Net gain for U18 Hounds

May 16, 2023

A year ago, the Soo Jr. Greyhounds rarely had to rely on their goaltending en route to finishing in first place in the Great North Under 18 Hockey League with a record of 26-2-0 while outscoring their opponents by a ridiculous margin of 152 to 46. But a glance ahead at the 2023-2024 season suggests that the Jr. Greyhounds will be banking big time on the newly-acquired net duo of A.J. Borrelli and Nick Marson.

The 2022-2023 edition of the Jr. Greyhounds was an overall powerhouse to the extent that goalies Maverick Fletcher and Nathan Maguire routinely faced fewer than 20 shots per game as the Soo skated to that that regular season record of 26-2-0 while outscoring the opposition by a whopping 106 goals in the 28 games. And notably, when they needed the goaltending the most, the Jr. Greyhounds were dealt a stunning 8-5 defeat by the visiting North Bay U18 Trappers in the championship game of the Great North playoff tournament. With Maguire welded to the bench, Fletcher went the distance in giving up the eight goals to North Bay in a shocking setback of the Jr. Greyhounds being both out-played in net and out-coached behind the bench. (Really, there is no other way to say it.)

Anyway, that was then and this is now. Not only are the Jr. Greyhounds in transition ahead of the ’23-24 season with fresh changes that include a new staff led by head coach Sean Gagnon and general manager Darrin Thomsen, there are two incoming goalies featuring aforementioned local lads A.J. Borrelli and Nick Marson.

While Borrelli and Marson will be new to the Jr. Greyhounds once the ’23-24 campaign gets going, they both have a full season of valuable experience in the Great North. Both goalies left the comfort of home in Sault Ste. Marie last fall to live and play in Sudbury — Borrelli with the U18 Nickel Capitals and Marson will the U16 Nickel Capitals. And both played well while earning the praise of their respective Sudbury coaches, Brian Dickinson and Jordan Cheechoo.

A.J. Borrelli

The 6-foot-1, 200 pound Borrelli, who has a March 22, 2006 birth date, fashioned a regular season record of 6-6-0 with a 3.84 goals against average on a U18 Nickel Capitals squad that won 12 of 28 games. He also battled through an illness that hospitalized him and spent an extended period of time practising with the Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League as an affiliate player.

And the 5-foot-11, 180 pound Marson, who has a December 16, 2007 birth date, certainly showed his capabilities in the U16 Nickel Capitals net over the course of the ’22-23 He posted a 7-5-1 record with a 3.74 goals against average while routinely facing more than 40 shots per game. Notably, the U16 Nickel Capitals were by far the most penalized team in the eight member Great North with 555 penalty minutes in 28 regular season games. Which means that the Sudbury goalies were often facing the opposing team’s power play. It is also worth noting that while Marson had a personal record of 7-5-1, the U16 Nickel Capitals were only 4-11-0 in the games that he did not play.

While showing his net worth for the U16 Nickel Capitals, an untimely injury cost the 5-foot-11, 180 pound Marson a shot at playing for Team NOHA at the prestigious OHL Cup Tournament. Shortly before the mid February Team NOHA evaluation camp, Marson tore a muscle in his right hip and was advised by Pro Physio Rehab Centre in Sudbury to not participate in the Team NOHA evaluation camp.

Nick Marson

Meanwhile, as some added experience, Marson even got into one NOJHL game as an an affiliate player for the Espanola Paper Kings and allowed only one goal in 18 minutes of action.

At any rate and to be sure, the aforementioned Sean Gagnon, as the new head coach of the Jr. Greyhounds, knows what he has in Borrelli and Marson as his two goalies.

“Goaltending should definitely be a strength for us,” Gagnon relayed to Hockey News North. “Everything that I have seen and heard of A.J. and Nick has been good. No issues there at all.”

While the Jr. Greyhounds of ’22-23 were clearly a powerhouse combination of older and younger players, the ’23-24 edition might not be as overwhelming. No less than 12 rookies have been signed from the recent tryout camp. But with Borrelli and Marson in net, with returning forwards Lucas DiBerardino and Griffen Albert along with Coulson Bell from the Sudbury U16 Nickel Capitals all signed up — and with Gagnon having room on the roster to potentially add three more veteran skaters — the Jr. Greyhounds are poised to hold their own in ’23-24.

“We are still working on adding a few veterans who would help round this team into a contender,” said Gagnon. “I owe it to the team to try to surround the younger kids with some veteran talent and great older role models who they can look up to. Hopefully, if we can get a few more veterans, we will be in a pretty good position right out of the gate.”

What you think about “Net gain for U18 Hounds”

  1. Just remember that teams don’t care what you do in the gnu18 playing against the new liskeard cubs and kap flyers but rather against top teams down south and the tandem of fletcher and maguire were nothing short of sensational playing against top 10 teams routinely facing over 40 shots from OHL draft picks and prospects.

    Fletcher did suffer a concussion during pregame warmups with a accidental blow to the head by one of his teammates in the semi-finals. Maybe that’s why he was off?

  2. U18 hounds we an absolute stellar team starting from the goaltending to the forwards.

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