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.
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
By: Bryan Thiel
This past weekend saw the dreams of 211 young men come to fruition at the 2016 NHL Draft. Among those 211 players, 48 were selected from the OHL, including nine in the first round.
The 48 players is tied for the most OHL’ers selected in a draft since 1999. Along with that, for just the second time since 1989 three players were selected from one OHL team in the first round (And it actually happened twice on Friday with the Windsor Spitfires and London Knights).
When it comes to those 48 players from the OHL and the 211 members of the draft class, they’re all winners. At the end of the day, they all took a step towards the ultimate goal of playing in the NHL and you can never take that away from them. But, just for fun, here are five players that came away with a little something more from draft weekend. Continue reading
6. Peterborough Petes @ 3. North Bay Battalion
After dropping a tight Game 1, the Peterborough Petes were able to salvage a split in North Bay on Sunday. Things started out well for the Battalion when Maurizio Colella’s first career playoff goal put them ahead late in the first. But North Bay couldn’t even take that lead to the second, as with 11 seconds left in the opening period, Logan DeNoble’s second of the post-season tied it at one. After that the Peterborough offence started clicking, as Hunter Garlent, Jonathan Ang, and Greg Betzold all scored second period goals to open up a 4-1 lead. Michael Amadio cut it to 4-2 with 47 seconds left in the second, but North Bay wouldn’t get any closer: Steven Lorentz and Steve Harland traded third period goals as the Petes took Game 2 by a 5-3 score, sending the series back to Peterborough tied at one. The Battalion clicked twice on four power play chances, while the Petes could’ve had a few more, going just 1/7 with the man advantage. Amadio added an assist for a two-point afternoon, while Kyle Wood and Cam Dineen both had 2 assists. Garlent, Ang, and Betzold all came away with 1G/1A each and Eric Cornell had a pair of helpers.
Series tied 1-1
8. Saginaw Spirit @ 1. Erie Otters
While the Erie Otters relied on secondary scoring to slip past Saginaw in Game 1, their big guns made their mark in Game 2. In the first, it was Taylor Raddysh getting things started on the power play before Alex DeBrincat scored his first of the series. 2 minutes into the second the onslaught continued when Dyland Strome nabbed his first on the Otters’ third-straight power play goal. Mitchell Byrne would make it 4-0 before Jesse Barwell got Saginaw on the board. After that the teams would alternate goals, with Kyle Maksimovich and Patrick Fellows coming through for Erie, while Connor Brown and Brady Gilmour scored for Saginaw. Kyle Pettit rounded out the scoring with his third of the series into an empty net, as Erie wrapped up a 7-3 win and a 2-0 series lead. Devin Williams ended up making 19 saves for the win, as both DeBrincat and Strome finished with one goal and two assists. Maksimovich, Travis Dermott and Jordan Sambrook all chipped in with two point efforts as well, as the Otters went 4/8 on the power play and fired 43 pucks at Evan Cormier.
Otters lead series 2-0
7. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds @ 2. Sarnia Sting
While the Sarnia Sting still have five games (at most) to figure things out, the playoff demons continue to haunt this franchise. With just two round wins since 1996/97, the Sting are staring another 2-0 series hole in the face after a 5-2 loss to Sault Ste. Marie. While Sarnia started quickly in Game 1, there was no such luck here: The teams skated through a scoreless first until Zachary Senyshyn broke the tie with 1:38 to go. From there on, it was the Greyhounds’ day. Boris Katchouk, Tim Gettinger and Bobby MacIntyre had the Soo out to a 4-0 lead before Anthony Salinitri brought Sarnia within three early in the third. Matt Mistele cut the lead to two on a power play four minutes later, but Senyshyn’s second proved to be too much as the ‘Hounds rolled to a 5-2 win. Sarnia may have had more success if it wasn’t for Brandon Halverson: the third-year netminder stopped 39 of 41 shots, including 22 of them in the third (Sarnia outshot the Soo 24-3 in the frame), and owns a 0.935 SV% across two games. Travis Konecny and Pavel Zacha were held quiet on the afternoon, as each came away with a single assist. Charlie Graham was only in for the first and second, giving way to Justin Fazio in the third.
Greyhounds lead series 2-0
“We’ve shown that we’re a good road team but they’re an excellent hockey club, you can see when they really get to work they’re difficult to handle. So a lot of work left.” – Sarnia Observer
“There was a different vibe today right from our pre-game meal to when we got to the rink. The guys were focused. The biggest difference is they were skating as a team. When we do that we can play a pretty effective game.” – Peterborough Examiner
Keep Your Eye On…
The Sarnia net. Word out of Sarnia (from the Sarnia Observer; same link as above) is that Derian Hatcher hasn’t decided on a Game 3 starter. Charlie Graham was 13-4-0-1 during the regular season with Sarnia, including a 0.915 SV% and a 2.35 GAA, but things haven’t gone well for him in the playoffs. Fazio was 24-13-3-1 with a 2.68 GAA and a 0.902 SV%, but hadn’t played since March 3rd before entering Game 2 due to injury.
Travis Konecny was banged up and missed most of the second period of Game 2. Konecny played in the late stages of the second and the third period.
First Star: Brandon Halverson, SSM Greyhounds: Stopped 39/41 shots, Greyhounds lead series 2-0
Second Star: Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters: 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Power Play points
Third Star: Greg Betzold, Peterborough Petes: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2, GWG
Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who has covered the OHL from rink-side and the broadcast booth. He has also helped produce OHL features for the past four seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @BryanThiel_88.