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OHL Eastern Conf. Power Rankings - Dec.5

1. Ottawa 67’s – 41 Pts
Record: 20-9-0-1
Streak: 5-0-0-1
P10: 8-1-0-1
Notes: Team on-fire; Shane Prince 1st in league scoring, Tyler Toffoli 3rd 
2. Niagara IceDogs – 37 Pts
Record: 17-8-2-1
Streak: 1-0-0-0
P10: 6-3-1-0
Notes: Went 2/3 on weekend, defeated Windsor and Kitchener, Ryan Strome 5 goals in three games.
3. Brampton Battalion – 26 Pts
Record: 11-12-0-4
Streak: 2-0-0-0
P10: 3-6-0-1
Notes: Two wins in a row against Sudbury and Sarnia
4. Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – 49 Pts
Record: 24-3-0-1
Streak: 0-1-0-0
P10: 9-1-0-0
Notes: Move down for this week after loss to Guelph, starting goalie JP Anderson could face suspension for one game for fighting with helmet off, could miss game Thurs. @ Niagara.
5.Oshawa Generals – 36 Pts
Record: 16-7-2-2
Streak: 0-1-0-0
P10: 7-2-1-0
Notes: Lost to Windsor 6-3, beat Kingston in OT, Guelph in regulation
6. Kingston Frontenacs – 36 Pts
Record: 16-8-2-2
Streak: 1-0-1-1
P10: 5-2-1-2
Notes: 4 points in last three games, but lost to Oshawa in OT, and Peterborough in SO.
7. Sudbury Wolves – 21 Pts
Record: 10-18-1-0
Streak: 1-0-0-0
P10: 5-5-0-0
Notes: Defeated Barrie 5-3, getting some key players back from injury.
8. Peterborough Petes – 16 Pts
Record: 7-19-1-1
Streak: 0-1-0-0
P10: 3-7-0-0
Notes: Defeated Kingston in SO, but lost to Windsor 7-1.
9. Belleville Bulls – 20 Pts
Record: 9-19-0-2
Streak: 0-2-0-0
P10: 3-6-0-1
Notes: Lost both games of home and home with Ottawa 4-1
10. Barrie Colts – 10 Pts
Record: 4-22-1-1
Streak: 0-11-0-1
P10: 0-9-0-1
Notes: Can’t win games, should be in last for the remainder of the season. 

With Dave Cameron behind the Team Canada bench, how boring will this WJC be for Canada?

By JEFF BLAY
In the O Blogger

Okay people, here is my next stab at the coaching strategies of Dave Cameron. In my last blog on the subject I explained why it was so hard for me to like him as a coach because of how often I get to his the Mississauga Majors play the most boring hockey in the OHL.

Team Canada World Junior Coach Dave Cameron.
Now, my hatred for that style of hockey may have to carry over to one of my favourite hockey events of the year - the World Juniors. With Cameron as Head Coach, I can only assume he will be taking a similar approach to the playing style as he does with is own team.

As we have seen from the Team Canada selection roster, a lot of high-scoring, high-offensive players have been left out although on paper they may have expected to get the call. Names such as Tyler Toffoli, Taylor Beck, Christian Thomas were on many analyst's lists as surprises for not being named to the selection camp.

#4 Riley Sheahan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Detroit Rewings Draftee)
Detroit Redwings prospect Riley Sheahan did not attend development camp over the summer, but was named to the roster after recording just 5 assists with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this season. However, Notre Dame plays a similar defensive system as the Mississauga Majors... Seeing any patterns yet? Granted Sheahan is a great player who I do believe can serve a vital role as a penalty killing, big-bodies centre for Canada, but we still lack those big name scoring leaders.

Brayden Schenn coming back is a great early Christmas present for Team Canada on the offensive side of things, but unless we get Tyler Seguin back as well, I think were going to be looking at 2-3 lines of defensive forwards.

Don't get me wrong, Cameron's systems have done his OHL team well thus far placing them first in the league, and these defensive-minded tactics using some big bodies could do well against the offensive powerhouses in the Russians and Americans, but we might not be seeing the high-caliber scoring that we have seen in years past.

Cameron has made it clear that this team is going to be a blue-collar team, and if you don't know what that means in hockey, I think what is trying to say is hard-working, defensive, and not as many flashy players as Canadians are usually accustom to.

Since most of my in-depth player knowledge is based in the OHL, I can only hope some of the WHL and Quebec players will bring an offensive edge to the team. As far as the OHL players are concerned, Joey Hishon and Garret Wilson could make for a great pairing for a go-to scoring line if they both should make the team.

Hopefully my worries of a boring Team Canada World Junior team will just remain as worries, but with Dave Cameron behind the bench, who knows what will happen.

*Vote for the biggest surprise to be left off the Team Canada Selection Camp roster on the right side of the main page of our blog. 

OHL Grad Kyle Clifford Shows Class Beyond His Years In Most Recent NHL Fight


OHL graduate and former Barrie Colt Kyle Clifford has been making an impact for the LA Kings as a 19-year-old rookie in the NHL this season. Clifford has been quite the physical presence for LA, and in his most recent fight with Aaron Voros of the Aneheim Ducks, Clifford removes his helmet mid-fight after Voros lost his. Classy move - although not necessary since it was not pre-determinded to go buckets off - still a solid move by the kid. You won't see this much in the NHL, and it is infact illegal in the OHL to remove the helmet. Bad rule in my opinion, 1 death in over 100 years of hockey from removing a helmet in a hockey fight, and how many broken hands?...

OHL Players Named to Team Canada World Juniors Camp Roster

Goaltenders

Name S Ht. Wt. Born Hometown         Club team          Pro Status
JP Anderson R 5'10 192 02/14/92 Toronto, ON       Mississauga (OHL) SJ 2010
Mark Visentin L 6'1 198 08/07/92 Waterdown, ON Niagara (OHL)      PHX 2010

Defencemen

Name                 S Ht. Wt. Born Hometown Club team           Pro Status
Calvin de Haan*  L 6'1 189 05/09/91 Carp, ON   Oshawa (OHL)    NYI 2009
Ryan Ellis*          R 5'10 184 01/03/91 Freelton, ON Windsor (OHL)    NSH 2009
Erik Gudbranson R 6'4 211 01/07/92 Orleans, ON Kingston (OHL)  FLA 2010
Ryan Murphy      R 5'11 176 03/31/93 Aurora, ON Kitchener (OHL)  2011 Draft

Forwards

Name S Ht. Wt. Born Hometown Club team              Pro Status
Casey Cizikas L 5'11 191 02/27/91 Missiaug., ON Mississauga (OHL)   NYI 2009
Marcus Foligno L 6'1 200 08/10/91 Sudbury, ON Sudbury (OHL)          BUF 2009
Joey Hishon L 5'10 171 10/20/91 Stratford, ON Owen Sound (OHL)   COL 2010
Zack Kassian R 6'3 226 01/24/91 LaSalle, ON Windsor (OHL)         BUF 2009
Garrett Wilson L 6'2 205 03/16/91 Elmvale, ON Owen Sound (OHL)  FLA 2009

* - Returning Player

Head Coach: Dave Cameron (Mississauga St. Michael's, OHL)
Assistant Coach: Andre Tourigny (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL)
Assistant Coach: Ryan Huska (Kelowna, WHL)
Assistant Coach: George Burnett (Belleville, OHL)

IceDogs Captain Andrew Agozzino vs. Majors Captain Casey Cizikas


Niagara IceDogs Captain Andrew Agozzino takes on Mississauga Majors Captain Casey Cizikas after Agozzino lays a big hit on one of the Majors defenders. Spirited battle between two competitive captains.

