Well we had a great start to the season with 4/4 games predicted correctly. One of the scores was bang on (4-2 NIA) and the others were pretty close. After tonight every team in the OHL will have played one game. Here are our thoughts for tonight. Keep your stick on the ice! Dwayne Williams & John Duncan
*** Pictured is Captain Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers ***
Barrie at Kingston
The Barrie Colts should be favourites heading into this match up with the Kingston Frontenacs. Coming off a strong game against the 67’s at Scotiabank Place last night, the Colts are one of the Eastern Conference preseason favourites this year.
Kingston ices arguably the most talented group of 16 year olds coming into the league this year. Second overall pick in 2012’s Priority Selection, Roland McKeown, and Dylan DiPerna (2nd Rd in 2012) looked good on defense in he preseason. Samuel Bennett (1st Rd 2012), and Spencer Watson (2nd Rd in 2012) have shown flashes of touch around the net. Highly rated 2013 NHL draft prospect, Ryan Kujawinski, and Billy Jenkins, both acquired in deadline deals in January, will be counted to put up big offensive numbers. D’Arcy Greenaway, Cody Alcock,Trevor Morbeck, and Mitchell Fitzmorris, who is coming back from a serious wrist injury last year, will need to contribute, as well. Finnish Imports, defensemen Mikko Vainonen (a Predator draft pick), and forward Henri Ikonen look like they will contribute, this year.
The future is bright for the young Fronts, but competing this year with an experienced OHL team, like the Colts, will be a tall order. A big crowd at Kingston’s beautiful K-Rock Centre may be just what Coach Gill and the boys need to pull off an upset!
My prediction Kingston 6 Barrie 4
Bellville at Sarnia
This should be a very good early season match-up. The Bulls are expected to compete with the top teams in the East this year with solid goaltending from Malcolm Subban. The offense should be well balanced with no real offensive stars. Daniil Zharkov (an Oilers draft pick) and recently named Captain Brendan Gaunce (a Canuck’s pick) should lead the way offensively, along with Ducks’ pick Joseph Cramarossa. The Bulls’ have a veteran OHL defense with Stephen Silas (Avalanche pick), Jason Shaw, Jake Worrad, and Jordan Subban.
The Sting have lost some talented players, but remain strong. Domenic Alberga (to Kitchener) , Ludvig Rensfeld , Brett Thompson, Ryan Spooner (Providence), Nail Yakupov (KHL) have gone. The Sting will count on newly minted captain Alex Galchenyuk (Canadien’s pick) , Reid Boucher (Devil’s pick), Charles Sarault, and Davis Brown to score. Connor Murphy (Coyotes pick) will lead the defense, and JP Anderson (Sharks pick) will be the workhorse in goal. Sarnia should win on home ice, but this should be a close game.
My prediction Sarnia 4 Belleville 3
Plymouth at Sault Ste Marie
Plymouth is ranked #7 in Canada in the first BMO CHL rankings. They are solid at all positions with Stefan Noesen leading the way (83 points last season) followed closely by Aleardi, JT Miller and Rakell. The defence appears to be steady buoyed by the play of netminder Mahalak. Coach Velucci is on the cusp of 400 wins (3rdhighest number of wins of all active coaches).
Sault Ste Marie made some noise in the papers during the offseason with some accusations against some players from a female in the community. Now that most of that distraction is mostly over the team can focus on getting things done on the ice. There is a great deal of excitement over their import pick Tolchinsky as well as newcomers Smith and Dempsey up front and Gudbranson on defence. Returnees Cousins and Fritch should hold the offensive punch – look for Alderson to have a good season as well. Darnell Nurse continues to impress with his size and sound positional play. Matt Murray has been declared the #1 goalie to start this season.
My prediction Plymouth 4 Sault Ste Marie 3 (OT)
Niagara at Brampton
Niagara is coming off a solid home game against the upstart Erie Otters. In that game the top line of Ritchie, Strome and DiFruscia were buzzing all night. Dougie Hamilton was very offensive minded (to a fault) and was eager to make his presence known on the ice. Goalie Festarini was steady in the nets.
