Tagged: Sarnia Sting

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

debrincat

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

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

OHL Announces Home Openers for OHL’s Opening Week

By: Bryan Thiel


2016HomeOpenerGeneric2-730x365

The OHL announced the home openers for all 20 teams on Tuesday (Courtesy: OHL).

The OHL announced the schedule for all 20 home openers during 2016/17  Opening Week on Tuesday. All 20 teams will play their home openers between Wednesday, September 21st and Saturday, October 1st.

You can see the schedule below:

(*Indicates a playoff matchup from the 2016 playoffs; Home team is in capitals)

Wednesday, September 21st:

SARNIA STING vs London Knights

FLINT FIREBIRDS vs Saginaw Spirit Continue reading

13 From OHL Named to Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp

By: Bryan Thiel


Hockey Canada made a series of announcements on Monday, naming the players who will attend the National Teams’ Summer Showcase.

1297785652924_ORIGINAL

Lawson Crouse & Mitch Marner could suit up for Canada again…or they could be in the NHL.

Overall, 45 Ontario Hockey League prospects were named to the National Under-17 Development Camp, 21 were announced as part of the Men’s Summer U-18 Selection Camp, and 13 will have the opportunity to state their case for a spot on the World Junior team at the National Junior Team Summer Development Camp. Ultimately, 79 OHL’ers made the cut.

 

While there are some names to pay attention to when it comes to the U-18 camp (Michael DiPietro of Windsor should make a strong case to start while Nick Suzuki’s 38 points would lead this team) and the U-17 Camp (The first five Ontario-born players selected in the most recent OHL Priority Selection all made the cut among many others), the roster for the NJT Summer Development Camp is typically where most of the attention will fall.

Here are the 13 OHL’ers that will attend camp in late July in Toronto. Continue reading

Playoff Recap: Soo Stunner, Colts Don’t Cave, Battalion Win War

By: Bryan Thiel


 

Three game sevens in the OHL last night, meaning we’re officially off to the second round!

Peterborough Petes @ North Bay Battalion

The sixth-seeded Peterborough Petes were trying to play spoiler in North Bay, and they got off to a great start when Josh Maguire scored four minutes in to give the Petes a 1-0 lead. The Battalion would battle back though, as a Kyle Wood one-timer would tie things up and Matthew Santos would snap one home with 1:31 to go in the first to give the Troops a lead they would never relinquish. Michael Amadio would add his eighth and ninth goals of the series in the second and third to wrap up a 4-1 Battalion win. For Amadio, it was a three-point night as he assisted on the game-winner, while Wood finished with two points and Cam Dineen added a pair of helpers. Jake Smith made 27 saves for the series-clinching victory, as he allowed just three goals in North Bay’s four wins over the Petes.

North Bay wins series 4-3

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds @ Sarnia Sting

Sarnia loaded up at the Trade Deadline for a reason, and it wasn’t to be staring at a potential first-round exit thanks to a seven-game series. Five minutes in, Anthony Salinitri calmed the nerves a little bit as his second have the Sting a 1-0 lead. The Greyhounds however, weren’t about to go quietly as Gabe Guertler netted his fourth of the series halfway through the first, and Bobby MacIntyre would put the ‘Hounds ahead 2-1 with his third. Pavel Zach poked in his sixth on a power play in the late second to tie things up headed to the third, where there would be fireworks. 27 seconds in Blake Speers put the Soo up 3-2, and Boris Katchouk would score seven minutes later for a two-goal lead. Not willing to say die, Troy Lajeunesse would cut it to one with just over two to go, but that’s as close as the Sting would get. Brandon Halverson turned aside four shots in the last two minutes and 36 of 39 overall on the night, leading Sault Ste. Marie to a 4-3 win and a spot in the second round. Katchouk and Zach Senyshyn would both finish with two-point efforts, while Lajeunesse had a goal and two assists in the loss. The Soo left the Sting disappointed in the first round once again, as six Greyhounds finished with four or more points in the series.

