WELLINGTON, ON - MARCH 17: Brandon Cohen #11 of the St.Michael's Buzzers and Lucas LaPalm #20 of the Wellington Dukes at the Wellington and District Community Centre on March 17, 2023 in Ontario, Canada (Ed McPherson / OJHL Images)

Ontario Junior Hockey League resident writer Ron Valentine is profiling the 2023-24 team captains across The OJ. (Photo by Ed McPherson / OJHL Images)


Twenty-year old Brandon Cohen will wear the ‘C’ for the St. Michael’s Buzzers during the 2023-24 OJHL season. 

It will be Brandon’s third term with the squad that plays out of St. Michael’s College School on Bathurst Street in Toronto. He finished second in scoring last season with 24 goals, six of them game winners, and 56 points, second only to Giacomo Martino, who has committed to Northeastern University for 2024-25. After a slowish start, Brandon put at least one point on the board in of his 25 of his last 29 regular season games.

Buzzers’ head coach/GM Rich Ricci had this to say about his new captain: “Brandon is our longest-serving player and our last holdover player from the COVID-19 era. Brandon has worked his way through adversity in his early years. He was asked to improve areas of his game and has done so in an admirable way. He is a mature kid who always comes to work. He possesses a heavy, accurate shot and knows where the net is. His defensive game and hockey IQ are elite. I expect him to be dominant this season, receive an NCAA commitment and lead our team to success.”

It’s new to Brandon.

“This is my first season wearing a letter. I finished my minor hockey career playing U18 AAA for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens after being in the Missississauga Rebels organization. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I will have a lot of help from several guys who have had OJHL experience.”

Looking back.

Last season was a tough one for us. We had some setbacks and lots of injuries to key players, including our captain Aidan Shepard. Getting Ryan O’Toole and goalie Christian Trianni helped us but we could not get the consistency we wanted and in the playoff series against the (Wellington) Dukes we were shorthanded and couldn’t get it done in a physical series. We played well in the first game but couldn’t come all the way back. Everything went right in one game, No. 4, where we won 8-0 at home. Overall, it was a crazy series.”

A big year for the captain and the team.

“My final year in the OJHL is going to be big for me and I’m really looking forward to it. We made some good moves in the off-season. We got some players who will really help us including Marco Iozzo, who is in his last year and has had experience in Milton and Haliburton. I’m looking for really good years from David Elmy, coming off his rookie season and we have two strong defencemen returning in Anthony Francella and David Green. Both have bright futures. Up front, I expect Jonathan Morello to break through. He had 40 points in his first OJHL season and made the second AII-Prospect team. We will miss Martino but we have players who can step right up like Jesse Venturo who played a few games last season for Brantford and was drafted third overall (in the OHL’s U18 draft by the Soo Greyhounds) earlier this year.” 

It all boils down to being focused.

“Already I can see that the guys are bonding well together and this is really important for us. When we translate this on to the ice we will be a much more difficult team to play against. We have to be patient with the younger players but it all looks positive. Playing in our arena is really special even for the younger guys, there is so much history and memories for the fans.”

Brandon wants to leave the OJHL on a high note.

“I really want to move my goal-scoring up to the next level. I try to focus on being a physical player who can change the momentum of a game with a big hit. Back-checking, for me, is also a very important part. I’m looking forward to being on special teams too. I’ve never been to a Governor’s Showcase in Buffalo, so I’m really looking forward to that, with all the scouts in attendance. I’m currently taking some on-line courses to get more credits so that I can get a commitment. I managed to get in a few rounds of golf this summer; it’s my favourite hobby when I’m not involved in hockey.”    

Brandon’s strong commitment to being an all-around player will put him in good stead. He is tough to play against and, in his quiet way, he gets the job done. He will be front and centre in the Buzzers’ attempts to go much further this season.

The OJHL regular season begins on Sept. 7. The Buzzers open their season the next night at home to the arch-rival North York Rangers.

Follow Ron Valentine on X @ronandlynda

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