Pictured is Sarnia’s rookie Nikolay Goldobin.  Last night he exploded for 2 goals and 3 assists in his team’s 13-3 victory over the struggling last place Erie Otters.  He now leads the rookie scoring race by 2 points (total of 58) over Connor McDavid who was held scoreless last night.


Sudbury at Kitchener

  The Wolves had a great game at home last night vs. the Barrie Colts.  Sudbury came out strong and had leads of 2-0 after 1 period and 4-0 after 2 periods.  The Colts stormed back to make the score 4-3 with 1:48 remaining in the third period, but would not be able to tie the game.  An empty net goal produced the final score of 5-3 in favor of the home side.  Pancel and Kahun each had a pair of goals – Desroches and Kubalik also added 2 point games. The Wolves remain in fifth place just 2 points behind the Brampton Battalion for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.

  Kitchener remains without their captain and top offensive defenceman Ryan Murphy.  He is in action with Carolina Hurricanes on an emergency call up basis.  The Rangers were stumped at home last night by Jake Paterson of the Saginaw Spirit.  Kitchener peppered 48 shots on net, but were only able to get 3 goals by him – 2 of them very early in the third period.   They weren’t able to keep pace with Saginaw on this night, dropping a 6-3 decision.  Two quick goals at the start of the second period pronounced the end to Joel Vienneau’s night.  Both he and Palazzese will be eager to prove which team got the better value for their trade earlier this year. 

  My prediction Sudbury 4 Kitchener 3 (OT)

Kingston at Niagara

  With the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at K-Rock Centre, the Fronts are on the road for the second straight weekend. Tonight they are in St. Catharines, to face the Ice Dogs. They are 8th in the Eastern Conference, just 4 points behind 7th place Mississauga, and 5 points behind 6th place Niagara, with 2 games in hand on each team.

  Henri Ikonen has been red hot for the Frontenacs, with 5 goals and 3 assists in 3 games last weekend. He was named the first star on Monday afternoon in Mississauga, and the third star on Saturday night in the Soo.

  This will be Niagara's third game in 3 nights. They have lost 4 straight. Head Coach Marty Williamson said that they had hit rock bottom after their 8-2 home ice loss to the Steelheads on Thursday night. Everything that could go wrong, did, in this one. It was a "bad effort" all around  from goaltending, to defense, to the forwards. He recognized that the team was "flat", and tired in practice on Wednesday and cut practice short. The Storm beat them 5-3 in Guelph last night. Guelph outshot them 41-22. On a positive note, Niagara opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal by Shayne Rover, and a powerplay goal by Anthony DiFruscia. Ryan Strome picked up 2 assists in a losing cause. Goaltender Festarini is eager to have a better game than he did at home on Thursday night.

  Watch Kingston's all rookie line of Ikonen, Spencer Watson, and Sam Bennett tonight. They are playing with the confidence of veterans, and leading the team offensively on most nights. Coach Gill looks at this game as a big one in the development of his young team, so look for them to come out hard against a tired Ice Dogs team.

  My prediction Kingston 5  at  Niagara 3

Peterborough at Belleville

    These two are among the hottest teams in the league. The Petes have 7 wins in their last 10 games. Belleville has won 9 of their last 10.  Despite their 29 point difference in the standings, and the fact that the Bulls are in first and the Petes are currently 9th in the conference, this should be a close game. Consider the fact that in 5 previous meetings between these two teams, Peterborough has 4 wins (3 in shootouts), and an overtime loss. This is the 6th and final meeting between these teams in the regular season. With the Petes 2 points behind 8th place Kingston, a first round playoff meeting between these long time rivals is a definite possibility.

  In their last game against Oshawa, the Petes spotted the Gens a 2-0 lead only to roar back with 6 straight goals to win 6-3. They were one of the few teams this season to chase Gens starter Daniel Altshuller, mid way through the game.

  The Bulls overpowered the 67s 8-5 in their last outing on home ice Wednesday night where they had shut out the Barrie Colts, 3-0 on Family Day. The Bulls have won 7 straight. Despite the streak, coach George Burnett wasn't happy with his team's "sloppy, careless, undisciplined, and irresponsible" effort against the 67s. Expect a tighter checking, much more focussed effort by the home team in this one. You can be assured that coach Burnett has reminded his troops of the season series record against the much improved team.

