Erin Riley/GTHL

JRC and the Surplus of Defensive Talent Stole the Show at the 2019 GTHL Top Prospects Game

It’s a night where minor hockey in the ‘Greater Toronto Area’ shuts down and focuses on this very moment.

In a yearly tradition, Scotiabank Pond Arena found itself at max capacity, as the GTHL hosted its annual ‘Top Prospects Game’, featuring the best draft-eligible players in the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

Last night, it was Team White (also known as Team Clark-Weaver-Corson), defeating Team Black (Stacy-Primeau-Tucker), by a score of 6-2, with goaltender Kyle Downey (Toronto Nationals) and Pano Fimis (Toronto Jr. Canadiens) winning ‘Player of the Game’ for their respective teams.

In an event much like the GTHL Top Prospects Game, it is hard to create an educated opinion on certain players due to the small sample size, however, the game also serves its purpose as a way to get these players the exposure that they deserve.

With that being said, there were a few storylines that stood out from the event, starting with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens:

The #2 ranked Toronto Jr. Canadiens had a total of nine players playing in the event, and although they may have been split up, they were still able to showcase how great they are from an individual standpoint.

Pano Fimis cantered the top-line for Team Stacy-Primeau-Tucker and seemed to have had the puck every time his line of him, Nicholas Moldenhauer (Toronto Titans), and Yoan Loshing stepped onto the ice. Fimis, who is a projected top-10 pick, according to Prospect Pipeline, showcased a very high IQ and offensive ability, including finding the back of the net.

The coaching staff of Wendel Clark, Mike Weaver, and Shayne Corson kept the JRC top pairing of Thomas Sirman and Ty Nelson, and rightfully so.

Sirman and Nelson’s chemistry together was beyond noticeable, with the tremendous puck-moving ability and knowing when to jump into the play or to stay back and shut down the other teams’ key players.

Also displaying impressive performances were Aidan Castle, Kyan Haldenby, Ethan Best, Noah Van Vliet, and Aidan Puley, ultimately, creating the impression that once the event is over, that ‘JRC’ is pretty much an all-star team itself.

Even with losing the likes of Adam Fantilli earlier in the season, JRC is still among the top teams in the province talent-wise and will be the team to beat when the OHL Cup is set to begin.

While players such as Sirman, Nelson, and Van Vliet were leading the way defensively from JRC, it was the play from all of the defensemen that impressed the numerous scouts that attended the event.

Both teams had defensemen on their side who established their abilities as two-way defensemen, with all proving that they can chip in the offensive zone, but also in the defensive zone, all displaying a great first-pass on breakouts, and also can mix it up and use their physicality to their advantage.

Sharing the spotlight was the defensive pairing of Isaiah George (Toronto Marlboros) and Emerson Miller (Toronto Titans).

Miller, who was a last-minute replacement for an injured Michael Buchinger (Toronto Jr. Canadiens), flourished in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity alongside his former teammate, using his skill set to his advantage. The Mississauga native was able to combine his unique skating ability with great poise to help move the play up the ice when his team needed, while also playing great in his own end.

Meanwhile, George was flying all over the ice, taking every opportunity he could to jump into the play with his elite edge work and offensive ability. The projected first-round pick showed his powerful shot from the point at times and was always eager to generate quality scoring chances.

With both defensemen being able to chip in offensively, it was also rather impressive looking at when once either Miller or George would rush up the ice, the other defensemen would retreat and become the stay-at-home defensemen for the time being.

As usual, the GTHL Top Prospects Game was a success, as the top Minor Midget players were able to earn the exposure that they deserved, however, this is just the beginning in what will be a very busy rest of the season for all of these 16-year-olds, as more tournaments, the GTHL Playoffs, and for some, the OHL Cup are all on the horizon.