Eastern Conf. Power Rankings - Week 8

By JEFF BLAY
In the O Blogger
www.intheoradio.com


1. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors - 35 Pts
Record: 17-2-0-1
P10: 9-0-0-1
Streak: 10-0-0-1
2. Ottawa 67's - 28 Pts
Record: 14-8-0-0
P10: 6-4-0-0
Streak: 3-0-0-0
3. Niagara IceDogs - 28 Pts
Record: 13-6-1-1
P10: 5-4-1-0
Streak: 2-0-0-0
4. Kingston Frontenacs - 27 Pts
Record: 13-6-1-0
P10: 8-2-0-0
Streak: 3-0-0-0
5. Oshawa Generals - 26 Pts
Record: 11-5-2-2
P10: 5-2-2-1
Streak: 3-0-1-0
6. Brampton Battalion - 19 Pts
Record: 8-8-0-3
P10: 2-6-0-2
Streak: 0-2-0-0
7. Belleville Bulls - 14 Pts
Record: 6-14-0-2
P10: 3-5-0-2
Streak: 0-1-0-1
8. Barrie Colts - 9 Pts
Record: 4-14-1-0
P10: 3-6-1-0
Streak: 0-3-0-0
9. Sudbury Wolves - 11 Pts
Record: 5-14-1-0
P10: 2-8-0-0
Streak: 0-4-0-0
10. Peterborough Petes - 10 Pts
Record: 4-13-1-1
P10: 1-7-1-1
Streak: 0-6-1-0

An Email from TVCogeco Personnel Leads to OHL Fan Site to Consider Shutting Down

According to a letter from an admin from icedogfans.com, someone from TVCogeco sent an email addressing the fan site and scolding them for using clips of media from the hockey games and putting them on YouTube for the purpose of discussion and viewing as a fan. The clips were brief and for discussion purposes only, not for commercial use.

One of these video's just happened to be one of most talked about goals in hockey this year - Ryan Strome's Highlight-reel goal against the Plymouth Whalers. The goal video went viral on YouTube, and was featured on just about every major hockey media outlet, including the front page of NHL.com.

Wouldn't you think that kind of exposure is good? TVCogeco announcers heard worldwide, thanks to the video being posted on YouTube..

Not to mention, posting videos is a great way to get exposure for the players and allow fans to catch up on what they may have missed. Video's are used all the time from clips of hockey on various websites, and even the biggest media giants never tend to shut these sites down unless they are using the material for commercial gain or profit. If you are going to get into covering sports in your media company, you should get used to people reusing clips etc.

Due to the videos and articles being a main feature of the fan site, and with the creator paying out of his own pocket to run the site, he has pondered the worth of keeping the site active.

This is unfortunate as the site was one of the few fans sites for an OHL team, although it was in no way associated with the Niagara IceDogs hockey club, it was still a great voice for the team. The site generated lots of hits and lots of feedback, and was a great source for news giving the fans a way to show their support to the team from home, not just by coming to the rink.

This is a perfect lesson in new media. What is right and what is wrong? It's hard to tell with so many video sites and YouTube, along with blogs, is the face of media changing? Or will people continue to get penalized for reproducing media for non-commercial intent?

What do you think is right ? Please give your questions and opinions in the comments section below!



The email from Cogeco read:

Quote:
To Whom It May Concern,
It has recently come to our attention that you are using TVCogeco’s footage of The Niagara Ice Dogs on your website. Please note this is an unauthorized use and as such is a breech of copyright.
We ask that you immediately stop using the footage. If you’d like to provide a link to our TVCogeco website, where the highlights are available online, I would be more than happy to discuss that with you.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at (phone # removed) at your convenience.
Thank you in advance for your co-operation.

Team OHL Defeats Russian Juniors 2-1 in Shootout

By JEFF BLAY
In the O Blogger 

Joey Hishon scored the shootout winner for team OHL while Ryan Ellis and Marcus Folingo also added goals during the shootout. Casey Cizikas earned the OHL player of the game as he notched a clutch shorthanded goal in the third period to tie the game 1-1 and ultimately lead team OHL to victory.

The first period was scoreless, with IceDogs goaltender MarkVisentin getting the start in net and stopping all of the eight shots he faced.

Team OHL showed the Russian team the type of physical game they play with some big hits coming from Brock Beukeboom and Devante Smith-Pelly, and the first frame ended with a physical tone and a 0-0 score.

In the second, IceDogs sophomore forward Ryan Strome made several excellent passes out of the corner and one nearly led to a goal. However, Owen Sound Attack top-gun Joey Hishon couldn’t quite solve London Knights goaltender and Anaheim Ducks draftee Igor Bobkov, who also played a solid first period in net for the Russians.

The Russians almost took the first lead of the game as the puck went past Mark Visentin during a scramble in front of the net, but the goal was called off as one of the Russian players used his skate to kick the puck in.

With the goal called off, Mark Visentin would exit the game at the midway mark of the second period with a shutout, stopping 17 shots. Visentin has been hot as of late, as he picked up his first OHL career shutout this past Saturday in the IceDogs 2-0 victory over the Sudbury Wolves.

Not long after Mississauga Majors goalie JP Anderson took over for Visentin in net for team OHL, the Russian team was able to capitalize and open the scoring at the 13:54 mark of the second period. Artem Voronin took a perfect feed from Nikita Dvurechensky to beat Anderson on his left side and give Russia a 1-0 lead.

After the Russian goal, IceDogs defender Dougie Hamilton nearly helped generate a tying goal with a blast from the point that was tipped in front of the Russian net, but Bobkov kept his perfect game intact with a crucial save.

The game would remain a 1-0 Russian lead after 40 minutes of play.

Team OHL tied the game up at the 4:40 mark of the third period as Mississauga Majors teammates Justin Shugg and Casey Cizikas combined efforts to tie the game with a beautiful short-handed goal courtesy Cizikas.

Strome also gave Ethen Werek a chance to gain the lead late in the third with a nifty pass, but Werek lost control of the puck and the game remained at a 1-1 tie, leaving the winner to be decided by a shootout.  

The Russians scored first in the shootout with a nifty move by Los Angeles Kings draft pick Maxim Kitsyn, while team OHL captain Ryan Ellis answered back with an impressive goal of his own.
Sudbury’s home-town hero Marcus Folingo put the OHL ahead, and with a key stop from JP Anderson, Joey Hishon got a chance to finish the game and made no mistake as he beat Bobkov with a beautiful move to the backhand to boost the OHL to a 2-1 victory over the Russian Juniors.

