Tagged: Mackenzie Blackwood

OHL Well-Represented at CHL Awards

By: Bryan Thiel


The CHL handed out their awards for the 2015/16 season the night before the Mastercard Memorial Cup final, and the Ontario Hockey League was well-represented. Of the ten handed out, three went to OHL’ers.

Sportsnet Player of the Year Award

Mitch Marner, London Knights

mitch-marner-chl

Mitch Marner was named CHL Player of the Year (CHL).

Only four players scored more points during their respective regular seasons than Marner’s 116, and one was teammate Christian Dvorak. Add in to that a playoff-leading 44 points, and Marner’s 160 points were the highest combined total in the CHL this season. The fact he went scoreless just once in 18 playoff games (and finished the playoffs on a 16-game point-streak) and mixed in 21 and 13-game point streaks during the regular season just adds to his amazing year. Continue reading

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Playoff Recap: Spits Survive, Wild One at the Bayshore, IceDogs Thrill in Ottawa

By: Bryan Thiel


 

Kitchener Rangers @ Windsor Spitfires

Brendan Lemieux had been active for all of 19 minutes this series. 18:56 into the first period of Game 1, Lemieux was hit with a questionable slew footing call, landing him a two game suspension. The Jets’ prospect watched his team fall behind 3-0 in the series, but was rightfully fired up as he returned to the lineup for Game 4.

Things didn’t start out quite the way Lemieux had hoped however, as just over a minute in Adam Mascherin had the visiting Rangers out to a 1-0 lead, and Mascherin had made it 2-0 by the first intermission. While the first belonged to Mascherin, the second belonged to Lemieux. The veteran forward scored a natural hat-trick, all off of one-timers, all in the second period, and all on the power play to give the Spits a 3-2 lead. Bradley Latour would score his second of the series 8:29 into the third to put the Rangers down by two, but Kitchener wasn’t done. David Miller and Gustaf Franzen scored just under two minutes apart to tie things at four and send them to overtime for the third time this series. This time, however, it was the Spitfires coming out on top as Latour scored his second of the game, sending the series back to Kitchener and giving Windsor their first win, 5-4. Michael DiPietro wasn’t too busy in this one, making just 17 saves, while Dawson Carty was busy for Kitchener, making 30 stops. Connor Hall and Mascherin both ended up with multiple points for the Rangers, while Latour and Lemieux had three-points nights and Logan Brown added four assists, as the Spits went an astounding 4-for-5 on the power play.

Kitchener leads series 3-1

Next Game: Friday, April 1st @Kitchener

Niagara IceDogs @ Ottawa 67’s

In every game so far this series, the winning team had scored at least four goals. That changed Wednesday night, as both Alex Nedeljkovic and Leo Lazarev stood on their heads. Nedeljkovic finished with seven saves in the first, while Lazarev had 12, as Pavel Janys back-handed home a Josh Ho-Sang feed with just 56 seconds left to make it 1-0. The teams skated through a scoreless second (Ottawa out-shot Niagara 12-5), and it wasn’t until a third period power play that we’d see our next goal. After Ho-Sang took a hooking penalty at 15:30, Nathan Todd continued his red-hot play, scoring his fourth of the series and sending things to overtime. Overtime wouldn’t last very long however, as Jordan Maletta converted with a beautiful move on a breakaway pass from Vince Dunn to send Niagara home with a 2-1 win and a 3-1 series lead. Nedeljkovic made 30 saves in the win, while Lazarev had 28 saves in a losing effort. Todd has been a force for the 67’s in these playoffs with nine points in four games, while Janys has scored in each game for the IceDogs and Ho-Sang has seven assists in the series.

Niagara leads series 3-1

Next Game: Friday, April 1st @Niagara

London Knights @ Owen Sound Attack

It doesn’t matter what the Knights do, the Attack seem to find a way to stick with them whether it’s a tight game, or a high-scoring one like last night. Things started out well for the Attack, as Petrus Palmu got them out to a 1-0 lead, and after Robert Thomas tied it up, Josh Sterk got the lead back for the Attack. That was all in the first, and in the second the Knights took over. Matt Tkachuk and Cliff Pu put the Knights up 3-2, but Bryson Cianfrone tied it up again. After that, it was all Knights: Mitch Marner scored his fourth of the series, while Tkachuk added a pair for the hat-trick, and Cliff Pu added his second (shorthanded). Kevin Hancock and Nick Suzuki would pull Owen Sound within two, but Tkachuk’s fourth of the game into an empty net put a bow on an 8-5 win. Tkachuk added an assist for a four-point night, Marner had a goal and four assists, and Christian Dvorak added three assists. Ethan Szypula chipped in with three assists for Owen Sound, while Palmu finished with three points and Cianfrone had two points.

