Monday Morning Coffey: How the GTA’s OHL teams impact U SPORTS MHKY

Sometimes when I write I start out with a clear thought and sometimes I start with a theory that has been gnawing at me that I need to look at and hope a coherent article comes from it, (this is probably going to be the second one).

Toronto, ON- I live in Toronto which means the Canadian Junior Hockey League I know the best is the OHL. Here in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, OHL teams have struggled to survive, with the St. Michael’s Majors and Brampton Battalion falling by the wayside or relocating in the last 10-12 years but two franchises still stand, the Oshawa Generals and the Mississauga Steelheads.

Now each of these teams has graduated some top NHL talent, for the Generals in the last few years guys like Anthony Cirelli and Boone Jenner and for the Steelheads you get guys like Nicholas Hague and Alex Nylander. We aren’t looking at NHL guys though, we are looking at U SPORTS Hockey talent.

If you read my Monday Morning Coffey piece “U SPORTS Men’s Hockey Recruitment Challenge” from a few weeks ago we talked about how typically around 90% of U SPORTS rosters are filled with local players (ie: OHL players fill OUA rosters, WHL fill Canada West and so on)

I wanted to take this one step further, there are four OUA hockey teams in the Greater Toronto Area, the York Lions, the Toronto Varsity Blues, the Ryerson Rams and the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.

My hypothesis is two parts:

  1. Firstly, that of the players who played for the Steelheads and the Generals, then got recruited into U SPORTS, the majority of those players were recruited to one of the four U SPORTS MHKY programs in the GTA.

    2. Secondly, not only would these players be recruited to GTA-based schools they would also be the most impactful players of all the ones recruited from these teams.


    We are going to look at each of the last seven seasons of Mississauga Steelheads and Oshawa Generals rosters from 2012-2019 and see both where the players who played U SPORTS did so and who among them made the biggest impact at their school.

    The reason we are only doing seven seasons is the Steelheads have only officially existed as the Steelheads since 2012 and I want to keep from crossing between the old and current names. The reason we are stopping at 2019 is that players like Nick Issacson who were recruited from Mississauga to Guelph after this past season haven’t played a game yet so they obviously could not have made an impact.

Mississauga Steelheads

When I examined the Steelheads across their seven seasons of existence I found 27 skaters and five goalies who played in the Steelheads organization and then played U SPORTS Hockey.  

The schools they played for worked out to be

Skaters
Western – 5
York – 3
Queen’s – 3
Ryerson – 3
Carleton – 2
Guelph -2
Waterloo – 2
Windsor -2
UOIT/OTU -1
Brock – 1
StFx  -1
Nipissing -1

Goalies
McGill – 1
UPEI – 1
Queen’s – 1
UOIT/OTU – 1
Queen’s – 1

The most common occurence I found for many Steelheads was playing two to three years in Mississauga and then being traded at the deadline of their final season to another team. If you want to break it down further and ask how many were recruited directly from the Steelheads rather than having played there in their junior career and ended somewhere else it breaks down like this

Skaters
Queen’s – 3
Ryerson – 2
Windsor -2
Carleton – 1
Guelph -1
Brock – 1
York -1
Western – 1
SMU – 1

Goalies
UPEI – 1
Queen’s – 1

I think it is only fair though that we look at all the players who played in Mississauga in their career even if they got traded because that especially if it is their last season it is not something they can control.

So, my theory that the most recruits from the Steelheads would end up on a GTA school was incorrect but what about the other side of it?

The theory that recruited Steelheads would make the biggest impact on GTA based schools, well for that let’s dig a little deeper at those top four schools in the first list as there are two GTA programs there (York and Ryerson)

Western

Spenser Cobbold during his first season with the Mustangs (Grace Chung/Western Athletics)

Brendan Harrogate (Right Wing) – (2019-2020) – 10GP – OG – 2A – 2PTS

Austin Osmanski (Defender) – (2019-2020) – 26GP – 3G – 11A – 14PTS

Scott Teskey (Right Wing) – (2015-2018) – 58GP – 3G – 4A – 7PTS

Spenser Cobbold (Left Wing) – Western (2015-2019) – 104GP – 27G – 41A – 68PTS

Andrew Goldberg (Forward) – Western (2015-2017) – 48GP – 16G – 12A – 28PTS

A couple of Western recruits who played for Mississauga only just started last year and although Austin Osmanski was very strong on the backend I would look at Spenser Cobbold as the most impactful. Cobbold didn’t finish his OHL career in Mississauga he spent a year and a half in Charlottetown after 2.5 seasons with the Steelheads but when he got to Western he made himself known. 23 points in 28 games as a rookie including a decisive goal and assist in Game Three of the Western Division Finals against Guelph that sent Western to the 2016 Queen’s Cup vs UQTR.

