the last two seasons in 8th place, were ousted in the first round of play-offs, and hope to be able to move up in the standings and make it to at least the second round.  In pre-season, they had 5 games and went 1-2-2.

Last season, Thorold finished 7th in the Golden Horseshoe standings, losing to St. Catharines 4-1 in the first round.  They’ve retained the majority of their team from last year and are looking to move up in the standings and make a bigger impact.  In exhibition play, the Blackhawks went 5-2.

Prediction: I’m not sure what to make of this game.  You have 2 bottom teams from last year and it could be a good game to watch.  For some reason I’m leaning towards Thorold.

I think both teams will be in the bottom half of their respective Conferences.  I think Thorold will be 5-7 and Brampton 7-9.

Saturday, September 12

Midwest Waterloo Siskins vs. Western Conference St. Thomas Stars, 10:30

Waterloo finished last season tied with Stratford for third place, but due to the tie breakers finished in fourth place.  The Siskins have taken a huge hit in the player department this season.  They lost 5 players to graduation and others moving on to other levels of hockey.  The Siskins had 4 exhibition games and lost all 4.

St. Thomas has retained the majority of players from last season, but have a new head coach.  Just two weeks ago, the Stars announced that co-owner and coach Ron Horvat had decided to sell his ownership in the team to GM Joe Daniels, the other co-owner, and had stepped down as head coach.  Assistant coach Darren Kelly, who was just hired in the off-season, has been promoted.  Kelly was an assistant coach with the Stars in 2010 and 2011.  The Stars had 5 exhibition games this season and finished with a 2-3 record.

Predicition: I think these teams are pretty even, but I’m going with St. Thomas for this game.

I think Waterloo will finish the season middle of the pack.  The Stars are normally 6-8, and I don’t think this year will be any different.

Golden Horseshoe Ancaster Avalanche vs. Western Conference Sarnia Legionnaires, 10:45

The Avalanche finished last season in fourth place in the Golden Horseshoe.  They lost in the semi-finals against Caledonia.  Ancaster has a new affiliation with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the former Belleville Bulls, of the OHL this season.  This affiliation is expected to make the Avalanche a real contender in the Shoe.  In exhibition, the Avalanche had 7 games, going 2-3-1-1.

The Legionnaires lost both their goalies from last season and have picked up Pelham Panthers goalie Tynan Lauzier.  They also have a new coach in Mark Davis, who is no stranger to the Western Conference.  Sarnia has had quite the turnover in players this season, but have done their recruiting this off-season.  In pre-season, they went 4-2, splitting games with St. Thomas and Strathroy, but taking both against Chatham.

Prediciton: I won’t be able to watch much of it, but I think this will be a good game.  I want to give Sarnia the win, but something is telling me Ancaster.

The Avalanche have been gaining steam the last couple seasons.  I think they’ll battle for the top, but I see them finishing in 3rd.  Sarnia, this one’s difficult.  They’ve had to fill a lot of holes, but I think they will be a middle of the pack team, 4-6.

*Correction: It turns out that Sarnia has not signed Tynan Lauzier.  That was an error on the part of Sarnia local media.  They have signed Shayne Battler and Aidan Hughes, both Sarnia Sting prospects.

Western Conference Strathroy Rockets vs. Midwest Guelph Hurricanes, 11:00

The Rockets have also had a high turnover in players this off-season and as a result have a young team again.  They also have a new coaching staff, with Brendan Riggin promoted to head coach, while Mike Bondy has taken over the GM role.  In 4 pre-season games, the team went 1-3.

Guelph has had half their 2014-15 team return for another season and after commitments, they opened camp with just a few spots available.  Coach Pete Crosby is back again too.  In his two seasons as the Canes coach, he’s guided them higher in the standings each year.  Guelph split pre-season 2-2, beating Ancaster but losing to Kitchener.

Prediction: This is the game I’m looking forward to.  It’s my boys first game of the season and I get to meet and chat with Pete Crosby, who I follow on Twitter and can be quite funny.  As much as I believe in my boys, I think the Hurricanes are going to be tough competition for our young team and will take the game.

As they have for the last few years, the Rockets are going to be a bottom half team, finishing 6-8.  Guelph, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be a top team in the Midwest.

