As one of only a couple of players on the rebuilding Streetsville Derbys who had any prior Jr. A experience heading into this season, Limehouse resident Mike Kosziwka wasn't exactly predicting his new club would be a contender for an OHA Provincial Jr. A Hockey League title in 2006-07.
After bouncing from Orangeville to Georgetown and to Wexford last year, the 18-year-old Kosziwka was just looking for a full-time spot on a roster, and Streetsville, which returned no players from its Royal Bank Cup team from this past spring, underwent an ownership change and complete organizational facelift.
Today, Kosziwka couldn't be happier as the Derbys have been a surprise team so far in the Western Conference with a 6-3-2-0 record, and the 6-foot-2, 175-pound forward is the team's leading scorer with seven goals and eight assists in 11 games. He set up two goals in a 4-4 tie at second-place Georgetown on Saturday, and while he didn't hit the scoresheet in a 4-3 overtime Streetsville victory on Sunday, Kosziwka played responsibly in his own zone, like most of his hard-working, if inexperienced, Derby teammates.
"When the season started we had pretty low expectations because we have such a young team and so the focus was more on developing players, but now we realize we can win too," said the Acton High School OAC student, an aspiring MBA grad and accountant who was the Bearcats' male athlete of the year for 2005-06. "We got creamed in our first exhibition game and I thought, 'Oh no,' but the season started and the team's been on fire ever since. It's been pleasantly surprising."
A product of the Halton Hurricanes' minor hockey system, Kosziwka won an Ontario championship in badminton with mixed doubles partner Melissa Bigg in May, and also led the Bearcats to the OFSAA finals in volleyball, although he had to give up the latter this fall due to his Derby commitments. He would like to continue playing hockey next year at university, possibly south of the border.
"I'm looking for a scholarship and we've had some interest from some U.S. schools," he added. "I just have to keep it up and by Christmas hopefully there'll be something more out there than an offer."
In both weekend tilts, the 8-1-1-1 Raiders fell behind 3-1 after the first period and needed late rallies to tie, despite once again outshooting their opponent by a wide margin. Streetsville's power play, which employs Kosziwka on the point, scored three times in each contest, including the winner in OT Sunday with Georgetown's Ryan Ford in the penalty box for cross-checking, just after teammate Kyle Scwhende had equalized on a brilliant effort from his knees with less than a minute left in the third period.
Matt Carter and Jon Southgate also scored for Georgetown on Sunday, with Schwende, Ford, Jonathan Quarrie and captain Wade Finegan tallying in Saturday's home draw.
The Raiders also picked up another defenceman this week, acquiring 6-foot-4, 210-pound Peter Mrksic, an 18-year-old from Hamilton who began this season with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens.
Coming up this week, the Raiders will be in Oakville Friday to take on the defending West Conference-champion Blades and then host Bramalea at the Mold-Masters SportsPlex Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.
(Eamonn Maher can be reached at