Pictured is Peterborough's captain Slater Koekkoek standing in front of Andrew D'Agostini in last night's 5-2 Petes' victory in Kingston. D'Agostini recorded his second win of the season, which allowed the Petes' to leapfrog over tonight's visitors, the Ottawa 67s.
Kitchener at Belleville
The Kitchener Rangers (19-11-1-4) were beaten 4-1 on home ice by the Barrie Colts last night. The loss, coupled with Guelph's home ice loss, means that Kitchener remains a single point behind the Storm for 4thin the Western Conference. Mathias Niederberger stopped 37 of 38 shots fired his way, for the Colts' victory. Eric Ming was the only Ranger to beat the Colts' netminder.
The Bulls (20-11-3-1) were the team that beat the Storm, in Guelph, last night, by the score of 6-3. As is often the case for Belleville, 6 different players scored for them. Captain Brendan Gaunce, and Austen Brassard each had a goal and two assists for the winners. Charlie Graham continues to play well, in Malcolm Subban's absence, as he stopped 34 of 37 shots for the victory.
My prediction Kitchener 2 at Belleville 4
Ottawa at Peterborough
The Ottawa 67s (9-24-0-3) may be sellers over the next couple of weeks leading up to the Jan 10th OHL trade deadline, since clearly they have a lot of ground to make up in the Eastern Conference. They sit 10th, and last, in the Conference, just a single point behind tonight's hosts. The 67s were 2-7-0-1 in their last 10 games prior to the Christmas break. Many believe that Tyler Graovac, Cody Ceci, and Steven Janes could be on the move togive the 67s some high draft picks and younger prospects.
The Petes (9-23-3-1) took over 9th spot in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 5-2 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs, in Kingston last night. The Petes played without defenseman Peter Ceresnak (Slovakia - WJC) and forward Nick Ritchie, with a lingering shoulder injury. Matt McCartney scored a beauty in his first OHL game for the Petes. Defenseman, Steven Trojanovic and forward, Francis Menard lead the way with a goal and an assist each. Overaged netminder, Andrew D'Agostini recorded his second victory of the season for the Petes. The victory was the first for, newly hired, Head Coach Jody Hull.
My prediction Ottawa 4 at Peterborough 3
London at Plymouth
The London Knights (30-5-0-2) extended their winning streak to 22 straight games with a 9-4, home ice, victory over the Windsor Spitfires on Thursday night. Brett Walychka scored a hat trick and was named the game's first star, in front of over 9000 fans. Max Domi scored twice, and Kevin Raine, and Chris Tierney each had 3 assists. When the score got out of hand, tempers got the best of the teams and what ensued drew the attention of David Branch. Miles Liberati of the Knights, and Sam Studnicka of the Spits each received a two game suspension for being involved in the second fight in a stoppage of play.
The Plymouth Whalers (15-11-5-3) also scored a home ice victory on Thursday night. They defeated the Saginaw Spirit 4-2 in front of 3008 fans. Alex Aleardi, and Tom Wilson each had a goal and an assist for theWhalers. Matt Mahalek stopped 47 of 49 Spirit shots. The win pulled the Whalers to within 5 points of the Division leading Sarnia Sting.
My prediction London 5 Plymouth 0
Niagara at Sault Ste Marie
The Niagara Ice Dogs (21-13-1-1) scored an impressive 4-3 OT victory in Sudbury last evening. Steven Shipley was the overtime hero. Defenseman, Jessie Graham had a goal and 2 assists, and Christopher Festarini was good in goal, stopping 31 of 34 shots. The Dogs will need to continue to spread the scoring around, as their top 3 point getters (Ryan Strome, Brett Ritchie, and Dougie Hamilton) are all suiting up for Team Canada at the WJC in Russia.
Sault Ste Marie (17-16-2-0) won their last 3 games, all on home ice, heading into the Christmas break. Two of these games were in overtime, so the team is learning how to win the close ones. Sheldon Keefe was hired on Dec 3rd to replace head coach Mike Stapleton. Sheldon (32) spent the last 6 seasons as GM and Head Coach of the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the CCHL, where he amassed an impressive 265-76-20 regular season record and an unbelievable 5 league championships in his 6 years. The Greyhounds are 4-2 since Keefe has taken over.
My prediction Niagara 3 at SSM 4
Windsor at Saginaw
The Windsor Spitfires (14-16-1-5) have had a day to lick their wounds after being beaten up by the London Knights 9-4 on Thursday night, in London. They will be without Sam Studnicka, who was given a two game suspension for being involved in the second fight in the same stoppage. Windsor has now lost 4 straight. Kerby Rychel scored two in a losing cause for the Spits. Jaroslav Pavelka had a rare off night, as he gave up 8 of the Knights' goals, on 34 shots, before being lifted early in the 3rd.
The Saginaw Spirit (14-17-3-2) lost in Plymouth on Thursday night 4-2. They outshot the Whalers 49-35, including 19-9 in the 3rd. The Whalers managed the only goal in the third, as Saginaw gave it their all, but couldn't solve Plymouth's starter, Matt Mahalak, who was very good.
This game is a battle for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Windsor is currently 8th with 34 points, and Saginaw is 9th with 33 points. Each team has played 36 games.
My prediction Windsor 2 at Saginaw 4
Erie at Barrie
The Erie Otters (11-20-2-3) suffered a 6-1 loss in Owen Sound last night, in the only game won by the home team in 7 games in the OHL last night. The game was much closer than the score indicates, as Owen Sound scored three times in the last 7 minutes of the game. Connor Crisp scored the only Erie goal. Connor McDavid did score last night, but it was for Team Ontario in U-17 Exhibition play, in Ontario's 7-2 win over Team Sweden.
The Barrie Colts (24-9-0-1), on the strength of a great goaltending performance by Mathias Niederberger, defeated the Rangers, in Kitchener 4-1, last night. The Colts are playing without Mark Scheifele, and Anthony Camara (Team Canada WJC), and Aaron Ekblad (Team Ontario U-17). Steven Beyers had a goal and an assist for the winners.
My prediction Erie 3 at Barrie 4 in OT