The Central Region champions have reloaded and returned in search of a second national title.
Another year, another trip to the TELUS Cup for the Toronto Young Nationals.
Despite playing in arguably the best Midget league in Ontario, having to take unquestionably the hardest regional route and returning just three players from the team that finished fourth a year ago in Sudbury, the Young Nationals will make a fourth appearance in six years at Canada’s National Midget Championship.
By Toronto standards, it was a rather pedestrian regular season. Sure, the Young Nationals finished with the second-best record in the Greater Toronto Hockey League and scored the most goals in the GTHL, but their 22 wins were the second-fewest of their six-year run.
The playoffs is where they hit their stride, to the surprise of pretty much no one.
Toronto cruised through the GTHL postseason with just three losses in 16 games – one in each of their series wins over the Vaughan Kings, Don Mills Flyers and Mississauga Rebels.
The Young Nationals capped their Road to the TELUS Cup with an undefeated Central Regional tournament and saved their best performance for last, shutting out North Bay 4-0 in the championship game and ending the Trappers’ 48-game unbeaten run.
The 2015 national champions are chasing a little bit of history in Thunder Bay; no Central Region team has ever won multiple national titles, and only one from Ontario (Thunder Bay Kings – 1995, 1997) has achieved the feat.
HOW THEY GOT TO THUNDER BAY
Greater Toronto Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Vaughan 3-1-2 (4-2, 4-0, 4-1, 2-3, 1-1, 0-0)
Semifinal: defeated Don Mills 4-1 (2-5, 2-0, 4-2, 5-1, 7-3)
Final: defeated Mississauga Rebels 4-1 (5-0, 5-3, 4-1, 0-2, 3-2)
Preliminary round: 3-0-2 – second place (tied North Bay 1-1, defeated Kingston 6-3, defeated Pembroke 6-4, tied Clarington 2-2, defeated Elgin-Middlesex 3-1)
Semifinal: defeated Elgin-Middlesex 5-3
Championship game: defeated North Bay 4-0
Record (W-L-T): 22-6-5 (2nd in GTHL)
Goals for: 112 (1st in GTHL)
Goals against: 46 (2nd in GTHL)
Longest winning streak: 8 (Dec. 16-Jan. 20)
Top 3 scorers: unavailable
Goals for: 79
Goals against: 40
Top 3 scorers: unavailable
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
1976 – Toronto Young Nationals | silver medal | 5-1-0 | 40GF 16GA
2001 – Toronto Young Nationals | bronze medal | 4-3-0 | 23GF 27GA
2014 – Toronto Young Nationals | 4th place | 3-4-0 | 16GF 27GA
2015 – Toronto Young Nationals | gold medal | 4-3-0 | 23GF 23GA
2018 – Toronto Young Nationals | 4th place | 1-4-2 | 19GF 25GA
PLAYERS TO WATCH
puck-carrying defenceman … explosive speed … confident with the puck … makes smart decisions … very good shot
strong two-way game … deadly on the PP … very quick feet … smooth stick-handling skills … plays tough and physical
very good shot-blocker … strong passer … has a big shot … specialist on the PK … doesn’t make mistakes defensively
OHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
James Gray – Flint 2018 (U18 Draft – 1st round, 2nd overall)
Ryan Mansfield – Flint 2018 (5th round, 82nd overall)
Joshua Currie – North Bay 2018 (6th round, 109th overall)
Elias Cohen – Erie 2018 (6th round, 120th overall)
Owen Forester – London 2019 (9th round, 182nd overall)
Daniel Torrealba – London 2017 (11th round, 217th overall)
Liam Del Mastro – Kingston 2017 (12th round, 231st overall)
Ethan Eliopulos – Guelph 2017 (13th round, 242nd overall)
Connor Driscoll – Mississauga 2019 (14th round, 274th overall)