PJHL Stobbs Division mid-season rankings
Here is a mid-season recap of the four Junior C hockey teams that play in Chatham-Kent.
First disclaimer; yes we know that Walpole Island is technically part of Lambton County, but for this exercise we will call them a Chatham-Kent team.
Wheatley is actually in Chatham-Kent, but the majority of their players come from Essex County.
Second disclaimer, we haven’t done the best job covering the Stobbs Division in the past few months. We know there is some good hockey being played and the league is entertaining and has some great stories to be told. We will try and rectify this in the next few months.
We’re not afraid to admit when we’ve done a mediocre job. Or as the kids on the social media have told us, our PJHL and Stobbs Division coverage, “has been mid.”
We don’t know what mid is, but we know we can do better.
Here are our mid-season rankings and comments.
Team MVP: It just seems that Braedon Caetano and Shannon Olson have played for the Sharks for the past 10 years. They have powered the Sharks this year.
They are our co-MVPs.
Interesting tidbit: The goaltending tandem is held by Ethan Handley and Jaxson Drysdale. It’s arguably the top goalie tandem in the PJHL’s Stobbs Division outside of maybe Lakeshore.
Handley, who played well for Wheatley last season in both the regular season and the playoffs, handles the bulk of the duties and usually draws the start against the league’s top teams.
Drysdale, the younger of the two goalies, usually plays the league’s bottom-dwellers. Either way, they both have strong stats.
Handley has a 8-6-1-1 record with a 2.91 GAA, Drysdale has a 10-1 record and a 1.51 GAA, along with four shutouts. Handley has one shutout.
Mid-season analysis: The Sharks are a good team, but it’s hard to tell if they can be a great team. With their overagers, plus a strong goalie tandem, perhaps they can surprise either Essex or Lakeshore in a playoff series. Add Caetano and Olson to fellow overager Issac Legood, and we’re talking over 500 games of junior hockey experience. That will be helpful during the playoffs. Can the Sharks somehow sneak 16-year-old hometown star Cameron Arquette into the playoff lineup?
Wheatley had a 2-4 record in the first-half against Lakeshore and Essex.
Team MVP: Craig Spence is putting up video game numbers and is one of the top-point-getters in the entire 60-team PJHL. In 27 games, Spence has 22 goals and 39 assists and 61 points. It should be noted that Spence is listed as a defencemen.
Even Stevie Wonder could tell that Spence is almost always the best player on the ice when he plays.
Interesting tidbit: As of the Christmas break the Blades have five double didgit goal-scorers. It’s possible they can have as many as 11-12 players hit double-digits in goals. That would not only be an impressive feat, it would also show off the offensive depth the Blades have.
Second-half preview Will Blenheim go for it? They are a talented team, and they have added a couple of pieces during the season. Everyone talks about their veterans, such as Spence, Brad McAlpine and Tate Bowden, and the numbers they put up, but Blenheim’s rookies are impressive and are developing—which is really the goal of the PJHL. Their rookies include Justin Ewald, Andrew Goulet, Everitt Swayze, Joey Hayter, Nick Cameron and Gavin Meriano. Just about all of these rookies should be playing Junior B next year.
It’s not a big secret that Essex and Lakeshore are the two top teams in the Stobbs Division. Blenheim has a 0-7-1 record against the two top teams so far this season. Blenheim only plays Essex and Lakeshore three more times this season.
Mid-season record: 5-19-1
Mid-season MVP: We will give it to defencemen Owen Campbell. He leads the team in points (14) and assists (10).
Plus he’s young, as he’s 17 years-old. Anytime you can win a CKSN mid-season team MVP award before you’ve shaved for the first time is a win in our books.
Interesting tidbit: Let’s give it up for Dresden goalie Joseph Malinowski. He has kept the Kings in a handful of games. He has also seen a lot of action. He has had seven games where he has made more than 50 saves. In a game versus Essex he faced 75 shots. And it was an away game, so it wasn’t a hometown statistician padding the stats to make him look good.
Backup Ty Golden has two games where he faced 69 shots.
Second-half preview: The Kings are a young team. They have no overage players (teams are allowed four) and they have six players 17 years-old or younger who play regular roles. They only have two 20 year-old players.
We said it earlier, the PJHL is a development league, and Dresden is a prime example of a team looking to build a core for the future.
Walpole Island Wild
Mid-season record: 4-22
Mid-season MVP: Devin St. Pierre gives the Wild a veteran presence as an over-ager. Plus, he leads the team in scoring so far with 15 points in 23 games.
Interesting tidbit: This is the Wild’s first season playing at the Walpole Island Sports Complex, after the team moved from Wallaceburg in the off-season.
We think the Wild’s logo is the best in the Stobbs Division, and it’s not even a close race for best logo. As the kids’ say, “their logo is Gucci, and it’s nothing to sleep on.”
Second-half preview: The Wild are young. Although they do have two over-agers with St. Pierre and Trevor Pike.
You can see that the Wild are developing a core of young, local players. If the Wild can keep together a core of 10-12 players from the 2005 and 2006 birth years, who knows what can happen in the next 2-3 years. Maybe not a championship, but if they develop, perhaps a decent team is in the future.
There has been glimpses that this team is close. The have three one-goal losses this season and had an impressive game a couple weeks ago versus Essex, losing 3-1, with Essex scoring a late goal in the last few minutes.