Sault Ste. Marie wins series 4-3

Mississauga Steelheads @ Barrie Colts

In a series with plenty of twists and turns, the upstart Steelheads were primed for an upset of the Barrie Colts. After a scoreless first in Barrie, draft eligible Michael McLeod put the Steelheads up 1-0 after he backhanded home a rolling puck past MacKenzie Blackwood. Jack Flinn (24 saves through two periods) and the Steelheads would take that lead to the third before the Barrie offence took over….well, Justin Scott took over. Scott scored his eighth four minutes in to the final frame, and five minutes later the Colts got a lead they would never relinquish. Andrew Mangiapane snapped one home from the slot on the power play, and Scott would add two more for the hat-trick to snuff out the Steelheads’ chances. Kevin Labanc would add an empty-netter to wrap up the game with a 5-1 win and the series 4-3. Labanc and Mangiapane would add multi-point efforts for the Colts, as Blackwood made 22 saves for the win.

Barrie wins series 4-3

 

Honour System

Kingston Frontenacs vs Oshawa Generals

Bryan said: Kingston wins 4-1

What actually happened: Kingston won 4-1

AtO Series MVP: Spencer Watson: To be honest, I was really leaning towards Warren Foegele and his two game-winning goals for this, but when your team also features the playoffs’ leading scorer (15 points in five games) it’s kind of hard to hand it to someone else.

 

Barrie Colts vs Mississauga Steelheads

Bryan said: Barrie wins 4-2

What actually happened: Barrie won 4-3

AtO Series MVP: Justin Scott: Who needs assists? Justin Scott apparently doesn’t. The OA finished with 10 goals in the series, and almost all of them came in big spots. He scored four goals in a 6-5 OT win for Barrie in Game 4 (including the game-tying and game-winning goals), and a hat-trick in the series clincher. The Mississauga offence gave Barrie fits at times, but overall the Colts were a little too up-and-down in this series, and hit a snag with MacKenzie Blackwood’s mid-series injury.

 

North Bay Battalion vs Peterborough Petes

Bryan said: Petes win 4-2

What actually happened: North Bay won 4-3

AtO Series MVP: Jake Smith: Michael Amadio is second in playoff scoring and Kyle Wood leads all defencemen in points, but when Smith was on in this series, he was on. In the three losses he gave up 17 goals, but in his four wins he allowed just one goal each, including a shutout in Game 4.

 

Niagara IceDogs vs Ottawa 67’s

Bryan said: IceDogs win 4-2

What actually happened: IceDogs won 4-1

AtO Series MVP: Pavel Jenys: Jenys and Josh Ho-Sang were literally connected at the hip this series, as all seven of Jenys’ points (five goals and two assists) involved Ho-Sang (11 points in five games). Jenys stepped up in his first taste of playoff hockey, leading the team in goals and power play goals.

 

Erie Otters vs Saginaw Spirit

Bryan said: Otters win 4-1

What actually happened: Otters won 4-0

AtO Series MVP: Alex DeBrincat/Dylan Strome: Both DeBrincat and Strome finished with nine points in the series, as Strome tied for the team-lead in goals and DeBrincat tied for the team-lead in assists. DeBrincat also lead the team with six power play points.

 

Sarnia Sting vs Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Bryan said: Sting win 4-2

What actually happened: Greyhounds won 4-3

AtO Series MVP: Brandon Halverson: Halverson faced a lot of rubber this series, seeing the most shots (261) and stopping the most (236) in the OHL. The 3.36 GAA isn’t an eye-popping number, nor is the 0.904 SV%, but when you consider the offence on the other side even without Travis Konecny, he was the rock that made the upset possible.

 

London Knights vs Owen Sound Attack

Bryan Said: Knights win 4-1

What actually happened: Knights won 4-2

AtO Series MVP: Matthew Tkachuk: I won’t lie…I’m pretty mad. The whole time I had ‘Knights in six’ written, and a late edit changed it to Knights in five. Tkachuk tied Mitch Marner for the team lead in points, but a bulk of his production came from a four and five point game. Cliff Pu got serious consideration here (five goals, one assist and was in on two GWG) but I don’t think his numbers were quite strong enough.

