GMHL National Championship Preview: North York RenegadesMarch 24th, 2023 at 4:41AM March 24th, 2023 9:44AM
The second spot in the GMHL National Championship tournament has officially been claimed by the North York Renegades who swept their South Division Finals 4-0 over the Bradford Bulls. The Renegades will join the host Titans in Temiscaming next week for the first ever GMHL National Championship.
The Renegades earned their spot in the National Championship by running through the south division playoffs without suffering a loss. The #1 seed in the South coming into playoffs with a 36-6-0 record (3rd most points in the entire GMHL) they swept their first round matchup against the Streetsville Flyers 2-0, then their semi-final matchup against the Niagara Predators before eventually finishing up a perfect South Playoff run against the Bulls.
In the regular season the Renegades were led by South Division Best forward and MVP runner up Ryan Fritz who set a new franchise record this season scoring a league leading 131 points with 51 goals and 80 assists. Also in the talented forward group are Defensive Forward of the Year runner up Nikolai Salov, and Most Sportsmanlike runner up Joseph Lionti who finished with 45 and 100 points respectively. Rounding out the group of forwards who scored 50 or more points during the regular season were Christopher Rende with 64 and Daniel Johnson with 55. In the playoffs specifically the leading scorers have matched with the regular season as Fritz, Lionti and Johnson have led the team in scoring with Vadim Karpenko also adding 6 goals and 6 assists in the run so far.
On the Back end the squad has been led by Defenseman of the year runner up Jedidja Somersall, young breakout defenseman Niko Andreopolous, and the Renegades crown jewel of the deadline veteran defenseman Darius Mani. This group was instrumental in the shutdown of the Bulls top forwards in their sweep of Bradford in the South Finals specifically holding South Division MVP Ryan Hunter to just 3 points in 4 games on the series.
In net the Renegades have been able to count on Nicholas Lewicky who was runner up for the Top Goaltender in the South Division and has gone 8-0-0 in the playoffs with a 2.94 GAA and a Save Percentage of .920. Lewicky is obviously out to lead his team to a championship this year and has gotten the first crucial step out of the way, erasing the memory of losing the South finals in a game 7 shootout last year by being a top 3 star in each of the 4 wins in the series sweep of the Bulls this year.
The Renegades will now have one week to practice before the National Championship starts on March 30th, more time than any of the other participants other than the host Titans. They will play the winner of the North Division (either Bradford or Ville-Marie) on the 30th, then the winner of the West (either Mackenzie or High Prairie) on the 31st, before finishing up round robin play against the Titans on April 1st. Should all things go their way for the Renegades they will be in contention and playing for the National championship on April 2nd.