Pictured is Frontenacs' rookie forward Sam Bennett, who, along with his teammates, need to stay out of the penalty box tonight in Mississauga, if Kingston is to break their 11 game slide.
Kitchener at Guelph
The matchup between these teams is close in some areas and far apart in others.
The Rangers have a record of 30-15-1-5 good for 66 points – just 2 points behind the Owen Sound Attack. The Storm have a record of 29-16-1-4 giving them 63 points and fifth place in the conference just 3 points ahead of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Both teams won their last game and both teams have won 8 of their last 10 games. Kitchener’s road record is 12-9-1-3 so far and the Storm have a home record of 14-10-0-1.
The Rangers have and +30 goal differential this season whereas the Storm have scored 35 more goals than they have surrendered. Guelph has scored 29 more goals than Kitchener this season. The Storm also have 171 more penalty minutes this season. The Storm are tied for 15th in the league when they have the man advantage – Kitchener is in the middle of the pack at #15 when they have the man advantage on the road. Guelph is #14 on the penalty kill at home and Kitchener is #7 on the road.
Josh Leivo has scored in 9 consecutive games and has 14 points in his 12 games since coming over in ‘the trade’ to Kitchener from Sudbury. Tobias Rieder is coming off a 4 point game (3 goals and an assist) from the Rangers’ big win over the Erie Otters last weekend. The top 3 scorers for Guelph are all within 6 points – Richard has 52 points, Kosmachuk has 49 points and Mitchell has 46 points.
My prediction Kitchener 3 Guelph 4
Kingston at Mississauga
Despite some good signs of late, the Frontenacs remain mired in an 11 game losing streak. They last tasted victory exactly a month ago, on January 6th, when they defeated Sault Ste Marie, in a shootout, on home ice. What's incredible is that they haven't dropped any places in the standings. They remain 6 points up on Peterborough, and are only 3 points back of tonight's hosts, the Mississauga Steelheads, for 7th place in the Eastern Conference.
The Frontenacs will get a boost tonight when they welcome back big, Import, defenseman, Mikko Vainonen, who is itching to return to action after sitting out his 10 game suspension. During the 11 game skid, Kingston has given up 59 goals, or 5.36 goals per game. No one thing can account for the streak, but not sticking to the coaches' systems, taking bad penalties, and poor goalkeeping have all contributed.
The Steelheads are 2-8 in their last 10 games, including 3 losses in a row. Mississauga's problem remains lack of scoring. Since January 6th the Steelheads have managed to score only 23 goals, in 10 games, or 2.3 goals per game. Overager, Riley Brace, and 19 year old, Dylan Smoskowitz lead the team offensively. Brace ranks 11th in OHL point scoring, with 62. Smoskowitz has 47 in the 46 games he has played. Point production really drops off for the rest of the team after these two.
My prediction Kingston 4 at Mississauga 2
Peterborough at Ottawa
The Petes have climbed to within 6 points of a playoff spot. The earned 4 of 6 points on their tough southern roadie, this past weekend. On Thursday night, they beat the Spitfires, in Windsor, 7-5. Former Spit, Michael Clarke scored twice, and as is the case in most Peterborough games, 5 other players scored. The Petes fired 48 shots on goal in this one. On Friday night, Peterborough beat the Spirit, in Saginaw, 4-2. Four different players scored in this one. In these two games, 9 different Petes found the back of the net. On Saturday night, the Whalers shut down a tired Petes squad, and beat them 4-1.
The 67s are 7 points behind the Petes, and 13 points behind the Frontenacs, who hold down the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They have 5 points of a possible 6 in their last 3 games. They have beaten Kingston on the road, Sarnia at home, and lost in a SO to Mississauga at home. Overall, they have won only 5 of 24 home games. Ottawa has given up the most number of goals (103) in the OHL, and remain in the league's basement.
The future is where it's at for these two teams, as they traded away stars for future promise at the trade deadline. They are both playing for pride, and in the case of the veterans, a spot on next year's roster. Clearly, the Frontenacs would like for the 67s to win their 6th game on home ice, and in regulation time, preferably.
My prediction Peterborough 4 at Ottawa 5