Igor Babkov earned the player of the game for Russia as he stopped 38 shots, while Casey Cizikas was named player of the game for team OHL. 

Scoreboard:
2. RUS Voronin, (1) (Dvurechensky), 13:54
3. OHL Cizikas, (1) (Shugg), 4:40 (SH)

Why the Mississauga St. Mike's Majors Are So Boring to Watch

By JEFF BLAY
In the O Blogger 

After taking in the many murmurs, the comments on twitter, and the first-hand experience of viewing two Majors games last week, I thought of this blog, and I hope it doesn't come to the surprise of anyone when I say the Mississauga Majors are probably the most boring team to watch in the OHL. This is really unfortunate as they just happen to be the hosts of this year's Memorial Cup. Why are they so boring? Let me explain...

The Majors play a really tight, defensive style of hockey under head coach Dave Cameron. They tend to clog up the neutral zone with four players while one trails a bit further behind in the defensive end. Their fore-check is very safe, usually sending just one man deep until they gain possession. Although this is an effective defensive strategy, it can make for some really boring, low action hockey. Since they don't play an aggressive fore-check, once they are ahead on the scoreboard, they will usually tighten up defensively even more. When they are playing other top-seeding teams, they games usually end up at a very low score. The Majors do play successful hockey, and many teams in the NHL play a similar game, but it's just not my kind of hockey. The division-leading penalty minutes may be the only good thing about them, as they do throw down the mitts quite often. They have a plethora of great offensive talent, which shows while playing weaker teams, but when they stick to their heavy traffic neutral zone play, it's hard to watch. 

A recent comment I received from a colleague and certain radio announcer sums it up quite well: "If you're an insomniac, the Mississauga Majors are you're cure." 
Probably at a Mississauga Majors game...

I never find their victories to be that exciting... Let me give some examples of teams and games that will make the fans happy, and make for interesting hockey to watch. 

The Guelph Storm lost to the Owen Sound Attack on Friday night by a score of 4-3 in  overtime. Both teams play a crash and bang, offensive game, both with lots of defenders who like to jump up into the play. 

Guelph started off with two quick goals in the first, while each team played a physical game coming up with some big hits to finish the period. 
The second was all Guelph's once again, but Owen Sound set the physical tone with some big hits and Andrew Shaw took on Peter Holland in a brief but spirited tilt. Liam Heelis then dropped the gloves with Chris Van Laren and Heelis pounded Van Laren in a toe-to-toe punching frenzy. Although the period was scoreless, there was lots of action, lots of high-risk plays with forwards getting into those high-risk areas, and lots of bad blood brewing. 
The third period went back and forth for the first 15 minutes, before Owen Sound began to show why they are one of the top teams in the OHL. Beginning at the 17:12 mark and ending at the 19:02 mark, Owen Sound came back and scored three quick goals to tie the game up. Garret Wilson, the beauty captain that he is, started  things off with a tip in for his 19th of the season, and his team followed suit. 

The game goes into OT and Owen Sound finished the Storm off as Joey Hishon sets up a beautiful goal to pick up his third assist of the night and lead the Attack's comeback - that's a game. The IceDogs defeat Saginaw (5th in the Country) 5-4 in a fast-paced, high-scoring thriller - that's a game. Getting a narrow lead and sitting on it with careful defense and no edge to score - that's a bore, and I'm sure that's a contributing factor to their poor attendance records.

OHL Eastern Conf. Power Rankings - Week 7

By JEFF BLAY
In the O Blogger

1.    Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – 29 Pts
Record: 14-2-0-1
P10: 8-1-0-1
Streak: 7-0-0-1
Weekend Recap: Shutout IceDogs 3-0, beat Brampton 3-1, lost to Erie 2-1 in S/O.
2.    Kingston Frontenacs – 23 Pts
Record: 11-6-1-0
P10: 7-3-0-0
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Weekend Recap: Won 3-2 over both Petes and Bulls, lost 5-1 to Barrie.
3.    Niagara IceDogs – 24 Pts
Record: 11-5-1-1
P10: 6-3-0-1
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Weekend Recap: Shutout 3-0 by Majors, Won against Petes 4-2
4.    Oshawa Generals – 21 Pts
Record: 9-5-1-2
P10: 4-4-1-1
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Weekend Recap: Lost to Greyhouds, won 2-1 against Wolves.
5.    Brampton Battalion – 19 Pts
Record: 8-6-0-3
P10: 4-4-0-2
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Weekend Recap: Lost to Plymouth 3-2, Lost to Majors 3-1, Won 4-1 over Barrie.
6.    Barrie Colts – 9 Pts
Record: 4-12-1-0
P10: 3-6-1-0
Streak: 0-1-0-0
Weekend Recap: Won 5-1 over Kingston, lost 4-1 to Brampton
7.    Sudbury Wolves – 11 Pts
Record: 5-11-1-0
P10: 4-6-0-0
Streak: 0-1-0-0
Weekend Recap: Beat Plymouth 6-4, lost to  Oshawa 2-1.
8.    Ottawa 67’s – 22 Pts
Record: 11-8-0-0
P10: 5-5-0-0
Streak: 0-2-0-0
Weekend Recap: Beat London 4-3, lost to Sarnia and Guelph
9.    Belleville Bulls – 11 Pts
Record: 5-12-0-1
P10: 3-6-0-1
Streak: 0-1-0-1
Weekend Recap: Lost 8-0 to Kitchener, Lost 3-2 to Kingston in S/O
10.    Peterborough Petes – 9 Pts
Record: 4-11-0-1
P10: 3-6-0-1
Streak: 0-4-0-0
Weekend Recap: Lost to Kingston 3-2, Lost to Niagara 4-2

Top 10 Most Improved Players in the OHL

By JEFF BLAY
In the O Blogger

Here is my Top 10 list of Most Improved Players from around the OHL. Somewhat in order, but this was a toughie. There are so many players who have upped their game since last season, but the following are players I feel have made the most improvement, which has resulted positively for their respective teams. The honourable mentions could very well have made this list, but I simply couldn’t decide on just 10. With such a big league and so many new and improving players, I may have skimmed over some worthy choices. If you feel I have, please send your feedback to jeff.blay@intheoradio.com.