 

Kitchener Rangers vs Windsor Spitfires

Bryan Said: Rangers win 4-3

What actually happened: Rangers won 4-1

AtO Series MVP: Brandon Robinson: The veteran forward stepped up in a big way for the Rangers, who lucked out by barely having to deal with Brendan Lemieux en route to a 3-0 series lead. Two game-winning goals for Robinson is a big reason he wins here, but he was huge in other key situations too.

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.

 

Playoff Recap: Knights Move On, 3 Lucky 7s

By: Bryan Thiel


 

London Knights @ Owen Sound Attack

The Attack battled the Knights to the bitter end in the first round, but ultimately London’s offence won out. Matt Tkachuk’s seventh of the first round got things started in the first, before rookie Nick Suzuki tied it up. The Knights were able to escape the first with a lead, when Christian Dvorak put home his second with just two seconds to go in the opening frame.Victor Mete added some insurance in the second with his first of the series, before Clfif Pu’s 5th provided the insurance early in the third. Josh Sterk brought the Attack closer, but the OA’s fourth wasn’t enough as Tkachuk sealed it with his eighth into an empty net for a 5-2 win. Tkachuk finished the afternoon with four points, as Tyler Parsons made 31 saves for the win, propelling the Knights into round two. As they await their opponent though, one troubling thing remains for London: Penalty trouble. The Knights are tied with the Barrie Colts for the second-most times shorthanded in the playoffs (32), but have given up a playoff-worst 11 power play goals. It nearly cost them against the Attack, and with potential matchups against two high-powered offenses, it’s something that needs to get cleaned up.

London wins series 4-1

Barrie Colts @ Mississauga Steelheads

This continues to be one of the most interesting series of the first round, because it’s almost impossible to get a read on either team. After the Steelheads were shutout in Barrie by the Colts in game five, they stormed right back to force a game seven with a 7-0 win. David Ovsjannikov lasted all of six minutes and three shots in this one, as Brendan Harrogate, Sean Day, and Michael McLeod  all scored in the early stages for the 3-0 lead. Mason Marchment’s second of the series was the lone goal of the second period, before Jared Walsh, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda, and Owen Tippett capped off the win. Jack Flinn made 24 saves for the shutout, while seven Steelheads finished with two points, including all of the goal scorers except Harrogate. MacKenzie Blackwood made 28 saves in relief of Ovsjannikov in his return from a lower body injury.

Series tied 3-3

Next Game: Tuesday, April 5th @Barrie

North Bay Battalion @ Peterborough Petes

This is another series that has been all over the place, and game six was a perfect example of that. After a scoreless first period, Michael Amadio made it look like North Bay was off to the second round with a natural hat-trick in just over seven minutes. But then it was the Petes’ turn. Greg Betzold and Hunter Garlent cut it to a one-goal lead, before Jonathan Ang, Brandon Prophet, and Betzold put the Petes in front with seven minutes to go. Maurizio Colella tried twice to draw the Battalion closer, but the first time Eric Cornel restored the lead, and the second time Brandon Prophet scored into an empty net to send things back to North Bay tied at three games apiece with the 7-5 win. Amadio and Colella both finished with three points for the night, while Ang powered the Petes with four points, and four other Petes finished with multiple points. Oddly enough, for the second time in this series, a hat-trick wasn’t enough to get North Bay the win as they’re now 0-2 when someone scores three in this series.

Series tied 3-3

Next Game: Tuesday, April 5th @North Bay

Sarnia Sting @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

The comeback bid for the Sting continues, as they’ve climbed out of their 3-1 series hole to force a game seven. Early in the first, Sting fans may have been clenching their teeth a bit as Boris Katchouk put them in an early 1-0 hole with his third. But the Travis Konecny-less Sting got their offence in gear as Jakob Chychrun tied it in the first and Jordan Kyrou gave them the lead in the second. In the third, two Pavel Zacha goals bookended Chychrun’s second, as the Sting forced things back to Sarnia with a 5-1 win. Chychrun finished with four points, while Zacha had three and Kyrou and a pair. The Sting were also able to get 28 saves out of Charlie Graham, as they will play a seven-game series for the first time since 1999/2000.

