I must first state that this is the division that my son plays in (Whitby), so take my comments for what they are worth. I will also say that this is the first time in this age group (and I’ve watched since 1st year Novice), that any one of these teams can take top honors and really nobody is an overwhelming favourite. I truly mean that.
1. Guelph – They showed a few chinks in the armour when they played their first couple of games of weekend two, minus Captain (# 7) Milne. A suspension for an incident in qualifier one, left Guelph without their best shooter (and maybe the best shooter at the age). He returned in time to help defeat Whitby in a great game (4-3), but the next morning was handed another major penalty. If they lose their Captain at all at the big show, I am concerned for them, as they are a totally different team without him. And if he lets his temper get the better of him, he may not play much in the final six, which would be a shame. I’m not convinced their goaltending will win them the big game, but with their size and strength defensively, they may not have to. Take note however, that of the top six finishers, they had the most goals against across 12 games. If everyone plays the whole weekend, I think they are still the team to beat. Tinney is not a huge guy, but plays like a beast.
2. Kitchener – They have defeated Guelph twice this year (not sure about who may or may not have played in either game), so this is a bit of a motivation for them. They are also a team that I called after week one making the big six. They seem to rise to the level of their opponent which will be a good thing in a few weeks, because the competition will be fierce. I did however see a small lack of discipline in week two in a couple of games. Nothing critical, but it surprised me a little, after seeing them play a few times this season. It was not characteristic of what I’ve seen. This team definitely belongs and can take the top prize. If any of their opponents are not prepared, they will beat them, as their tenacity might be the best of the six teams.
3. Whitby – A number of these guys have been my guys for the past 5 years. They can play with anyone in this group and have the attitude that they can beat anyone in this group. But will they? Well, sometimes they just do not bring everything to the rink to do so. They are a talented group of kids, and if they can all get on the same page, on the same day, they “can” be the best “team” here. And of the top six, they might have the most equal scoring across the entire team (you cannot focus on just one or two guys). Palmer (# 7) is a smash mouth type of player, and is only a minor.
4. Halton Hills – The defending Peewee A champs slid into 4th spot and did not get 3rd only based on the loss to Whitby (5-3) Sunday morning. It was a very good game and a very late empty net goal was the 5th for Whitby. He is one of my favourites, and I can clearly see that Harris (#55) is not 100%. I had heard that it was a hamstring problem, which kept him out of Brampton, and it was also quite noticeable in Orangeville. If he is 100% he is a force, and one of the smartest players in Bantam lacrosse. They have solid goaltending (good enough to win) and good depth, but they are a target for a lot of teams. Do not count them out.
5. Mimico – Their last game heroics against Guelph (in a game that meant nothing to Guelph) got them in. Had they lost, Orangeville would have been in and Mimico out. This is a real sleeper team that I think many people will not give a chance to, but check this out. They beat Guelph, Whitby, and West Durham in the qualifiers. The problem is that sandwiched in there as well, they threw in a few stinkers. In the final six, you cannot have any stinkers. They also play very emotional and I did see in both weekends, their emotions get the better of them a little. If they play lacrosse and their goalie continues to play like he has, they could upset too. Take note; of the top six, they had the fewest goals against across 12 games (41) , but also the fewest scored (48).
6. West Durham – They got in with a 43/100ths better formula than did Orangeville. All they did was beat Halton Hills, Guelph, and tie Kitchener in week two to get in. So they did not just slide in a back door, they beat some darn good teams in here to get in. They lack the depth of many of the ones above them, but you can never accuse them of lacking effort. With solid goaltending from Passmore, and one of the best in the age (#13 Robinson), teams cannot let them stay in games. When this team plays with some confidence, they are very tough. They are in spot # 6, but scored the most goals (70) across 12 games, and are a definite contender.
I do not see any teams going 5-0, and I see the formula becoming a factor to decide who fits where.
Fearless Predictions – I would be run out of Whitby (and my own home) if I did not pick my guys. And I think they will do it over Kitchener.
Long Shot Hopefuls – as I mentioned I really believe there are no long shots here, but I will pick Mimico as a possible upset.
I know there will be opinions on these picks. Let’s hear your picks and long shot possibilities.
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