1.     Ryan Strome ('93), C – Niagara IceDogs
2009/10: GP: 61 G: 8 A: 19 PTS: 27 PIM: 61
After a promising rookie season, Ryan Strome showed spurts of potential last year with both the Colts and IceDogs, and came into the 2010 training camp a new player. People expected this kid to do good things, but I don’t think anyone quite expected him to do as well as he has to start the season. Strome has been a top scorer in the OHL since the beginning of the season, not to mention scoring possibly one of the most talked about goals not only in the OHL, but in the entire hockey world. The buzz around the rink from scouts, and one of my sources in particular, Jeff Marek of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, is that Strome could pull a Jeff Skinner and sneak into the Top Ten of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, should he continue his exceptional play throughout the remainder of the season. For not really being noticed as a top pick in pre-season, Strome has done quite well in making himself known during first 18 games of the season. He leads the IceDogs with 9 goals, 19 assists, and 28 points. For this reason, Strome is the most improved player in the OHL.
2.    Ryan Murphy ('93), D – Kitchener Rangers
2009-10: GP: 62 G: 6 A: 33 PTS: 39 PIM: 22
Ryan Murphy was one of the top rookies last season – especially amongst defensemen.  Although he had a more than impressive 39 point season last year, he as improved himself even more and excelled as not only the top offensive defenseman, but one of the top five scorers in the OHL to start the season. Murphy as already recorded 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in just 17 games and currently sites in third overall in league scoring. Murphy worked hard over the summer to improve his skills even more, and he could very well be one of the most exciting defenders to watch in the OHL today.
3.     Shane Prince ('92), LW – Ottawa 67’s
2009/10: GP: 65 G: 15 A: 15 PTS: 30 PIM: 45
With the exit of a few of Ottawa’s top players, this season Prince has found himself facing more ice time and getting a better chance to prove himself. So far, he has done just that as he is vastly approaching his last years totals in the first 18 games of the season, as he has already recorded 7 goals, 19 assists and 26 points. Prince has gained confidence both with and without the puck, and playing with the likes of Tyler Toffoli, Ryan Martindale, Cody Lindsay and countless other successful producers on the 67’s roster, Prince could very well fit in with the OHL’s elite if he continues to walk the path he is currently on. He should be one of the 67’s top producers this season, as he currently leads the team in points with Toffoli, Martindale, and Thomas Nesbitt nipping at his heels.
4.     Colin Behenna ('91), C – Barrie Colts
2009/10: GP: 55 G: 7 A: 18 PTS: 25 PIM: 14
After the Barrie Colts made a Memorial Cup run last season, they have started this one with a lot less key players as they lost many to over-age, the AHL, and a few to the NHL. With many top-scorers gone from the roster, new opportunity awaits those left behind. Behenna is a perfect example. After a quite first two seasons, Behenna has started this one leading the Colts with 5 goals, 15 assists and 20 points in 17 games. His skill seems to be much improved, and increased ice time along with time on the power play will allow Colin to break out and improve his totals by a margin should he continue his stellar play on the struggling Barrie team.
5.     Ian Watters ('91), LW – Brampton Battalion
2009/10: GP: 57 G: 9 A: 16 PTS: 25 PIM: 46
Watters leads the Brampton Battalion in points, and is a major reason why this underrated team is doing so well to start the season. With 11 goals, 5 assists and 16 points in just 17 games, he has already nearly reached his last years’ totals in roughly 1/3 of the games played. Watters hasn’t been talked about too too much, but is quietly making a name for himself, and should he continue his streak, he could very well be one of the top scorers for the Battalion and make for a valuable over-aged player next season. He looks more confident in the offensive zone, and has learned to take way more shots on net, which has paid of for him so far.
6.     Jacob Riley ('93), G – Brampton Battalion
As a rookie last season, Riley played in 10 games where he posted a 2.56 GAA, .898 SV% and a 2-4-1-0 record. This season, Riley has been given the chance to start in 11 games due to the loss of starting goaltender Patrick Kileen to over-age. In the 11 games, Riley has stopped 241 shots with a 2.86 GAA, a .893 SV% and 5-3-0-3 record. Although competing for a spot with fellow goalie Dennis Saikkonen, if Riley continues to play the way he has, I think he has a legitimate chance to take over the starting position. He needs to work on his shootouts, but has by far looked like the strongest goalie for the Battalion to start the season, and certainly looks much improved compared to last season.
7.     Brandon Francisco ('93), LW – Sarnia Sting
2009/10: GP: 65 G: 12 A: 20 PTS: 32 PIM: 14
Coming off an impressive rookie season, there was no doubt Brandon Francisco had great potential and could breakout in his sophomore season. So far he has lived up to the hype, and although he is not in the OHL’s top ten, his confidence and skill has noticeably improved. Francisco was a -30 last season with the Sting even though he scored 32 points, but this season he has already recorded about half of his last years totals and maintained a +6 rating. The Sting started off hot before cooling down as of late, but Francisco has the ability to be one of the leaders on the team and continue to improve as a player. He has the potential to be one of a team’s top scorers.
8.     Garrett Wilson ('91), LW – Owen Sound Attack
2009/10: GP: 65 G: 36 A: 25 PTS: 61 PIM: 80
The captain of the Owen Sound Attack has always been an impact player, but in his fourth OHL season, Wilson has started the season with passion, grit, and much improved skill to lead the OHL in goals and the impressive Owen Sound Attack in scoring, with a whopping 18 goals and 11 assists for 29 points in just 17 games. Wilson has emerged as a pure goal scorer and offensive juggernaut on special teams with 9 PPG and 2 SHG, and will surely be one of the Attack’s top producers throughout the season.
9.     Dougie Hamilton ('93), D, Niagara IceDogs
2009/10: GP: 64 G: 3 A: 13 PTS: 16 PIM: 36
Ranked 8th overall in Bob McKenzie’s pre-season scouting report for the 2011 NHL Draft, this powerful offensive defensemen will break out this season and be one of the top offensive producers among OHL defenders. His size, vision, skating ability, physicality, and wicked shot all contribute to Hamilton being a complete package. Already notching 2 goals and 10 assists in 17 games, Hamilton will surely bypass his last seasons totals and is expected to go in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft. He leads the IceDogs in +/- with a +10, and is a great power play quarter back with 2PPG and 3PPA to start the season.
10.  Kale Kerbashian ('90), LW – Sarnia Sting
2009-10: GP: 58 G: 26 A: 30 PTS: 56 PIM: 28
Another Sting player makes the list. As a seasoned veteran and over-aged player, Kerbashian can use his experience to really breakout as an OA this season. Although his numbers have been relatively impressive throughout his tenure in the OHL, Kerbashian seems to be playing with a more intensive edge to start the 2010-11 season. He has already recorded 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points, currently tied with Ryan Strome for the 5th/6th spot in league scoring. Kerbashian will definitely be one of the Stings’ key leaders both on and off the ice for the remainder of the season, and for these reasons he makes the Top 10.

Honourable Mention:
Scott Stajcer, G – Owen Sound Attack
Tyler Hostetter, D – Erie Otters
John Cullen, G – Sarnia Sting
Mitchell Theoret, C - Niagara IceDogs
Stefan Noesen, RW - Plymouth Whalers
Tyler Brown, F - Plymouth Whalers




Niagara Falls Native Bryan McGregor's Hockey Life In the Czech League

By VICKY GRYGAR

In the O Blogger

In Canada, hockey has grown to become part of everyday culture. The CHL along with our beloved 6 NHL franchises have united Canadians and fans across the country. As hockey enthusiasts these are the teams we follow and cheer for. It is evident that at times, many of us forget hockey has grown in popularity at each corner of the globe. Of course we all know of the remaining NHL teams located in the U.S. along with the AHL, ECHL, CHL, NCAA, USHL, etc, but many writers, reporters and fans don’t often look beyond these leagues.