London leads series 3-1

Next Game: Friday, April 1st @London

 

Keep Your Eye On…

Max Jones’ status. Jones laid a vicious hit on Justin Brack during the second period of last night’s game and it rightfully ended his night. Jones has had a few instances of this in his first OHL season, and now it’s up to the OHL when his next playoff game is.

Who starts for the Barrie Colts. Word is that it was a bruised tailbone that led to MacKenzie Blackwood’s exit Tuesday night in Mississauga. He skated yesterday and will be a game-time decision.

Travis Konecny may be good to go for Game 5. He made a trip to Philadelphia and got clearance to return to the Sting. He’ll miss Game 4 but could return for Game 5.

 

Three Stars:

First Star: Matthew Tkachuk, London Knights: 4 Goals, 1 Assist, 1 GWG, 2 PPG

Second Star: Brendan Lemieux, Windsor Spitfires: 3 Goals, 3 PPG, 7 shots

Third Star: Alex Nedeljkovic, Niagara IceDogs: 30/31 saves, OT win

 

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.

OHL Well Represented at Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)


When Hockey Canada announced the roster for the National Junior Team’s Selection Camp on Tuesday, it was the culmination of months of work going all the way back to the summer. With Scott Salmond, the Vice-President of Hockey Operations and National Teams, and Director of Player Personnel Ryan Jankowski on hand, the young men that would compete for the final roster and a trip to Finland were announced.

Overall 30 players received invites (including defencemen Brandon Hickey and Jake Walman from the NCAA), with 13 of those players coming from the Ontario Hockey League.

The decision in net seems to be a fairly straightforward one for Hockey Canada, as Barrie Colts goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is one of only two goalies (Mason McDonald of the QMJHL being the other) to be invited. Blackwood is neck-and-neck with Erie’s Devin Williams for the best goals-against average in the OHL, while also sitting second in wins (16) and first in save percentage (0.930).

Blackwood also got an extended look in Team OHL’s first game against Russia in the Super Series in Owen Sound, when he made 25 saves in a 3-0 OHL win. “We’ve liked him (Blackwood) since the summer which is why we took him to (summer development) camp,” explained Jankowski. He had a great game in Owen Sound during the Super Series, and did exactly what he needed to do to earn a spot here.”

In front of Blackwood on the blueline could be a few names OHL fans are familiar with. Travis Dermott (Erie), Vince Dunn (Niagara), and Roland McKeown (Kingston) all received invitations to camp along with the lone draft eligible OHL’er of the bunch in Jakob Chychrun. Dunn, Dermott and McKeown are 1, 2, 3 in scoring among OHL defencemen, and could provide Canada with the type of responsible two-way game they’re hoping to get out of their blueline this year. Chychrun meanwhile, had a slower start to the year thanks to last season’s shoulder surgery, but Hockey Canada has been pleased with the progress he’s made over the first third of the season.

In terms of forwards, there’s plenty of firepower and a little experience coming from Ontario. Lawson Crouse (Kingston) is one of just three returnees for Canada this year, and is hoping for back-to-back gold medals. His best friend Travis Konecny (Ottawa) has an opportunity to join Crouse on the journey, something the two are excited about.

“To be able to do this with your best friend is something really special,” Crouse said through a smile. “We were texting yesterday when we found out. We couldn’t really tell anyone else though because you have to keep it quiet.”

Jankowski says that, if he makes it, Konecny brings a lot of energy and excitement with him every time he steps on the ice. The same could be said of many of the forwards picked out of the OHL, as London’s Mitch Marner (fourth in league scoring) and Erie’s Dylan Strome (tied with Marner) were invited to camp along with Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa), Brendan Perlini (Niagara), Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw), and Spencer Watson (Kingston).

While Marner and Strome have been linked the past couple of years through the NHL Draft and division battles between the Otters and Knights, the two may be teammates in a few weeks time and doing battle with a couple of current teammates.

“D (Christian Dvorak) I’m not worried about, I can handle him. Tkachuk worries me though, he can be kind of a loose cannon sometimes,” Marner said with a laugh when asked about the prospect of potentially facing some current teammates. Those two, along with Erie Otter and American Alex Debrincat lead the OHL in scoring and could be part of a very dangerous Team USA.

Other News and Notes:

-Team Canada will two games against the CIS on December 12 and 13. Former OHLers Kevin Bailie (Oshawa/London), Spencer Abraham (Brampton/Erie), Tim Campbell (Guelph), Colin Behenna (Barrie), Liam Heelis (Peterborough/Owen Sound), and Eric Locke (Windsor/Barrie/Saginaw) are former OHLers taking part.

