Pictured is Frontenacs' forward, Jean Dupuy, who is starting to gain the attention of NHL scouts with his gritty, hardworking style.
The Kingston Frontenacs are mired in a 6 game losing streak, gaining only a single point of 12 available over that stretch. Coach Gill is clearly frustrated with the effort that his team is putting in to battle for pucks, and work within the system.
The month of January has been Kingston's worst month, as they have won only 2 of 9 games, and have only 5 points of a possible 18. To make matters worse, 6 of these 9 games have been on home ice, where the Fronts are desperately trying to attract a larger fan base.
It's not just that they are losing, it's the way they are losing that has been the most discouraging. They have been blown out 7-0 in Owen Sound, 6-1 in Oshawa, and 8-2 on home ice to their arch rivals from Belleville, in front of only their second sell out crowd since moving into the K-Rock Centre in February of 2008.
On Friday night, Kingston played, by far their best game of past couple of weekends, as they dropped a 5-4 shootout loss to team Canada goalie, Jordan Binnington, and the Owen Sound Attack.
Sam Povorozniouk gave the Fronts a 1-0 lead late in the 1st period of this one, as he jumped on a nice rebound off of a low point shot by defenseman, Warren Steele. Binnington had no chance to control the rebound, as for the first time in a long time, Kingston had a screen set up in front of an opposing goalie.
Kingston held the lead until mid way through the 2nd, when rookie, Daniel Milne notched his first OHL goal, and first of two on the night. The Attack took the lead on Cameron Brace's, team leading 27th goal of the season, 5 minutes later.
The coaching staff must have been thinking - oh oh, not this again, but cue the veterans. Darcy Greenaway scored two consecutive goals, including his 20th, followed by one by defenseman, Warren Steele, his 3rd. Sam Povorozniouk made a great cross crease pass to set up Steele on the doorstep. Kingston had scored 3 times in less than two minutes, when it seemed that all the momentum was with the 8th ranked CHL team, according to the BMO Top 10 rankings.
Kingston held a 4-2 lead going into the 3rd period.
Unfortunately Daniel Catenacci was left alone at the side of the Kingston net, and made no mistake, early in the 3rd. It was 4-3 after a successful Attack powerplay.
Kingston traded chances throughout the night, in a very entertaining game, but it was Milne who scored at 12:12 to tie it up at 4. The game would eventually go to overtime which would solve nothing. It was on to a shoot out, much to the delight of nearly 3,200 fans.
The Fronts were 5-0 in shootouts on the year, so they had to like their chances. The Attack were 4-3 in shootouts. It took 5 shooters aside to solve this one, with the hero being Daniel Milne, in the end.
Coach Gill was pleased with the single point against such a tough opponent, and hoped to build on it for the rest of the weekend.
On Saturday night, Kingston traveled down the 401 for a date with the Oshawa Generals. The Gens were looking for revenge after suffering a 6-3 loss on January 4th in Kingston. Oshawa played with only 10 forwards and 6 defensemen, two short of the usual 18 skaters. Daniel Altshuller had a rare "off night" in this one, and was replaced early in the 3rd period by backup Ken Appleby, who didn't give up a goal the rest of the way.
Appleby got the start on this night, and was hardly tested. On the 4th Appleby made 12 stops in the final 15 minutes, and in this game he only had to face 16 shots, a season low for the Fronts.
Lucas Peressini, acquired December 31 from Saginaw, for a 4th round pick, made his OHL debut in this one. He was peppered by 38 shots, and was beaten twice each by two players who didn't play in the January 4th game at K-Rock Centre, because they were representing their countries at the WJC in Russia. Boone Jenner (Canada) scored twice in the 1st and Tyler Biggs (USA) scored twice in the 3rd to provide more than enough offense to beat the lackluster Frontenacs. Jenner tallied 2 assists as well, and Appleby earned his first win of the season. Appleby's shut out was broken by Fronts' rookie, Roland McKeown, with 3 seconds left in the 1st.
Kingston returned home on Sunday evening, for a rare 6 PM start, against the Guelph Storm. They were looking to rebound after a poor effort in Oshawa the night before, and were seeking revenge over a team that beat them 4-1 in Guelph, last weekend.
The Storm were feeling good about themselves, as they had won 4 straight, all over OHL East division opponents. Despite the winning streak, the Storm were not making up much ground, since most of the Western Conference teams, they were battling with, were also winning.
It was more of the same for the Frontenacs in the 1st period. Guelph beat them to every loose puck, seemed to win every faceoff, and if they didn't win the race to a loose puck, they knocked the Fronts off of it. It was a period totally dominated by the visitors, the likes of which the K-Rock crowd hadn't seen much of this year, until recently, that is.
Guelph led 3-0 on goals by Brock McGinn, Tanner Richard, and Scott Kasmachuk.
Ryan Kujawinski has been Kingston's best player since Christmas, and continued to show a willingness to get into the tough areas, in front of the net to look for opportunities. On a Kingston powerplay, early in the 2nd, Sam Povorozniouk set Ryan up in the slot, and he buried it past the outstretched glove of Garret Sparks. It was 3-1 for Guelph. This powerplay was granted as Tanner Richard failed to get both feet out of the penalty box before he played the puck, and was whistled for an "illegal substitution." It seems like the strange calls end up resulting in powerplay goals.
Kingston needed the next goal to get back in the game, but unfortunately, Robby Fabbri scored late in the 2nd to put the Storm up 4-1 after 2.
The score was actually quite flattering to the Fronts, as without Mike Morrison playing a strong game, it could easily have been another blow-out.
The Fronts displayed some resilience in the third, perhaps after a "spirited pep talk during the intermission." Spencer Watson notched his 15th of his rookie season, 5 minutes into the period to bring the Fronts to within 2.
Guelph shut down the passing and shooting lanes, for the most part, the rest of the way, perhaps sensing another road win (their 3rd straight). Sparks was solid. Darcy Greenaway did manage to tally, with the Fronts' net empty, but Tanner Richard would restore the Guelph two goal advantage, with just 8 seconds remaining in the game.
The final score was 5-3 Guelph, and they outshot the Fronts 32-21.
Kingston finished the 3 game in 3 day weekend with a single point. Coach Todd Gill was clearly frustrated after the weekend, calling his team's performance "embarrassing, and unacceptable". He went on to say that rather than follow the system set out by the coaches, they simply tried to go it alone. He said even the coaches had to be better, so rather than having a day off on Monday, as they usually do, especially after another 3 in 3 weekend, Coach Gill led the boys through a spirited practice. He quipped that they shouldn't even be tired after a couple of performances like that - meaning Saturday and Sunday's games.
Expect to see a much better effort by the Kingston Frontenacs this weekend, in two home games. On Friday night, the Fronts take on the rebuilding, Ottawa 67s, who have lost 5 straight, and on Sunday afternoon they will face off against the suddenly stuggling, London Knights, who have dropped 3 straight.