Western Conference Leamington Flyers vs. Midwest Cambridge Winter Hawks, 1:30

Leamington is expected to have a 3-peat as Conference champions.  They’ve retained the majority of last season’s team, which is a good core from the 2013-14 championship team.  One half of their league leading goal tenders has returned in Michael Barrett.  The Flyers only had 2 exhibition games against LaSalle, winning 1 and losing the other in double overtime.

Cambridge has lost the majority of their team from last season and have a lot of rebuilding to do.  One of the holes that the Winter Hawks have to fill is in goal.  The team has lost what could be considered one of the backbones of the team in Lucas Machalski to graduation.  Their back up Owen Savory is back, and althought he didn’t see a lot of action last season, he’s up for the job.  Cambridge went 4-4 in pre-season play.  They split games with Brantford and Elmira, but took both against Waterloo.

Prediction:  Leamington will be too much for Cambridge.

As I said, Leamington is poised for a 3-peat as Conference Champs.  I think they’ll be in the top 3, I’m just not sure if it’ll be in the No. 1 slot.  Cambridge, they’re a middle of the pack team.

Western Conference LaSalle Vipers vs. Midwest Listowel Cyclones, 1:45

The Vipers made it to the Sutherland Cup finals to come up a little short against Caledonia last season.  Over the summer, the team lost star Brendan Harrogate who signed with the OHL Mississauga Steelheads and Daniel Beaudoin to Windsor Spitfires, but have done some great recruiting and are expected to be a top team again.  LaSalle’s only pre-season games were against Leamington, where they split both games.

Listowel started out last season in a good position, but faltered and dropped in the standings.  They look to have a good core from last year and should be able to move up.  In pre-season action, they team had 4 games, 2 with Elmira and 2 with Waterloo, taking all 4.

Prediction: Like the game above, LaSalle will be too much for Listowel.

The Vipers are a top team.  They’ll be in the mix at the top with Leamington and London.  I see the Cyclones in the bottom half.

Golden Horseshoe Pelham Panthers vs. Western Conference Lambton Shores Predators, 2:00

Pelham finished dead last in the Golden Horseshoe.  They had a rough season after moving just before camp started from Port Colborne.  They look to have a brand new team this year.  In pre-season, the Panthers went 1-3-1 against Fort Erie and Thorold.

The Preds finished in 8th in the Western standings, but have a good core returning from last season and should be able to move up a spot or two.  They’re a team that keeps coming at you and eventually their luck will turn around.  They had 3 exhibition games, dropping all of them.

Prediction: We have 2 bottom feeder teams, I don’t expect this to be a very good game.  Flip a coin and pick a winner.

Both teams will be at the bottom of their Conferences in 8th spot.

Midwest Elmira Sugar Kings vs. Golden Horseshoe St. Catharines Falcons, 4:30

The defending Cherrey Cup Champions are a skeleton of that team.  They’ve taken a big hit this summer in players graduating, going to school, and leaving for higher levels of hockey and have 6 returning players.  The Kings picked up 1 win in 4 exhibition games.

The Falcons have half of last year’s team returning.  They’ve been battling with Caledonia for top spot in the Shoe for 2 years now and are hoping this is their year to overtake them.  They finished last year in 2nd and lost to the Corvairs in the Conference finals.  St. Catharines took all 4 of their pre-season games.

Prediction: If pre-season is any indication, Elmira has lost some firepower.  They’ll give the Falcons a good fight, but St. Catharines will take the points.

Elmira will fall from the top this season and will be a 4-6 team.  St. Catharines will battle hard with Caledonia for the top stop.

Western Conference Chatham Maroons vs. Golden Horseshoe Niagara Falls Canucks, 4:45

Chatham is in a rebuilding year.  They lost the majority of last year’s team to graduation and have just a handful returned, so they’re going to be a young team with not a lot of Jr. experience.  The Maroons played just 2 exhibition games, both with Sarnia.

Niagara Falls has a good core of players returning from last season.  They’ve also had some OHL draft picks returned from camps to make their lineup a little stronger.  In pre-season action, the Canucks had 7 games, going 2-3-0-2.

Prediction: I think this could be a good game.  I’m not sure who will take the points, could be another tie.

For the season, both teams are middle of the pack, 4-6.

Golden Horseshoe Fort Erie Meteors vs. Midwest Kitchener Dutchmen, 5:00

Fort Erie is building a young team.  Coach Rob Hubbert is back for another season and, although they’ve got some big holes to fill from last year, they’ve done some recruiting and have hopefully found the right mix of players to make an impact in the Conference.  The Meteors had 8 exhibition games with a record of 3-3-1-1.

