TORONTO, ONT. -- Ah yes, Christmas time. For most, it's a hectic year at the best of times. For those with an interest in the OHL Priority Selection, there is no lull between the festive holiday and New Year's Eve, as the Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic will take centre stage between December 27-30.
The tournament, which includes minor bantam, bantam, and minor midget divisions, is definitely must-see action to say the least. In addition to representation from basically every Ontario 'AAA' team, the intrigue for the field is always generated from which American teams will make the trip up to join the field. This year, it's looking quite promising, especially in the '02 loop.
With respect to American teams, the 2015 bantam field wasn't particularly enticing, but that won't be the case this year. Leading the way is Little Caesars, who currently hold the #2 ranking on MyHockeyRanking.com. Beyond them, a trio of top-10 ranked teams that participated in the recent Border Battle will also be in attendance; those being: ISS Kings, Syracuse, and Westchester. Rounding out the list of intrigue are the AYHL's North Jersey Avalanche and Virtua Hockey, as well as the Chicago Young Americans. All in all, it's shaping up to be an excellent field.
Flipping focus back to the minor midget division, the Mercer Chiefs should be attracting a lot of eyes as their 16U team (which is actually composed of all '01 birthdates) has several players that should generate some legitimate interest. One of the top 15U teams in the country, the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, will also be in attendance and are another team with a number of quality prospects that are more than capable of doing some damage in the tournament.
It will be interesting to see what type of team Belle Tire fields in the tournament, namely whether or not their 16U '01-birthdate players join the squad, but they'll also be a main attraction if that's the case. And rounding out that field are the Cleveland Barons, who, despite not having a particularly strong team last year, will be getting some looks as many OHL scouts will not have had the opportunity to see any of their players.
| PORT HURON SILVER STICK |
It won't take long after the Marlboros tournament for action to ramp back up again, as many of the top bantam AAA teams from Ontario and the USA will partake in what is arguably the best tournament you'll see in either bantam or minor midget, the Port Huron Silver Stick.
Running from January 12-15, the 32-team tournament will provide us with an opportunity to catch several sets of live viewings on some of the last American teams we need to see in-person this season, especially with our mid-term top-200 coming out shortly after.
| THE CUP NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP |
A new add to our schedule this season, our January 12-15 weekend will see us split ways as Buffalo is also on the map to take in THE CUP tournament, which is another impressive field of Ontario and American teams. While the field obviously is not at the same level of the Silver Stick, it's still shaping up to be a very intriguing field, especially with American teams like the New Jersey Devils Youth and Mid-Fairfield Rangers on the list of participants.
| RANKING RELEASE DATES |
Oh, and in addition to all of that hockey, we've also got two sets of top-200 rankings set to be released in January.
First up, it's the 2001 Mid-Term Top-200, which will be forthcoming on Monday January 9th. Not far behind that, we've targeted a Monday January 16th release for our 2002 Preliminary Top-200. For a full list of our ranking release dates, click here.
And last but not least, we'd like to wish everyone reading this a Merry Christmas, or a most happy holiday if you're celebrating something else. As we come up on the one-year anniversary of our release date, we thank you for all the support along the way, and for what's yet to come!