Ontario Hockey League Game Day Previews for Friday March 9 2012

Pictured is Thompson from Sarnia - big weekend for the Sting !!

Sault Ste Marie at Sarnia

The Greyhounds continued their late season push for inclusion to this year’s playoffs. Last night they were able to eke out a 2-1 overtime victory over the sputtering Windsor Spitfires. Only one goal was scored in the first period (David Quesnele’s 11th of the year) and no goals were scored the rest of the way until the 11:49 mark of the 3rd period when Michael Clarke was able to bang in a rebound to tie things up.  Brett Findlay stunned the crowd with his 2 on 1 wristshot that beat Pavelka for the win. The Hounds stayed in the hunt and now have 60 points – tied with Guelph  - both teams are 1 point behind Windsor.

Last weekend Sarnia lost to Ottawa 3-1 on Friday and got by Plymouth 5-4 on Sunday.  Charles Sarault continues his steady scoring with 2 goals and 2 assists in his past 3 games.  The Sting are in a back and forth
battle with Owen Sound in the standings.  Currently they are tied with 69 points. Sarnia will host Owen Sound on Saturday.

 My prediction Sault Ste Marie 2 Sarnia 4


Owen Sound at Saginaw

Owen Sound is tied for fourth (with Sarnia) in the West with 69 points. Saginaw trails them by only 3 points. The Attack are the most penalized team in the league with 1272 PIM on the season – whereas the Spirit are one of the lower penalized teams with 929 PIM (4th lowest in the league). On the powerplay at home Saginaw is #5 in the OHL with a 24.4% success rate.  On the road, Owen Sound has allowed 43 goals in 184 shorthanded  situations  (rated #17 in the league).  The Attack have won 6 of their last 10 and the Spirit have won only 4 of 10 but have earned points in three games that they lost in overtime situations.

On Wednesday Owen Sound was spanked at home by the Barrie Colts in a 6-2 game.  The Attack were frustrated by Matias Niederberger’s strong 38 save game and the 4 goals put up by Ivan Telegin.  Saginaw won 2 of 3 last weekend including a big 7-1 win over rival Windsor Spitfires. Captain Brandon Saad has 4 goals and 2 assists in his past 2 games.

  My prediction Owen Sound 2 Saginaw 5


London at Guelph

London scored in each period (and twice in the third) to defeat the Guelph Storm 4-1 at the John Labatt Centre last night. Jared Knight had a big game with 2 goals and 1 assist. Max Domi had 2 assists while Seth Griffith and Andreas Athanasiou had the other goals. Michael Houser stopped 35 of 36 shots directed his way. London pushed their Western Conference lead back up to 2 points ahead of the Plymouth Whalers.

Guelph is locked up with Sault Ste Marie in the #8 and last playoff spot – each team has 60 points after each team has played 63 games.  Guelph has lost their last 2 games – a 4-1 loss at London on Tuesday and a home loss of 4-3 vs. Ottawa  on Sunday.   Jason Dickson had the lone goal for the Storm in their last game vs. the

 My prediction London 4 Guelph 2

Mississauga at Kingston

The Majors are coming to Kingston after a big win last night in Niagara.  With an opportunistic short handed goal by Jamie Wise they Majors rode the performance of the week by goalie Brandon Maxwell (43 saves) and added a 2-0 empty net goal to secure the win. Stuart Percy’s recent return has buoyed this team on defence.  This win puts them into the #7 spot tied with #6 Belleville with 65 points. Oshawa trails by 1 point and Peterborough
continues to fade with 59 points.  Mississauga should be without the services of Riley Brace who was
involved in fight with only 11 seconds remaining in the game.

Kingston is out of the playoffs but is still playing some strong hockey.  Unfortunately their recent record has not been that impressive  – 4 straight losses and only 3 victories in their last 10 games.  They have only scored 5 goals in their last 3 games while allowing 13 goals. Igor Bobkov could only manage 32 saves on 37 shots put his way in their last game.

 My prediction Mississauga 3 Kingston 1

Plymouth at Kitchener

Plymouth is only 2 points from the top spot in the Western Conference. They are the hottest team in the league right now with 7 straight wins and 8 wins in their past 10 games.  Their quality offensive squad is topped by
Noesen (75 pts), followed closely by Miller (61 pts), Aleardi (60 pts), Bathgate (60 pts)and Rakell (58 pts).  In
their last game, they were surprised by the last place Erie Otters in the first period and were trailing early – then they scored 6 goals in the second to take hold of the game finally winning it 10-6.

Kitchener won again to break out of their horrible losing woes – having only won 3 times in the last 10 contests.  On Tuesday they defeated the Guelph Storm after losing their previous 4 games.  In the 4 goal third period Tobias Rieder (2 goals and 2 assists) and Michale Catenacci (1 goal and 3 assists) were very active.  Goalie John Gibson has 1 win and 2 losses this month.  There are some huge $$ prize giveaways at tonight’s fan appreciation game including a trip to the memorial cup !!

 My prediction Plymouth 5 Kitchener 3

Niagara at Ottawa

Battle for first !! 
Niagara is currently one point ahead of the 67’s for first place in the Eastern Conference – both teams have played 63 games.  Niagara has  42 regulation wins whereas Ottawa has 39.   The Icedogs were frustrated at home last night against the defensive minded St. Mike’s Majors. The Dogs peppered Brandon Maxwell with 43 shots but he was able to turn them all away – the defence  kept the Icedogs tightly checked and limited
rebounds and second chance opportunities.  Niagara will probably be without the services of Alex Freisen who was involved in a fight in the last 11 seconds of the game (with Riley Brace).

Ottawa’s Shane Prince will return to action tonight after a minor injury kept him from the lineup for a few games. Ottawa has 3 wins and an overtime loss in their last 4 games. Their recent western Ontario road trip was
successful where they locked horns with Sarnia, London and Guelph.  After this game the 67’s will host
Mississauga and Sudbury – then they will finish the season on the road with stops at Niagara and at Brampton.  Niagara’s last home game is against the 67’s Saturday March 17.

 My prediction Niagara 4 Ottawa 3 (OT)

Belleville at Sudbury

The Bulls are on the cusp on a playoff berth – they are currently in sixth spot in the Eastern Conference but any let up could push them out of playoff contention.  Only 4 points separate them from the #9 spot in the standings.  Adam Payerl is a game time decision. They have been up and down with wins/losses – in the month of March they have a win, a loss and another win. Leading scorer Brandon Gaunce has 2 assists in the past 3
games, second leading scorer Austen Brassard has one assist in that same time frame.  Look for Malcolm Subban to get the nod for his 15th consecutive start.

Sudbury was run over at the Molson Centre in Barrie – enduring a 7-0 loss at the hands of the Colts. Shots on goal were even at 29-27 for the Wolves, but they were not able to get anything going offensively. They gave up 4 first period goals and then 3 more in the second period to allow the Colts to put the game out of reach. 
Matias Niederberger played a great game earning only his third shutout of the season.  The Wolves are tailing
off a little with only 4 wins in their past 10 games – and are in fifth spot in the conference (5 behind Barrie and 8 ahead of a pack of teams jockeying for playoff position).

 My prediction Bellevile 2 Sudbury 3