Sault Ste Marie at Erie

Erie had an easy time with the Saginaw Spirit on Thursday night. They would roar out to an early lead and never look back. The barrage included 2 shorthanded goals and 2 powerplay markers – final score was 7-1.   Overage  player JP Labardo had 2 of the goalsand Adam Pelech had 3 assists. The Otters are now tied for the last spot in the Western Conference with the Saginaw Spirit.  Erie has the second fewest penalties of all teams in the Western Conference.

 The Greyhounds are looking for the reset button after being dominated at Niagara last night to the tune of 5-1.  In that game the Hounds would tie things up early in the first period 1-1 on a powerplay marker from McCann’s 4th OHL goal.  Rookie netminder Justin Nichols (birthplace St. Catharines) was blasted from various angles and velocities and was ok but not stellar in his performance.  The defence in front of him was also adequate, but not stellar. The forwards were usually able to clear the zone – and were buzzing in the first period, but the Icedogs were able to contain them as the game progressed. Late in the game things would come a ‘little unglued’ as the Greyhounds became more interested in the ‘rough stuff’ than mounting a comeback. Schiller’s vicious check to the head of pesky Lemmon gave the home side a 5 minute major powerplay and dashed any hopes of a comeback in this contest.  Their six shots in the third period were indicative of their offensive woes as the game closed out.

 My prediction Sault Ste Marie 4 Erie 3


Ottawa at Kingston

The 67's (3-8-0-1) make their first of 4 trips to Kingston this season.  They lost in a shootout to the Generals on
Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place, in Kanata, in a game which was marred by a nasty check to the head penalty near the end of regulation by Scott Laughton which resulted in a game misconduct, and perhaps more. The Gens were leading 2-1 at the 4 minute mark of the 2nd period, when their penalty box door started
swinging open. In all, the Generals were assessed 7 penalties, in a row.  The 67's capitalized on 3 of 9, and tallied all of their goals on the powerplay. Tyler Biggs of the Generals was the recipient of two horrendous 67 giveaways in this one, to score two easy goals. Despite these two giveaways Ottawa played well enough to gain a victory despite facing a top 10 CHL team, in Oshawa.

The Frontenacs (5-6-0-0) have been understandably inconsistent, given their reliance on a youthful, inexperienced lineup. They started the season with three straight home ice victories, followed by three losses, followed by two wins, and now two losses. An odd schedule has had them face mostly Western teams early on, so it is hard to read how they stack up against their nearest rivals in Ottawa and Belleville, who they will face this weekend.

Ottawa has 6 players who have averaged at least a point a game this season, led by Sean Monahan, with 17 points in 12 games, and Tyler Graovac with 11 goals. The reason that the 67's are bringing up the rear in the East has been the inconsistent play of several previously reliable OHL defensemen.  The game plan for Kingston will be to apply offensive zone pressure, to create turnovers for scoring opportunities, and to stay out of the penalty box. Kingston's penalty kill has simply not been good enough of late.

My prediction  Ottawa 3  at Kingston 4


Windsor at Guelph

Watch out – here is the #1 team vs. the #2 team in the Western Conference.  Windsor has clawed and scraped together 15 points and a record of 6-5-0-3. They have also played 2 more games than the Storm. Brady Vail continues to lead the team offensively with 16 points, followed by Rychel with 11 and rookie HoSang with 10 points each.  Last night in Sarnia the Spits would set the pace early and go into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.  The young squad would not have a reply for the Sting’s 2 second period and 2 third period goals and dropped the contest by a 5-2 count.  Defenceman Nick Ebert was given the nod for third star honours based on his solid play in the game.  The Spits close out their road trip with a stop into Owen Sound on Sunday.

Guelph leads the Western Conference with 19 points and a record of 9-2-0-1. After 2 early losses in the season they have reeled off impressive wins at home and on the road.  The scoring has been spread out with various line combinations taking the leading different games – as they now have 9 players with 10 points or more to their credit.  Both Zac Mitchell and Matt Finn have impressive +10 ratings at this point in the season. The Storm will be tested again when they visit London on Saturday and then close out the weekend as they host the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds on Sunday.  

 My prediction Windsor 3 Guelph 5


Owen Sound at Kitchener

Owen Sound (8-2-0-1) holds down the 6th spot in the BMO CHL Top 10 rankings this week.  They will be playing their first road game since October 5th tonight, after 5 straight at home.  Last weekend they beat Ottawa 4-1, and lost to Oshawa 2-1. Goaltender, Jordan Binnington, and forward Daniel Catenacci were both selected to play for the OHL in the Subway Super Series coming up against the Russians. 4th year centre Cameron Brace leads the team offensively, with 10 goals and 6 assists and Gemel Smith has 11 points in 11 games. Overager Nathan
Chiarlitti, acquired from the Sting, leads the team, with a +15 rating on defense and Chris Bigras is in second with an impressive +13.

