GMHL Spotlight: Division WinnersFebruary 16th, 2017 at 11:15PM
The 2016-2017 season was a special one for many reasons, the all time assists record was broken, We had a very successful all star game in Tillsonburg, Niagara did a fantastic job hosting the showcase tournament for the second year in a row, and we had 2 teams with 5 losses or less. The latter of the 4 is the subject of this article as we highlight the two teams.Â
With the Regular Season Overall and South Division Title, the Niagara Whalers proved to be the cream of the crop this season finishing with a record of 38-3-1 for 77 of a possible 84 points on the year. The team had an amazing team presence especially on offense with an amazing 6 players putting up 50 points or more, led by Manny Manns who became the first Whaler in franchise history to hit 100 Points with 40 goals and 60 assists. Compiled with players from all over the area who have played as high as the OHL the Whalers came into this season with clear intentions of establishing themselves as a force and that they did. The Hore twins Matt and Tyler, who both spent time in the OHL, have been as good as advertised for the team with Matt coming in at second in points with 88 and Tyler providing a legitimate shutdown presence on the blue line and also chipping in a modest 62 points of his own. The Whalers true dominance this season came from their depth at the goaltending position as Austin Dero, who went 14-0-0, and Joel Horodziejczyk, who finished with a .931 SVS % and a 2.40 GAA led the team even after the team traded star goalies Patrik Asenbrenner and Maksim Kuteinikov. The team has had a few bumps in the road as shown by their four losses this season but finished the season on an amazing 8 game winning streak dominating teams in 2nd (St George), 3rd (Kingsville), and 5th (London) on their way to the post season.
On the North side is a regular season champion who faced much adversity this season, The New Tecumseth Civics. The Civics started the season on a 19 game winning streak, the longest by any team all season, on route to a 37-5-0 regular season record and the Number 1 seed in the North. The Civics had one of the best performances by a goalie in recent memory as TJ Sherwood led the league in Wins (16), GAA (1.95), SVS % (.945) and was tied for the league lead in shutouts (2). When Sherwood went down with an injury and was sidelined for months the Civics brought in former OHL goalie Michael Giugovaz who made such an impression with the team that he advanced midseason to play university hockey. The Civics were led in the points department by a pair of players, Brendan Barron (who led the team in assists), and Carmine Vietri (who led the team in goals) both finished off the year with 68 points for the Northern division club. Defensively the team was led by veterans Mark Klasen and Ivan Gorchenkov who helped allow the 4th fewest amount of shots in the league this year and the fewest goals against. The Civics will be looking to shake off a recent hot and cold streak and remain hot heading into the playoffs following a Â win over Almaguin to end the season.