With the regular season nearing a finish and the playoffs beginning soon, I decided the hot-stove should examine which OHL team has been the biggest surprise this season, whether it be in a good way or bad.
Joining me in today's hot-stove is Thayne Hallyburton, Matt Leacy, and John Duncan.
Though there are quite a few surprises in the Ontario Hockey League this season, I am going to go with the Barrie Colts. Heading into the season most OHL writers had the Colts somewhere between 6th and 9th in the Eastern Conference, yet with just a few weeks to go in the regular season they sit third in the Eastern Conference. There are many reasons that has happened but perhaps the largest is the play of Tanner Pearson. Nobody expected this kind of production from him this season and in large part to his play the Colts sit where they do in the standings. Jets prospects Mark Scheifele and Ivan Telegin have also played pivotal roles in the team's success.
The Owen Sound Attack.
After a long run last year that saw the Attack win the OHL Championship, not much was expected of them this season but GM Dale Degray went to work in the off season, bringing in Dan Catenaci and drafting Chris Bigras and Zach Nastasiuk. The team had a slow start, then sent veteran defenders, Matt Petgrave and Gregory Schemitsch to Oshawa and brought in un-drafted 18 year old defender Kyle Hope. These moves have been genius. The Attack are flourishing, currently holding down 4th place in the west and beating the top teams on a nightly basis. They could surprise again. They are deep in goal with Jordan Binnington and Scott Stajcer and goaltending can win you championships. Should be a fun playoff to watch!
The biggest surprise for me has to be the Soo Greyhounds. They made a huge deal earlier in the season to acquire Jack Campbell from the Windsor Spitfires. I saw them play in Kitchener back in October where they destroyed the Rangers in all aspects of the game. They were all over them on shots, hits, fights, and of course goals, winning 6-2.
After that game I thought the Greyhounds would push the Whalers and Knights for top in the conference. Apparently that was one of a few good games this season, as they're now fighting Guelph and Saginaw for that final playoff spot in the West. A tough spot for the team and GM Kyle Dubas I'm sure, especially after acquiring Campbell.
My biggest surprise this season has to be the Oshawa Generals. They are currently playing just 500 hockey, in 7th place in the East, and in danger of missing the playoffs. With all of the offensive firepower on the team, numerous NHL drafted players, some high end draft eligible, I expected them to be challenging Niagara and Ottawa for the division lead. Instead they are 20 points back.
They addressed their defensive liabilities by picking up Petgrave, Schemitsch, McDowell at the trade deadline and hired Agnew, but they remain inconsistent, at best.