Pictured is an action scene featuring Zharkov from the recent Belleville/Kingston game late last month. Should be another feisty rematch tonight!
Niagara at Erie
The Icedogs had a forgettable weekend with 2 losses last week against Mississauga and Oshawa. They competed in both games, but fell behind in the second period of both games and didn’t have the moxie to push back. Tonight they would be happy to hand former Dog Joel Wigle another loss. They are one point ahead of the Steelheads for the #6 ranking in the conference.
Erie is still without Connor Crisp who is sitting out due to a suspension. Rookie Connor McDavid continues to plug away offensively, leading all rookies in the league with 52 points (2 ahead of Sarnia’s Goldobin). Oscar Dansk is supposed to be ready to go in this match. The Otters are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but the stars would have to align almost perfectly for that to happen.
My prediction Niagara 3 Erie 1
Barrie at Ottawa
The Colts remain in first in the Eastern Conference, 3 points ahead of the Bulls, who have 2 games in hand. Mark Scheifele has been returned from the Jets. Zach Hall now leads the team, with 62 pts in 49 games played, and Steven Beyers is 2nd with 59 pts in 52 games. Scheifele is third, with 55 pts in the 33 games he has played for Barrie this season. Since returning, Mark has 5 goals and 2 assists in 4 games. On Sept 20th Barrie beat Ottawa 6-4, 7-3 on October 18th and 5-2 on January 5th. Scheifele has recorded 10 points in the 2 games he's played against Ottawa. Anthony Camara has 7 points in 2 games, and Zach Hall has 11 points in 3 games. Clearly Ottawa needs to find a way to stop these 3 prolific scorers if they are to have a chance in the 4th and final game of the season between these teams.
Five of Ottawa's 9 goals against the Colts this season have come on their powerplay, which continues to lead the OHL despite the fact that Ottawa is in last place in the league. Ottawa is 3-6-0-1, and will likely be outside, looking in to the playoffs this year. They are 13 points behind the Frontenacs, for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Conference. Sean Monahan scored a hat trick on Saturday night, against the Spitfires in an 8-5 home ice victory for Ottawa. Ottawa's captain also had an assist and leads the 67s with 62 points. The Brampton native will hear his name early in the 2013 NHL draft. What is impressive about this is that Sean has played in 44 games, and has missed just the 10 games that he was suspended for. The 67s will look back at this stretch of games as the turning point of their season, as they managed only 3 of 20 points during their captain's absence. This was the 67s' 6th home ice win in 27 games, thus far.
The Bulls beat Ottawa 6-4 on Sunday afternoon, handing the 67s their 19th home ice loss. Ryan Van Stralen's hat trick was spoiled in the loss.
My prediction Barrie 6 at Ottawa 3
Guelph at Owen Sound
This home and home series kicks off tonight – really important points for the Guelph Storm as they seek to get into the top 4 of the Western Conference. Owen Sound has recently been pushed down to the #4 spot by the streaking Kitchener Rangers.
The Storm have won six of their last ten games – the Attack have won 7 of their last 10. Owen Sound’s home record is only slightly better than Guelph’s away record. These teams meet up again on Friday night in Guelph.
My prediction Guelph 2 Owen Sound 4
Kingston at Belleville
The Frontenacs finally got the monkey off of their backs. They beat the Windsor Spitfires 3-1 on home ice Sunday afternoon, to end their 12 game losing streak. Remarkably Kingston drew to within 6 points of 7th place Mississauga, and pulled 4 points ahead of the surging Petes. Goaltender, Mike Morrison played his best game in a month in this one stopping 34 of 35 shots against. Kingston got offense from two unlikely sources, as Slater Doggett got his 3rd of the season and defenseman Warren Steele notched his 4th. Billy Jenkins scored his 15th in his 37th game of the season. These two teams were to have played each other in Kingston on Friday night, but a snowstorm changed their plans. You have to believe that the Frontenacs wouldn't have been too sad about not facing former teammate, Alan Quine, and the Bulls, since Belleville has beaten them by identical 8-2 scores in the last couple of weeks, once in Kingston and once in Belleville. Quine had 11 points in those two games! Kingston will need to bring their best effort in all three zones to compete with the Bulls tonight.
Belleville has established themselves as legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. They are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games, and are 3 points behind the Colts for first in the Eastern Conference. They lead Oshawa by 2 points in the East Division, but hold 3 games in hand one of which they will play tonight on home ice. They will be without defenseman, Jake Cardwell who was suspended for 10 games last weekend for an incident with a fan in Oshawa. In their last contest, the Bulls beat a stubborn 67s team 6-4. Daniil Zharkov scored twice in the third period, at Scotiabank Place to earn the win for the visitors.
My prediction Kingston 3 at Belleville 5
Sarnia at Sault Ste Marie
The Sting have 11 losses on the road this season and need to shore up that part of their record if they are to push for top spot in their division. Currently, the Whalers are tops in the division with 65 points. Sarnia has 63 points and Sault Ste Marie has 62 points.
The Greyhounds have lost their last 2 games (both on the road last weekend) and are eager to start a winning streak again. They will host the Fronts on the 16th and then are on the road to the 519 area code next weekend starting out in Sarnia. Techies will be jacked up about the new in seat ordering service at the Essar Centre via www.sweetseat.ca (already at three other OHL arenas).
My prediction Sarnia 3 Sault Ste Marie 4 (OT)
Plymouth at Saginaw
Another chapter in the battle of Michigan – but in the Ontario Hockey League. Plymouth is in good shape for the playoffs as they continue to hold top spot in their division (and thus #2 seed in the conference). Sarnia is breathing down their necks though and are only 2 point behind – with the Greyhounds only one further point back. Late breaking news today that Rackell has been returned to the Whalers will be a great boost for them to finish the regular season schedule.
Saginaw has also been making noise and can challenge each of the three previously mentioned teams – they are only 4 points behind the Greyhounds in the ever tightening standings! Windsor is next up trailing the Spirit by 7 points. Locke has jumped into the top ten in league scoring with a prolific weekend – and is now in the #6 spot with 74 points this season.
My prediction Plymouth 5 Saginaw 3