Happy 12 / 12 / 12 everyone - hope you have a 'lucky day'.

Belleville at Ottawa

The Belleville Bulls (18-9-3-1) have opened up a 3 point lead in the OHL East Division standings over the Oshawa Generals, thanks to a 3 game winning streak. They have the best record in the Eastern Conference
over the last 10 games at 7-2-0-1.

The Bulls last win was a very impressive 4-2 victory over the Attack in Owen Sound, on Saturday night. The Bulls' backup goalie, Charlie Graham was solid in this one, stopping 40 of 42 shots. The game was tied at two after 2 periods. One of the hotter Bulls, Garrett Hooey scored the only two goals of the third period, his 6th and 7th of the season, to secure the win. The Bulls' imports Sergey Kuptsov, and Daniil Zharkov had staked them
to a 2-0 exactly 5:00 minutes into the game. Belleville's penalty killers came up big, once again and killed all 6 Attack chances.

The Bulls will need Graham to remain solid, as number one goalie, Malcolm Subban has joined the Team Canada World Junior tryout camp in Calgary. GM & Head Coach George Burnett has called up a backup for Graham, but has said publically that Graham will start all of the games that Subban will miss. I believe that Graham is the most underrated goalie in the OHL - oops that's for another article.

The Ottawa 67's (8-22-0-3) may be happy to be playing at home again after a 9 game - 3 weekend road trip. Ottawa managed to only get 3 of 18 points up for grabs on the trip, and have sunk to last in the 20 team OHL, with 19 points in 33 games. At this pace they stand to have one of their worst seasons since entering the league in 1967. It doesn't get any easier for the 67s as Sean Monahan, and Tyler Graovac have joined Subban in
Calgary to try out for Team Canada. Home ice hasn't exactly been kind to the 67s, as they have only won 3 games in 15 tries at Scotiabank Place.

The Bulls have beaten Ottawa twice at Yardman Arena and once at Scotiabank Place this season.  Malcolm Subban has played in all 3 games, and shut out the 67s in their last meeting on November 24th. Garrett Hooey has 2 goals and 3 assists against the 67s this season.

Both teams won their last game, but I believe that the Bulls will be too much for Ottawa.

 My prediction  Belleville 4  at  Ottawa 2

 Plymouth at Sault Ste Marie

The Whalers were shaded out in all three of their games last week – losing 3-2 at Owen Sound in the shootout, 3-2 at home in overtime vs Saginaw and then on Saturday they lost when they hosted the Generals 4-3. The Whalers remain in the lower half of the standings as they have 35 points this season. Their record is 14-9-4-3 with a mediocre record of 4-2-2-2 in their past 10 games.  They have scored 105 goals and surrendered 98 goals.

They will be without the services of the following players who are trying out for their respective country’s junior hockey team: Tom Wilson (Canada), Rickard Rackell (Sweden), Ryan Hartman (USA) and Stefan Noesen (USA).

Sault Ste Marie is eager to get home after a less than stellar road trip last weekend. They lost to the Windsor Spits last Thursday, then won at Saginaw on Saturday before losing 4-1 at Sarnia on Sunday. They have 30 points as they sit in the #8 spot in the conference based on their record of 14-16-2-0  - they are tied with the Saginaw Spirit in points, but have played one fewer game.

The fans are interested in seeing how the new Coach Keefe operates.  They will be without the services of Ryan Sproul as he is attending the National Junior Selection Camp.  Nick Cousins continues to be head and shoulders above the team offensively. He has 12 goals and 31 assists this season and has 231 points in 232 career OHL games. Sergey Tolchinsky is tied for fifth in rookie scoring with 12 goals and 13 assists this season.  The team has scored 114 goals this season and allowed 129 goals.

 My prediction Plymouth 1 Sault Ste Marie 4