Europe is a haven for up and coming hockey players. The most prominent league, as many know, is also one of the NHL’s fiercest competitors, the Russian KHL. The issues between the NHL and KHL are ever surfacing as each looks to gain control over the market. It is also now common nature for NHL players to transfer to the KHL in hopes of financially receiving what they believe they are truly worth. Moving beyond the KHL we run into the elite leagues of Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.

Fans flying the Canadian Flag for McGregor in the stands.
These rosters are usually dominated by European players, so it was an interesting story to learn that Bryan McGregor, a Niagara Falls, Ontario native, earned a spot on the Czech Extraliga’s HC Ocelari Trinec roster. This marks the first time in the team’s franchise history that a Canadian born player has had the opportunity to play for the Ocelari. McGregor, 26, left home at the age of 15 to pursue his hockey career in the BCHL with the Vernon Vipers. From there he committed to the NCAA route and played at the University of Minnesota-Duluth to simultaneously grow as a hockey player and student. Upon graduation McGregor found himself playing for 3 different ECHL teams and prior to heading to Europe, the forward tallied a few games with the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. The decision for a North American hockey player to embark on a career in Europe is not a light decision. Many, if given the opportunity would find the choice debatable and be edgy to pack up and leave everything they’ve known behind. McGregor however has embraced his chance and is now a popular entity in the city of Trinec. I had the opportunity to ask Bryan a few questions about his diverse hockey career.


1. Going back to Junior Hockey, what made you decide on the NCAA route versus CHL?

BM: It was a very difficult decision. At 15 years old, you have to decide your future in not only hockey but in life as well. I have a very high interest in academics and also did very well in high school. I felt I would not be ready for the NHL at 18-20, so I therefore decided to move to British Columbia to pursue the NCAA route. I always wonder what my life would of been like had I went the OHL route, but that’s life.

2. You've now had the chance to play in both Finland and the Czech Republic. How has the adjustment been for you in terms of culture?

BM: There are a lot of differences. I found that Finland is a lot more tolerant to English culture and more people speak English. The city I was in, in Finland was half Swedish and half Finnish. Swedish people speak English as we do, with almost no accent. I found that very fascinating. But if you want to get technical, both Swedish and English stem from the same language base (Germanic). The food is very different, in Finland the food was very different, a lot of fish and fish related dishes. Czech is more what I am used to with a lot of meat and potatoes. The countries in general are very different. Finland is a very clean and simple country. I find Czech is very old, lots of history. Both are unique and very nice in their own ways. I enjoy the differences, and like living in both countries.

3. How is communication with coaches/teammates working?

BM: Communication is easy on our team, as everyone speaks English except the coaches. So that is the only downside to the language barrier. I adapt well to languages, no matter where I am. I speak decent Finnish and Swedish, and every day I learn more Czech. I know all the basics, colours, numbers, foods, basic conversation, and am slowly getting better and better. I am able to adapt no matter where I am to language problems, as it is just something I have become accustomed to.

4. Being among one of the first Canadians to ever play for HC Ocelari Trinec, how have the fans treated you so far?

BM: I am actually the first Canadian to play for Ocelari, which is a very cool thing. The fans have been awesome to me, they fly the Canadian flag in the stands for me. Hopefully I play better, and more of that catches on. But everyone has been really good to me. There was a young boy who wanted my jersey, (he was the younger brother of a friend of mine), and so I bought him my jersey and gave it to him. I think it is good to give as much back to the fans as they give to you, and in Trinec we have really great fans.

5. Can you describe the technical difference between European and North American hockey?

BM: Well there are a lot of differences, but the biggest difference has to be speed. The European style of hockey is more technical, more skill, more speed. The NHL is as well, but with a lot more body contact in North America vs Europe. The size of the ice rinks has to do with that. In the NHL they play on a lot smaller surface. I like both styles mind you, but every country in Europe plays a different style, Finland vs Sweden vs Russia, etc.


Two OHL Graduates Square-Off in First NHL Fights - Logan Couture vs Alex Pietrangelo Nov 4,...



Former Niagara IceDog/Barrie Colt Alex Pietrangelo and Former Ottawa 67 Logan Couture square off against one another - both their first NHL fight. San Jose Sharks vs St. Louis Blues, Thursday, Nov. 4 2010.

Ryan Strome's Goal Featured on NHL.com Front Page!!

Congrats to Ryan Strome who had his goal featured on NHL.com's front page!! If you haven't seen the goal yet, you have to check it out here: http://intheobloggers.blogspot.com/2010/10/ryan-strome-highlight-reel-goal-vs.html or just scroll down our home page! The goal is also found on YouTube's front page in trending videos, and currently has 214,486 views. Wow. Unreal.

Questions of Ryan Strome? I have answers... jeff.blay@intheoradio.com
- Blayzer
Ryan Strome celebration after highlight reel goal. Courtesy joelsmithphotography.ca

Dougie Hamilton Insane Highlight-reel Goal vs. Guelph Storm



If you think Ryan Strome's goal was amazing, try this one in for size.

#27 Dougie Hamilton (Ranked 8th in TSN's Bob McKenzie's pre-season NHL Draft Rankings) carries the puck up the gut and undresses two Storm defenders before putting the puck in the net. And he's a defenseman!!

Can you say beauty??

OHL Eastern Conf. Power Rankings - Week 6

By JEFF BLAY
In the O Staff

Here are my OHL Eastern Conference Rankings for Week 6. Taken into account are each team’s games played, their current streak, and their past ten games record. This is a weekly power ranking, not standings in order of points.

1.    Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – GP: 14, PTS: 24
Record: 12-2-0-0
P10: 9-1-0-0
Streak: 5-0-0-0
2.    Niagara IceDogs – GP: 16, PTS: 22
Record: 10-4-1-1
P10: 7-2-0-1
Streak: 2-0-0-1
3.    Kingston Frontenacs – GP: 15, PTS: 19
Record: 9-5-1-0
P10: 7-2-1-0
Streak: 2-0-0-0
4.    Ottawa 67’s – GP: 16, PTS: 20
Record: 10-6-0-0
P10: 6-4-0-0
Streak: 0-1-0-0
5.    Oshawa Generals – GP: 15, PTS: 19
Record: 8-4-1-2
P10: 4-4-1-1
Streak: 0-1-0-0
6.    Belleville Bulls – GP: 16, PTS: 10
Record: 5-11-0-0
P10: 4-6-0-0
Streak: 1-0-0-0
7.    Brampton Battalion – GP: 14, PTS: 16
Record: 7-5-0-2
P10: 4-4-0-2
Streak: 0-2-0-1
8.    Peterborough Petes – GP: 14, PTS: 9
Record: 4-9-0-1
P10: 4-5-0-1
Streak: 0-2-0-0
9.    Barrie Colts –GP: 14, PTS: 7
Record: 3-10-1-0
P10: 3-6-1-0
Streak: 0-1-0-0
10.     Sudbury Wolves – GP: 15, PTS: 9
Record: 4-10-1-0
P10: 3-6-1-0
Streak: 0-4-0-0

Niagara IceDogs on CBC's The National

Photo courtesy of Joel Smith Photography (joelsmithphotography.ca)
  • Click the link to see the OHL's Niagara IceDogs Andrew Agozzino, Ryan Strome, Alex Friesen, Johnson Andrews, and Freddie Hamilton interviewed regarding concussions on CBC's The National.