-The process is a little different this year for Lawson Crouse. Not only is he looked upon more as a leader for Canada this time, but he got to go through the whole process this year. He missed summer camp last year while at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

-Crouse also mentioned that teammates Spencer Watson and Roland McKeown are very excited about the opportunity in front of them and the three of them have talked a lot about it.

-Marner mentioned that when he got the call he was exhausted, having just come off a three-in-three with the Knights this past weekend. He wasn’t sure he was going to answer the call until he looked down and saw the area code. At that point he just hoped Ryan Jankowski couldn’t tell how groggy he was.


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.

 

Futures List for 2015 NHL Draft Revealed: McDavid Named Amongst 18 OHLers

On Tuesday, NHL CSS released it’s futures list for both North American and European skaters. While 18 OHLers were named to the list, understandably all the talk was about Connor McDavid: the former Mr. Exceptional who’s hoping to beat Jack Eichel to the title of Mr. Number One.

Needless to say, if you think you’ve heard a lot about McDavid since he entered the OHL, you ain’t seen nothing yet. All of the hype that bubbled up during his OHL Draft year will pale in comparison to what’s about to come, especially with the 2015 World Juniors taking place on Canadian soil.

But the Marvelous Mr. McDavid isn’t all the OHL has to offer. Again there were 18 skates on that list, which left the OHL just behind the QMJHL and WHL as the most-represented league (both had 19 apiece). So who were the other 17 on the list? Glad you asked….

Mackenzie Blackwood, G, Barrie Colts: A very late 1996 birthday, Blackwood played 2012/13 with the Elmira Sugar Kings (GOJHL) before moving on to the OHL this year. A strong training camp earned him a spot amongst an early three-goalie rotation, and strong play early in the regular season (combined with the struggles of Alex Fotinos and Daniel Gibl) saw the 6’4″, 204lbs Blackwood take the starting job and run with it. He ended up playing 45 games in 13/14, going 23-15-1 with a 2.98 GAA and a 0.902 save percentage.

Doug Blaisdell, D, Kitchener Rangers: A big defender that skates well with a big shot, Blaisdell made it into 49 games on a Rangers team that faced an uphill battle for much of the year. With a season under his belt, expect the 6’3″, 206lbs defender to make steady improvements at both ends of the ice, and to continue to put his size to good use. His height and weight alone will have scouts showing up to the building.

Travis Dermott, D, Erie Otters: One of three Otters that scouts will be showing up to see this year, Dermott is another late birthday who took advantage of an extra season. After spending 12/13 with the Newmarket Hurricanes (OJHL) and putting up 15 points in 53 games, the former 9th-round pick scored three goals and added 25 assists for the Otters in 67 games, while adding five points in 14 playoff games. Dermott’s play earned him a spot on the blueline on the OHL’s All-Rookie First Team, while also being a finalist for the OHL’s Rookie of the Year award.

Vince Dunn, D, Niagara IceDogs: Another late birthday making the ranks is Dunn, who put up 33 points (5G/28A) in 63 games for the IceDogs. Dunn played key minutes the year before at Jr. B Thorold, and was ready to make an impact when it came to the OHL this year. The defender likes to go up ice with the play and is constantly trying to make things happen, and Head Coach Marty Williamson has high hopes for the talented Dunn.

Justin Lemcke, D, Belleville Bulls: A first round pick in 2013, Lemcke played in 50 games for the Bulls, adding two goals and 13 assists. Coming in at 6’2″ and around 200lbs, he’s another guy with good size on the blueline. One of the things that the Bulls liked about Lemcke when he was drafted was his leadership qualities, but he’s athletic as well. Lemcke could have gone south to play Lacrosse but instead chose the hockey route with the Bulls. He’s also a guy who embraces the Olympic-size ice that he plays on for home games. He will be attending Team Canada’s U-18 selection camp in Calgary.

Mitchell Vande Sompel, D, Oshawa Generals: Another first-round OHLer (14th overall) coming off of a very good rookie year, Vande Sompel joined Travis Dermott on the OHL’s All-Rookie First Team, showcasing a very broad skillset. Vande Sompel learned plenty during the Generals run to the Eastern Conference Final, and will have a busy summer coming up with training and attending Team Canada’s U-18 selection camp in Calgary.

Connor Walters, D, Owen Sound Attack: After splitting last year between Welland (GOJHL) and Owen Sound, Walters will be an interesting player to watch this year. A good season in Welland (37GP, 3G, 19A) was interrupted a few times by call-ups to the Attack, where he earned one assist in 15 games. Walters is expected to be with the Attack full-time this season, and worked hard to develop in Jr. B last year so he could be ready to take that next step.