Series tied 3-3

Next Game: Tuesday, April 5th @Sarnia

Notable Quotable

“We were just kind of all over on the ice today,” Labanc said. “We could’ve been a bit better defensively, but we also didn’t stay disciplined as well.” – Barrie Examiner

“I read a book in Grade 13 called A Tale of Two Cities,” said North Bay coach/GM Stan Butler. “I’d call that the Tale of Two Games. The first half of the game we played the right way. That’s been our problem all year is when we get leads we sometimes forget how we got them. We don’t want to play a run-and-gun game with them as we saw tonight.” – Peterborough Examiner

“Owen Sound made us have to sharpen our senses,” London assistant coach Dylan Hunter said. “It was touch-and-go all series.” – London Free Press

Three Stars

1. Jonathan Ang, Peterborough Petes: 1 goals, 3 assists, +2, 1 shorthanded goal

2. Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia Sting: 2 goals, 2 assists, +2, 2 power play points

3. Jack Flinn, Mississauga Steelheads: 24/24 saves, shutout, win

Playoff Recap: Sting Stunned Again, Otters Power Up, Petes Tie it Up

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

Notable Quotable

“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.

Three Stars:

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.

Playoff Recap: Sarnia Stunned, Gens Blanked, Otters Roll

A typically busy Friday night in the OHL as five series got underway in the playoffs.


 

8. Oshawa Generals @ 1. Kingston Frontenacs

The top team in the Eastern Conference didn’t have a problem with the defending champions on Friday night. The Frontenacs hit double-digits in shots every period on Friday night, out-shooting the Generals 16-8 in the first, 14-4 in the second, and 11-6 in the third for a three period total of 41-18, en route to a 6-0 win. Jeremy Helvig got the start for the Frontenacs and didn’t have much to do for his first career playoff shutout (third this season), as five different players scored for Kingston. After a scoreless first period, Warren Foegele’s first OHL playoff goal got things started for the Fronts who wouldn’t look back. Foegele would add an assist for a two-point night, while Roland McKeown (2G/1A), Spencer Watson (1G/1A), Lawson Crouse (1G/2A), and Jared Steege would all chip in with goals. In his first playoff matchup against his former team, Michael Dal Colle was held off the scoresheet with a +1 rating.

Frontenacs lead series 1-0

 

6. Peterborough Petes @ 3. North Bay Battalion

In North Bay, the Battalion did things the Stan Butler way. After surrendering a power play goal to Logan DeNoble 11:39 in to the opening period, Michael Amadio came back with a shorthanded goal three minutes later. The teams skated through a scoreless duel for the next period-and-a-half before Brett Hargrave scored the game-winning goal at 7:09 of the third. For the North Bay native, it was his first career post-season goal in his sixth game for the 2-1 win. The North Bay made it an easy night for Jake Smith, who made just 20 saves, while Peterborough’s Matthew Mancina turned aside 30 of 32.

Battalion lead series 1-0

 

8. Saginaw Spirit @ 1. Erie Otters

Erie’s offence showed up in Game 1 against Saginaw, but it was keyed by their secondary scorers. Kyle Maksimovich started things off for the Otters six minutes in, when the 27-goal man notched his fourth-career playoff goal. Nick Betz (19 regular season goals) and Kyle Pettit (10 regular season goals) followed that up, giving Erie a 3-0 lead through one. Travis Dermott added a power play goal and Pettit’s second chased Evan Cormier from the Saginaw net after just 29:19. Cameron Zanussi came in and stopped all 10 shots he faced, but Erie was well on their way, holding on for a 5-1 win. Jesse Barwell’s first-ever playoff goal was Saginaw’s lone of the evening (shorthanded), as Devin Williams made just 15 saves. Betz and Dermott both added a pair of assists for three-point nights, while Jake Marchment added a pair of helpers. Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat combined for 1 assist and a -2 rating.

