The Whitby Wildcats were the team to beat in Vaughan - even if they weren't the most talented team on paper - after stringing together an impressive duo of tournament victories in the Toronto Red Wings Earlybird and Kitchener Blueline tournaments, and had it not been for the London Jr. Knights, the trifecta was well within reach.
Jr. Knights reign supreme amongst talented field
Despite dropping an early round robin game against the Brampton 45's, the London Jr. Knights rebounded to take home the tournament in impressive style, capping it off with a 4-1 win over Little Caesar's in the semi-final followed by a 2-1 victory to spoil Whitby's bid for yet another title in 2015.
With only three losses this season, it should hardly be a surprise to see the Jr. Knights firmly in the mix on Sunday, yet given the competitive balance of the 2001 age-group it's indicative of the parity that's currently evident in the AAA loop. Dynamic forward Aidan Prueter made a significant impact all weekend as despite some struggles to actually find the back of the net given the number of shots he created, his impact was pronounced everytime he stepped on the ice. The 5-foot-7 forward meshed well with Bryce Lewis and Liam Van Loon to form one of the tournament's most consistent offensive trios.
The Jr. Knights were also driven by high IQ forward Ryan Suzuki who certainlly won't overwhelm you with his 5-on-5 play or compete level but consistently made plays with the puck that few of his peers are capable of making. Suzuki is one of the top powerplay forwards in the age group and his skill and intuitiveness with the puck was on full display in Toronto as he was the driving force behind a lot of the team's offense.
Orr is more than just a name
Anytime you see a defenseman with the last name Orr, chances are they might stand out a little more at first glance. In the case of Evan Orr, the praise is justified beyond the name as the Little Caesar's defenseman is one of the most polished offensive defenseman in the age group.
With decent size at 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, Orr is a competent skater who has top-notch offensive zone skills and is capable of producing offense well beyond the traditional confines of playing on the powerplay. In addition to Davis Pennington and Andy Perrott with Belle Tire, Orr is yet another legitimate top-20 prospect playing defense in the Detroit area.
Vaughan's talent shines, when will it all come together?
There may not be a team in Ontario with more individual talent than the Vaughan Kings, but it hasn't quite translated into the winning success you might expect, at least yet. Currently sitting sixth in the GTHL regular season standings, the Kings wound up beating ousted by their GTHL rivals, the Toronto Nationals, in the quarterfinals of their home tournament.
Despite the loss, the Kings do have some momentum to build upon as they played well with a short bench due to several injuries and a couple of untimely suspensions. Nicholas Porco was a force down the middle and continues to showcase his ability as one of the most dynamic players in Ontario. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native has high-end tools in possession and while he needs to find a way to convert more of his chances into goals, you can't help but be impressed by his ability to create chances seemingly at will.
Meanwhile, undersized Detroit, Mich. native Nicholas Robertson is a player who won't be hiding behind any shadows as the impressive skater put together a strong weekend showing as he also solidifies his place as a high-end player in the age group. While size is the true x-factor to consider with Robertson, his impressive skating and change-of-pace ability combined with excellent vision and understanding of the game makes him a potential game breaker in the making.