Pictured is newly named captain of the Kingston Frontenacs, Michael Moffat. Last season, he wore an "A". The overager becomes the 37th captain in Fronts' history, and says that this is the first time he has ever been a captain.
When asked about the new role, Moffat felt he deserved the opportunity to lead the young group of Frontenacs, since he worked very hard in the off-season, but he was quick to point out that there is a strong leadership group in Kingston, including fellow OA Darcy Greenaway, Warren Steele, Ryan Kujawinski, and Billy Jenkins.
The NHL undrafted defenseman was invited to the Nashville Predators Rookie camp and impressed enough to stay for the main camp, and for their AHL affiliate camp in Milwaukee, as well. He called each camp excellent experiences and says he learned a lot from each one. He says that it's great to have an NHL team follow his progress throughout the season, and hopes to get another invite after the Frontenacs' season is over.
Right now, he is focused on leading his team to wins, and says he believes his team can "dominate the East" this year. This type of optimism hasn't been associated with the Kingston Frontenacs in a very long time. When asked about his leadership style, Moff said that he is a vocal guy in the dressing room, and he tries to lead by example on the ice. He was Kingston's most physical defenseman last season, often standing up for teammates, but has posted seasons of 26 and 25 assists the last two years from Kingston's blueline, proving he can contribute offensively, too. Hopefully with Moffat back, Kingston's powerplay can start to produce a little more. They are currently ranked 16th in the 20 team OHL on the powerplay, scoring on 20% of their opportunities.
On Wednesday night the Frontenacs defeated the Bulls in Belleville 4-3 in overtime. Ryan Kujawinski scored the OT winner with just 20 seconds left in the 5 minute overtime period.
Both goalies were hot as the Fronts outshot the Bulls 47-41. Matt Mahalak was named the game's first star, as he allowed only one goal in each period, often settling his team down when the Bulls pressed. Both teams seemed to thrive on the big ice surface in Belleville, and used their speed to generate chances. Memorable saves by Mahalak came off of Brendan Gaunce, Jordan Subban, and Garrett Hooey.
Kingston's head coach, Todd Gill, was happy with the offensive part of his team's game, but says that they "have work to do" to tighten up defensively. He had high praise for Spencer Watson's effort on the overtime winner, calling it "all Watty on the play". Watson won a puck battle at Kingston's blue line, poked the puck down into the Bulls' zone, chased it down, and fed Kujawinski in front of the net.
Puck possession heavily favoured the Frontenacs in the game. Gill was pleased with his penalty killing, but says that his players need to shoot more on the powerplay. Kingston outshot Belleville 6-0 in overtime.
The line of Spencer Watson (1g 1a), Henri Ikonen (1a) and Sam Bennett (1a) were very good in this game, and were all plus-2 players. Right winger Aaron Berisha (1g 1a), and defenseman Jordan Subban (2a) each had 2 points for the Bulls.
On Friday evening, the Frontenacs kept it rolling with a 7-4, home ice, victory over another East team, the Ottawa 67s. 4024 fans were treated to another strong offensive effort by the home team. Sam Bennett tallied the fastest goal (from the start of the game) in Frontenacs' history, 10 seconds into this one. He received a tremendous cross ice pass, and busted wide, down the left side, on the 67s defense and blasted one past the stunned, Ottawa starter, Jacob Blair.
Rookie, Lawson Crouse would tally his first of two on the night, moments later, when he retrieved his own, wrap around, rebound and roofed it over a sprawled Blair. The home team led 2-0 before the fans had warmed their seats. Perhaps the nicest goal on the night was the culmination of a Henri Ikonen, Roland McKeown 2 on 1 break. Roland finished off the play with a tap in, for his first of the season, just 7 seconds past the 4 minute mark of the opening period.
Ottawa coach, Chris Byrne called a timeout at that point to slow down the hard charging Frontenacs. It seemed to work temporarily, but just over 6 minutes later, Sam Povorozniouk made it 4-0 Fronts, as he pounced on a loose puck near the 67s line, stepped into the slot and beat Blair low along the ice. It appeared as though the rout was on. However, just before the period ended, Ryan Van Stalen would make it 4-1 after his teammate, Joseph Blandisi, stole the puck from Kingston's starter, Lucas Peressini behind the Fronts' net.
The second period remained scoreless until just past the 14 minute mark, when Spencer Watson finished off a three way passing play with his linemates, Sam Bennett, and Henri Ikonen. It was Watson's 3rd goal of the season. Just 20 seconds later, Crouse would score his 2nd, as he stepped off of the half wall, cut to the net and buried it past Jacob Blair. The 6th goal ended Blair's night, although he really couldn't be faulted for any of the goals he gave up.