Otters lead series 1-0

 

7. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds @ 2. Sarnia Sting

The Sting came into this series as heavy favourites, but the Greyhounds were able to prove that the standings don’t matter much when it’s time to play. Things started out pretty predictably for Sarnia: Travis Konecny and Kevin Spinozzi had power play goals twenty-eight seconds apart before the game was five minutes old. Then the ‘Hounds flipped a switch. Hayden Verbeek scored to send things to the second at 2-1 Sting, before Gabe Guertler (on the power play) and Bobby MacIntyre gave the Soo the lead. Playoff veteran Matt Mistele tied things up on the power play, Guertler’s second a minute later gave the ‘Hounds a lead they’d never relinquish. Blake Speers and Boris Katchouk would chip in for a 6-3 win as Sault Ste. Marie takes game one. Brandon Halverson stopped 33 shots for the win, as six Greyhounds chipped in with multiple points.

Greyhounds lead series 1-0

 

6. Owen Sound Attack @ 3. London Knights

Many thought that in order for Owen Sound to steal a game (or two), London would have to get themselves into penalty trouble. Last night the Knights gave the Attack six chances with the man advantage, but Owen Sound could only manage one goal. After a scoreless first, Max Jones and Cliff Pu scored three minutes apart in the second, before Aaron Berisha made it a three-goal lead in the third. Petrus Palmu finally got the Attack on the board during their fifth power play of the night, but they’d never get closer. Mitch Marner chipped in an empty-netter for a 4-1 Knights win. Pu’s goal was the first of his playoff career,  while Jones added an assist for a two-point night, and Tyler Parsons made 27 saves for the win.

Knights lead series 1-0

 

OHL Discipline

The league handed down a two-game suspension to Windsor’s Brendan Lemieux for his slew-foot on Frank Hora in game one between the Spitfires and Rangers. There was some optimism that Lemieux wouldn’t miss Games 2 and 3, but the Jets prospect will have to sit.

Notable Quotable

“Our character has been tested all year,” Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson said Friday. “We’ve been dealing with situations from the start of the year. This is just par for the course.” – Windsor Star

“Before the game, I was pretty nervous and excited but after a couple of shifts it just felt like a normal game,” – The Kingston Whig-Standard

 

Three Stars

First Star: Gabe Guertler, SSM: 2 Goals, 1 PPG, 1 GWG, +1

Second Star: Roland McKoewn, KGN: 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 1 Power play point, +1

Third Star: Kyle Pettit, ERIE: 2 Goals, +3


 

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.

 

Quarterfinal Quick Pix: 2016 OHL Playoff Predictions

By: Bryan Thiel


 

On Thursday night the OHL playoffs will kick off and the countdown to the 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup can truly begin. The West has a pair of powerhouses that battled it out to the very end for conference supremacy, while Kingston ran away with the East as Kevin Labanc had a season to remember for the Barrie Colts.

Now it’s all on the line, as teams battle it out to hoist the J. Ross Robertson Cup.

Eastern Conference

1. Kingston Frontenacs vs 8. Oshawa Generals

These two got together around the trade deadline for one of the bigger deals, sending Michael Dal Colle to the Frontenacs. Now Dal Colle, who has 55 points in 30 games with the Fronts, has a chance at back-to-back OHL and Memorial Cup Championships. The first step on that journey could come at the expense of his former team, who fought to hold on to the final playoff spot in the East. Kingston played well down the stretch (7-2-1-0) and surrendered the fewest goals-against in the conference. Oshawa’s goaltending will need to be great if they want to stick around in this series because Kingston will try to grind them down.

Kingston wins series 4-1

2. Barrie Colts vs 7. Mississauga Steelheads

While the draft-eligible triplets in Mississauga form a formidable trio, the question will be whether Alex Nylander, Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian can go toe-to-toe with Kevin Labanc and Andrew Mangiapane. Bastian was a goal away from giving all three Steelheads a 20/40 year, and the three of them have done fairly well against the Colts (Nylander: 5GP / 3G / 3A ; McLeod: 5GP / 3G / 3A; Bastian 6GP / 2G / 5A), but it will come down to depth. After the 100 point seasons of Labanc and Mangiapane, the Colts had four players with 60 or more points, including defensive scoring leader Rasmus Andersson. Add in the fact that there’s Mackenzie Blackwood between the pipes, and there’s no question that regular season success needs to continue for the triplets if the Steelheads want to stick around.

