Here ‘n there as the Great North Under 18 Hockey League picks up the pace in the second segment of the 2022-2023 season:
MAJOR PROGRESS: It has been a long time since the Timmins Majors finished a season at or above the .500 mark. The last time Timmins had a .500 season was the 2012-2013 campaign when the Majors finished with a record of 16-16-2. And the last time Timmins finished above the .500 mark was way back during the 2008-2009 season when the Majors posted a record of 16-12-6.
But here we are, the 2022-2023 campaign and through 17 games of what is now a regular season slate of 28 contests, Timmins has a record of 9-6-2 and is fresh from a 3-2 win over the first place Soo Jr. Greyhounds, who have a 14-2-0 mark.
Clearly leading the way for this edition of the Majors is 58-year old head coach Steve Polyblank. A respectable person who garners respect, Polyblank is in his first season with Timmins after previous Great North experience with the New Liskeard Cubs and his old hometown team, the erstwhile Kirkland Lake Legion 87s.
Under Polyblank and general manager Ron Holmes, the Majors are a nice mix of first, second and third year players.
On the young side, Timmins has seven players with 2007 birth dates and among the higher performing ones have been goalie Alex Hall, defenseman Cole Ellis and forwards Ian Lachance and Tyson Scott. Ellis, a 6-foot-2, 165 pound defenceman who hails from the remote northern Ontario town of Chapleau, is being tabbed as an intriguing prospect for the 2023 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
Other top performers for the Majors heading into the stretch run of this season have been older players such as goalie Sam Rudner and forwards Patrice Lafontaine, Shawn Gagnon, Travis Poan and Ryan Armitage.
CAPITAL GAINS: Sudbury U18 Nickel Capitals are struggling with a record of 5-13-0. But among the players who have stood out for the offensively-challenged U18 Nickel Capitals are forwards Dominic Morris and Caden Dubreuil and goalie A.J. Borrelli.
Morris has figured in on 19 of Sudbury’s 43 goals with 13 tallies and six assists. Dubreuil, meanwhile, has five goals, eight assists, 13 points. And Borrelli has a record of 3-6-0 and a 3.45 goals average on a team that has a 4.00 GAA.
CLASS OF ’07: Following is a current Hockey News North ranking of the top 15 2007 birth year players from the GNU18HL ahead of the 2023 OHL priority selections draft. Those making our in-progress list include players from the Sudbury U16 Nickel Capitals, Soo Jr. Greyhounds, Timmins Majors and North Bay U16 Trappers.
Forwards. 1. Cole Dubowsky, Sudbury 2. Hudson Chitaroni, Soo 3. Max Campbell, Sudbury 4. Brendan Cooke, Soo 5. Brant Romaniuk, North Bay 6. Coulson Bell, Sudbury 7. Anthony Bertrand, Sudbury 8. Kenyan Kydd, Sudbury.
Defensemen: 1. Alexandre Valade, Sudbury 2. Candon O’Neill, Soo 3. Declan Gallivan, Soo 4. Cole Ellis, Timmins 5. Carter Carriere, Sudbury.
Goalies: 1. Nick Marson, Sudbury 2. Alex Hall, Timmins.
Feature photo above: Timmins goalie Sam Rudner makes a save on Soo forward Carter Huckson in recent GNU18HL action. (photo by Postmedia)