The Fronts got into penalty trouble after that, and the 67s would capitalize twice before the end of the period. Ryan Van Stralen would deflect a point shot past Peressini, to make it 6-2, and Brendan Bell would find a loose puck in the slot and beat the Fronts' rookie goalie under 2 minutes later. The second period would end with Kingston holding a 28-18 shot advantage, and a 6-3 goal advantage.
The teams would trade 3rd period goals, making the final score 7-4 Fronts.
Coach Gill was happy with the offensive outburst in this game, especially out the gate, but pointed out that the team needs to stop taking penalties, and play a little more disciplined in their own zone if they want to keep winning.
The weekend ended with the Fronts hosting the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds on Sunday afternoon. Neither team had lost a game in regulation this year and were the only teams left in the OHL that could claim this.
Kingston was without three of their top point getters in this game, and knew that they'd have to battle hard and "grind it out" against a very good defensive team. Sam Bennett was assessed a Match Penalty in Friday night's game and was suspended by the league for this game, and possibly more. Spencer Watson was jammed between two 67 defenders in Friday's game, and hyper extended his elbow, and Billy Jenkins slammed into the boards awkwardly in the same game and injured his left ankle. Coach Gill expects to be without Watson and Jenkins for a couple of weeks.
As expected, despite a strong effort both ways, the game remained scoreless after the first period. Matt Murray (a Pittsburgh Penguin 3rd Round pick in 2012) was the busier of the two goalies, stopping all 12 shots fired his way, including a spectacular save off of Sam Schutt in the period's final minute. Kingston's overage goalie, Matt Mahalak turned aside 8 Hound shots.
It took Henri Ikonen only 14 seconds in the second period to open the scoring. Henri was set up nicely by his linemates for this game, Ryan Kujawinski and Sam Povorozniouk. It was his second of the season.
Much to the coach's chagrin, Kingston took back to back high sticking penalties in the middle of the frame, leading to a Jorgen Karterud powerplay goal, to tie it up. It was the Norwegian's 2nd goal of his rookie year after being drafted by the Greyhounds in the first round of the 2013 CHL Import Draft.
With the loss of Jenkins, S. Watson, and Bennett, coach Gill put together a line of Matt Watson, Loren Ulett, and Jean Dupuy (who was celebrating his 19th birthday). Watson and Ulett have played defense for the first part of the season, although Loren has played forward in the past, just not at this level. The line was a force all afternoon, delivering "puck separating" checks and creating chances. Matt seemed to have broken the tie with about 5 minutes left in the second period after potting a cross crease pass from Dupuy, only to have it called back. In an effort to kick the puck forward to his stick, Watson clearly kicked it in.
On their very next shift, the "4th line" came through with the go-ahead goal. Dupuy intercepted a pass in the Soo zone, busted down his "off wing", cut to the net for a shot, and deposited the rebound through Murray's 5-hole. Dupuy ended up on his back, but he had his first goal of the season, on his birthday, at the 17:47 mark of the 2nd.
Give the Greyhounds credit. They came out strong in the 3rd period, and eventually outshot the home side 14-9 in the frame, in an effort to avoid their first regulation loss of the young season.
Matt Mahalak came up big with a penalty shot save off of Sergey Tolchinsky at the 4:23 mark of the 3rd, maintaining Kingston's 2-1 lead.
Henri Ikonen scored his second of the game on a Kingston powerplay at 11:49. It looked as though Ryan Kujawinski tipped the point shot in, but Ikonen was credited with his 2nd of the afternoon, 3rd of the season. Roland McKeown was right beside Kujawinski looking for a rebound, as well.
The Fronts took the next two penalties, something which head Coach Gill wasn't happy about after the game, giving the Soo a chance. Greyhound's coach, Sheldon Keefe pulled Murray with over 5 minutes to play, and again with less than a minute to play, to give them a two man advantage for a time. This strategy worked at the 19:16 mark of the 3rd, as the Greyhound's captain, Darnell Nurse scored their 2nd PP goal of the game to bring the Soo back to within 1.
Mahalak held the fort the rest of the way to preserve the win for Kingston. It was a 3-2 final.
Kingston is 6-0-0-1 on the young season for 13 points, which leads the OHL.
Up next for the Frontenacs are two home games against two very good teams, next weekend. The Sudbury Wolves come to town on Friday evening, and the Guelph Storm make their one and only appearance at Rogers' K-Rock Centre on Thanksgiving Sunday afternoon.