Ryan Strome Highlight reel goal vs. Plymouth, Oct.28, 2010



Here is possibly one of the best goals of the year, by none other than Ryan Strome.

This was his first of two goals in the game, and he almost scored a third goal with a similar move in the third period.

This kid is looking more and more to be first round material.

OHL Eastern Conf. Power Rankings - Week 5

I have been trying to the these Power Rankings up for the past few days now, but due to the lack of content on the Ontario Hockey League's website (i.e. no longer a Standings section showing the teams past 10 games/streaks, and unable to view the schedule for past scores) it has taken me until now to find the proper information, thanks to http://twitter.com/#!/craiger_c . So without further a due:

 1. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors - GP: 10, PTS: 16    
Record: 8-2-0-0
P10: 8-2-0-0
Streak: 1-0-0-0
 2. Ottawa 67's - GP: 12, PTS: 16
Record: 8-4-0-0
P10:  7-3-0-0
Streak: 1-0-0-0
 3. Kingston Frontenacs - GP: 11 PTS: 13
Record: 6-4-1-0
P10: 6-3-1-0
Streak: 2-0-0-0
 4. Sudbury Wolves - GP: 11, PTS: 9
Record: 4-6-1-0
P10: 4-5-1-0
Streak: 3-0-0-0
 5. Oshawa Generals - GP: 11, PTS: 14
Record: 6-3-0-2
P10: 5-3-0-2
Streak: 1-0-0-1
 6. Niagara IceDogs - GP: 13, PTS: 17
Record: 8-4-1-0
P10: 6-3-1-0
Streak: 0-2-0-0 
 7. Brampton Battalion - GP: 12, PTS: 15
Record: 7-4-0-1
P10: 6-3-0-1
Streak: 0-1-0-0
 8. Barrie Colts - GP: 12, PTS: 5
Record: 2-9-1-0
P10: 2-7-1-0
Streak: 1-0-0-0
 9. Peterborough Petes - GP: 11 PTS: 7
Record: 3-7-0-1
P10: 3-6-0-1
Streak: 0-1-0-1
 10. Belleville Bulls - GP: 13 PTS: 6
Record: 3-10-0-0
P10: 2-8-0-0
Streak: 0-3-0-0

OHL Eastern Conference Power Rankings: Week 4

1.      Niagara IceDogs: 10GP, 15 PTS
Streak: 5-0-1-0
Last Ten: 7-2-1-0
Won games vs Belleville, Ottawa and Oshawa
2.      Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors: 8GP, 14 PTS
Streak: 4-0-0-0
Last Ten: 7-1-0-0
Won games vs Brampton, Sault St. Marie and Sudbury
3.      Ottawa 67’s: 9GP, 12 PTS
Streak: 2-0-0-0
Last Ten: 6-3-0-0
Lost to Niagara, won against Erie and Brampton
4.      Brampton Battalion: 10GP, 13 PTS
Streak: 0-1-0-0
Last Ten: 6-3-0-1
Won against Sault St. Marie and Sudbury, lost to Ottawa
5.      Oshawa Generals: 9GP, 11 PTS
Streak: 0-2-0-0
Last Ten: 5-3-0-1
Won against Sarnia, lost to Niagara and Saginaw
6.      Kingston Frontenacs: 8GP, 9 PTS
Streak: 2-0-1-0
Last Ten: 4-3-1-0
Won against Belleville
7.      Belleville Bulls: 10GP, 6 PTS
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Last Ten: 3-7-0-0
Lost to Niagara and Kingston, won against Saginaw
8.      Peterborough Petes: 8GP, 4 PTS
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Last Ten: 2-6-0-0
Won against Sarnia
9.      Sudbury Wolves: 8GP, 3 PTS
Streak:0-3-1-0
Last Ten: 1-6-1-0
Lost to Brampton and Mississauga
10.  Barrie Colts: 9GP, 2 PTS
Streak: 0-4-0-0
Last Ten: 1-8-0-0
Lost both games in home and home with Owen Sound

Why Ryan Strome is the Hottest Player in the OHL

After coming to Niagara last season as the centerpiece of the Alex Pietrangelo deal with the Barrie Colts, IceDogs forward Ryan Strome has already proven his worth.

The 17-year-old forward had an impressive training camp for the IceDogs, looking much more confident, composed, and ready to contribute offensively.

In the IceDogs first ten games of the season, Strome has collected 6 goals and 14 assists to lead the OHL with 20 points. The young centre has the whole package; work ethic, playmaking ability, puck poise, speed, physicality, and a wicked shot – Strome has laughed in the face at the idea of a sophomore slump.

Strome kicked off the season with 2 goals in his first game against the Sudbury Wolves, followed by 2 assists against Sault St. Marie, then 1 goal and 2 assists against the Erie Otters.

Since then, Strome has only one game where he didn’t record a single point against the Brampton Battalion, and just two games where he recorded just one assist. The other seven of ten games played have all been multi-point games, including a hat-trick and one assist against the Belleville Bulls.

Strome has an incredible hockey sense that not only allows him to somehow always find the right spot on the ice, but enables him to find the open passing lane and make that perfect setup pass, which so far this season has led to 14 goals.

His play reminds me of a Brad Richards/Ryan Getzlaf style; he has the ability to score beautiful goals, but often looks to make the perfect pass. As he grows he has the ability to bulk up and gain decent size to make him a dangerous body both along the boards and in the slot.

Although he is known as more of a finesse player, his grit shouldn’t be passed over. He recently dropped the gloves with Oshawa’s Kyle Hope and got the best of him, and also had a fight in his rookie season as a Barrie Colt. His tenacity and fearlessness benefits him all over the ice, and especially in the corners.

In the opening weeks of the season, this second year sensation has proven he has what it takes to compete with the OHL’s elite, and continue to contribute offensively for this dangerous IceDogs squad.

It also helps to have leaders and skilled players such as Andrew Agozzino, Alex Friesen, Freddie Hamilton, and Steven Shipley to feed the puck to and occasionally accept some passes of his own.

The aforementioned group has been a great success as the IceDogs primary scoring and power play unit, with Alex Friesen often playing the point with Dougie Hamilton, along with Strome, Agozzino, and Freddie Hamilton up front, it is no surprise the Dogs are in the top three in goals for in the Eastern Conference.

Determination, skill, grit, vision, agility, chemistry with teammates – all factors contributing to Ryan Strome’s recent success, which it’s no surprise Strome is one of the hottest players to begin the 2010-11 OHL season.

