Our record was only 50/50 last night – we picked Owen Sound to beat London, and they were 4 seconds away from going to overtime. A few underdogs were picked today. As Christmas approaches will some players have visions of sugarplums, or hockey stockings?
London at Guelph
The Knights continue their roll with a last second victory at home vs. the strong Owen Sound Attack squad. The Visitors tied things up with 24 seconds remaining, but Seth Griffith would tip home a shot from the point by Hughes to take the narrow 3-2 victory. It was also teddy bear toss night where over 10 000 stuffed goods flew down onto the ice after Max Domi scored the first goal of the game. Ironically he would later be ejected in the second period for his cross checking behavior. London got the job done without their top 4 defencemen, but will they have enough in the tank for the swarming Storm team today?
Guelph was disappointing last night in Sarnia where the home Sting team would swarm Guelph for most of the night. After one period it was tied 1-1, but Sarnia would push past Guelph in the second period and take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. Guelph would score a late third period powerplay goal to make the score more flattering at 4-2. The Storm are in 4th place by 1 point over the Kitchener Rangers. They only trail the Owen Sound Attack by 4 points (interesting that all three of these teams lost last night!). The Strom would love to be the team to end the Knights victory run.
My prediction London 2 Guelph 4
Kitchener at Erie
This is a rematch of last night’s game in Kitchener. The Rangers had their #1 goalie John Gibson in the lineup for this game, but is anticipated to be en route to the USA Junior Camp today. Could be a similar fate as last night at the Rangers were smothered by the twinkling Erie Otters to the tune of 6-2. The Rangers were trailing 6-0 after 2 periods – the third period saw only 11 shots total from both teams as the Rangers were not able to muster much of an offence. Kitchener will still be without their top guns and will be hard pressed to put many goals in the net tonight.
The Otters were due to break out at sometime this season – maybe it was the change of scenery with Coach Knoblauch coming in – maybe it was giving Devon Williams a chance between the pipes – maybe it was putting Stephen Harper on the right wing (little political joke there folks – but it worked last night) – maybe it is #97 McDavid getting the game figured out better at this level .......
Last night’s 22 shot second period was very fruitful as the Otters would notch 4 goals in this frame. Connor Brown and Connor Crisp each had 3 point games – Stephen Harper added 2 goals.
My prediction Kitchener 1 Erie 4
Sudbury at Niagara
The Wolves are here for revenge tonight – last time they were here on November 24h the Wolves had the contest in hand, and then the Icedogs rattled off 4 straight goals in the third period to tie things up. Dougie Hamilton scored the shootout winner for the emotional victory. Top players for the Wolves - Frank Corrado and Josh Leivo – are eager to push the pace and come out with a better result. The Wolves have put 10 points between them and the bottom dwelling Ottawa 67’s and Peterborough Petes for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tonight the Dogs are without the services of top players Ritchie, Strome and Hamilton. When Erie beat them on Thursday night the difference in this team was glaring. It will take big efforts from Shipley, DiFruscia and Verhaege to stay in touch on the scoreboard. The Dogs are now in fourth place (by one point) and have the Steelheads and Battalion in clear view as those teams only trail Niagara by 3 points.
Teddy Bear toss night – my pick is Mercer with the first goal for th home side.
My prediction Sudbury 3 Niagara 2
Mississauga at Belleville
Beaten at their own defensive style of game in Kingston last night, the Mississauga Steelheads (17-11-0-3) were able to gain a single point, to move into a 5th place tie with the Brampton Battalion in the Eastern Conference. Kingston prevailed 2-1 in a SO to move to within 2 points of the Steelheads, despite playing with a shortened bench. Russian, rookie forward Sam Babintsev scored the loan goal on Mike Morrison in the Kingston goal. Mississauga goalie Tyson Teichmann was strong stopping 41 of 42 shots. Newest Steelhead, Craig Hottot, acquired from the Sting had several good chances on goal, but Morrison was equal to the task every time.
The Belleville Bulls (19-10-3-1) lost a very close divisional matchup last night in Oshawa, 3-2. Charlie Graham stopped 30 of 33 shots for Belleville. The Generals win pulled them to within one point of the East Division leading Bulls, who are without their number one netminder, Malcolm Subban, who made the final cut of Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Russia.
This will be the second meeting of the season between these two teams. Former Bulls' winger, James Boyd, now Mississauga's head coach, leads his team into Belleville tonight.
Players to watch tonight include two up and coming draft eligible players, one on each team. Josh Burnside has 8 goals and 10 assists in 30 games for the Steelheads, and his skating speed has made scouts take notice. Aaron Berisha was named the game's first star in Belleville's 2-0 victory in Ottawa on Wednesday night, as he collected his 6th goal of the season.
