Ontario Hockey League Game Day Previews for Thursday January 24, 2013

Pictured is a whistle (this one available at amazon.com).  This represents the recent activity of referees being instructed to call penalties for ‘persistent fighting’.  As well the league has been cracking down on the ‘rough stuff’ as indicated by the number of recent suspensions (after a relatively quiet January).


Barrie at Niagara

This game marks the return of Mitchell Theoret to the confines of Jack Gatecliff Arena (aka the Gatorade Garden City Complex).  He should be warmly received.  Barrie is ahead of the Dogs by 13 points in the standings.  Barrie played the Attack last night (lost 3-0) – and had an adventure on the treacherous roads into and out of Owen Sound.

Ryan Strome is 8 points behind league leader Seth Griffith.  Seth has played 12 games more than Ryan.  The Dogs have lost 4 in a row and only won 2 of their last 10 games.  The fans may be getting impatient, but this will be commonplace to finish this season without Dougie Hamilton (NHL) and a youth movement fully in effect. Making matters worse, Brett Ritchie will not be in action for the next 2 games due to him initiating a fight in the last 5 minutes of their last game.

  My prediction Barrie 5 at Niagara 2

London at Ottawa

London and Ottawa are 46 points apart in the OHL standings. First place, London has 73 points, and last place, Ottawa has 27. London has lost their last three games. Ottawa, in full rebuild mode, has lost their last 5, and have won only twice in their last 10.

It was announced yesterday that London's Ryan Rupert was suspended for 3 games for verbally abusing an official. Alex Broadhurst was also suspended for three games in the same game for a slew foot. Both will miss their Eastern road swing. An incredible 8 players on the current roster, were ranked in the NHL mid term rankings for the 2013 draft, so the Knights have plenty of other talent to overwhelm the Ottawa 67s, who have won only 4 of 22 home games, at Scotiabank Place, this season.

My prediction  London 6  at  Ottawa 2

Belleville at Peterborough

The Bulls won a huge divisional game on home ice last night, 4-1, over the Oshawa Generals. The win vaulted the Bulls into first place in the East Division, a single point over the Gens, and to within 5 points of the Conference leaders (Barrie Colts). Captain Brendan Gaunce scored twice for the winners, and Joseph Cramarossa picked up 1 goal and an assist.

The Petes have played well of late, although home ice hasn't been kind to Peterborough, either. They have won only 7 of 22 games at home this season. Two of those home wins have come against the Bulls, as the Petes have the upper hand in four games so far this year. They have beaten the Bulls 3 times, and it took overtime for the Bulls to beat them on Dec 5th.

Peterborough has not faced the Bulls since trading Alan Quine to Belleville, nor have they seen Tyler Graovac in a Bulls' jersey. Expect this to be a closer game than the 24 point difference in the standings might indicate it should be.

My prediction  Belleville 3  at Peterborough 1

Plymouth at Windsor

Tom Wilson will be watching this game from the stands as he is in the midst of his 5 game suspension. With a win tonight, the Whalers can take the #1 spot from the Sarnia Sting and thus the #2 overall seed in the Western Conference.  They have won 8 of their last 10 games and have an away record of 9-8-3-1.  Trocheck has 1 goal and 9 assists in his 5 games with his new team.

 The Spits have rebranded themselves and have put together a much more competitive team than they had in December.  Unfortunate news on Slater Koekkoek with his shoulder surgery which should shelve him deep into the playoffs (if they make it). The Spits have gathered much needed points in their last 6 consecutive games. Kerby Rychel has 5 points in his last 2 games. Newly acquired Alex Aleardi has 8 points in 6 games played. The Spits welcomed Alexander Khokhlachev with open arms and have been rewarded with 10 points in his 6 games.

 My prediction Plymouth 3 Windsor 5