- Jeff Blay, In the O… Blogger 

Top 5 Hottest OHL Teams That Didn't Crack Top 5 Last Season

Owen Sound Attack – I don’t think anyone expected the Attack to start the season with 8 wins and 1 loss to post up second in the OHL after the fourth weekend of the season. After making a couple big trades with the Niagara IceDogs, the team seems to have all the pieces they need to be legit competitors. Attack captain Garret Wilson leads the OHL with 12 goals in just nine games, while the new additions of Andrew Shaw, Matt Petgrave and Andrew Fritsch all sit in the top ten for scoring on the Attack roster. Let’s not forget the fact that Joey Hishon has only played two games, where he has added 2 goals and 3 assists, and Jesse Blacker remains a solid addition on the back end. Goaltender Scott Stajcer has won all seven games he has played in, while backup tender Jordan Binnington is 1-1. For the amount of games played, Owen Sound is the hottest team in the OHL right now.

Saginaw Spirit – Although the Spirit have the overall points lead with 17 to Owen Sound’s 16, Saginaw has played 11 games while OS has played just 9. However, the Spirit were expected to be a team to compete with this season, and they have lived up to, if not exceeded those expectations by starting the season with an 8-2-1-0 record. With a solid depth of contributors, and a successful goaltending pairing, Saginaw has the potential to be a top contending team in the OHL, and as of right now, they are.

Niagara IceDogs – With a new coaching staff, a handful of new players, and a new attitude, the IceDogs have proven without a reasonable doubt that they are one of the best teams in the OHL. Ryan Strome has been on an insane point streak the lapped over from the pre-season to lead all OHL players in points with 20, while also racking up 17 PIM. Let’s not forget the incredible depth of scoring the Dogs have from both the front and back end, with Andrew Agozzino, Alex Friesen, and Freddie Hamilton all in the OHL’s Top 20 scorers, while Dougie Hamilton, Jesse Graham, and Simon Gronvaldt provide some help from the blue line. Last but certainly not least comes sophomore goaltender John Chartrand, who has been filling in for starting goalie Mark Visentin, who is nursing a minor injury day to day. Chartrand has led his team to their past five wins, and has been a key component to the Dogs recent success. Niagara could easily continue their winning streak and move up in the rankings in weeks to come.

Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – The Majors were projected to be the top team in the OHL prior to the start of the season, and they very well could still be that team. They currently sit in second place in the Central Division, but have played just eight games and still managed to pick up 14 points with a 7-1-0-0 record. This team has all the tools needed to be a top competitor in the OHL. Look for Mississauga to break north in the Eastern Conference Standings over the next few weeks.

Brampton Battalion – The fifth place was a tough one. Could have easily went to many teams including London, Kitchener, Ottawa… However, the Battalion lost a lot this season, but have managed to put together a solid team that shows a lot of promise. With 42 goals for and 33 goals against, this team is well rounded both offensively and defensively. With four players reaching the 10 point mark, and two rookies trailing close behind both with 8 points, this young, underrated team has proven they are one of the OHL’s hottest throughout the first few weeks of the OHL season. 

Eastern Conference Power Rankings - Week 3

Here are the OHL's Eastern Conference Power Rankings for this week. This is an estimate of where the teams will be placed in the rankings based on their performances this past weekend, as well as the upcoming teams they will be facing this week. 


1.    Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – The Majors were expected to lead the Eastern Conference this season, and although they had one tough loss, they went 2-0 this past weekend and have a total record of 5-1-0-0 to lead the conference with 10 points. The explosive offense is only getting better as Justin Shugg is getting more comfortable with the team, and the big guns are beginning to produce. This team should stay in first through the upcoming weekend as they face the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds and the struggling Sudbury Wolves. 

2.    Ottawa 67’s – The 67’s move up yet again after going 3-0 over the weekend. With a powerful 7-2 victory last Sunday against the Mississauga Majors, the 67’s continued their streak with wins over the Plymouth Whalers and the top seeding Oshawa Generals. Like I said last week, with all of this teams major pieces returned, Ottawa will be a force to recon with in the Eastern Conference this season, and really give the Majors trouble. 

3.    Niagara IceDogs – Although tied with the Brampton Battalion for nine points in the Central Division, the IceDogs were victorious in both of their weekend games, and are 2-0-1-0 in their last three, earning them a move up. The IceDogs have a solid team, and with all of the recent acquisitions, Niagara has proven they can roll three lines of legit scoring. They face the struggling Belleville Bulls Wednesday night, before returning home to host a tough two games with the Oshawa Generals an Ottawa 67’s. If the Dogs are successful in their next three, it could finally prove they are legit contenders in the east this season. 


4.    Oshawa Generals – Going 1-1-1 in their past three, the Gens calmed down a bit after starting off with a 4-0 undefeated record in their first four games. The Gens still have a powerful team, which is why I ranked them ahead of the Brampton Battalion, who finished the weekend with the same record, but have one more game played. The Gens are expected to do well this year, but they fall to fourth this week, which is where about they should remain throughout the season. 



5.    Brampton Battalion – I can’t say this team didn’t surprise me. I had them ranked 6th last week because I couldn’t see them continuing to win games, but after going 4-2-0-1 in their last seven, this young, underrated team has proven they can keep up with the rest of them.  However, Brampton’s recent streak is 0-1-0-1, so I have to place them in 5th because they did defeat the Kingston Frontenacs, but lost to Mississauga and had a worse weekend then any of the teams above. However, the Battalion should not be passed over as a dangerous opponent in the Central Division, and could very well continue to surprise. 


6.    Kingston Frontenacs – Moving down after going 1-0-1-0 this past weekend. Although they just received back their keynote defenseman Erik Gudbranson, the Fronts started off with a bit of struggle, but have shown they can get it together after battling through some intense games over the weekend. The Fronts really do have a plethora of firepower up front, with Nathan Moon, Ethan Werek, and Michael Fine leading the way each scoring 9 or more points in seven games. The back-end could also be one of the best in the league, and the Fronts have the ability to recover from their shaky start and begin winning games, but move down to 6th after a loss to the Brampton Battalion this weekend. 

7.    Belleville Bulls – The Bulls picked up a 4-3 win over the Sarnia Sting this weekend, giving them a 2-5 record on the season and 4 points to slightly edge the Sudbury Wolves in the standings. The Bulls could easily fit into a rank grouping with the Wolves and the Petes, but this week they move up a spot due to their hard-fought win.

8.    Sudbury Wolves – The Wolves move down a spot because of their 0-1-1-0 weekend. They showed some spark in their OT loss to Niagara, however, the Wolves are missing something that will keep them in the ladder half of the standings for the remainder of the season.

9.    Peterborough Petes - This one is a bit of a shocker to me. The Petes move down a spot after loosing two in a row and only winning one game on the season. They seem to have a lot of the tools to be legitimate competitors - last season’s rookie of the year Matt Puempel leads the scoring front backed up by Ryan Spooner and Austin Watson, while housing what I thought was a decent backend… Something is wrong in Peterborough, and they’ll sit in the bottom three until they figure out how to fix whatever problem they seem to be having.