My prediction Mississauga 2 at Belleville 3
Kingston at Sarnia
The Kingston Frontenacs (17-14-1-0) gutted out a 2-1 SO victory on home ice over the Mississauga Steelheads last night with two fewer forwards on the bench. Forwards Darcy Greenaway (upper body injury), and Billy Jenkins (flu) were out of the lineup last night, along with Finns Mikko Vainonen, and Henri Ikonen, who have joined the Finnish World Junior team. Defenseman Roland McKeown is also out with a separated shoulder. Newest signing, Matt Watson played on the blueline for Kingston for the first time last evening. Former Front, Braydon Blight may join the team again, as early as tonight in Sarnia.
The Sarnia Sting (19-11-0-3) beat the Guelph Storm 4-2 on home ice last night. Alex Galchenyuk scored twice and had an assist, and former Frontenac, Charles Sarault was named the game's first star with a goal and two assists. J.P. Anderson kept adding to his OHL record regular season game winning record which stands at 116.
In order for the Frontenacs to win over the next few weeks, they will have to play a defensive, patient game. Prior to last night's game they put a "trap style" of system in place, which proved very effective for them against Mississauga. More of the same will be needed over the rest of the weekend for Kingston, although gaining a point in Sarnia, or London will be a tall order.
My prediction Kingston 2 at Sarnia 5
Windsor at Saginaw
The Spits dropped a real snoozer at home on Thursday night to the Kitchener Rangers 4-1. They were able to tie things up early in the second period from a goal by Marchese (9th) but could not progress any further. Kitchener was 2/5 on the powerplay. Windsor has the lowest goal production in the Western Conference (88 goals for) and third lowest total in the league.
The Spits will play in the late game at Sault Ste Marie tomorrow to finish their schedule ahead of the Christmas Break.
The Spirit are three points behind the Greyhounds and the Spits with only 31 points in 34 games. They have only won 4 of their last 10 games and lost 2 contests in overtime. Last night they were in Sault Ste Marie where they ended up tied with the Greyhounds 1-1 after regulation time. Nick Cousins scored a backbreaking goal shorthanded in the overtime frame. Goalie Nikita Serebryakov was solid in this contest with 37 saves on 39 shots.
The Spirit will start their Christmas Break after this contest. After Christmas these teams will meet again in Saginaw on December 29th.
My prediction Windsor 2 Saginaw 3
Plymouth at Barrie
The Whalers had a great start in Sudbury last night by scoring the first goal of the game at 1:28 (Meurs’ 14th goal of the season). Fast forward in time and we would find that after 2 periods the score was 5-2 for the home squad. Meurs would score again in the third period on the powerplay, but the Wolves would pot two more goals for a final score of 7-3. Their mediocre recent performance gives them a record of 14-10-5-3 having a record of 0-2-2-2 in the last six games. They will be hard pressed to come out of Barrie with a victory.
Barrie continues to lead the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 21-9-0-1. They will be without top players Scheifele and Camara but will likely be able to replace the offence by committee.
Their last action was a 3-1 loss on Thursday night at the hands of the Oshawa Generals – who now trail the Colts by only 2 points. Mathias Niederberger was more than adequate in the loss as he stopped 39 of 41 shots sent his way. The Colts will travel to Peterborough tomorrow morning to play the Petes in advance of their Christmas Break.
My prediction Plymouth 2 Barrie 4
Brampton at Owen Sound
The Attack were disheartened by last night’s game in London. With 24 seconds left Catenacci tied the game at 2-2 with hopes of something swinging their way in overtime. Shockingly, Seth Griffith would tip home a shot with only 4 seconds remaining for the narrow 3-2 Knights win. Owen Sound has now lost 3 in a row and will be very eager to shake this off on home ice tonight. They are comfortably in third place in the Western Conference ahead of streaky Guelph by 4 points and steady Kitchener by 5 points.
Brampton Battalion are tucked into the middle of the Eastern Conference with 37 points in 34 games played this season. They are tied with Missisauga, trail Niagara by 2 points and are ahead of Kingston by 2 points. They have won their last 2 games, but are only 5-5 in their past 10 games. Their last action was on Thursday night in Peterborough. Thanks to 49 shots fired on their net, and two powerplay goals (Amadio and Bell) they would cruise to a 4-1 victory. Top scorer Barclay Goodrow (30) has 7 points in the six games played this month.
My prediction Owen Sound 5 Brampton 1