The Kitchener Rangers (6-4-0-1) are happy to be playing at home, after playing their first 8 games on the road.  They have won their last 3 overall, including their last game, at home over the Frontenacs, on Sunday night. Not surprisingly, defenseman Ryan Murphy and forward Matt Puempel were also chosen to represent the OHL in the Super Series. While Hunter Garlent won the OHL player of the week award last week, two Rangers were given
series consideration as well.  Ryan Murphy (2g & 6a) and Tobias Rieder  (3g & 5a) each recorded 8 points in the three wins last weekend.

My prediction  Owen Sound 3  at  Kitchener 4


Plymouth at London

Plymouth is in the middle of a three game win streak. Last weekend, on the road, they would put together a solid display of top hockey by getting by Oshawa 4-2, blitzing Kingston 8-3 and eding out Peterborough 2-1. Top scorers are Cody Payne (13), Rickard Rackell (10) and Tom Wilson (10). Stefan Noesen has 2 powerplay goals. Their record is 5-3-2-1 and are jammed in the middle of the tight Western Conference.

 The Knights returned home late last night after a tilt in Peterborough vs. the struggling Petes squad. London would fall behind after 2 periods 4-2 and have to rally for any chance at a point in this contest. They were successful in coming back from the large defecit and notched 3 goals in the third period.  Captain Harrington would push the Knights over the top with a wrister from the slot for the third goal of the period making the final score 5-4 London. Remi Elie would tally a goal and an assist as well.  Like the Whalers, the Knights have also won 3 in a row as they push their way towards the top of the Western Conference with a record of 8-3-0-1 only 2 points behind the #1 Guelph Storm.

 My prediction Plymouth 4 London 3 (OT)


Brampton at Mississauga

Brampton (5-4-2-2) are coming off of two impressive 4-1 home ice victories including Windsor, and a very good Barrie Colt team. Despite going down 1-0 early in the Barrie game, the Battalion battled back to go to the dressing room with a 3-1 first period lead. They are unbeaten in their last 4 matches, with three wins, and an
overtime loss. The Barrie Colts were out for revenge last night on their home ice. 4th year winger Barclay Goodrow, who just surpassed the 200 OHL games played plateau, was recently selected to participate in the Super Series.

Mississauga (7-4-0-1) is learning to win close hockey games, as 5 of their victories, this season have been one goal victories.  Ironically then, their last two games have been 6-1 road laughers.  Saginaw beat them last Friday, and the Steelheads beat Belleville on Wednesday night. In Wednesday's game, Mississauga's powerplay was a perfect 3 for 3.  Expect a much closer game tonight.

My prediction Brampton 2  at Mississauga 3


Saginaw at Oshawa

The secret to Saginaw's (4-7-2-0) success this season has been to limit their opponents to 1 or fewer goals. Sudbury has managed to score only once in two games, in two loses to the Spirit.  Saginaw beat Kitchener 2-1 in a SO, and they beat Mississauga last Friday night 6-1. Jake Paterson has played all 13 of the Spirit's games in goal this season. Russian Import Nikita Serebryakov has seen action in three games this season, but has a .750 save % and a 6.19 GAA.

The Oshawa Generals (9-4-0-1) remain the 4th Ranked CHL team in the BMO rankings.  They beat the Ottawa 67's in a shootout on Wednesday night. Scott Sabourin scored the shootout winner, and Daniel Altshuller stood tall, for his 9th win of the season. Rookie, Tyler Biggs scored two unassisted goals, in this one, his 7th and 8th of the season. Lucas Lessio sat this one out for the Gens and will be out of the lineup with a severed tendon in his hand. Oshawa's second round pick in the 2012 Priority Selection, suited up for the Generals, as he was on loan from the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the CCHL. He returned to Pembroke after the game.

My prediction  Saginaw 2  at Oshawa 5


Niagara at Sudbury

The Icedogs were busy last night as they hosted the other team from the 705 area code – the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.  They had a great start with Ritchie scoring shorthanded only 5 minutes into the first period.  After the visitors tying things up less than a minute later, the home squad would take of ‘business’ the rest of the way and cruise to a 5-1 victory.  Brock Beukeboom would notch 3 assists against his former team and also get the nod for first star.  Rookie Aaron Haydon scored his first career OHL goal in dramatic fashion – after he pounced on a loose puck soon after serving his minor penalty for Interference midway through the first period.  The Dogs are tied with Oshawa in second place and have a record of 9-4-1-0.

Sudbury starts their weekend off with this home game. Tomorrow night they will be in Owen Sound and then finish things off with a visit to Mississauga on Sunday afternoon.  The Wolves have lost 6 of their last 10 games – including a mediocre performance at Sault Ste Marie to finish their games last weekend.

Their record is 6 wins and 7 losses for 12 points and a position in the middle of the pack of the Eastern Conference.  Josh Leivo (11 pts) and Nathan Pancel (10 pts) lead the way for Sudbury.

 My prediction Niagara 4 Sudbury 3