Pictured is Tyler Graovac of the Belleville Bulls. He was traded earlier today from the 67’s in exchange for Sergey Kuptsov, 2 draft choices and a conditional pick. Tyler has 35 points in 30 games this season – recently collecting 3 goals and an assist in his last 2 games. He should bring needed scoring punch to the Bulls team.
Sarnia at Erie
The Sting continue to be without their #1 firecracker Alex Galchenyuk – he was busy in Russia winning a gold medal for his team at the WJHC. Sarnia is in second place in the Conference due to their first place spot in the division. They have 47 points in 38 games played this season and have won 7 of their last 10 games including 2 consecutive wins.
Last night the Sting built a 4-0 first period lead against the struggling Windsor Spitfires in Sarnia. The Spits fought back in the middle frame outscoring the hosts 3-1. The game was sealed halfway through the third frame by sizzling hot Nikolay Goldobin on the powerplay to make the score 7-5. He notched 2 goals (#19 and #20) to go along with 2 assists and first star honours. Assistant Captain Charles Sarault continues his steady scoring pace with 2 goals and 3 assists – these points pushed him into a third place tie in league scoring with 61 points this season.
Erie hung on for a tight 1-0 victory at home vs. the suddenly average Barrie Colts. Both teams had big games from their goaltenders including a 23 shot - first career shutout for Devin Williams. He had 9 starts last season and 13 starts this year. Connor Brown scored the lone goal of the game – his 20th of the year. Brown has had two dry spells this season – a 10 game goal drought as well as a 6 game goal-less span. Erie has a pattern of alternating wins and losses in their last 4 games, so they look to change things tonight. They are currently in last place in the Western Conference, trailing Windsor by 5 points and Saginaw by 6 points BUT they have won 6 of their last 10 games (Windsor and Saginaw have only won 3 of 10).
After this game the Sting will play in Niagara on Sunday afternoon - Erie will host Owen Sound next Wednesday.
My prediction Sarnia 4 Erie 2
Kitchener at London
The Rangers are trying to shake off a sluggish December record of 2 wins and 7 losses. They have posted wins in the first two games of this calendar year 3-1 at Owen Sound and then a 4-3 victory at home vs. the upstart Peterborough Petes. Kitchener is floating in fourth place just one point ahead of Guelph and 3 points ahead of the slumping Plymouth Whalers. They will need world class goaltending in this game for a chance against the #1 Knights, but John Gibson is still overseas.
The Knights continue to roll along despite their record being stifled by the stubborn Sarnia Sting a few nights ago. Last night they beat up on the Saginaw Spirit in London to the tune of 8-2. The Knights’ first 2 goals were on the powerplay (3 for 7 in the game). The second period saw the home side outscore the Spirit 3-0, then a 4-2 third period giving the 8-2 final score. The usual suspects scored for London – Seth Griffith had 3 goals (28 this season) and Max Domi scored once and added 3 assists. Griffith now leads all OHL players with 67 points this season.
My prediction Kitchener 2 London 5
Sault Ste Marie at Belleville
The Greyhounds are near the bottom of the conference with 42 points in 39 contests. They have been more reliable lately and are trying to put some distance between themselves and the cellar dwellers below them. They have won 7 of their last 10 contests including their last 2 games. Their last action was in Ottawa on Thursday night. Sault Ste Marie outshot Ottawa 51-22 and smothered them in the third period with three goals in the first 8 minutes en route to a 4-1 victory. Ryan Sproul had a powerplay goal in the third period and garnered first star honours in this game. He was recently named the defenceman of the month by the league offices.
Today Belleville added the above mentioned Graovac to the lineup for some more offensive firepower. He has 12 more points than defenceman (and offensive team leader) Jordan Subban. The Bulls were easily tamed in their last contest on Thursday night vs. the Peterborough Petes. They were not able to get any of their 42 shots past Andrew D’Agostini on this night and went down to defeat 3-0.
My prediction Sault Ste Marie 5 Belleville 2
Guelph at Plymouth
The Storm are in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. They have 46 points in 37 games played this season. They trail Kitchener by one slim point and are only 2 points ahead of Plymouth and 4 points ahead of the surging Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Their last game was a disappointing 6-2 loss at the hands of the Plymouth Whalers. Coach Walker called out defencemen Finn and Pedan for their penalties and poor positional play. The Storm look for a better showing in this contests tonight. Guelph continues the mini-road trip with a stop at Saginaw tomorrow afternoon.
Plymouth led Owen Sound 3-0 early in the third period last night. They gave up 3 consecutive goals in a 2 minute span to the visiting Attack which set the game at 3-3. A late powerplay allowed the Whalers to push ahead with a goal at the 19:47 mark by Gurcuruto. Plymouth is in sixth place in the conference wedged between Guelph (2 pts ahead) and Sault Ste Marie (2 pts behind them). They have now won their past three games. Meurs and Mistelle each have the team lead in scoring this season with 31 points and an identical 17 goals and 14 assists.
Guelph 4 Plymouth 2
Owen Sound at Saginaw
The Attack went into Plymouth last night and fell behind early 2-0 after one period and 3-0 after 2 periods. A flurry of activity in the third period led to a 3-3 score until very late in the game. Catenacci was sent off for a high sticking penalty in the last minute of play and the Whalers were able to capitalize with a goal from Gurcuruto (his 3rd this year) for the 4-3 home ice victory. This is Owen Sound’s second loss in a row (3-1 vs. Kitchener) and fifth loss in their past ten games. They continue to float in third place in the conference with 53 points in 38 games played this season.
Saginaw continues to battle at the bottom of the conference with Windsor and Erie for the last playoff spot. The Spirit have dropped their last 2 games and have only won 3 of their last 10 contests.
Eric Locke has been held scoreless in the past 2 contests after scoring 7 points in the previous 3 games. Garrett Ross had 13 points in 10 games in December but did not score in the last game – an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the #1 London Knights.
My prediction Owen Sound 5 Saginaw 2
Ottawa at Barrie
The 67’s are in selling mode as they moved top scorer Tyler Graovac to the Belleville Bulls for Sergey Kuptsov and future draft picks. They were handled easily by the visiting Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds on Thursday night 4-1. Ottawa was outshot 51-22 in this contest. Will there be another trade before game time?
Barrie is coming off a simple 1-0 loss at Erie last night. Devin Williams had his first career shutout. The Colts were able to push around the fledgling Niagara Icedogs on Thursday night to the tune of 4-1. Josh MacDonald had 2 goals in that game.
Barrie leads the Eastern Conference with 51 points in 38 games played this season. Ottawa is in last place in the Conference with 25 points in 40 games played this season.
My prediction Ottawa 0 Barrie 3