Queen’s

Jacob Brennan makes a save (Robin Kasem/Queen’s Athletics)


Brett Foy (Centre) – (2014-2016) – 24GP | 5G | 6A | 11PTS

Damian Bourne (Left Wing) – (2017-2018) – 16GP | 2G | 2A | 4PTS

Stephen Gibson (Defender) – (2018-2020) – 53GP | 1G | 4A | 5PTS

Jacob Brennan (Goalie) – (2015-2018) – 34GP | 21-8-5 | 2.19 GAA | .924SV%


By far the most impactful member of the Steelheads to play for Queen’s would be goalie Jacob Brennan. Coming from the Steelheads in 2015, Brennan was never the starter on Queen’s but put in three solid season sharing the net with (funny enough) former Oshawa General Kevin Bailie getting his most work in 2016-2017 when he went 10-2-2 with a 2.08 GAA and a .927SV% on a Queen’s team that went all the way to the Queen’s Cup final before losing to York.

York

MHKY Bean
Justin Bean during his first year with the Lions (Anton Mak/York Athletics)

Nick Zottl (Forward) – (2016/2019) 68GP – 5G – 11A – 16PTS

Justin Bean (Defender) – (2017/2020) 71GP – 8G – 25A – 33PTS


Brandon Yeamans (Forward) – (2019/2020) 16GP – 2G – 1A – 3 PTS

Of the three former Steelheads to play for York the most impactful has probably been Justin Bean. The now third year defender has been a stalwart on the York blueline playing in 71 of 84 games across three seasons. He hasn’t been the flashiest member of the Lions but he has been stable for them.

Ryerson

Jared Walsh - 2019-20 - Hockey (M) - Ryerson University
Jared Walsh takes a slapshot (Christian Bender/Ryerson Athletics)

Jared Walsh – (2017-2020) – 67GP | 4G | 8A | 12PTS

Jesse Barwell – (2018-2020) – 52GP | 11G |11A | 22PTS

Brandon Devlin – (2015-2017) – 50GP | 6G | 23A | 29PTS


For my other GTA school I went with a guy who was a staples on the Steelheads blueline for parts of three seasons in Jared Walsh. Now he hasn’t contributed as much as Barwell or Devlin but in 67 games for the Blue and Gold he has been a strong defensive force. He also does have some flair for timeliness such as when he scored what would go on to be the game winner in Ryerson’s wild 7-6 Winter Homecoming 2019 win over the York Lions.


So if I were to rank these four players based on impact it would probably be something like this

#1: Jacob Brennan

#2: Spenser Cobbold

#3: Justin Bean

#4: Jared Walsh

which sounds like I am saying that Jacob Brennan is the Steelhead who has had the biggest impact on a U SPORTS programming but I can’t forget the X-Factor in this

StFX

Photo courtesy Lauren Tidd
Bryson Cianfrone takes a shot (Lauren Tidd/StFx Athletics)

Bryson Cianfrone – (2016-2020) 107GP – 34G – 49A – 83PTS

See what I did there?

X-Factor

Because they’re the X-Men

No?

Ok

My dumb pun aside there is no way around it that Bryson Cianfrone, the only Steelhead ever recruited to StFx is easily the former Steelhead who made the biggest impact in U SPORTS. Across four seasons Cianfrone teamed up with fellow X-Man and former Kamloops Blazer to provide a deadly one-two punch down the middle that in his first season culminated with a 2017 AUS Championship. With 83 Points across 107 U SPORTS Cianfrone had the highest production and by far the highest impact.

Oshawa Generals

I looked at the Generals and found 27 skaters and two goalies who played at least some of their time in Oshawa and then played in U SPORTS. The teams broke down like this
Skaters
Western – 4
Acadia – 3
Ryerson – 3
Toronto – 2
UNB -2
Windsor -2
Ottawa – 2
SMU – 1
Brock – 1
Laurier -1
Nipissing – 1
UPEI – 1
Laurentian – 1
StFX – 1
McGill -1
Guelph -1
York – 1

Goalies
York
Carleton

The same as Mississauga, if you want to be interesting and add another layer of just players that were directly recruited from the Generals rather than having just played for them at some point it looks like this

Skaters
Western – 2
Ryerson – 2
Toronto – 2
UNB – 2
Ottawa – 2
Laurentian – 1
Acadia -1
Windsor -1

Goalies
Carleton

But we looked at every possible player in the top four schools for Mississauga and we will do the same for those top four teams in that first list for Oshawa to see if we can find the most impactful.