Will Brampton’s Bunker be full tonight for the home opener? Barclay Goodrow is the team’s offensive stalwart and will be leaned on for the team’s scoring. Clarke and Amadio are the team’s first and second round picks who will be ‘jacked up’ about this first game for sure. Machovsky should be the workhouse in the crease this season.
My prediction Niagara 4 Brampton 1
Saginaw at Guelph
Captain Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Saad will be called on for offence again this season. The team had a good run at the London Knights in the playoffs – bowing out 4-2 in the Conference Semifinals. GoaltendersClint Windsor and Jake Paterson may end up platooning the nets this season.
Optimism reigns in Guelph. Last season was one to acquire experience with the young squad. This season is the time to ‘cash in’. Goaltender Sparks and Matt Finn anchor the defensive side of the game. Up front Garlent, McNaughton, Kosmachuk and Richard are counted on for the scoring. Rookie Fabbri will be fun to watchdevelop. Many are ‘eager for Auger’ as well (6’7” but only 14 points last year – that number should at least triple this season).
My prediction Saginaw 2 Guelph 5
Erie at London
The Connor McDavid show is stopping by London tonight. Last night in Niagara the team put up a good fight against the Icedogs. Their defence was solid, but couldn’t get the big stops from their goaltender Oscar Dansk when they needed them. The forwards were buzzing – but were caught watching #97 too much. Stephen Harperspent a lot of his time ‘mucking it up’ with the opposition’s defence to create room for the super-rookie. Johnny McGuire was eager to start his 10 game fight count, but didn’t have any takers.
The OHL defending champions are looking solid once again. Scott Harrington will anchor the defence with some help from improving Olli Maatta, Ferry and others. Many are eager to see the new import Zadarov in action (6’5” 228 lbs). Newly acquired Baille should get the nod in the nets. Up from Domi, Griffith and the Ruperts should be on the scorecard frequently this season.
My prediction Erie 3 London 5
Kitchener at Mississauga
Kitchener plays on the road to start the season as their arena continues with it’s upgrades and renovations. It will be interesting to see if the new surroundings put a jump back into Matt Puempel’s stride. Reider and Faksa are offensive sparkplugs who will be given lots of scoring opportunities from the stick of Captain Murphy. John Gibson looks to have a steady season in the nets – hoping that his injuries / sicknesses are behind him.
Mississauga has retooled their logo / image to be the Steelheads. They have a renewed energy in the community – should be interesting if there are more fans in the stands this season. Riley Brace will be on the scoresheet plenty of times this year – he’ll be looking for support from Kontos, Rasmussen and Teskey. Rookie Damion Bourne might find the net a few times as well. Spencer Martin will anchor the nets and will help keep the scores from getting out of hand. Percy and Demelo will be reliable rearguards this season. Word on the street is that Carlton the Bear will be hanging around with the Mississauga mascot Sauga (I still prefer Finn) tonight.
My prediction – Kitchener3 Mississauga 2
Oshawa at Sudbury
Oshawa took the long bus ride from Peterborough to Sudbury to play against the Wolves. Last night the Generals had solid games from Lessio (2 goals and 1 assist), Jenner (same) and Petgrave (3 assists). They were 2/5 on the powerplay as well. Daniel Altshuller will get the lions share of work in the nets – hopefully continuing his solid play from last season’s playoff run. Tyler Biggs will be making his presence felt in the corners as well as on the scoresheet.
For the Wolves watch for offensive production from Leivo, Kantor, Silk and some from Baptiste as well. Corrado and Doudero will patrol the blueline – rookie Cummins may develop into a solid defender as well. Veteran Vienneau will give Sudbury stability in the net most nights. Their summer tournament in Europe was a good experience for them – but has it made their season too long?
My prediction Oshawa 4 Sudbury 3 (OT)