Albert Corradini has a lengthy association with the Great North Midget Hockey League. Before becoming commissioner of the Great North loop in 2018, Corradini served the league’s Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves well as their general manager for many years.
And from a team perspective, Corradini said he can’t recall a season when the Great North was so balanced as this 2019-2020 campaign is.
I happen to agree with Corradini.
I have been watching and writing about the Great North for parts of several decades and it is nice to see such a good mix among the major midget members.
To be sure, there is a steady, stabilizing level among the six major midget teams that make up the Great North. (The league also includes two minor midget teams that play a reduced schedule within the Great North.)
As for the six major midget teams, four of them — Soo Jr. Greyhounds, Kapuskasing Flyers, Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves and North Bay Major Trappers — all have records above the .500 mark. And the other two — Timmins Majors and New Liskeard Cubs — are both in the midst of their best season in years and are not that far off the pace of the other four.
After a few down years, the Jr. Greyhounds of the Soo are battling for top spot with the small-market Flyers of Kapuskasing. Within range of the two pace-setters are Sudbury and North Bay and there is strength and vast improvement within the Timmins and New Liskeard programs.
The Jr. Greyhounds are a very good example of utilizing players from the three eligible birth years — in this season, 2004, 2003 and 2002. And under the leadership of head coach Jamie Henderson and his staff, there is once again pride, respect and discipline that is attached to the Soo’s major midget program.
As there is such good balance among the six major midget teams, there is also little to choose from among the top 25 scorers in the Great North, namely Devin Mauro (Soo), Jackson Buffam (New Liskeard), Ben White (New Liskeard), Nate Lalonde (North Bay), Ethan Esposito (Soo), Brendan Aubertin (Kapuskasing), Dawson Linklater (Kapuskasing), Will Rivet (North Bay), Ryan Maynard (Kapuskasing), Michael Chaffay (Soo), Landon Deforge (Timmins), Tyson Bradford (New Liskeard), Nico Laforge (North Bay), Justin Alary (Kapuskasing), Cam Lemcke (Sudbury), Zach Lajoie (New Liskeard), Cam Pariseau (North Bay), Ty Zachary (Soo), Dylan Forsyth (Soo), Skyler St. Pierre (Sudbury), Jesse Dupuis (Timmins), Jake Beauvais (Kapuskasing), Ethan Masson (North Bay), Cam Shanks (Sudbury) and Brett Richardson (North Bay.)
Meanwhile, as they do feature several 2004 birth year players who are prospects for the 2020 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft, the Jr. Greyhounds do have the three above mentioned 2002 birth year forwards in Chaffay, Zachary and Forsyth who have done very well for themselves this season while adding to the experience and talent level of the Great North.
Looking for good goalies?
The Great North is flush with quality puck-stoppers of various ages. Included in the mix, among others, are Jake Marois in Sudbury, Owen Wray in North Bay, Evan Nicholls in Timmins, Gavin Disano and Noah Metivier in the Soo and the workhorse Zach Prusky in New Liskeard.
Of note, while it often takes a back seat to the many high end midget leagues from southern Ontario, the Great North accounted for two players who went in the first round — yes, the first round — of the 2019 OHL priority selections draft in goalie Ben Gaudreau (Sarnia Sting via North Bay) and defenseman Jack Matier (Ottawa 67s via the Soo.)
And there are good coaches in the Great North.
Besides the aforementioned Henderson in the Soo, the coaches of the three small market teams are worthy of extensive praise for the manner in which they develop players and instill team concepts in spite of the obvious obstacles of population and location. They are, Brandon Perry in Timmins, Steve Polyblank in New Liskeard and Sheldon Reasbeck in Kapuskasing.
There is much good to like about the Great North.
Much good and so good.