The first National Championship tournament took place in Temiscaming Quebec and with a perfect record at the tournament including a dominant Championship game performance over the host, the Bradford Rattlers capped off a dominant season by winning the inaugural GMHL National Championship for the Russell Cup.
The Rattlers dropped their first game in OT to the Lynx and their 5th game of the season to the Pirates (the only game in which the Rattlers did not secure a point) to start the season 3-1-1. They then rattled off 14 in a row before dropping one to the Pirates once more (this time in overtime). Following that loss they would go undefeated for another 3 months with 27 in a row (a highway shutdown issue gave them a declared lost on February 3rd) throughout the regular season and playoffs before they had their only loss of the playoffs in the North Division Finals, once again to the Pirates.
All season long they were led by veteran forwards Jacob Rhodin, Jesper Eriksson and Swen Meusy as well as GMHL Top Forward 2nd year Rattler Stepan Levitsky. On the back end veterans Tyler Baxter, Pavel Rozhkov and Captain Julian McCarthy were the constants all season long and in net the Rattlers had the luxury of the best duo in the league statistically with Oliver Balazs and Maxim Ivanov.
They facilitated a trio of extremely important moves bringing in top forward Georgi Trofimov (who had previously played Major Junior in Russia) and two top defenseman in Danila Filippov (former Major Junior and Professional player in Russia’s second highest league) and Dylan Di Tomaso (4 Year Junior A veteran who started off the season playing NCAA for Kings College) to solidify their roster as they made way towards their title.
Following a first round bye, the Rattlers took on the National Championship host Titans in the 2nd round, winning 3 games to none, before winning their North division final 4-1 over the rival Ville-Marie Pirates (a series in which they had veteran forward Hunter Godmere return to the team) to send them to the National Championship tournament.
After sweeping their way through the round robin games against the South and West Champions (North York and High Prairie) as well as the Titans, the Rattlers were set up to await their opponent in the National Championship finals. A victory by the host Titans over the Renegades on Saturday night would send the host team to the finals to defend their cup. Alas Temiscaming may have emptied the tank against the Renegades as the Rattlers were particularly dominant on route to a 7-0 shutout victory in front many Rattlers faithful who made the 4 hour drive to Le Centre. The Rattlers become just the 4th Russell Cup champion to finish the playoffs with 1 loss or fewer, joining the 1 loss Champion Bulls in 13-14 as well as the undefeated Champion Titans in 21-22 and Whalers in 16-17 to cap off one of the most dominant post seasons in the history of the league.
The GMHL would like to extend its congratulations to the Bradford Rattlers on winning the 2023 Inaugural National Russell Cup Championship, and winning their fourth Russell Cup in franchise history. It was a tremendous season, and we look forward to the 2023-2024 GMHL season, a season that will have the South division host the National Championship, where the Rattlers hope to compete and defend their crown.