Busy week for GOJHL
It’s a unique week for the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, but St. Catharines Falcons coach Tyler Bielby is approaching it as business as usual as much as possible.
The Brock Badgers and 21 players from the GOJHL will play an exhibition game Thursday, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Badgers’ new home rink, the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre at Canada Games Park, composed of 2002-born players from the GOJHL. Admission is free.
Bielby will coach the GOJHL squad assisted by Jason Williams of Strathroy and Dave Williams of Stratford.
“It’s an opportunity to show what our league has to offer from a talent standpoint,” Bielby said. “There’s a lot of good players in the GOJHL. Our challenge is to go out there and play the right way and play honest because we’re up against some pretty stiff competition. These are future pros or a lot of guys who have played in the Major Junior ranks or at Brock so we’ll be tested but our league will show well.
“We’re just looking to enjoy the process and compete as hard as we can. We’ll have an opportunity to do something that is a little bit different but we’ll also make sure we’re prepared and we’re ready to give Brock our best skate as well.”
Bielby feels OUA hockey is a well-kept secret.
“It is a big jump and the players on the ice in our league will get a chance to see how big that jump is. OUA hockey is probably one of the more underrated leagues in our country as far as the attention it gets in Ontario,” he said. “People should get out to that new complex at Brock and see what it has to offer because the talent level is high end. It’s a good pace and the hockey IQ level is high.”
Brock coach TJ Manastersky is looking forward to the game.
“The GOJHL is an exceptional developmental league and has been an important recruiting ground for Brock hockey over the years. I am excited to get a first-hand look at the top talent in the league and provide the Niagara region an opportunity to see a unique match up with local players on both sides,” he said.
Golden Horseshoe players selected to participate are: Jonah Boria and Cam Knight of the Falcons, Jayden Baldinelli and Marcus Regina of the Fort Erie Meteors and Brody LeBlanc of the Caledonia Corvairs. The balance of the roster are players from the Midwest and Wester Conferences of the GOJHL.
The event will also be a kick-off to the GOJHL’s Showcase, beginning the following day in Pelham and running through Sunday, where all GOJHL teams will play two regular season games.
“It’s a little bit different but the focus really remains the same with the Falcons, making sure we have a really good week of practice,” Bielby said. “We’re not missing out on any practice as a result of the game Thursday so as coaches we’ll make sure we’re ready to go Friday for the Showcase.”
The Falcons take on the Elmira Sugar Kings Friday at 7:30 p.m. and the Sarnia Legionnaires Saturday at 8 p.m.
“We’ll watch some film or clips where we can but the real focus will be on what we do, especially at this time of the year, making sure we’re creating good habits. Use it as an opportunity to focus on how you’re going to play the game as opposed to how the other team is going to play you,” Bielby added.
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