Kitchener has a good group of guys returned from last year’s team.  They battled with Elmira for most of the season for first place in the Conference, finishing in second and losing to Stratford in the semi-finals.  In exhibition play, the Dutchmen had 3 games going 2-1.  They lost the first game to Brantford, but took both games against Guelph.

Prediction: I think Kitchener will be too strong for Fort Erie.

Although Fort Erie is rebuilding, they’ll remain to be a middle to bottom team, 5-7.  I think Kitchener will be one of the stronger teams in the Midwest finishing in the top 3.

Golden Horseshoe Caledonia Corvairs vs. Western Conference London Nationals, 7:30

Caledonia is the back-to-back Golden Horseshoe and Sutherland Cup Champions, so you know everyone is gunning for them.  I was told that they lost a fair bit from last year’s team, but have recruited over the summer and are a force to be reckoned with again.  It’s projected that they will have a 3-peat this season, but I’m sure there are teams that are going to make that as difficult as they can on the Corvairs.

Prediction: I’m looking forward to this game, I think it’ll be 1 of the best of the entire weekend. I’m giving Caledonia the edge on this though, but London will give them a run for it.

As I said, the Corvairs are poised for a 3-peat and they’ll be at the top of the Golden Horseshoe.

Western Conference St. Marys Lincolns vs. Golden Horseshoe Welland Canadians, 7:45

Welland finished last season 1 point behind St. Catharines for 3rd in the Shoe standings.  They fell to the Falcons 4-1 in the semi-finals.  They should have approximately half of their team from last year.  In exhibition, the Canadians went 1-2-1-1.

Prediction: Welland will take this game from the Lincolns.

The Canadians will be a middle of the pack, 4-6.

Sunday, September 13

Western Conference Lambton Shores Predators vs. Midwestern Elmira Sugar Kings, 10:15

Prediction: I think Elmira is going to take this one.

Midwestern Kitchener Dutchmen vs. Western Conference LaSalle Vipers, 10:30

Prediction: This should be a good game.  Two top teams battling it out.  I’m not sure who will take this game.

Midwestern Stratford Cullitons vs. Golden Horseshoe Pelham Panthers, 10:30

Prediction: I’d like to give Pelham more credit than they have received, but I think the Cullitons are going to run them over.

Western Conference Sarnia Legionnaires vs. Midwestern Brampton Bombers, 1:15

Prediction: I have to give this game to Sarnia.

Midwestern Cambridge Winter Hawks vs. Golden Horseshoe Ancaster Avalanche, 1:30

Prediction: This should be a good game.  I think this will be a battle and I’m going to give it to Ancaster.

Midwestern Listowel Cyclones vs. Western Conference Chatham Maroons, 1:30

Prediction: I’m giving Chatham the edge on this one.

Golden Horseshoe Welland Canadians vs. Midwestern Waterloo Siskins, 4:15

Prediction: I expect this will be another good game.  I think these teams are well matched.  It could go either way, but leaning towards Welland.

Golden Horseshoe Thorold Blackhawks vs. Western Conference Strathroy Rockets, 4:30

Prediciton: My boys other game this weekend.  I’m looking forward to this game too, but let’s be honest, I look forward to most Rockets games.  I’m going to go with my boys for this one.

Golden Horseshoe Niagara Falls Canucks vs. Midwestern Brantford 99er’s, 4:30

Prediction:  I’m leaning towards Brantford for this game.

Midwestern Guelph Hurricanes vs. Golden Horseshoe Caledonia Corvairs, 7:15

Prediction: My initial instinct is Caledonia, but I think Guelph will give them a good run.

Golden Horseshoe St. Catharines Falcons vs. Western Conference Leamington Flyers, 7:30

Prediction: These teams haven’t seen each other since the 2014 Sutherland Cup semi-finals.  The Falcons took out the Flyers that year.  This will be another close game and I honestly don’t know who’s going to take it.

Western Conference St. Thomas Stars vs. Golden Horseshoe Fort Erie Meteors, 7:30

Prediction:  I’m not sure what to make of this game.  I think I have to go with St. Thomas though.


So there you have it hockey fans, 26 games this weekend.  If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it out for a game or two.  I’ll be around, in my red Rockets sweater, so don’t be shy, come by and say hi.

I hope you all have a great weekend and I will see you again on Monday.