Friday Five: 5 OHL Winners from the 2017 NHL Draft

By: Bryan Thiel


Last weekend, countless dreams were realized after years of hard work.

The Steelheads’ Owen Tippett will forever be known as a top ten pick, Attack forward Nick Suzuki has the opportunity to be the face of a brand new franchise in Las Vegas, and Morgan Frost will be tied to Brayden Schenn once his time with the Greyhounds is up. The three of them joined Gabriel Vilardi (11th overall to Los Angeles) and Robert Thomas (20th overall to St. Louis) as first round picks and obvious winners in last weekend’s draft. Ultimately every player who heard their name called last weekend is a winner, but the most attention will be paid to those five names going forward.

With that in mind, here are five more names that are winners following the 2017 NHL Draft. Continue reading

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The case for (and against) the Windsor Spitfires as Memorial Cup Champions

By: Bryan Thiel

On Sunday night the Canadian Hockey League season wrapped up in dramatic fashion.

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Despite a lengthy layoff, the Windsor Spitfires overcame rust an three league champions to claim the MasterCard Memorial Cup. (Aaron Bell / CHL Images)

The Ontario Hockey League champion Erie Otters and the host Windsor Spitfires were the last two teams standing in the hunt for the MasterCard Memorial Cup. It was the sixth time that the two had met this year, with four of those matchups coming in the OHL’s regular season, and the fifth deciding which of the two would get a bye to the final game.

While there was little doubt after two periods who would come away with that first matchup (Windsor led 3-0 after two), the teams traded goals throughout, entering the third tied 3-3 before Aaron Luchuk scored the clincher five minutes into the final frame.

After the final buzzer, emotions poured out and story-lines started to emerge. There was the obvious elation of the home-town team, bounced after seven hard-fought, first round games in their league’s playoffs redeeming themselves. There was disappointment for the Erie Otters, who surrounded the graduating Dylan Strome, their captain, as the Spitfires celebrated their championship in a heartfelt moment. The Otters also dealt with the ugliness of an emotional, stick-throwing outburst from goaltender Troy Timpano.

And then there was…a conversation. Continue reading

Across the OHL’s 2017 Playoff All-Star Team

By: Bryan Thiel


The OHL Playoffs are in the books and the Erie Otters are finally OHL Champions.

After four-straight years of making it to at least the Western Conference Final and claiming two Wayne Gretzky Trophies in the process, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and the Otters organization finally did it.

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The Otters did enough celebrating. They don’t need to make this team. (Dan Hickling/OHL Images).

Along the way there were plenty of contributors. Among the top ten playoff scorers, six were Otters. DeBrincat led the way with 38 points, while Strome finished four points behind him. Anthony Cirelli not only played hero once again with the championship-clinching goal in overtime, but tied for the playoff lead in goals with 15. Then there’s Warren Foegele who took home the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as playoff MVP. And that’s not even getting into what the Raddyshes (Raddyshs? Raddi? Taylor and Darren?) did.

What we’re saying is that it would be easy to let Erie sweep all three forward spots and one on the blueline, while handing them some honourable mentions as well. So that’s not what’s going to happen. The Otters have their championship and are headed to Windsor for the Mastercard Memorial Cup. Instead, it’s the Across the OHL Playoff All-Star Team without anyone from the champions.

Bold. Continue reading

Attack and Otters, Petes and Steelheads set to clash in OHL Conference Championships

By: Bryan Thiel


And then there were four.

After a first round that had very little in terms of surprises, there was a touch more drama in round number two.

In Game 1, it seemed like the Mississauga Steelheads were bound to have trouble with another high-class goalie as Jeremy Brodeur made 50 saves for the Oshawa Generals, backstopping them to a 3-2 win. After that though, it was all Mississauga. They won Game 2 by a 7-3 score and then went on the road for Games 3, 4 and 5, promptly ending Oshawa’s season. Continue reading

Guelph Storm stay ‘in the family’ on OHL Draft Day

By: Bryan Thiel


It’s official: the Guelph Storm are a family business.

On Saturday, with the second overall pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, the Storm announced that they were selecting a Bertuzzi for the third time in franchise history. After taking his father Todd with the fifth overall selection in 1991 and his cousin Tyler in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, outgoing General Manager Mike Kelly informed Tag Bertuzzi that he’d be carrying on the family’s legacy in The Royal City. Continue reading

On to the next one: Previewing the OHL’s Conference Semi-Finals

By: Bryan Thiel


The first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs had plenty of drama, but in the end there were no upsets.