Barrie wins series 4-2

3. North Bay Battalion vs 6. Peterborough Petes

There are things to really like with both of these teams. Michael Amadio’s 50-goal/98-point season was the best since names like Cody Hodgson and Wojtek Wolski graced the ice in Brampton. You also can’t say enough about the year that Cam Dineen had (13G / 46A, second in scoring by defensemen) for North Bay. Jake Smith has always been a good fit with the Battalion as well, and always seems to play his best come playoff time (0.916 SV% in the post-season vs. 0.899 SV% in the regular season). On the other side, Hunter Garlent had a 40/40 campaign and Eric Cornel had his best year in the OHL setting career-highs across the board. Stan Butler’s style always plays well come playoff time, but the Petes could be ready to play spoiler.

Peterborough wins series 4-2

4. Niagara IceDogs vs 5. Ottawa 67’s

The IceDogs have a wealth of talent that’s good enough to get them to at least the conference finals, but they’ll have to get past red-hot Ottawa first. The 67’s wrapped up their season with six straight wins, which included victories over Barrie and Kingston, and Dante Salituro has been electric since January 10th. All this after the team traded away Travis Konecny and Sam Studnicka to Sarnia. For Niagara, their big moves came sprinkled across the last few years. Josh Ho-Sang led the team in scoring during the regular season, but a huge post-season could mean a lot for the mercurial forward. Mix in the acquisition of Josh Wesley and Alex Nedeljkovic from Flint and the IceDogs have added a key piece at every level to augment the talent they already had (and that’s ignoring the acquisition of Stephen Harper). The talent puts them in a position to push for a championship, but the big guns can’t afford to let up for a second if they want to do it.

Niagara wins series 4-2
Western Conference

1. Erie Otters vs 8. Saginaw Spirit

It took right up until the final buzzer of the regular season, but the Erie Otters held off the London Knights to claim the number one seed in the Western Conference. The Otters had a bit of an uneven run to end the regular season, dropping games to Niagara and Flint while ending up with some closer-than-expected results against Guelph and Saginaw, so the hope is they shake off the cobwebs quickly. Overall this is still one of the best teams in the CHL, and a team with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome upfront, Travis Dermott on the blueline, and Devin Williams in net so they should be able flip the switch now that it’s playoff time…but I wouldn’t be surprised if Saginaw finds a way to steal a game off of them along the way.

Erie wins series 4-1

2. Sarnia Sting vs 7. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

The Sarnia Sting loaded up at the trade deadline, and in a year where it looked like the West will be won by Erie or London, it raised some eyebrows. Sarnia has played its best hockey down the stretch, winning six in a row before dropping the season-finale to Windsor (their last loss before that was against the Greyhounds). The Sting are playing with a lot of confidence and know that bigger challenges lie ahead, but the Greyhounds can’t be overlooked. The first three matchups were lopsided Sting wins, but the last matchup was a 5-2 Soo win, and the other two were one-goal victories for the Sting. This will be an interesting series but ultimately, the Sting should be off to the second round for the first time since 2007/08.

Sarnia wins series 4-2

3. London Knights vs 6. Owen Sound Attack

London is 1B in the Western Conference and get a Midwest Division slugfest for their troubles. There may be a 30-point difference between these two in the standings (and 100+ goals), but the Attack will put up a fight. There has been a lot written about Christian Dvorak, Mitch Marner and Matthew Tkachuk this year, and for good reason: 121 goals, 223 assists and 344 points makes them a scary trio. London has depth too, as their next three leading scorers all finished with more points than Owen Sound’s leading scorer (Bryson Cianfrone finished with 50 points). The Attack will have their work cut out for them but they’ll give London all they can handle. Plus, this division always gives us great playoff series anyways.

