Erie at Niagara
Erie might have D-man Adam Pelech back in their roster tonight after being released from Team Canada Junior Camp last night. Devin Williams is the #1 goalie now as Oscar Dansk prepares for Team Sweden at the World Junior Tournament in Russia. Connor MacDavid continues to lead all rookies with 37 points in 32 games. Last weekend they had a few games get away on them - an 8-0 loss at home vs. Guelph and a 5-2 loss at Brampton. New Coach Knoblauch is also getting the flavour for this team – hopefully addressing a few of their defensive problems.
The Otters are currently in last place in Western Conference with 21 points in 32 games – they have won 2 of their last 10 games.
The schedule for the Otters doesn’t get any easier – this weekend they will play a home & home series vs. the Kitchener Rangers. That will be followed by visits to both Owen Sound and Barrie to complete the calendar year.
Niagara has a few call ups for tonight’s game with Ritchie, Strome and Hamilton away at the World Junior Tournament. This season those three players have accounted for 57 goals of the Icedogs’ 132 goals this season. So far the team has collected 40 points in 32 games.
Smart money is on the ‘big three’ (and maybe more) being shipped out to other OHL contenders after the tournament in order to restock the draft cupboard as well as to acquire some promising prospects for the coming seasons. Last weekend they blasted Ottawa 9-0 at home and then were shut down in London 5-2 on the nationally televised game on Sportsnet. In that game, the goaltending from Festarini was adequate, but shaky at times – the defence was also adequate. The secondary scoring continues to require more development if/when the first line is broken up due to trades or the NHL mini-training camp invitations.
We will also see newly acquired Greg Jambrosich who was playing with the St. Catharines Jr B Falcons but was the property of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. GM Williamson traded a 15th round pick for this player who has 29 points in 175 career OHL games (Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie).
My prediction Erie 3 Niagara 2
Brampton at Peterborough
The Brampton Battalion (15-13-3-2) remain in 6th place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Kingston and one point behind Mississauga. Brampton beat Erie 5-2 last Sunday on home ice, and were led - as usual - by Barclay Goodrow (1g 1a). Also on the scoresheet were Nick Paul (2g) and Brandon Robinson (2g). Goodrow scored his 22nd on a shorthanded penalty shot in the first period. The Battalion outshot the Otters 37-27.
The Peterborough Petes (8-20-3-1), on the heels of 2 wins and an overtime loss, have moved into 9th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Ottawa 67s. In fact the last three Petes' games, and 4 of their last 5, have required extra time to complete.
In their last game, Peterborough beat the Wolves in a shootout. Rookie goalie, Michael Giugovaz was replaced after giving up the 3-1 goal to the Wolves early in the second period. Andrew D'Agostini took over and gave up only one regulation goal the rest of the way. This would prove to be D'Agostini's first win of the season, in 16 tries.
My prediction Brampton 3 at Peterborough 2
Kitchener at Windsor
As Kitchener’s Coach Spott mulls over the roster for the Canadian World Junior Team, his team ventures into a traditional hot spot for tonight’s game against the Spitfires. The Rangers are without their top defenceman Ryan Murphy as well as Faksa, Reider and Gibson who are all attending their national junior selection camps.
The Rangers have not recorded a win in their last 4 games - in fact they have only won 4 of their last 10 games. They sit comfortably in fifth place in the conference with 40 points in 31 games. Justin Bailey was named to the CHL Prospects game – he has 12 points in his first year in the league. The Rangers are the least penalized team in the Western Conference.
Windsor has won all four of their games this month – their last three by identical 3-2 scores. They have only scored 87 goals this season – but Kitchener has the low mark in the conference with 83 goals (1 ahead of both Peterborough and Belleville). They are in seventh place and have put a 4 place cushion between them and the Greyhounds and Spirit. The Spits will travel to Saginaw and Sault Ste Marie this weekend before their Christmas Break.
These 2 teams tangled in Kitchener on November 30 – where the Rangers scored 2 early third period goals to tie the game up and send things to the shootout eventually. Pavelka stopped 38 of 40 shots for the Spits.
My prediction Kitchener 1 Windsor 3
Oshawa at Barrie
The Oshawa Generals (17-12-1-2) will be without their captain, Boone Jenner, who is trying out for Team Canada in Calgary. Sebastian Uvira will be joining Team Germany, and Tyler Biggs, Team USA. The loss of Jenner, and Biggs represents 42 of the Generals' 106 goals on the year or 40% of the team's total.
The Windsor Spitfires beat Oshawa last Sunday afternoon, 3-2. The Gens had a 2-0 lead late in the first period, only to allow a late goal to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Michael Dal Colle scored his 9th.
The Barrie Colts (21-8-0-1) are first in the Eastern Conference, but will be without Mark Schiefele, and Anthony Camara, as they are in Calgary, as well. They have tallied 43 of the Colts' 120 goals, or 36%.
The Colts are coming off of convincing victories over the Kingston Frontenacs 6-2, and the Sudbury Wolves 5-2. Defenseman Ryan O'Connor tallied 4 goals and had 3 assists in the two games, and was named OHL player of the week for his efforts.
My prediction Oshawa 2 at Barrie 4