Once the bantam division was switched over to 14-year-olds and the minor-midget division became the official representation of the 15-year-old age group in 2002, GTHL President John Gardner and OHL Commissioner David Branch came together to establish a tournament that would showcase the best players of this age group across Ontario.
The OHL Cup is a best-on-best tournament, showcasing the 20 finest teams across Canada and the United States.
This year’s rendition of the tournament went through a couple changes from years past. Fifteen teams (originally 17) will have secured a tournament spot through the likes of their respective league play.
It breaks down as follows. Four spots will be given to Scotiabank GTHL Playoffs semi-finalists. Another four are handed out to the four teams that place from first to fourth at the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) Championship.
The tournament will also see three clubs from the ALLIANCE, including the champion and finalist, as well as the winner of a best-of-three Wildcard Series to be played between the two semifinal losers.
Finally, two spots will be awarded to United States entries, one to a Hockey Northwestern Ontario (HNO) club and another to the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA).
The 15 teams that have secured a spot have already been divided into four divisions, with the wildcard winners added in once Tuesday’s results were finalized.
Southern Tier Admirals
Quinte Red Devils
Toronto Red Wings
York Simcoe Express
Windsor Junior Spitfires
Kingston Jr. Frontenacs
Barrie Jr. Colts
Elite Hockey Group
London Jr. Knights
Don Mills Flyers
Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs
Thunder Bay Kings
Niagara North Stars
“It's important for them to have the opportunity to have as close to a provincial championship [as possible],” said GTHL Executive Director Scott Oakman. “It's a tournament of champions in a lot of different ways and it's a great way to finish off their minor-hockey careers because they’ll have the opportunity to be on a stage where it's best-on-best while demonstrating their skills and abilities leading up to the OHL Priority Selection.”
The Don Mills Flyers were finalists in last year’s event. They need a wildcard win against the Kitchener Jr. Rangers to have a shot at making the finals for a second year in a row. They managed to steal a spot in round-robin play after they were able to overcome a 3-1 deficit to force overtime. Jack McBain was able to jam in the rebound off a Sam Rhodes shot to push the Flyers into the OHL Cup. McBain suffered an injury in the Scotiabank GTHL Top Prospects Game back in December.
Round-robin play begins tonight evening with a quartet of match-ups. In one rink at Scotiabank Pond, the Marlies will take on the Admirals at 7:00 p.m. while the Spitfires dance with the Jr. Red Wings at 8:45 p.m.
Over at Rink 2, the Jr. Canadiens square off against the Jr. Bulldogs at 7:15 p.m. while 9:00 p.m. is spotlighted by the Rebels and Jr. Colts.
For a complete tournament schedule, please visit: www.gthlcanada.com.
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