Western

Kenny Huether of the Western Mustangs (Brandon VandeCaveye/Western Athletics)

John Urbanic  (Right Wing) – (2014-2015) – 5GP | 0G | 1A | 1PT

Kenny Huether (Right Wing) – (2018-2020) – 52GP | 14G | 19A | 33PTS

Alex Di Carlo – (Defender) – (2018-2020) – 33GP | 3G | 4A | 7PTS

Stephen Desrocher (Defender) – (2017-2020) – 58GP | 11G | 13A | 24PTS

Starting with Western again, the question for biggest impact comes down really to do you value offence more or defence? The two choices are obviously Desrocher or Huether so that creates the question. I am an offence over defense guy myself so I would have to give it to Kenny Huether. Huether has delivered solid secondary scoring for the Mustangs across two seasons and peaked in their wild run to the 2020 U SPORTS National championship delivering 2 goals and 2 assists in the pivotal 5-2 win over Concordia in the OUA Bronze Medal game that punched their ticket.

Acadia

geoff_800x600
Geoffrey Schemitsch sends off a pass (Acadia Athletics)

Geoffrey Schemitsch (Defender) – (2013-2018) – 111GP | 13G | 53A | 66PTS

Alex Lepkowski (Defender) – (2016-2020) – 88GP | 5G | 13A | 18PTS

Eric Henderson (Left Wing) – (2019-2020) – 30GP | 2G | 14A | 16PTS

For Acadia the choice is a lot simpler. He only played in five games his final year but for the other four seasons Schemitsch was a stable rock on the Axemen blueline whilst also being a very strong student. This meant having a career that included on the ice helping the Axemen to their 10th AUS Championship in 2014 and off the ice being named a U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian in 2017.

Ryerson

Matt Mistele - 2019-20 - Hockey (M) - Ryerson University
Matt Mistele looks for a scoring chance (Christian Bender/Ryerson Athletics)

Matt Mistele (Left Wing) – (2016-2020) 95GP | 58G | 86A | 144PTS

Hayden McCool (Left Wing) – (2018-2020) 51GP | 24G | 29A | 53PTS

Domenic Commisso (Centre) – (2019-2020) 5GP | 0G | 0A | 0PTS

This one is an easy choice and I don’t think anyone can debate me on this. Matt Mistele joined Ryerson from the Generals and proceeded to take hold of most of the Rams Record Book by the end of his four year stay at Mattamy Athletic Centre. As of writing this he is, all-time he is

1st in Goals (58)
2nd in Assists (86) – two behind former captain Alex Basso
1st in Points (144)
1st in Game-Winning Goals (9)
2nd in Power-Play Goals (17) – one behind former captain Michael Fine

Toronto

Manchurek celebrates a goal with David Thomson (Seyran Mammadov/Toronto Athletics)

Joey Manchurek (Left Wing) – (2018-2020) 43GP | 22G | 32A | 54PTS

Aidan Wallace (Centre) – (2015-2019) 107GP  30G | 32A | 64 PTS

This one was a difficult decision because Aidan Wallace put in a strong four year career with the Varsity Blues but I had to give it to Manchurek. The former Generals captain joined the Varsity Blues in 2018 and had a mixed first year putting up strong numbers with 18 points but only in 16 games as he missed a large chunk of first semester. This past season was his coming out party as he and David Thomson combined for 76 points and paced Toronto’s league leading offence. Thing unfortunately fell apart in the playoffs at the hands of Kenny Huether and the Western Mustangs but Manchurek can only get better from here.

So if I were to rank these four Generals players based on the impact they had it would probably be something like this

#1: Matt Mistele

#2: Joey Manchurek

#3: Geoffrey Schemitsch

#4: Kenny Huether

Considering what happened with Mississauga you might be asking “Is there an X-Factor this time?”

The answer this time is no. You could make the case for defenceman Matt PetGrave from UNB and perhaps winger Anthony Salinitri of Windsor to be included but there is nobody on the list of Oshawa Generals to play in U SPORTS to make a bigger impact than Matt Mistele. Questions about effort and defensive ability aside, across four seasons he had moves that not many others in the OUA could match.

So looking back on this entire exercise I could say I was 25% correct,

My prediction was that the athletes who played for the Steelheads and the Generals would then be recruited mostly to the four schools in the GTA and that overall the player from the Steelheads and the Generals who were recruited to U SPORTS and subsequently made the biggest impact would be for one of those four GTA schools.

In case you are a little confused it breaks down like this

The most players recruited from the Steelheads was to Western which means I was wrong.

The most impactful Steelhead recruited to U SPORTS was from StFx so I was wrong.

The most players recruited from the Generals went to Western as well so I was wrong.

The most impactful player recruited from the Generals went to Ryerson (a GTA school) so I was right.

So, do you think I made the the right decisions? Should I have included an honourable mention in the Steelheads section for Josh Burnside who captained Mississauga and then played four years as the top-scoring defenceman on the Carleton Ravens? (I probably should have yes). Who do think think is the most impactful U SPORTS player who played for your favourite team? Let me know in the comments below.







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