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The Greater Metro Jr. A Hockey League

GMHL National Championship Preview: Bradford Rattlers

 March 29th, 2023 at 10:13AM  March 29th, 2023 3:16PM

On Saturday night the Bradford Rattlers claimed the North Division crown and punched their ticket to the National Championship with their series win over the Ville-Marie Pirates. The Rattlers will join the host Titans, the North York Renegades and the High Prairie Red Wings in Temiscaming this week for the first ever GMHL National Championship.


The Rattlers come into the National Championship having faced two of the best teams in the league in the playoffs and only taking one loss in the process. The #1 seed in the North coming into playoffs with a 38-2-2 record (Top in the North Division and Tied for the most points in the entire GMHL) they had a first round bye in the North playoffs, before sweeping their semi-final matchup against the national championship host Titans. They then went up 3-0 on the Ville-Marie Pirates in the North final before dropping a game in Ville-Marie, the Rattlers would come back to Bradford however and close out the series with an emphatic 8-3 win to send them to Nationals to compete for their first Russell Cup since their 42-0-0 championship season of 2012-2013.


In the regular season the Rattlers were led offensively by North Division Top Forward Stepan Levitsky who led the team in scoring with 93 points, 44 of them being goals. While Levitsky stood out at the top of the scoring leaderboard for the Rattlers, the dynamic Swedish duo of Most Sportsmanlike winner and top forward runner up Jesper Eriksson and Jacob Rhodin were the engines that kept the train rolling, scoring 76 and 69 points respectively. Veteran forward Swen Meusy and rookie William-Daniel Burns who were both All-Stars rounded out the top 5 in scoring for the Rattlers. It should be noted that 2001 born forwards Georgi Trofimov (who joined the team at the deadline) and Hunter Godmere (who played professionally in Sweden for the second half of the season before returning) were both over 2 points per game on the year.

On the Back end the squad has been led by Captain Julian McCarthy and fellow veterans of the franchise Tyler Baxter and Pavel Rozhkov. Add in deadline acquisitions (and some of the best blue liners in the league) Dylan Di Tomaso and Danila Fillipov to go along with veterans Daniel Suda and Ryan St. John and it’s not a wild thought to say that the Rattlers have the deepest blue line at the National Championship.


The Rattlers are looking to become the first team since the 2013-2014 Bradford Bulls to win a Russell Cup without a 20 or 21 year old goalie, but what the Rattlers tandem lacks in age, it more than makes up for with talent. Hungarian born net minder Oliver Balazs was rock solid for the Rattlers this season and he was rewarded for his work winning the North Divisions Top Goaltender award after a season that saw him go 21-2-0 with a Goals against Average of 2.24 and a Save Percentage of .932. Previously Balazs played in Hungary and represented his nation multiple times Internationally. His partner, also 2004 born, is Russian Maxim Ivanov. Although Ivanov wasn’t able to make it to Canada for the whole season, he made it count when he got here, Ivanov went 6-0-0 in the regular season with a GAA of 1.00 and a SVS% of .969. He also started 2 of the wins in the North final series against the Pirates. Ivanov previously won championships in Russia with his team Lokomotiv-2004, a team that featured top NHL draft prospect Matvei Michkov.


The Rattlers have looked like a juggernaut all season long, will they continue that into the first National Championship in GMHL history? They will play the winner of the South North York Renegades on the 30th, then the host Temiscaming Titans on the 31st, before finishing up round robin play against the West Division Winning High Prairie Red Wings on April 1st. Should all things go their way for David Mooney and his staff then the Rattlers will be in contention and playing for the National championship on April 2nd.

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