Pictured is Jordan Subban who leads the Bulls in point scoring with 23 points in 34 games so far.
With the World Jrs. going on in Russia, and the u17s going on in Quebec, which teams will be able to best fill the gaps.
Peterborough at Kingston
The Petes (8-23-3-1), looking for a better second half, will likely be sellers prior to the Jan 10th OHL trade deadline. Players like Slater Koekoek, Alan Quine, Francis Menard, Clark Seymour, and Derek Schoenmakers
could be on their way out of town for younger prospects, and/or draft picks. Mike Pelino was replaced by one of his assistants, Jody Hull, recently, as the team's head coach. Defenseman, Peter Ceresnak is in Russia representing his native Slovakia, in the WJC, and Schoenmakers hasn't reported to the team, so the Petes may need a call-up or two. Goalie, Andrew D'Agostini will be looking for a better second half, as he has only one win in 18 games.
The Frontenacs (17-15-2-0) will be short of players to begin the second half, as well. Their first four picks in the 2012 Priority Selection are off playing in the U-17 tournament in Quebec. Defensemen Roland McKeown, and Dylan DiPerna, and forwards Spencer Watson, and Sam Bennett will suit up for Team Ontario. Henri Ikonen and Mikko Vainonen were late cuts from Finland's WJC team, and are expected back in time to suit up for this game,
against the Petes. Watson's twin brother, Matt, and Braydon Blight will likely suit up for Kingston for the next few games.
My prediction Peterborough 3 at Kingston 5
Brampton at Sarnia
The Brampton Battalion (17-14-3-2) are tied with Mississauga in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, 3 points up on the Frontenacs. They finished the 1st half of the season on a high note, getting 4 of 6 points,
including a 7-1 thumping of the Niagara Ice Dogs in their last game. Stan Butler is looking for the team to become more consistent in the second half of the season, as he describes his team as "streaky". The Battalion had a 6 game winning streak, and two 4 game losing streaks in the first half. Brampton is good on special teams, ranking 9th in the OHL on the PP, and 3rd on the PK.
Barclay Goodrow leads the team with 36 points, and first year players, Nick Paul and Mark Raycroft are ranked in the first round of the upcoming NHL Draft, at 19th and 24th respectively. Number one goalie, Matej
Machovsky is with the Czech Republic's WJC team in Russia, so it will be up to Jake Smith to backstop the team for the next while.
The Sarnia Sting (20-11-0-3) will be without their top sniper, Alex Galchenyuk who is representing his native USA in the WJC. Galchenyuk was the most recent CHL player of the week, with 8 points in his last two games, prior to Ufa, via Finland. The Sting, too, headed into the break on a high note, after gaining points in their last 9 games - 17 of a possible 18 points. They lead the West Division by 7 points over the Plymouth Whalers.
Galchenyuk is second in league scoring with 61 points, and Charles Sarault sits 4th with 52 points. Defenseman, Connor Murphy joins Galchenyuk on Team USA in Russia.
My prediction Brampton 2 at Sarnia 4
Belleville at Guelph
The Belleville Bulls (19-11-3-1) sit one point behind the Oshawa Generals in the East Division, and are tied for 3rd in the Conference with the Niagara Ice Dogs. The Bulls lost their last two heading into the break, including a disappointing 3-1 home ice loss to the Stealheads on Dec 15th.
Belleville will be without two key contributors for the next while, as Malcolm Subban is tending goal for Team Canada at the WJC and Daniil Zharkov is representing Team Russia. They will be looking for more offense from their forwards in the second half as defensemen, Jordan Subban, and Jake Cardwell lead the team, and are the only players who have over 20 points on the team.
The Guelph Storm (20-10-0-4) are 3rd in the Midwest Division, and 4th in the Western Conference at the midway point of the season. The Storm too, will be without their number one goalie, and a key forward for the duration of the WJC in Russia. Garrett Sparks will represent his native USA, and the Storm's leading scorer,
Tanner Richard will again represent Switzerland.
The Storm have to be happy with their first half, but are in a very tough conference. 67s castoff, Keegan Wilson and rookie Jason DaSilva have very big skates to fill in goal. If this game comes down to goaltending, the Bulls have a distinct advantage with Charlie Graham in my opinion.