  Tyler Graovac (24 pts in 18 games), and Alan Quine (30 pts in 17 games) have combined for 54 points since being acquired at the trade deadline, giving the Bulls a much needed offensive boost. Jordan Subban has 45 points on the year, more than doubling the 20 he had last season, in his rookie year.

  My prediction  Peterborough 2  at  Belleville 4


Sarnia at Plymouth

Last night the Sting were not very hospitable hosts to the Erie Otters. They would get 5 goals past Erie’s Oscar Dansk in the first period and put another 8 goals past Devin Williams in this 13-3 rout.   This was a game where many players would pad their stats including Charles Sarault  notching 7 assists (league leading 77 assists), Reid Boucher scoring 4 goals (league leading 57 goals) and the newly minted rookie scoring leader Goldobin (see feature above).  They are now tied with the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds with 69 points and sit in seventh place in the Western Conference.   They are 5 points ahead of the 8th place Saginaw Spirit with 2 games in hand.

  Plymouth continues to roll along the home stretch with 7 straight victories and 8 wins in their last 10 games.   They are a comfortable 6 points ahead of Sarnia in the standings for top spot in their division (and thus the #2 seed in the conference).  Their last action was last night’s 9-1 home ice rout of the tailspinning Windsor Spitfires.  They easily outshot the understaffed Spits 51-28.  Cody Payne and Rickard Rakell each had a hat trick.  Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 27 of 28 shots on net.

  My prediction Sarnia 4 Plymouth 3

Guelph at Barrie

  The Storm are coming off a strong performance at home vs. the slumping Icedogs. Three straight goals in the second period (2 of McGinn’s 3 goals on the night) would push the Storm into a 3-1 lead after 2 periods. Each team would score twice to give the final 5-3 score.  Rookie Robby Fabbri was second star with his 2 assists and +4 rating in this game.  He is #13 in rookie scoring this season.  Brock Beukeboom was a +3 against his former squad.  With the win, the Storm were able to maintain their slim 2 point lead over the Greyhounds and the Sting for the #5 spot in the Western Conference.  Guelph has played 1 fewer game than Sault Ste Marie and 3 fewer games than Sarnia.

  Barrie will be happy to welcome rugged forward Anthony Camara back to the lineup after his recent suspension.   Last night the Colts were handled by the Wolves in Sudbury.  Mark Scheifele was ejected from the game at the midpoint of the game when his team was trailing 4-1. Barrie was able to claw back to 4-3 in the final minutes of the game, but could not get the tie and surrendered an empty net goal to produce the eventual 5-3 loss. Niederberger was replaced early in the second period after giving up 3 goals on 14 shots.  He will be eager to ‘bounce back’ tonight. The Colts are 2 points behind the Bulls for top spot in the Eastern Conference with 3 games in hand over Belleville.

  My prediction Guelph 3 Barrie 6

Saginaw at Owen Sound

The Spirit can breathe a little easier now as they enjoy an eleven point cushion over the nosediving Windsor Spitfires for the final playoff spot in the conference.  Saginaw has won three in a row to support their cause.  They trail Sarnia and Sault Ste Marie by 5 points for the next playoff position.  Last night they marched into Kitchener and played a solid match eventually skating away with a 6-3 victory despite being outshot 48-25.  Jake Paterson bolstered his save percentage as the goaltender of record in this game.  Overage player Jason Shaw had 2 goals and another older player Gregg Sutch had 3 assists. Justin Kea added a goal and an assist for 45 points on the season.

  Owen Sound has a 4 point lead over the same Kitchener team.  The Attack have won 4 games in a row including a recent 3-2 overtime win over the Barrie Colts.  Goaltender Jordan Binnington has the second best save % (.930) and second best goals against average (2.26) in the league.   After this game, the Attack have a lengthy break until next Thursday in Barrie.

  My prediction Saginaw 2 Owen Sound 3 (OT)