By Jamie Neugebauer
The North York Rangers (‘98s) Minor Midgets have been given one of six wild-card spots allotted to clubs that will have a one-game play-in with the hopes of making the 2014 OHL Cup.
The Ontario Hockey League, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Hockey League, will host 20 teams in the pinnacle tournament of minor midget hockey in Ontario at Buckingham Arena in Toronto from March 11-16.
North York, which was eliminated in the post-season by the Mississauga Senators, achieved the chance to play in the one-game playoff by having most of its success outside of GTHL regular season play.
“I’m more happy than I am surprised,” said Rangers bench boss Lorne Hunchuck. “We were ranked 11th in Ontario, which helped, and we did really well in tournaments around the province. So this is a great chance for our guys.”
Hunchuck’s men will find out whom they will face in the wild card round on the evening of March 10, with the game itself to be played the next day either at noon, 2 p.m. or 4 p.m.
The other five wild-card invitees include the Don Mills Flyers (GTHL), Halton Hurricanes (OMHA) and South Central Coyotes (OMHA), as well as the loser of the ALLIANCE semifinal wild card series and the fifth place team from the weekend’s OMHA championship.
They are hoping to join 18 Ontario-based, and two U.S.A.- based clubs in the prestigious tournament.
Major junior and college scouts are always extremely prevalent at the tournament and have tabbed seven Rangers to watch.
Here they are, with a brief note from Hunchuck regarding each.
#1 Michael Botiz (goaltender)
Coach’s note: Michael is a 6’1 lefty that can steal a game. He has great work ethic, he’s extremely focused and is a very technically sound net-minder.
#98 Luke Kutkevicius (forward)
Coach’s note: Luke has a high hockey IQ. He has silky smooth hands, deceptive speed and a big appetite for hard work. He is one of our more skilled guys.
#8 William Calverley (forward)
Coach’s note: William is an outstanding leader and captain. He has a tremendous work ethic; he’s very intelligent and will go through the wall for you. He racks up assists fast and had the most points on the team.
#89 Daniil Vertiy (forward)
Coach’s note: Daniil is a highly skilled sniper with one of the quickest and heaviest shots in the league. He has an outstanding and powerful stride and can skate with anyone at this level.
#14 Liam Gillanders (defence)
Coach’s note: Liam is rock solid on the back end. He has a very strong shot from the point and is smart, consistent and reliable.
#91 Connor Cruikshank (defence)
Coach’s note: Connor has a great work ethic and he has very good hands for a young, tough defenceman. He is also very smart and plays a rugged style.
#97 Jeremy Marco (forward)
Coach’s note: Jeremy is an extremely tough and physical player. He is highly intelligent and will do anything to help his team get the win. Second on team in points and possesses a tremendous work ethic.
Remember to stay tuned to the GTHL website for game times and results and come out as the North York Rangers take on the rest of Ontario!