Lawson Crouse, LW, Kingston Frontenacs: The 2013 5th-overall pick, Crouse is looking to follow in the steps of Sam Bennett, Roland McKeown and Spencer Watson when it comes to hearing his name called at the NHL Draft. Crouse is a big forward at 6’3″ and 200lbs who finished last year with 15 goals and 12 assists for the Frontenacs. A candidate for the Rookie of the Year award and a second-team All Rookie, Crouse looks like he might be a dangerous power-forward in the making (he added 64 penalty minutes and four fights to his totals this year). Crouse will also be headed to Calgary for Team Canada’s U-18 camp.

Sam Harding, C, Oshawa Generals: The Oshawa Generals have a habit of developing quality forwards, specifically centres, and Sam Harding may be next in line. It wasn’t a huge year offensively for Harding (3G/11A in 63 games), but that’s because he was learning the value of playing two-way hockey under DJ Smith and Scott Laughton. Harding will also be off to Calgary for Team Canada’s U-18 camp.

Travis Konecny, C, Ottawa 67’s: If it wasn’t for Connor McDavid, then you’d be hearing a whole lot more about Travis Konecny. The 67’s centre was the leading rookie scorer (70 points), first-team All-Rookie by a landslide (one of two players with 80+ votes, only one with 90), and a runaway for rookie of the year. Konecny is also headed to Calgary this summer, and will have a whole lot of scouts descending on Ottawa this year.

Nikita Korostelev, RW, Sarnia Sting: A ninth overall pick in 2013, Korostelev could join a growing list of high-end, highly drafted Russian talent to come out of Sarnia recently. Korostolev wasn’t an import because he moved to Canada on his own, two years before being drafted into the OHL to pursue his hockey career. He brought a great shot and high-end hockey sense with him too. He’s a bright player and could really jump up the draft rankings this year.

Mitchell Marner, C, London Knights: Marner was the most interesting rookie last year to me. Similar to Michael Dal Colle, Marner started his OHL career on a deep team, but kept playing well enough to earn quality minutes. He didn’t slow down the entire season, and ended up second in points by a rookie (59) and first in assists (46). Word was if his name came up in trade talks, it was pretty much a non-starter for London, and for good reason. Marner will also be off to Calgary this summer after earning a nomination for OHL Rookie of the Year and a place on the All-Rookie second team.

Hayden McCool, C, Niagara IceDogs: McCool is the second IceDog to land on this list, and may have the best name out of anyone. The 6’3″ forward has a good-sized frame to grow into, which could be troublesome for opposing defenders this year. McCool had a bit of a slow start to his OHL career with just three points in his first 23 games, and added nine points (including his first two goals) over his last 37. McCool has punched his ticket for Calgary as well.

Brett McKenzie, C, North Bay Battalion: The first pick the Battalion made when they moved to North Bay was Brett McKenzie, and he’s hoping to be the first player to start his OHL career for the NBB and work his way up to being drafted into the NHL. McKenzie is another player who learns the ropes of two-way hockey under Stan Butler, but also flashed some offence in his first season. McKenzie notched 13 goals and 10 assists in his first 63 OHL games, and added six points in 22 playoff games en route to the OHL finals. He’ll be heading to Team Canada’s U-18 camp in Calgary as well.

David Miller, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds: Miller will be entering his third OHL season (second full season) for the Greyhounds this year and is hoping to keep his steady improvement going. In 2012/13, Miller got into just five games for the ‘Hounds, but picked up three assists in the process. Last year, Miller played in 63 games for the Soo, picking up 18 goals and 19 assists, while amassing a pretty impressive point streak. He’s a smaller forward at just 5’9″, but if he continues to put up points this year it really shouldn’t matter (but probably will to some teams).

Dante Salituro, C, Ottawa 67’s: Salituro shares some similarities to Miller: Both are ‘undersized’ by today’s standards and both have late birthdays. For Salituro, he’s coming off his second full OHL season and any durability questions stemming from his 5’8″ frame should be put to rest. He’s missed just four games during his OHL career, and has 99 points (36G/63A) through those 132 contests. While he’s electric on the ice…he should probably be thankful that the Canadian Media Draft is not a thing. He probably wouldn’t be the first reporter off the board.

Dylan Strome, C, Erie Otters: The third Erie Otter on this list, Strome was another player who thrived despite being on a deep team. The second overall pick from 2013, Strome put up 39 points in 60 games, and was a point shy of cracking the top five in rookie scoring. While he was excited for the chance to go to Erie and reunite with McDavid when he was drafted, scouts will be just as excited to go and watch the two of them cause trouble all over the OHL this season. Strome will also be attending the U-18 Selection Camp in Calgary, and is the next in the line of what could be becoming a family legacy.

Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who’s covered the OHL from rink side and the broadcast booth. He’s also filed feature reports on the OHL for the past three seasons. You can follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.