Rangers set sights on national championship
The North York Rangers are looking to become the second straight GTHL team to win a national midget championship – and they’re off to a good start!
Jett Alexander denied all 23 shots he faced and Jason Pineo (1-2–3) scored what stood as the game-winning goal to guide the Rangers to a 5-0 victory over the Saskatoon Contacts in the opening game of the 2016 TELUS Cup at qplex in Quispamsis, N.B. William Calverley (1-1–2), Aiden Casey (1-1–2), Christopher Bukvic (0-2–2) and Mark Perone (0-2–2) also collected multiple points for the Rangers, who are looking to follow in the footsteps of their GTHL cousins, the Toronto Young Nationals, who won the tournament in 2015.
“To be honest, having the Young Nationals win the TELUS Cup last year sort of gave everyone in the GTHL some hope and confidence,” said Rangers head coach Rob Vessio. “They were a great team – don’t get me wrong – but having one of your peers winning the TELUS Cup showed us that we weren’t that far off.”
The Young Nationals reached the TELUS Cup in 2014 and 2015 to become just the second team in GTHL/MTHL history to make consecutive appearances at the national midget championship.
Before the Rangers and Young Nationals over the past three seasons, only one GTHL team reached the national tournament in the previous seven years. The Mississauga Reps won a silver medal in 2010, backstopped by Boston Bruins first-round pick Malcolm Subban.
The Rangers (22-4-7, 51 points) finished atop Kraft Cup regular-season standings thanks in large part to a season-opening 11-game point streak (8-0-3). Aided by the League’s top offence – they averaged 4.48 goals per game – North York bested that point streak later in 2015-16 when they went 9-0-4 from Dec. 15 – Jan. 27.
North York completed a four-game sweep of the Markham Majors in Round 1 of the Scotiabank GTHL Playoffs before dropping the Don Mills Flyers in six games in the Semifinals. The Rangers never lost in the Final, defeating the Mississauga Rebels 9-1 in their first-to-eight-points series.
The Rangers allowed more than one goal only three times in their 15 playoff games to advance to the Central Region championships, where they went on to defeat the Whitby Wildcats in the final to clinch a berth at the TELUS Cup.
“I think we have a very well-balanced team and we can adjust to any style of game that anybody throws at us,” Lessio told Hockey Canada before the tournament. “If you want to play a defensive style of game, we have those types of players. If you want to play a run-and-gun offense, we have those types of players as well. Add in two good goaltenders on top of that and you have a team that’s tough to beat because you can play all those aspects of the game.”
The Rangers, who are making their first appearance at the event, have four contests remaining in the preliminary round. Every game can be streamed online:
Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET vs. Lloydminster Bobcats
Semifinal contests are slated for Saturday at 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. ET. The bronze medal game goes Sunday at 11:00 a.m. ET, followed by the championship game at 4:00 p.m. ET – which will be aired live on TSN 1 and TSN 3.
Since its inception in 1974, the tournament has been known as the Wrigley Cup (1974-78), Air Canada Cup (1979-2003), National Midget Championship (2004) and since 2005, the TELUS Cup. The event now features five regional champions and one host team, but from 1974 to 1983 welcomed the country’s top 12 teams.
The Young Nationals and Don Mills Flyers are the only two GTHL/MTHL teams to win gold at the national midget championship. They also share the GTHL/MTHL record with four all-time trips to the tournament.
|2016||North York Rangers||TELUS Cup|
|2015||Toronto Young Nationals||Gold||TELUS Cup|
|2014||Toronto Young Nationals||4th||TELUS Cup|
|2010||Mississauga Reps||Silver||TELUS Cup|
|2006||Toronto Jr. Canadiens||4th||TELUS Cup|
|2005||Don Mills Flyers||4th||TELUS Cup|
|2004||Toronto Marlboros||6th||National Midget Championship|
|2001||Toronto Young Nationals||Bronze||Air Canada Cup|
|1998||Don Mills Flyers||6th||Air Canada Cup|
|1992||Mississauga Blackhawks||4th||Air Canada Cup|
|1990||Toronto Red Wings||5th||Air Canada Cup|
|1986||Toronto Red Wings||Silver||Air Canada Cup|
|1985||Toronto Red Wings||5th||Air Canada Cup|
|1983||Don Mills Flyers||Lost in Quarterfinal||Air Canada Cup|
|1979||St. Michael’s College||Silver||Air Canada Cup|
|1978||Wexford Raiders||Bronze||Wrigley Cup|
|1977||Don Mills Flyers||Gold||Wrigley Cup|
|1976||Toronto Young Nationals||Silver||Wrigley Cup|