Pictured is Nikita Serebryakov who is expected to have a busy few weeks as regular Jake Paterson is at the WJHC in Russia.
Saginaw at Plymouth
The Spriit will be without their top scorer Vincent Trochek (50 pts in 35 games) as he attends the IIHF hockey championships in Russia. Locke and Ross will have to pick up the slack to keep this team competitive until he returns.
The Spirit and Whalers are mired in the lower level of the Western Conference. At the halfway point of the season, Saginaw is in ninth place- only one point behind the Windsor Spitfires and 2 points behind the up and down Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds and these slumping Plymouth Whalers. Plymouth has not won a game in their past 7 contests – Saginaw has won 4 of their last 10 games.
Plymouth will be without their top 3 scorers for the foreseeable future. Rickard Rakell is skating with his team representing Sweden at the IIHF tournament in Russia. Ryan Hartman will not be in action as he is with the USA team (OHL PIM leader with 87). Stefan Noesen is in the early part of his 10 game suspension for head checking on December 8 in Oshawa – eligible to return on January 11 2013. Tom Wilson may be down in the dumps from his WJC snug off of Team Canada, but will be expected to lead the way for this team in the second half.
My prediction Saginaw2 Plymouth3
Windsor at London
The Spits will be without Patrick Sieloff who is representing USA at the WJHC. They entered the Christmas Break with a lump of coal by losing their last 3 games and only winning 4 of their past 10 games. Windsor has only 4 wins on the road this season in 17 games. Windsor has played 35 games and has only scaped together 34 points. The Spits play some more important games later this week at Saginaw and then home to Plymouth.
Kerby Rychel and Brady Vail are tied for the team lead with 32 points this season. Rychel leads the team with 19 goals – rookie Josh Ho-Sang has 20 assists for the Spits.
The Knights continue to ride their 21 game win streak and should be able to extend it by the end of this game. London will be missing a few key defencemen: Scott Harrington (Assistant Captian with Team Canada) and Olli Maatta (Finland) but should have plenty of firepower and experience to push the Spits around. London has a league best 60 points in 36 games played this season.
Seth Griffith leads the way for the Knights with 25 goals and 58 points this season – Max Domi has a team high 27 assists (45 pts) and rookie N. Zadarov has an impressive +26 rating (5th in the OHL).
The Knights will play at Plymouth on Saturday night and then play a home/home series vs. the Sarnia Sting to end the calendar year.
My prediction Windsor 2 London 5