Commissioner Potvin talks a little GNML
by Randy Pascal
A new commissioner with another new look to the league, all included with the latest edition of Peter Michelutti's End of the Roll GNML Weekly
There is no denying that Kapuskasing's own Darren Potvin enters the administrative fray of the Great North Midget League at a most
interesting time. With "AAA" midget aged hockey players in the north being pulled in both directions - first year midgets are being courted by minor midget
entries while the third year class looks out upon a junior loop that includes more teams than at any other time in league history - player availability
remains a challenge in many areas.
The GNML has adjusted, to some extent this year, unveiling a nine team loop that includes a three team minor midget bracket of Sudbury, North Bay and
Sault Ste Marie. "How close are we to sustaining this model? Time will tell," noted Potvin.
"This is the first time ever that we've had more than one minor midget team in our league. It's going to depend on how this year goes, how well the
various associations feel that they were able to compete at both the minor and major midget level."
In fact, it's no secret that the advent of "AAA" minor midget hockey in Northern Ontario was hardly greeted with open arms by the GNML folks in the past
decade or so - and understandably so.
"We know where we stand," said Potvin, who assumed the commissioner's position following the resignation of Sudbury native and long-time Nickel Capital
Wolves team manager Bob MacLean in the months leading up to the 2017-2018 season.
"First and foremost, we are a midget midget league and have been since the beginning," Potvin continued. "We're definitely not there to sacrifice the
well-being of a major midget team for the well-being of a minor midget team. I think this season will say a lot."
If nothing else, the minor midget teams, most notably in both Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie, allow for a levelling of the playing field for the remainder
of the smaller centres. The reality for the GNML is that the last team not representing either Sudbury or the Sault, to lay claim to a GNML playoff crown,
would be the Timmins Majors back in 2001-2002.
"We're kind of dividing the talent, but let's not forget that Sudbury used to have two major midget teams, so that also divided the talent," said
Potvin. In fact, there were actually three local entries, including both the Valley East Cobras and Rayside-Balfour Jr Sabrecats right
through until 2007-2008, when the teams were combined into the Nickel City Sons.
"Typically, it's probably going to be Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie," Potvin added. "Just based on population, the major centres are going to be the
favourites to win the league playoffs."
Early signs this September suggest a possible four team race. The Kapuskasing Flyers continue to benefit from the efforts made, in recent years, to work hand in
hand with the folks at the helm of the Hearst Elans, with the best talent merged to form a team which joined the Nickel Capital Wolves in cracking
the playoff round of the recent Toronto Titans Major Midget Tournament.
And you can throw the North Bay Trappers into that mix as well, taking advantage of a very strong crop of 2001 and 2002 born talent in that
area - not to mention the return of Guy Blanchard behind the bench.
"I'm interested to see how this season plays out and how these minor teams are able to compete with our major clubs," summarized Potvin, who stepped away
from his involvement with the Flyers to tackle his new post.
"I wanted to be on as equal a playing field with every team in the league as I possibly can," said Potvin. "The Flyers will always have a special place
in my heart, but I'm the commissioner of the GNML and that's my job. My job is not to be GM and the Flyers and commissioner of the GNML."
As for the afore-mentioned Titans Tournament, Potvin must be pleased with the overall competitiveness of the GNML quartet which took part. After winning
three of their first four games, the Nickel Capital Wolves bounced the Toronto Nationals 4-3 in overtime, before dropping a 3-1 decision to the
Central Ontario Wolves in quarter final action.
Central Ontario would capture the event, posting victories over the London Jr Knights (1-0) and the Mississauga Rebls (1-0) on Sunday.
The Kapuskasing crew also won three of their first four, before falling in a heart-breaker as the York Simcoe Express edged the Flyers 1-0.
Meanwhile, the North Bay Trappers opened with back to back wins over the North York Rangers (2-1) and Clarington Toros (3-1), but
lost their final two round robin games while Kapuskasing posted a record of 1-2-1, good for fourth place in their six team pool.
An encouraging sign for all those who follow midget "AAA" hockey in Ontario as exactly half of the final 16 games that were played were decided by just
a single goal. Following is a complete listing of the game scores for all four GNML teams in the tournament:
2-2 vs Kingston Jr Frontenacs
3-4 vs Toronto Red Wings
1-5 vs Don Mills Flyers
3-1 vs Peterborough Petes
Sudbury Nickel Caps
6-5 vs Barrie Colts
2-1 vs Grey-Bruce Highlanders
3-4 vs Huron-Perth Lakers
6-3 vs Toronto Jr Canadians
4-3 vs Toronto Nationals (OT)
1-3 vs Central Ontario Wolves
North Bay Trappers
2-1 vs North York Rangers
3-1 vs Clarington Toros
0-1 vs Toronto Nationals
3-6 vs Quinte Red Devils
Kapuskasing Eastview Chevrolet Flyers
6-2 vs Brantford 99ers
2-4 vs Toronto Marlboros
3-1 vs Windsor Spitfires
5-3 vs Amherst Knights
0-1 vs York Simcoe Express