My prediction Belleville 4 at Guelph 2
Barrie at Kitchener
The Barrie Colts (23-9-0-1) were clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference during the first half of the season and are ranked 8th in the CHL. Mark Scheifele and Anthony Camara led the team offensively, and are currently in Russia, representing Canada in the WJC. The Colts have plenty of other offensive firepower in Zach Hall, Andreas Athanasiou, and Steven Beyers. Ryan O'Connor, and Aaron Ekblad lead a solid defense core.
The Kitchener Rangers (19-10-1-4) are 4th in the Midwest and 6th in the Western Conference, with 43 points. GM & Head Coach, Steve Spott, along with Rangers' captain, Ryan Murphy are representing Team Canada in the WJC in Russia. Teammates, Radek Faksa (Czech Republic) and Tobias Rieder (Germany) will also represent their countries, leaving Kitchener with big holes to fill, in the short term, especially on an already offensively challenged team.
My prediction Barrie 3 at Kitchener 2
Oshawa at Mississauga
The Oshawa Generals (20-12-1-2) took over first place in the East Division on the last day of the first half, with a 4-3 victory over the 67s. The Gens will be without key contributors in Boone Jenner (Canada), Tyler Biggs (USA), & Sebastian Uvira (Germany). Rookie, Michael Dal Colle is representing Ontario in the U17 tournament in Quebec.
The Steelheads (18-12-0-3) were in a slump heading into the break. They were 2-6-0-2 in their last 10 games, including a 5 game losing streak, prior to their 3-1 victory over the Bulls in their next to last game. The Wolves beat the Stealheads 3-1 on the 16th of December. Despite the cold spell, the Steelheads are tied with the Battalion for 5th in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the Frontenacs, and just 3 points behind the Ice Dogs, and Bulls.
In their only other meeting of the season, the Steelheads defeated the Gens 5-3 in Oshawa, on Nov. 16th. Former Bull, and Otter, Tyson Teichmann outdueled Daniel Altshuller in this one.
My prediction Oshawa 2 at Mississauga 3
Erie at Owen Sound
The Erie Otters (11-19-2-3) sit 19th in the 20 team OHL at the Christmas break. While the team has struggled, they entered the break on a 3 game winning streak. They defeated the Kitchener Rangers 4-3 in a SO, in front of a season high 4,231 fans, on Saturday the 15th. The Otters beat Kitchener and Brampton on the road in their previous two games.
Connor Brown, and rookie, Connor McDavid lead the team in scoring. Kris Knoblock took over the head coaching duties from Robbie Ftorek on Nov. 29th, and has led the team to an impressive 4-2 record, so far.
The Owen Sound Attack (23-8-1-2) are second in the Midwest Division behind the London Knights. They will be without number one goalie, Jordan Binnington, who is backing up Malcolm Subban for the Canadian World Junior Team. The Attack are 6-4 in their last 10, and are tied with Belleville for the fewest number of goals allowed this season - 81, or 2.38 goals against per game. This stat is more impressive when you consider that the Attack are the OHL's most penalized team with 660 PIMs on the season.
My prediction Erie 2 at Owen Sound 4
Niagara at Sudbury
The Niagara Ice Dogs (20-13-1-1) are 5 points behind the Central Division leading Colts, and are tied for 3rd in the Conference, with the Bulls. Team Canada has the Dogs' top 3 point getters, in Ryan Strome, Brett Ritchie, and Dougie Hamilton, for the duration of the WJC in Russia. The Ice Dogs were 4-6 in their last 10 going into the break. Christopher Festarini will be called on to be great, as the Dogs will be forced to play a more defensive game if they are to be successful.
The Sudbury Wolves (14-16-1-5) had a good weekend heading into the break. They were 3-0-1-1 in their last 5 games overall. Joshua Leivo, Mathew Campagna, and Nathan Pancel lead the team, offensively. Frank Corrado impressed Hockey Canada brass, and was one of the last defensemen to be cut from the Canadian team prior to the WJC.
My prediction Niagara 2 at Sudbury 4