Oshawa at Kingston
Oshawa defeated Division rivals in back to back home games by an identical 4-1 score this past weekend. They remain in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, 4 points behind Barrie, and 9 points ahead of 4th place Brampton. On Friday night the Gens outshot the 67s 50-18, and on Sunday they outshot the Petes 52-23. Tyler Biggs assisted on both of Boone Jenner's goals on Friday night, and Scott Sabourin had a pair of goals. Boone Jenner added a pair of assists on Sunday evening. Jenner is running away with the point scoring lead for the Gens, despite playing only 50 games. He is 11th in OHL scoring, with 73 points (37 goals).
Kingston has to keep gaining points if they are to stay ahead of the Petes, and perhaps overtake the Steelheads in the tight Eastern Conference race. Mississauga is 7th, with 55 points. Kingston is 8th, with 53 points, and Peterborough is 9th, with 49 points.
The Fronts have been lead for most of the season by 3 rookies up front. Henri Ikonen leads the team with 48 points, Spencer Watson is second with 41, and Sam Bennett is 6th with 34. The line lead the Fronts to a 6-3 victory in Erie, in their last game. Ikonen had a goal, Watson, had a goal and two assists, and Bennett had 2 goals and 2 assists. Ikonen and Watson lead the team with plus-2 ratings, and Bennett is even.
There is some question as to the health of Ikonen, as he was hit hard in Erie, by Hayden Hodgson, who was assessed a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for the hit. A couple of Kingston defensemen may be suspended in separate incidents in this game, as well.
Kingston can't afford to get into a "run and gun" game with the Gens, and need to hold their opponents to fewer shots than they had this past weekend, when they broke the 50 barrier in back to back wins. Staying out of the penalty box will be a key to the Frontenacs.
My prediction Oshawa 4 at Kingston 3
Brampton at Belleville
The Battalion are in 4th place in the Eastern Conference and are traditionall a very disciplined team under coach Stan Butler. They have exactly 600 PIMs, for the lowest total in the OHL. Compare that with the team that holds down 3rd in the Western Conference - the Owen Sound Attack - who have nearly twice the number of penalty minutes (1104), and you wonder how much this stat actually means.
The Battalion are just two points ahead of the surprising Sudbury Wolves. These two teams would face each other in the first round of the playoffs, if the season ended now.
This will be the 4th and final meeting between these two teams, and the first since Oct 12th. In the 3 previous meetings, there have been a grand total of 5 regulation time goals. Brampton won 1-0, and lost 2-0 on home ice, and the Bulls won 2-1 in a shootout at Yardman Arena in Belleville. Much has changed since then.
Prior to the OHL Trade Deadline, Belleville had scored 101 goals in 39 games, or 2.59 goals per game. Since then, they have scored 90 goals in 19 games, or 4.74 goals a game. The incredible turnaround is thanks in large part to the addition of two former Ottawa 67s in Tyler Graovac, Jake Cardwell, and former Pete, and Frontenac, Alan Quine. Quine and Graovac, in particular have allowed coach Burnett to roll 4 lines, and have any one of them score. Joseph Cramarossa and Daniil Zharkov look like totally different players in the second half of the season. No longer does Bulls' captain, Brendan Gaunce have to carry the load offensively.
Stan Butler will have a much more difficult job drawing up a defensive game plan to shut down the now powerful, Conference leading, Belleville Bulls.
My prediction Brampton 2 at Belleville 5
Sudbury at Sault Ste Marie
The Wolves scamper into town hoping to get a win so that they can stay within range of the Brampton Battalion in the Eastern Conference standings. Entering the weekend, the Wolves are trailing Brampton by 2 points but have played one more game than the Battalion. Sudbury has dropped their last 2 contests and only won 3 of their last 10 starts. Leading scorer Michael Campagna has 7 points in 10 games this month after tallying 14 points in 11 games last month. He has 61 points this season - almost double his point total from last year (31). Goalie Franky Palazzese has a career OHL record of 42-43-5-12.
The Greyhound are eager to keep their hot streak alive – tallying points in their last 5 games and an impressive 7-2-1-0 record in their last 10 starts. They are 2 points ahead of the faltering Sarnia Sting any only 2 points behind the Guelph Storm for the #5 spot in the conference. The Whalers have drifted away to the top of their division and are a distant 6 points ahead of Sault Ste Marie to start the weekend. News of the Knights’ Rupert suspension has been announced, but still no official news of Nick Cousins being suspended based on his actions during a weekend hit from behind penalty.
My prediction Sudbury 2 Sault Ste Marie 6