Pictured is defenceman Cody Ceci of the Owen Sound Attack. He was returned from the NHL Ottawa Senators training camp to finish his year with the Junior club. He has zero goals and 2 assists in the three games in his new uniform. Before being traded, he had 40 points in 42 games for the Ottawa 67’s.
Peterborough at Niagara
The Peterborough Petes (12-25-3-4) are only one of two OHL teams who didn't play last night. On Thursday night the Petes lost 5-3 on home ice to the Guelph Storm. The Storm led 5-1 going into the third and new coach, Jody Hull motivated his club to battle hard, to pull to within a couple. It was the first game time the Petes have been beaten by more than a single goal since Dec 29th, when the 67s beat them 6-3, so despite their record the Petes will battle hard and stay in games, especially since Hull took over on December 28th.
The Niagara Ice Dogs (23-19-1-2) were humbled, on home ice, by the Belleville Bulls in the nationally televised Rogers Sportsnet game of the week last night, 7-2. The score was tied at 2 after the first, but it became the Gaunce/Graovac show after that. Tyler Graovac had 2 goals and 2 assists, and Brendan Gaunce had a goal and 3 assists for the Bulls. Rookie Aaron Haydon had a solid game with a goal and an assist. Newly minted captain Ryan Strome and Brett Ritchie continue to be scoring threats whenever they touch the puck. In six games this month, Festarinin has a record of 1-4 and a GAA of 3.74 – look for Brent Moran to get the start tonight. The Ice Dogs have lost 3 straight.
My prediction Peterborough 3 at Niagara 4
Owen Sound at Belleville
This should be an excellent game. The Attack (27-12-1-3) defeated the Kingston Frontenacs, 5-4 in a shootout last night in Kingston. Rookie Daniel Milne, in just his second OHL game, scored twice in regulation and had the SO winner for Owen Sound. The Attack are 2nd in the Midwest Division behind the London Knights and are currently ranked 8th in the CHL according to the BMO rankings.
The Bulls (25-12-3-2) have won 4 straight, including a convincing 7-2 victory in St. Catharines, over the Niagara Ice Dogs on Sportsnet's game of the week. Brendan Gaunce and Tyler Graovac each had 4 points and each ended the night with a plus-6 rating. The addition of Graovac, and Alan Quine has really sparked the Bulls, and gives them 3 legitimate scoring lines for the first time in recent memory. They are my pick to win the Eastern Conference this season, as long as everyone stays healthy. Malcolm Subban really wasn't tested in his first game in Belleville's goal, and gave up the 2 goals on 24 Niagara shots.
Will it be former World Junior Team Canada teammates, Malcolm Subban vs Jordan Binnington tonight? Each played in their respective team's victories last night.
My prediction Owen Sound 2 at Belleville 5
Kingston at Oshawa
Last night the Kingston Frontenacs (20-20-2-1) lost in a SO 5-4 to the Owen Sound Attack on home ice. Kingston played an excellent game, and bounced back from last Saturday's humiliating 7-0 defeat in Owen Sound, despite playing with a short bench due to illness and injury. They battled with 3 lines, and 5 D most of the night, as Ryan Hanes was shaken up early in the game. Darcy Greenaway scored twice for Kingston, including his 20th of the season. Warren Steele and Sam Povorozniouk each had a goal and an assist for Kingston. Jordan Binnington was just a little better in the SO for the Attack, but Mike Morrison played well for the Fronts.
The Oshawa Generals (24-16-1-3) should have all of their big guns back in the lineup, just in time to face their division rivals. Boone Jenner (Blue Jackets) has returned from his NHL training camp with some valuable experience. Scott Laughton has been kept by the Flyers for the time being. Without them, the Generals were a offensively challenged. Oshawa is currently 2nd in the East Division, 3 points behind the Bulls, and 3rd in the Conference. The Generals are finally healthy, and seem to be ready to battle the big boys in the Eastern Conference down the stretch.
My prediction Kingston 3 at Oshawa 5
Sault Ste Marie at Plymouth
Last night in Saginaw, the Greyhounds were bombarded with 20 shots in the first period and found themselves down 3-0 after one frame. A late second period goal triggered the goalie change from Matt Murray to Justin Nichols, but to no avail. Two third period goals for the Greyhounds would make the score 4-3 for Saginaw, but a late empty net goal would seal the score at 5-3. Fritsch, Alderson and Nurse were the goal scorers – Broll and Cousins added 2 assists each.
The Whalers are three points ahead in the standings and continue their quest to stay afloat in the upper portion of the Western Conference. They have won 8 of their past 10 games and three in a row. Plymouth has a home record of 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games, whereas the Greyhounds have a road record of 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games.
Last night the Whalers hosted the stingy Mississauga Steelheads. Halfway through the first period, the visitors would jump out to a 2-0 lead and carry the advantage deep into the second period. The Whalers would pepper Spencer Martin with 17 shots in the second period and 18 shots in the third period – and get rewarded with a goal in the second frame and two powerplay markers in the last frame for the 3-2 victory. Ryan Hartman had a goal and an assist and was given first star honours.
My prediction Sault Ste Marie 3 Plymouth 4 (OT)
Erie at Saginaw
The Otters were in Sarnia last night and were almost able to pull off the upset. The first two periods were back and forth but the Otters would have leads of 2-1 and 4-3 at the end of the first and second periods. In the third period, things would come unglued for Erie as the Sting would score four unanswered goals against replacement goalie Devin Williams (Dansk was ‘shaken up’ after being run over late in the second period). Crisp would score his 20th goal on the powerplay late in the game to give the final score 7-6 for the home side. J P Labardo had 2 goals and 2 assists and Connor McDavid had three helpers. The loss keeps the Otters in the basement of the conference as they find themselves 12 points away from the last playoff spot.
Saginaw was at home yesterday to the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. They would jump out to an early 20-6 first period shot advantage and a matching 3-0 goal advantage. Garret Ross continued his strong season with 2 goals and an assist in this game (career high 26 goals this season). Erie Locke exploded for 3 goals and 2 assists (29 goals and 57 points this season). Jimmy Lodge also added 3 assists. The win holds the Spirit in the #8 spot just 2 points behind the Greyhounds. They have a 4 point lead on the Spits. Saginaw has won 6 in a row for the longest current winning streak in the league.
My prediction Erie 4 Saginaw 6
Kitchener at Barrie
Last night in Kitchener, the Rangers would edge past the Battalion 4-3 in a shootout. Brampton had the lead after on period 2-1, then the Rangers tried to push ahead and had a 3-2 lead heading into the final frame. Brampton’s Francis Menard would tie the game at the 7:54 mark of the third period for the tying goal. The shootout would require six rounds until Justin Bailey was able to notch the winning goal. Tobias Rieder has scored 3 goals in 5 games this month after missing all of December.
The Colts would lose a close one at Sudbury last night 3-2 in a shootout. Goal scorers were Camara (23) and Dotchin (4). None of Camara, Beyers or Athanasiou could score in the shootout – whereas Nick Baptiste would beat Fotinos in the second round for the win. It appears that Mark Schiefele will start the NHL season with the Jets and may stay with that club for the remainder of the season – that story is yet to completely reveal itself.
The Colts now have 60 points and continue to lead the Eastern Conference with a 5 point cushion over the surging Bulls. The Rangers are undefeated in their last 5 games. They have 56 points and are in the thick of the Western Conference race with 9 points separating second to seventh place. They start the day in fourth place.
My prediction Kitchener 4 Barrie 2