London wins series 4-1

4. Kitchener Rangers vs 5. Windsor Spitfires

While the other three series may lack drama, this one makes up for it. While the Rangers can trot out Ryan MacInnis, Jeremy Bracco, and over-looked draft prospect Adam Mascherin, the Spitfires have Christian Fischer, Brendan Lemieux, and highly-touted draft eligible Logan Brown. As Luke Opilka gets set to embark on his first OHL playoffs, rookie Michael DiPietro has taken the OHL by storm in his first year and has his eyes set on being the next Alex Nedeljkovic – not only is he the rare rookie goalie that can start in the OHL, but he’s the rare rookie goalie who isn’t scared of the Aud or the Rangers (He won two of the three games he played against them, both in overtime). While they weren’t quite neck-and-neck in the standings (eight points separated them), they’re neck-and-neck on special teams and pretty much every other category. This one will be tight and will go the distance. It’ll be a must-watch.

Kitchener wins series 4-3


 

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.

Recapping the OHL Trade Deadline: Player Rights, Massive Deals, and Who Needs Draft Picks?

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)


 

The OHL Trade Deadline is where teams decide if this is their year, or it’s ‘wait until next year’; are they contenders or pretenders?

This year, the league seems wide open with teams on both sides loading up at the deadline. 59 draft picks (10 of those conditional) changed hands between January 1st and 11th, with five trades involving one team surrendering four or more picks.

At the end of the day, it’ll only be worth it for one team: the one who claims the J. Ross Robinson Cup and moves on to the Mastercard Memorial Cup. Last year the Oshawa Generals made good on some savvy moves around the deadline, winning the league and claiming the title of the best team in the CHL.

Fittingly, we start with the defending champs when looking at some of the league’s biggest deadline dealings.

Recouping Assets

Last year Oshawa acquired Matt Mistele, Dakota Mermis, Michael McCarron, and Brent Pedersen among others. The price tag included Ryan Moore, Cliff Pu and a handful of picks. The moves obviously worked out, but for many championship teams the season after is one of regaining assets. Before the deadline they were able to get three picks for Mistele and four picks (plus some conditionals) for Stephen Desrocher from Kingston. The big deal was still yet to come however:

Oshawa sends Michael Dal Colle to Kingston for Robbie Burt, Flint’s 2nd round pick in 2017, Kingston’s 2nd round pick in 2019, and 3rd round picks in 2018 and 2022.

The Generals would mix in deals with London (Getting Eric Henderson for Jacob Graves and a pick) and Guelph (Justin Nichols for picks), but trading the Isles’ prospect who pulled in 31 points in 21 games during last year’s playoffs (while adding in the other moves) is a good way to set yourself up for the future.

Boom or Bust

One of the biggest names floating around at the deadline was former OHL first overall pick Travis Konecny. Rumours had him going all over the Western Conference but one team stepped up in an eye-popping way.

Ottawa sends Travis Konecny, Sam Studnicka and a 3rd round pick in 2016 to Sarnia for Chase Campbell, Sasha Chmelevski, Owen Sound’s 2nd round pick in 2016, Sault Ste. Marie’s 2nd round pick in 2017, Sarnia’s 2nd round pick in 2019 and 3rd round picks in 2019 and 2020,Windsor’s 3rd round pick in 2017, Saginaw’s 5th round pick in 2017, Oshawa’s 5th round pick in 2019, and two conditional picks (Sarnia’s 2nd round picks in 2021 and 2022).

There’s pressure in Sarnia to have some form of playoff success, which brought about the Sting’s activity at the deadline (which included picking up Charlie Graham). The last two series they won in the playoffs? 1996/97 and 2007/08, both vs Windsor. That’s nearly 20 years with just two visits to the second round. What makes this boom or bust is how difficult the Western Conference is this year. The Windsor Spitfires got better too and have a seven point lead in the division (although Sarnia has played three fewer games) and Sarnia is 12 points behind the Erie/London/Kitchener trio. Basically, the Sting have to go on a run and win the division, because there’s a very good chance they could have made some serious moves to simply finish fifth in the West.

