Field set for Dudley Hewitt Cup

Staff

All of the roles have been cast for the spring hockey drama that will be the Dudley Hewitt Cup.
The battle for the Cental Canadian Junior ‘A’ Championship will be waged on the surface of the Ice for Kids Arena starting today (April 28) and running until the championship final on Saturday (May 2).
Here is a preview of the four-team field for the Cup:

FORT FRANCES LAKERS (HOST, SIJHL CHAMPION)
• Head coach: Wayne Strachan
• SIJHL regular-season champions with a 43-11-1-1 record for 88 points
• SIJHL league champions with an 8-3 postseason record; defeated the Thunder Bay North Stars in five games in the semifinal and the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in six games in the final
• Outscored opponents 254-179 in the regular season and 50-32 in the playoffs
• Leading scorers (regular season): Wyatt Cota (68 points, 52 games); Lucas DeBenedet (58 pts., 40 GP); Mason Meyer (57 pts., 50 GP)
• Leading scorers (playoffs): Cota (17 pts., 11 GP); Meyer (14 pts., 11 GP); Nick Minerva (10 pts., 11 GP)
• Goaltenders: Nathan Park (14-4, 1.92 GAA, .931 save percentage in regular season; 8-2, 2.65 GAA, .919 in playoffs); Pierce Dushenko (11-2, 3.60, .893 in regular season; 0-1, 4.65, .806 in playoffs)
• Keys to success: speed, offensive depth, goaltending
• Areas of concern: recent powerplay struggles (4-for-27, 6.75% in the SIJHL final); penalty problems (54 powerplays compared to 52 by their opponents in the playoffs)

DRYDEN GM ICE DOGS (SIJHL REPRESENTATIVE)
• Head coach: Kurt Walsten
• SIJHL regular season: third place with a 30-21-5 record for 65 points
• SIJHL playoffs: second place with a 6-6 record; defeated the Minnesota Iron Rangers in six games in the semifinal and lost in six games in the final to Fort Frances
• Outscored opponents 244-204 in the regular season and was outscored 37-36 in the playoffs
• Leading scorers (regular season): Cole Golka (SIJHL scoring champion, 89 pts., 54 GP); Jonathan Philley (73 pts., 55 GP); Matt Houston (64 pts., 55 GP)
• Leading scorers (playoffs): Golka (league-high 18 pts., 12 GP); Philley (14 pts., 12 GP); Blake Berg (11 pts., 12 GP)
• Goaltenders: Tate Sproxton (23-14-1, 3.39, .902 in regular season; 6-6, 2.98, .911 in playoffs); Chase Gorman (4-4-1, 3.63, .906 in regular season; did not play in the playoffs)
• Keys to success: Golka, strong penalty killing, goaltending
• Areas of concern: secondary scoring (Golka/Philley/Berg – 43 pts. in playoffs; rest of team – 53); penalty problems (67 PP for oppoents, 45 PP for Dryden in playoffs)


SOO THUNDERBIRDS (SAULT STE. MARIE -NOJHL CHAMPION)
• Head coach: Jordan Smith
• NOJHL regular season: first place in the West Division with a 38-7-1-6 record for 83 points
• NOJHL playoffs: league champions with a 12-2 record; defeated the Blind River Beavers in four games in the West semifinal, the Elliot Lake Wildcats in five games in the West final and the Cochrane Crunch in five games in the league final
• Outscored opponents 271-130 in the regular season and 86-21 in the playoffs
• Leading scorers (regular season): Nicolas Tassone (68 pts., 51 GP); Jaren Bellini (59 pts., 49 GP); Nicolas Sicoly (53 pts., 50 GP)
• Leading scorers (playoffs): Matt Caruso (20 pts., 14 GP); Owen Headrick (NOJHL playoff MVP, 20 pts., 14 GP); Anthony Miller (17 pts., 12 GP)
• Goaltenders: Mario Culina (21-7, 2.24, .912 in regular season; 6-0, 1.23, .945 in the playoffs); Brian Kment (17-6-1, 2.57, .908 in regular season; 6-2, 1.73, .925 in playoffs)
• Keys to success: offensive contributions from the blueline, ironclad defence and goaltending (seven shutouts in 14 playoff games)
• Areas of concern: travel fatigue, overconfidence

TORONTO PATRIOTS (ETOBICOKE – OJHL CHAMPION)
• Head coach: Jason Fortier
• OJHL regular season: first place in the South Divison with a 35-18-0-1 record for 71 points
• OJHL playoffs: league finalist with a 13-5-0-1 entering Game 7 tonight; defeated the St. Michaels Buzzards in five games in the South-West Conference quarter-finals, the Oakville Blades in five games in the South-West semifinal, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in six games in the South-West final; currently tied 3-3 with the Kingston Voyageurs in the league final
• Outscored opponents 185-134 in the regular season and 79-45 in the playoffs
• Leading scorers (regular season): Mitch Emerson (63 pts., 51 GP); Jacob Hayhurst (55 pts., 49 GP); Niko Kovachis (49 pts., 49 GP)
• Leading scorers (playoffs): Hayhurst (23 pts., 22 GP); Emerson (21 pts., 22 GP); Kovachis (19 pts., 22 GP)
• Goaltenders: Mathew Robson (21-12-0-2, 2.50 GAA, .888 in regular season; 15-6, 1.81, .935 in playoffs); Emanuel Vella (14-7-0-2, 2.37, .917 in regular season; 1-0, 2.84, .892 in playoffs)
• Keys to success: Two-way game, penalty-killing unit (85 per cent in regular season, 93 percent in playoffs), defending champion’s experience
• Areas of concern: Power-play (under 20 percent in regular season and playoffs); travel fatigue