Written By: Bill Potrecz
The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League came away with gold from the MacPherson Challenge hosted by St. Andrews College in Aurora.
The tournament featured some of the top under-18 talent from Ontario, Alberta, and the northeastern United States.
The GOJHL were represented by a 22-player roster, including six from the Golden Horseshoe: Callum Cheynowski and Daniel Vasic of the Thorold Blackhawks, Joe Macchione of the Fort Erie Meteors and Connor Haynes, Nathan Phillips and goaltender David Egorov from the Hamilton Kilty B’s. Meteors coach Nik Passero was an assistant on the staff of head coach Dave Matsos of the London Nationals.
Passero loved the experience.
“It was some of the top teams on the continent, really,” he said. “Two or three top American teams and obviously St. Andrews is highly touted. We battled and came together pretty nicely and fond a way to win which was pretty awesome.”
The GOJHL squad lost its first game 3-2 in overtime to Northwood School before rebounding to win four straight games to capture gold with a 2-0 win over Northwood School. The GOJHL also blanked Victory Honda 3-0, defeated Bishop Kearney Selects 7-2 and Culver Academies 2-1.
“The Golden Horseshoe guys were great all week,” Passero said. “The tournament MVP was David Egeroff from Hamilton. He was amazing and I thought the best player in the tournament was Cheynowksi. He dominated from the first day. Two big goals in the finals from Phillips and Haynes in Hamilton and in my opinion Macchione was the best player for us in the finals.
“The Golden Horseshoe guys really stood out and should be proud of that.”
Cheynowski collected three goals and three assists in the five games to lead the GOJHL in scoring.
“The tournament was very well run,” Cheynowski said. “It was a fast, physical pace with the puck moving quick around the ice. The GOJHL organization treated us very nicely providing us with our own hotel and meals. It helped my game out a lot because it’s a different style of game. Also, because it is a heavily scouted tournament, it made our team play with an extra step in our game.”
Macchione, who is leading the Meteors in scoring with 50 points in 33 games, enjoyed participating.
“My general impression was just a wow. Getting to see everyone and watching the atmosphere and everything about it was just at such a professional level. The competition was top tier and it was really exciting to be apart of it.”
Macchione, who collected three assists in the tournament, feels the experience will only help him down the road.
“I thought participating would for sure help my game, getting to deal with the speed all the teams and players they had was amazing and it definitely made me up my game.”
Passero appreciated his role on the bench.
“The staff was awesome,” he said. “I learned so much from those guys. They let me have a pretty good hand in it running the forwards, which was awesome. I owe a lot to (league president) Brett Garbutt and the rest of the GOJHL for giving me the opportunity.”
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