That means we ended up going three-for-four on our Western Conference preview (With the right number of games in two of the series) and four-for-four in the Eastern Conference (Nailing the number of games on two other series).

Pretty good, but it only gets tougher from here on out. With all top four seeds moving on it’s tough to say that any of the lower seeds winning would be ‘shocking’. In some cases it would be a bit of a surprise, but these are the best four teams in each conference. They all deserve to be here, and that means there should be some great hockey ahead. Continue reading

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview: Are there upsets to be had in the East?

By: Bryan Thiel


The great thing about the playoffs this year in the Ontario Hockey League, is that both conferences were so tight.

In the East, the Oshawa Generals missed first place by four points, while the race for the final three playoff spots came down to three teams and seven points. In the West, there were three teams with 100 points, with the Knights finishing one shy of the century mark.

If that’s any indication, the playoffs will be a lot of fun.

1) Peterborough Petes vs 8) Niagara IceDogs

Up front: The Petes seem to have it figured out offensively this year. The second-highest scoring team in the East got consistent production from the trio of Jonathan Ang, Steven Lorentz, and Logan DeNoble, and then tidied that up with Christopher Paquette and leading scorer Nikita Korostolev (29 points in 24 games with PBO). The IceDogs got a spectacular season out of rookie Akil Thomas, and an equally impressive one out of Oliver Castleman, but it’ll be up to them and Ben Jones and Johnny Corneil to keep pace with the Petes.

On the blueline: Give Ryan Mantha credit: He came into this year motivated, led by example, and earned himself an NHL contract. Now he and Aaron Haydon have to shoulder the load for a very young blueline. At first glance, Peterborough’s defence doesn’t have that ‘wow’ factor, but they’re consistent and reliable. Matthew Timms, Kyle Jenkins, Matt Spencer, and Brandon Prophet will have to prove they can limit the workload for Dylan Wells. Continue reading

Western Conference Playoff Preview: Spitfires and Knights highlight first round

By: Bryan Thiel


Entering the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, the Western Conference looks nearly unstoppable. The top five teams all have a realistic chance at going to the OHL Finals, and one of the top four could end up at the Mastercard Memorial Cup alongside the Windsor Spitfires.

This should be fun.

1) Erie Otters vs 8) Sarnia Sting

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DeBrincat and the Otters are prepared for a deep run.

Up front: Alex DeBrincat. Dylan Strome. Taylor Raddysh. Anthony Cirelli. That’s not even fair, because that’s only half of the truly dangerous firepower they offer. They were the second-highest scoring team in the CHL and one of just three teams across the nation to score more than 300 goals. Jordan Kyrou had an outstanding season for Sarnia and Drake Rymsha is just shy of a goal-per-game pace since coming over from Ottawa, but it’ll be hard for the Sting to keep up.

On the blueline: Kitchener Rangers Head Coach Jay McKee told me that Erie doesn’t get enough credit for how good they are defensively, and he’s right. Even if you ignore the fact that Darren Raddysh led all defencemen in scoring, they haven’t allowed more than 25 shots in any of their last six games (Which includes two against London, and one against both Peterborough and Windsor). Sarnia struggled to keep the puck out of their own net, finishing with 277 goals against (second-worst in the West). Continue reading

CIBC Canada Russia Super Series: Team OHL Breakdown

unnamedOn Tuesday, the Ontario Hockey League announced the rosters for the two games against the Russian National Junior Team on the Ontario leg of the CIBC Canada Russia Super Series. The games will take place November 10th in North Bay and November 14th in Hamilton.

Traditionally, the Super Series offers Hockey Canada an extra look at players who are battling for a spot at Team Canada’s selection camp for the World Junior Championships. The rosters do go a little more in depth however, as not only are elite-level OHL players invited to take part, but typically a handful of second-year players are added to the roster in an effort to gauge them against higher competition (Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian both played in the 2015 Super Series as draft eligibles). Continue reading

Summer Camp: OHL’ers at NHL Development Camps

By: Bryan Thiel


Each year NHL teams hold Development Camps for recently drafted/signed prospects, and to get a good look at some of the players that didn’t get draft but might be worth an entry-level contract.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of just who’s going where during the summer, so we’ve broken it down below, going team-by-team through the NHL. As some teams have not released a full roster, this list will be updated as information becomes available. Continue reading