Ontario Junior Hockey League resident writer Ron Valentine is profiling the 2023-24 team captains across The OJ. (Photos by Spencer Smye & Amy Deroche / OJHL Images)
BY RON VALENTINE
The Aurora Tigers have named co-captains for the 2023-24 season: defenceman Peter Lopes and forward Ethan Lindsay. Both players are in their final season of junior hockey eligibility.
Lopes, 20, a defenceman from Toronto, will be going into his third season for Aurora. In 2022-23 he had 22 points despite missing 16 games.
Up front Lindsay, 20 also, was the captain of the Pickering Panthers last season. As an assistant captain with Pickering in 2021-22, he held the Buckland Cup aloft and went to the final of the Centennial Cup in Estevan, Saskatchewan. In three seasons as a Panther, he amassed 84 points in regular season and playoff games. as well as spending over 200 minutes in the penalty box.
“It’s my first time wearing the ‘C’ (he was an assistant last season) and I’m looking forward to it,” Lopes said. “My play got better later last season even though the Tigers struggled a bit as a team. We have made some good trades in the off-season and along with returning players, I see us being in a good spot as we start out. Two voices are better than one when it comes to leadership and we have already talked a lot about what we plan to do. It’s good to have someone with Ethan’s experience to share the load.”
“It all starts at practice and in the dressing room, where it’s up to us to set the right atmosphere. I’ve worked with some of the guys this summer and we have added some intense players, like Keegan Decaluwe from Burlington and goalie William Goumas from Milton. I have never won a playoff game so that’s a goal for me in my final junior season, but we cannot stop there.”
“I want to be seen as a smooth-skating defenceman who makes a good breakout pass and is not afraid to jump into the rush. I know my defensive responsibilities and have the size to make life difficult for opposing forwards”
“The Governors’ Showcase, back in Buffalo again, will be very important for last-year players like myself but at the end of the day it’s four points up for grabs so we have to stick to what we do well and play our regular game.”
“I’m currently taking courses at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) and I get lots of homework so between that and hockey and a little bit of golf in the summer and working out at the gym I manage to keep pretty busy!”
“I’m really happy to be in Aurora,” Lindsay told the OJHL. “Going to the Centennial Cup was an unbelievable experience for me and in my last season my goal is to repeat that. It’s early yet but I can see we have tremendous potential here. Going into my second season as a captain I’m very comfortable in that role and look forward to working with everyone, especially the younger players. I have been busy this summer, training and working. My parents recently moved out to Sakatchewan so that has also given me a lot of responsibility.”
“Despite what I have been able to accomplish as a player so far the goal for me is always to keep improving, to keep working on the parts of my game that I need to strengthen like getting more speed into my skating and getting my shots off faster. As a last year player this will be a big season personally as I definitely want to keep playing hockey competitively after my OJHL days are over.”
One more title?
“I’m still hungry to win another championship and I want that feeling to rub off on the other players. I met several of my new teammates over the summer and they are a really motivated group. Everyone is always optimistic at this time of the year but we are confident of our success as we continue to grow together.”
“Jim (Thomson, Governor) and Greg (Head Coach, Johnston) have worked really hard on building a contender. Both the Panthers and the Tigers fell in the first round of the playoffs last season so our goal is to put that well behind us.”
“It’s going to be a case of one day at a time for us but there is already a strong leadership group here in Aurora. With my experience I’m in a good position to teach players with less experience what it takes to win at this level.”
Pound for pound, players do not come much tougher when you look at this pair of captains. Their combined experience should put the Tigers in a good spot in the East conference.
The OJHL regular season begins on Sept. 7. The Tigers first game is at home the next night.
Follow Ron Valentine on X @ronandlynda