Ontario Hockey League Game Day Previews for Wednesday March 14 2012

 In yesterday’s action I was right on in the Oshawa/Peterborough game (4-2 prediction vs. actual 4-3 score) and I went against the Colts but they prevailed in the shootout vs. the Wolves. So 3 of 4 points in my predictions isn’t too bad I guess.  Things are really heat up now with teams completing their regular season schedules – many teams still jockeying for playoff positioning and some even looking to qualify for the postseason (ie. Guelph and Sault Ste Marie tonight).  Pictured is Darnell Nurse – Greyhounds rookie defenceman who scored his first OHL goal in the Greyhounds last game.

 

Erie at Guelph

Erie is eager to finish the season on a high note after only collecting 10 wins on the season.  They have lost their last 4 games and only won 2 of their last 10 games.  Erie has scored the fewest goals in the league this season with 165 markers – 19 fewer than the next team (Kingston) and 109 behind top firing Niagara (274). The team has set franchise records for fewest wins, most losses and others as well. The Otters are interested in have a strong finish to the season and would certainly enjoy playing the spoiler here vs. the Storm. Last Sunday the Storm were in Erie and handed the hosts a 6-4 loss.  With injuries the Otters only dressed 15 players and could not keep up with the steady Guelph squad.  Both teams would go 2/5 on their powerplays in this penalty filled match – lots of roughing penalties but only one fight.

Third year ‘break out’ player Zack Mitchell leads Guelph in scoring with 70 points. Last game he was good for one goal to push him up to 34 on the season.   The previous 2 seasons he had a combined 12 goals and 17 assists. Kosmachuck and Menard are tied for second on the team with 56 points each.  The Storm continue to sit on the cusp of a playoff berth – 2 points ahead of Sault Ste Marie and 1 point behind Windsor. Only 2 of those 3 teams will enter the post-season.  After this game, the Storm finish their regular season with a home/home series vs. the Owen Sound Attack.

 My prediction Erie 4 Guelph 5

 

Saginaw at Sarnia

The Spirit are in the thick of the Western Conference currently in sixth place. Their final slot is uncertain as they could finish as high as #4 and as low as #8.  The extremes are unlikely but mathematically possible. Their 5-4-0-1 record in 10 games is average – only 4 teams have given up more goals than the Spirit this season – their goals for total is in the middle of the pack.  Their last game was on Saturday night when they hosted the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Despite being outshot by 13, the Spirit were able to dominate on the scoreboard with a 4-1 victory. Hounds goalie Matt Murray was caught by 3 goals in the first half of the first period to give the home side a 3-1 first period advantage.  Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson was able to stop 41 of 42 puck fired his way and earned the first star.  Carlos Amestoy had a two goal night (8 this season) and earned second star honours.  After tonight’s game the Spirit will close out the season on Saturday night with a home contest against the Sarnia Sting. There will be a St. Patrick’s Day theme with the home green jerseys in play – and a jersey auction as well.

Sarnia is completing their home schedule tonight – with special giveaways (sponsored by the local radio station 103.5 FM) as well as honouring the overage players in a pre-game ceremony. Yakupov will not be in the lineup but another big name is ... introducing Alex Galchenyuk to his first regular season game of the year. Last year he had 83 points in 68 games played – should be interesting to see if he has cobwebs in his game or if he hits the ice in full stride.  The Sting are currently in fourth place – a slim 2 points ahead of Owen Sound and 5 points ahead of Saginaw.   A win by the Spirit tonight would certainly make things really tight going into the final few games this weekend.

 My prediction Saginaw 3 Sarnia 5

 

Oshawa at Belleville

Last night the Generals were victorious at Peterborough. Oshawa came out of the first period with a 2-0 lead.  The remainder of the game would see the home team outshoot the Gens 34-17 – the Petes would also outscore the Generals by one goal but their cushion from the first period was enough for the Gens to squeeze out a 4-3 victory. Scott Sabourin would have a big game with 2 goals and 1 assist.  He has scored 4 of his 10 goals this season in the last 4 games.  Jenner and Thomas also chipped in one goal each.  Goalie Kevin Baille has 4 straight wins – and 20 wins on the season.   With their win last night, the Generals are in seventh place only 1 point behind the Majors and 3 points ahead of the 8th place Bulls.

 

If Belleville is able to win in regulation tonight they will be only 1 point behind the Generals in the standings. In the playoffs next week the 8th place team will get the sizzling Niagara Icedogs while the #7 spot will be up against the lukewarm 67’s squad.  Belleville backed into the playoffs by virtue of Peterborough’s lacklustre play – the Bulls have lost their last 2 but the Petes lost their last 5 games.  The Bulls’ last game was a 3-0 loss at the hands of the streaking Colts.  All three of those goals were scored in the last half of the third period (2nd goal was shorthanded and the final goal was of the empty net variety).  Last Friday night they would lose 3-1 at Sudbury despite outshooting the Wolves.  Leading scorer Brandon Gaunce (64 pts) has 2 assists in the 5 games played this month.

 My prediction Oshawa 4 Belleville 1

 

Plymouth at Sault Ste Marie

The Whalers come tearing into the 705 locked up in a tie for top spot in the Western Conference (and league) along with with 9 game winning streak.  During that streak they scored 43 times – averaging 4.8 goals per game.  Stefan Noesen (team points leader) has had a strong month with 6 goals and 3 assists in 6 games.  Alex Aleardi has posted career best totals in all areas this season including a +29 rating.  JT Miller and Andy Bathgate are tied for 2nd in team scoring with Aleardi (all have 62 points) Rackell (59) and Heard (56) are not too far behind.  Goalie Wedgewood needs one more win to tie his career best season total of 28 wins.

Sault Ste Marie is currently ‘on the outside looking in’ as they are 2 points behind Guelph for the final playoff spot. The Greyhounds are 3 points behind the Windsor Spitfires.  The Greyhounds have lost their last 2 games, so they are looking for a better result during this final weekend.  The Hounds will complete the season with home games vs Windsor on Saturday and then host the revitalized Rangers on Sunday.   In their last game – a 4-1 loss at Saginaw – the Greyhounds were able to pepper Jake Paterson with 42 shots but weren’t able to get the rubber behind him more than once.  Rookie Darnell Nurse scored his first career OHL goal. Nick Cousins is tied for #10 in league scoring with 33 goals and 49 assists.  He has had an ‘average month’ with 1 goal and 2 assist in 4 games – last month he was solid with 21 points in 12 games.  In the 32 games that Jack Campbell has played for the Greyhounds he is credited with 14 wins.

 My prediction Plymouth 5 Sault Ste Marie 2