On the flip side, if both Konecny and Pavel Zacha are with the Sting next year and the team struggles, they have the opportunity to flip both in an attempt to get some of those picks back like they did with Hayden Hodgson.

Mad Dash for the Central

The Central Division is crazy right now. Barrie leads the division with 49 points, but Niagara (47), Mississauga (46) and North Bay (44) are all within striking distance. The Steelheads added Mason Marchment at the deadline, while Niagara made moves for Stephen Harper and Tyler Boston, along with an early December swap for Alex Nedeljkovic and Josh Wesley. So what was left for the Barrie Colts?

Saginaw sends Dylan Sadowy and Gregory Di Tomaso to Barrie for Rocky Kaura, Barrie’s 2nd round picks in 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021, 3rd round picks in 2017 and 2018, a 4th round pick in 2018, a 5th round pick in 2020, Kingston’s 4th round pick in 2016, and two conditional picks (Barrie’s 2nd round pick in 2022 and 3rd round pick in 2023).

The Colts were also able to add Keigan Goetz from Sault Ste. Marie, Cameron Lizotte from Peterborough, and Anthony Stefano from Windsor in December in an effort to keep the rest of the division at arm’s length. The bright side for Barrie is that they’re essentially in the reverse of Sarnia’s situation. With Ottawa the second-best team in the East Division at 42 points, there’s a good chance the Colts could pull off a third-place (or a worst-case scenario fourth) finish in the East if they can’t hold the Central.

The ‘Rights’ Fit

It’s not often that you see a player’s rights traded in the middle of the season. It’s even rarer that you see it happen twice. That’s exactly what happened though, when two Midwest Division rivals went after a pair of pro players.

Guelph trades Robby Fabbri to Kitchener for Kitchener’s 3rd round pick in 2020 and two conditional picks (Saginaw’s 2nd round pick in 2018 and Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2019).

Flint trades Sonny Milano to London for a conditional 15th round pick in 2016 (Pick becomes Sudbury’s 2nd round pick in 2019 and North Bay’s 4th round pick in 2016 if Milano plays in the OHL).

First let’s deal with what the players would bring. If Milano were to play for London this year, he would likely give them the best group of forwards in the OHL. With half a year of AHL hockey under his belt, a bronze medal from the World Juniors, and a 68 points last year in Plymouth, the Knights would add another dynamic talent (on top of getting 2015 Import Daniel Bernhardt to come overseas at the deadline) to their group of forwards. For Kitchener, they get a highly-skilled OHL champion with NHL experience, and a penchant for playing beyond his size.

Now when both of these trades went down, the immediate question asked was “what do these teams know that we don’t?” For Fabbri, St. Louis is extremely happy with him. There was a lot of talk about him going the other way in a trade for Ryan Johansen, but the Blues wouldn’t budge. And just before he played his 10th game in the NHL this year, a source said that it would be ‘shocking’ were Fabbri to be sent down at all this year.

So it seems that the Rangers simply took a chance that an elite OHL’er could be headed back to junior, and on the off-chance he is demoted, they add a huge weapon for a price they don’t need to worry about until 2020.

For the Knights, the connections between Jarmo Kekalainen and Basil McRae were brought up and people cited Milano’s AHL numbers as a reason he could be OHL bound. On top of that the belief that ‘if the Knights want him, they’ll get him’ had people predicting Milano would land in London last Friday at the earliest. But if you want an idea of just how sure the Knights are that Milano would come back to the OHL, maybe the price is an indication.

A 15th round pick doesn’t give off the impression that Milano is leaving Lake Erie. While Flint has had its controversies this year, one would think that if they had heard anything on the Milano front, the initial price would be much higher. Plus, Milano wasn’t drafted out of the OHL, so he can stay in the AHL as long as Columbus wants him there. Someone along the line could have said there ‘might be a chance’ of it happening and, like the Fabbri situation, it makes sense for a team with playoff aspirations to take the gamble ‘just in case’.

Overall it was another crazy OHL Trade Deadline. People want to know the winners and losers right away, but we won’t know who won until we see who the last team standing is. For one team, that will make this hectic start to January all worth it.


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.