10.    Barrie Colts – Not much needs to be said here. It’s unfortunate for Barrie, but no surprise as last year they traded away some youth to pick up experience in efforts to make a run at the Memorial Cup. When that happens, rebuilding is the next step. The Colts have a young team with lots of potential talent, but won’t have a shot at moving up in the ranks any time soon. 

Recent OHL Graduates to do well in the NHL this year

Here is a list of recent OHL graduates that I believe will make impact on their respective NHL teams this season. Some are rookies, some are sophomores, none are players who have already proven themselves. (I.e. Drew Doughty, Steve Stamkos, who are both fairly recent OHL graduates, but have already had a breakout season.)



TJ Brodie – What a great story. Drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 4th round (114th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the 20-year-old Chatham, Ontario native cracked the Flames line-up after a strong training camp. Brodie looked good but quiet in his first NHL game, and whether he plays nine then gets sent back down, or manages to hold a spot, this is a kid who has worked hard to earn a spot. I don’t see why the Flames wouldn’t keep a young energetic d-man like this in their line-up this season; their blue line is in need of some umph.  

Logan Couture – This guy is not exactly a new face in the NHL, but as he played just 25 games last season with the San Jose Sharks, Couture still qualifies as a rookie. This is a player that could have a break-out season, playing on the deep San Jose roster, Couture has the skills and surroundings to really make an impact in what should be his first full NHL season.

Kyle Clifford – Another feel-good story. Clifford looked pretty comfortable and competitive in his first game with the Los Angeles Kings, and would fit right in with their young nucleus of players. After a successful 57 point season with the OHL’s Barrie Colts last year, the 6 foot 2, 207 pounder has all the resources he needs to prove himself and make a legit case he deserves to be on an NHL roster.

Matt Duchene – No surprises here. Nominated for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year last season, the Colorado Avalanche star has it all. Speed, accurate shot, dangles, superb two-way play… Not much you can say about Duchene’s play that he doesn’t say IN his play. This guy could pull a Stevie Stamkos this season.

Cam Fowler – Looks great in a Ducks uniform, looks great on the ice to start the season… Picked up one assist in first two games, Fowler is just what the Ducks need to fill Scott Niedermayer’s position. Although he could still get sent down, it will take a few more games to find out where Fowler can fit in this year, but if they should decide to keep him in Anaheim, it’s no surprise he could be a rookie to watch.

Taylor Hall – Enough said.

Jacob Muzzin – Another young-gun on the LA Kings backend. Muzzin just graduated from the OHL’s Sault St. Marie Greyhounds, and his size and hockey smarts could see him making a perfect fit to an already successful young Kings defensive squad.

Alex Pietrangelo - It has been known since his draft year that he will be an impact defenseman for the St. Louis Blues. After playing the first 9 for the past two years, Pietrangelo should finally earn his permanent roster spot and show the world what he has got. Has the potential to be a solid contributor in both ends of the rink.   

Tyler Seguin – With Marc Savard on the Injured Reserve, the Bruins need a legitimate centre. Lucky for them, their 1st round draft pick will do just fine. Seguin scored his first NHL goal against the Phoenix Coyotes with a beautiful breakaway move in his second game, and his size and skill shows he is ready for the NHL. He and Hall both look to be having fairly smooth transitions from the OHL to the NHL.

Jeff SkinnerCarolina has needed a player like this for the past couple seasons. Skinner has looked great from training camp through the first couple regular season games, and is definitely an early pick for rookie of the year.

Eric Tangradi – A player who hasn’t been talked about an awful over the past year, but is known in Pittsburgh to be one of the prospects with the utmost potential. Tangradi had a successful AHL campaign with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins last year, and with the loss of Bill Guerin and Alex Ponikarovsky, the Pens will need another big body up front, and Tangradi fits the role. He plays a gritty, physical game and has the potential to be an active contributor to a teams secondary scoring. Tangradi should stick throughout the season’s entirety, and should have a successful NHL career.

John Taveres – Another no-brainer. Great rookie season with NYI, could be another potential Steve Stamkos this year.

Top 5 Honourable AHL Mentions:
Nazem Kadri
Luca Caputi
Cody Hodgson
Jordan Nolan 
Stefan Della Rovere


Top 5 Outside the OHL:
  1. Jordan Eberle – Unreal highlight-reel first NHL goal.
  2. Brayden Schenn – Looked like one of the Kings best offensive players vs Vancouver.
  3. Magnus Paajarvi – Major potential, fits right in with Oilers young squad.
  4. Derek Stephan – Hat-trick in first NHL game with NYR.
  5. Jamie Benn – Took a rough hit in game vs NYI, but after a 41 point season last year, Benn should be even more effective for Dallas in 2011. 


New rink for IceDogs a must for City of St. Catharines - For their own good...

It is disheartening to see that the city of St. Catharines is doing the bare minimum in regards to a new arena for the OHL IceDogs. The Jack Gatecliff Arena is currently the oldest rink in the Ontario Hockey League and offers IceDog fans run down concessions, washrooms, seating, corridors and more. The fan experience upon visiting the outdated IceDog arena is unfortunately, for lack of a better term, subpar.

The IceDogs have heightened the city with a tremendous amount of community involvement and charitable work. Not to mention, the team sheds light on an otherwise struggling St.Catharines downtown. It is highly disappointing to see that St. Catharines city officials are not doing more to accommodate them. If the city has intentions of seeing the IceDogs remain in St. Catharines they have no other choice but to step up to the plate and support the team with a new facility. It is to point of embarrassment that a region this size is struggling to support an OHL franchise.

The construction of a new facility is critical to St. Catharines as it would market the city and region and provide intangible benefits to the surrounding community. Using tax dollars to subsidize a sport complex will always bring rise to discrepancy; however the economic trade-off of a new facility will provide tax revenue to the city and surrounding areas. So, even the taxpayers who do not enjoy hockey will in some way or form reap the benefits. It is also important to keep in mind the increase of quality-of-life benefits surrounding the community. These benefits are often not included in debate over subsidizing sport facilities due to the fact they are difficult to measure.

A major quality-of-life benefit that a new rink would provide the city with is the knowledge that local government is putting forth effort to develop unity throughout the community. Ever since the IceDog’s inaugural season (2007) a growing sense of pride has grown amongst citizens of St. Catharines.
Seeing former IceDog players such as Alex Pietrangelo represent Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and expand his footprint in the NHL allows Niagara fans to relate back to the team with satisfaction of their efforts in developing high-caliber players. Not long ago, Windsor built a brand new facility which indicates the city appreciates the significance of sport and recreation to the success of its municipality. This being said, it would be appropriate to point out that Windsor is marked as having the highest unemployment rate amongst all major Canadian cities.

The IceDogs five-year lease of the Jack Gatecliff Arena is set to expire in 2012, a rather short time frame in terms of constructing a new rink. The ultimate decision of whether or not the IceDogs remain in St. Catharines is in hands of local politicians who hopefully realize that not only do the IceDogs deserve a new facility, but so does the community.

Vicky Grygar
In the O Radio blogging team

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