Thursday March 14 2013 Ontario Hockey League Game Day Previews
Pictured is Eric Locke of the Saginaw Spirit. He is currently # 5 in league scoring with 44 goals and 51 assists.
Brampton at Niagara
The Battalion are sitting comfortably in the #4 spot of the conference and await news on their first round opponent – either the Wolves or the Dogs. The Battalion are the least penalized team in the league (673 total – Icedogs are next with 765 PIM) and are #6 in the league on the penalty kill. They are also one of the lower scoring teams in the league – 178 goals for this season (Mississauga has 175). Fittingly they also have given up one of the fewest totals of goals this season (183 - #3 in the East). After goals in three straight games, top scorer Barclay Goodrow did not register a point in the past 2 games. He needs only 3 points to eclipse his season high point total of 52. Super rookie Blake Clarke has 47 points this season but seems to have hit a wall – he has not scored in the past 7 games and only has 4 points in the past 16 games.
The Icedogs are pushing for playoff relevance tonight. They have already guaranteed themselves a spot in the post-season but want to enter the playoffs on a high note. They have 3 games remaining and have their eyes on Sudbury who are 3 points ahead of them in the standings. If they maintain they current place, they will play Oshawa in the post-season – with a winning weekend they give themselves a chance to leapfrog Sudbury and then will play Brampton in the first round of the playoffs. One of the big question marks for tonight’s contest will be whether Ryan Strome is dressed and playing at 80% or better. In the last game on Sunday vs. Barrie he blocked a point shot and had a difficult time making it to the bench. His x-rays were clear, but he has been held out of practice with a bruised bone in his leg.
Brett Ritchie has found his scoring touch again after a rough 3 game patch in February when he had no points and a -4 rating. Since then he has 9 goals and 4 assists in 6 games and an OHL Player of the Week honour.
My prediction Brampton 2 at Niagara 4
Saginaw at Sarnia
The Spirit have their playoff ticket punched and are gearing up to tangle with the London Knights in the first round. Saginaw is six points behind the #7 Sarnia Sting and could tie them with points if Sarnia loses their remaining games and Saginaw win theirs – the tie breaker would go to Sarnia though. They have been playing respectable hockey. In their last game, they would drop a 7-5 decision vs. the red hot Plymouth Whalers. Prior to that they would get by the Guelph Storm 5-3 – both games were on the road. Eric Locke has had a break out year with 44 goals and 51 assists – his 95 points this season is more than his point total from the previous 3 years that he spent in the league. Garret Ross is having a a similar scoring season – his 43 goals and 45 assists this season are more than his previous 3 season total with the Spririt. Saginaw will complete their schedule this weekend as they host the Rangers on Friday night and then the London Knights on Saturday night.
Sarnia have 2 very accomplished scorers in their lineup as well. Charles Sarault is tied for the league lead in scoring with Vincent Trochek at 104 points. This month Charles has 2 goals and 5 assists in 4 games played. Reid Boucher has a staggering 62 goals this season – a 13 goal cushion over #2 Trochek. He has 5 goals in his past 3 games and will be ‘jacked up’ after signing an entry level deal with the New Jersey Devils recently. The Sting could move up one spot in the conference as they trail the Greyhounds for the #6 spot by only 2 points. After this game, they will play a home/home series with the Owen Sound Attack to complete their regular season schedule.
My prediction Saginaw 3 Sarnia 6
Owen Sound at Windsor
The Attack had a successful weekend beating up on the last place Erie Otters – scores were 9-1 and 6-4. Owen Sound still has to watch for the Kitchener Rangers who are only 3 points behind them in the standings. Daniel Catenacci had 2 goals on the weekend and continues to lead the team with 75 points (career high in goals and points). Fourth year player Cameron Brace has also career highs in goals (34), assists (34) and +/- (28). The Attack will play a home / home series with the Sarnia Sting to complete their regular season schedule.
Windsor is playing giant killer as they close out their season. They will not qualify for post season action for the first time in recent memory but are not going down quietly. In their last game they handed the top London Knights team a 8-1 thumping. Three days earlier they pushed the Greyhounds to the edge and beat them 7-4. Pavelka has been playing very well in the nets as his season stats have improved slightly. Khokhlachev had 3 goals and 2 assists last game to go with his 3 assists vs the Greyhounds. Windsor will complete their schedule with a home/home series vs Plymouth.
My prediction Owen Sound 3 Windsor 2 (ot)
Kingston at Barrie
The Frontenacs are in the battle for their playoff lives this weekend. This game will be a difficult one for them to acquire any points from. They are currently tied with the upstart Petes for the #8 spot – both teams trail the Steelheads by one point – after tonight all three teams will have only 2 games remaining in their schedules. Their last action was a Monday night 4-2 loss at the hands of the top rated Belleville Bulls. Schutt and Bennett were the goal scorers. Moffat had a rough night with no points and a -3 rating. After this game, the Fronts will host the Petes and then close out the regular season vs. the 67’s.
The Colts could re-claim the top spot in the East with the right combination of Barrie wins and Belleville losses. Barrie is on a great run here with 6 wins in a row. Their last action was a regulation win at Niagara on Sunday 6-5. The game was back and forth with lots of action and a controversial referee’s call which led to one of the Colts’ goals ( see http://www.tvcogeco.com/niagara/gallery/the-ohl-tonight/3333-game-highlights at the 4:40 mark). Mark Scheifele led the way with 3 goals and 2 assists – Camara, Bradford and Hall had the other goals. After this game, the Colts will travel to Brampton and then host the Icedogs on Saturday night.
My prediction Kingston 2 Barrie 6