(Article courtesy OJHL website, picture OJHL Images)
The OJHL announced today that North York Rangers alternate captain Gabriel Valenzuela has been named the Gongshow Gear South-West Conference Player-of-the-Month for October after recording 20 points in 11 games played throughout the month.
Thus far this season, Gabriel Valenzuela has tallied points in all but one of the club’s 20 games played, including an 11 game point scoring streak during October. On the strength of 9 goals and 11 assists, the diminutive forward led the South-West Conference in scoring and recorded multiple points in all but two of North York’s October match-ups. Highlights of Valenzuela’s month include back-to-back game-winning goals versus Ranger divisional rivals, St. Michael’s and the Toronto Patriots, a hat trick-four point performance versus the nationally ranked Georgetown Raiders, and four consecutive two point efforts to finish the month. Valenzuela currently is in the midst of a 12 game point scoring streak and sits second overall in the OJHL scoring race with 35 points in 20 games played.
“It’s nice to get recognized for individual rewards like that because it means the team is doing pretty well,” said Valenzuela. “I want to help the team out and do whatever it takes to win games whether it’s scoring or being good defensively. It helps, and is encouraging to get this award because without team success it wouldn’t come.”
When discussing the season thus far, the newest Player-of-the-Month would say, “It has been a bit different being a top-line guy this season. The biggest difference is that I came into last year without playing hockey the year before, while this year I was fully ready to go from Day One, given full time to get in rhythm and having a lot of fun with the guys. I feel like playing with Matthew Whittaker and Ryan Takamatsu was a bit of a change at the beginning. I had Liam Kerins who was a real finisher last year, this year is a bit different. I think we’re gelling well, moving the puck well, and cycling more and using our speed. Puck control is a big part of our game. Whittaker can score from anywhere, and Takamatsu is really showing that he’s a good player right away. It’s really fun because we all believe in each other.”
“Gabe is a true leader and a student of the game,” said Rangers Head Coach Mark Joslin. “His work ethic is impeccable. Always the hardest working player in practice.
Always asking questions and watching video to improve his game to be the best he can be. He makes everyone around him a better player and teammate, and is an absolute pleasure to coach!”
Lucas Smilsky of the Orangeville Flyers was named as runner-up to Valenzuela for the South-West Conference Player-of-the-Month award. Smilsky also had impressive numbers in October, posting 20 points in 12 games played to jump up the OJHL scoring charts and help the Flyers achieve an Honourable Mention in the CJHL Top 20 Rankings.
Born on December 13, 1994, Gabriel Valenzuela grew-up playing his minor hockey in Brampton, Ontario, ultimately finding his way to the Brampton 45’s Minor Midget ‘AAA’ squad in 2009-10. After playing the following season with the Brampton Battalion Midget ‘AA’ organization, Valenzuela made the jump to the OJHL.
Valenzuela would join the Milton Icehawks late in the 2011-12 season and although only with the club for a short-time, tasted immediate success, scoring goals in his first two junior games, while recording five goals and thirteen points in the final eleven games of the regular season. .
Following a year away from the rink, the skilled playmaker returned in 2013-14, joining the North York Rangers. Valenzuela picked-up where he had left off, starting the season with a three game point scoring streak and going on to play all 53 regular season games for the club. He finished the regular season with 10 goals and 34 points and then posted another six points in six post-season contests.
To say that he has been on a tear this season is an understatement. Valenzuela has recorded points in all but one of the Rangers games thus far and currently sits second in the league-scoring race. With 16 goals and 35 points, he has already surpassed his career-bests in both categories and he looks to lead the Rangers into the playoffs and on a lengthy post-season run.