Frontenacs Suffer Through Their Worst Weekend of the Season
Pictured is Frontenac forward, Sam Povorozniouk, who has 19 points in his 22 games for Kingston, since being acquired from Saginaw on November 16th. In his first 69 OHL games, all with the Spirit, he had only 8 points. The Frontenacs hope that recent "chemistry" shown between Povo, and linemates, Ryan Kujawinski, and Henri Ikonen continue, as this is the only line that is producing of late.
The Kingston Frontenacs were humbled this past weekend by Belleville, Owen Sound and Guelph. The only good news is that they will face two of these three teams this weekend, on home ice, to try to exact some revenge. The coaching staff can only hope that their one-sided losses will prove to motivate their young team.
On Friday night, the Belleville Bulls spoiled Kingston's sell-out crowd of over 5,300 fans at K-Rock Centre. Belleville beat Kingston in every aspect of the game. 8-2 was the final score.
Kingston came out strong and held a 2-0 on goalie, Charlie Graham, and the Bulls by the 12 minute mark of the 1st period, much to the delight of the largest crowd assembled in Kingston, to watch the Frontenacs, 5,302, since February 22, 2008 (opening night at K-Rock).
The Fronts came out with some solid forechecking, and cycling to hem the Bulls in their zone. Carter Sandlak took his first of two consecutive penalties at 7:35 of 1st, and before the announcer had finished announcing the penalty, Ryan Kujawinski had taken advantage of a weird hop off of the back boards. Kujawinski scooped up a loose puck and beat a stunned Graham, who had no chance on the play. It was 1-0 home team, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. Sandlak took his second penalty just after the mid way point of the period, on a play where the young Fronts had Sandlak's line hemmed into their own zone. A minute later Sam Povorozniouk scored Kingston's second powerplay goal of the 1st, with Kujawinski and Ikonen picking up their second points of the game, on the goal.
Unfortunately for Kingston, Daniil Zharkov cut their lead in half, less than a minute later. Newest Bull, and former Frontenac, Alan Quine, and Joseph Cramarossa would assist on Zharkov's 9th of the year, and first since rejoining the team from the Russian entry at the WJC. This was the beginning of the Bulls' total domination of the Fronts. The line of Quine, Zharkov, and Cramarossa would tally an incredible 13 points in total on the night. They made the Fronts look like pilons for most of the night, for sure. This goal would represent the first of 15 consecutive goals that Kingston would surrender on the weekend.
Coach Gill points to the next goal, by previous "goat" Carter Sandlak as the turning point of this game, and I would argue of Kingston's entire weekend. With 2:31 remaining in the 1st, Sandlak would redeem himself by backhanding a weak one past Kingston's starter, Mike Morrison, one which he would like back, for sure. You could just see the Frontenacs sag on the bench, something which hasn't happened this season. Last year, especially in the second half, this happened a lot.
In the previous 3 meetings of the season these two teams had combined for 7 goals in total. The four goals in the first period amounted to an offensive explosion, but the magnitude of this explosion was yet to be seen.
Kingston had no answer for the Quine (1g, 4a), Cramarossa (3g, 2a), and Zharkov (1g, 2a) line the rest of the way. Belleville scored 4 in the 2nd, and 2 more in the third, en route to their 8-2 win.
Kingston was beaten to, or were outmuscled for, every loose puck, after the 12 minute mark of the first period in this one. Morrison had a rare "off night", giving up 5 goals on 18 shots in 30 minutes, and Furlong gave up 3 goals on the 15 shots he faced the rest of the way. Goaltending wasn't nearly good enough, but that was far from the only issue that the coaching staff has to address. The effort and "level of compete" wasn't nearly good enough from almost everyone. Of note for the Frontenacs in this game was that Mikko Vainonen was assessed a 5 minute major, and a game misconduct for a check to the head. It turns out that Mikko was suspended for 10 games for the hit, and won't be eligible to return until February 6th.
On Saturday night, the Frontenacs were totally overmatched, once again. This time they traveled to Owen Sound, to take on Jordan Binnington, and the Attack. Kingston was embarrassed 7-0 in a game that they were never in. They were outshot 52-27.
Kingston chose to dress 7 defensemen, but you got the feeling that even if all 7 were on the ice at the same time, they still wouldn't have been able to stop the "waves of Attack", by the opportunistic Owen Sound team. The young Fronts looked bewildered for the second game in a row.
A shorthanded goal at 3:04 of the 1st, by Owen Sound's leading scorer, Cameron Brace (his 26th) started the game off on the wrong skate for Kingston. They were down 3-0 at the end of the 1st, and 5-0 after 2. After Brace, 3 different goal scorers would tally twice each, to complete the rout, in front of 3,285 at the Harry Lumley Community Bayshore Centre.
With the victory, the Attack took a temporary 4 point lead on the Kitchener Rangers, for 2nd in the Midwest Division, who won on home ice on Sunday afternoon, to climb back to within two points of the idle Attack. Kingston remained in 3rd in the East Division, and barely clinging to 8th in the Eastern Conference.
On Sunday afternoon, coach Gill chose to go with back-up goalie, Colin Furlong, against the Guelph Storm. The result was the same, a 4-1 loss, this time, but goaltending wasn't nearly as big of an issue in this one, for Kingston. The Fronts were outshot 45-25, and were clearly outworked, for the third game in a row.
Ryan Kujawinski opened the scoring for Kingston at 2:57 of the opening period. Linemates, Sam Povorozniouk, and Henri Ikonen had the assists. The Fronts actually "won the period" and were up 1-0 after one, despite being outshot 13-9.
Guelph would score 4 unanswered goals, two in the second and two more in the third to hand Kingston their 3rd loss in as many days.
A positive to be taken out of this weekend is the strong play of the Kujawinski, Povorozniouk, and Ikonen line. They seem to have developed some "chemistry" in the last couple of weeks. The other lines will need to pick up their play, and Kingston will need to get some OHL calibre goalkeeping if the Frontenacs expect to compete in games the rest of the way.
As mentioned earlier, Kingston will get a chance for some revenge, on home ice, against the Attack on Friday night, and the Storm on Sunday evening (a rare 6:00 PM game). Sandwiched between those two games is a divisional matchup with the Generals, in Oshawa, on Saturday night.
I know that Coach Todd Gill will have his team ready to play this weekend. Being outscored 19-3 can't sit well. At times, Kingston was pushed around this past weekend, so I expect there will be some discussions about sticking up for each other, something they seemed to get away from. The biggest difference I expect to see is the "level of compete" to go way up..
With the loss of Mikko Vainonen, Kingston will likely continue to have Braydon Blight in the line up. He will likely be playing up front, but as a capable defenseman, will be able to "go back on D", if need be. Hopefully captain Cody Alcock, who was injured in the game against Guelph, and Sam Bennett who was cut in the lip for quite a few stitches, in Owen Sound, will be ready, and with any luck, forward, Billy Jenkins will be back in the lineup, as well.