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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!/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
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

Owen Sound Ready to Attack in 2010/11

Although it may be early in the OHL season, there is a certain sense of excitement circling the Owen Sound Attack. The team is off to a 3-1 record, beating both London and Kitchener, two organizations who are consistent power-house teams in the Western Conference. Many changes and improvements have been made to the Attack, which suggests a change in attitude as they head into the 2010-2011 season.

For starters, the Attack is equipped with the healthy, 18-year-old, Joey Hishon. Last season, Hishon was left healing a broken foot and injured knee which prevented him from making a noticeable impact in the ’09-10 season, as he only played 36 games. The Stratford, Ontario native was drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NHL Draft (17th overall) to the Colorado Avalanche. TSN’s Bob McKenzie had Hishon ranked 51st overall, and many analysts labeled the pick as “off the board.” What some may have failed to consider is Hishon’s skill set, and the fact that in 2008-2009 the center prevailed with his best statistical season, of 37 goals and 81 points in 65 games. Furthermore, Rick Pracey, the chief scout for the Colorado Avalanche addressed the skeptics by ensuring that the injuries Hishon faced were non-factors and that the organization was focused mainly on his skill level. “We thought his skill level was in the upper echelon of the draft. One thing we have a strict policy about is: what’s important to us is important to us. If everybody saw our list and saw where we had Joey Hishon on our list, I don’t think there would be any questions.” It is expected that Hishon will prevail as the Attack’s leading scorer, the forward has already tallied 3 goals and 2 assists in the season’s first 2 games.

As far as leadership goes, Attack captain and Elmvale native Garrett Wilson is prepared to take on a larger leadership role. The 19-year-old left winger was drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NHL Draft (107th overall) by the Florida Panthers. Wilson adds a competitive edge to the Attack and plays with an excellent two-way awareness. He is noted for driving to the net and for his effectiveness down low. His reputation for being a leader on and off the ice was a significant factor in why Owen Sound Attack head coach Mark Reeds opted to name Wilson captain. “It’s just a natural fit. For lack of a better term, he’s a coach’s dream. He follows direction...puts it out there every day in practice...tremendous work ethic.” Having an undisputed leader insures that the players will be provided with ample support and direction for the upcoming season.
Moving to the defensive end is Jesse Blacker, arguably the Attack’s best blue-liner. The 19-year-old Toronto native was selected in the 2nd round of the 2009 NHL Draft (58th overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Blacker carries a sense of poise in the defensive zone as well as with handling the puck. The defenseman came to the Attack via trade for picks last season from the Windsor Spitfires. Despite being on one of the strongest teams in the CHL and clenching a Memorial Cup Championship under his belt, Blacker felt like he could be used in a more prominent role. This was simply not going to happen in Windsor due to the talent of Ryan Ellis and Cam Fowler playing most of the minutes. Blacker posted 30 points in 48 games after coming to Owen Sound and got the chance to develop into a stronger player through his abundant ice time. Recently, Blacker returned from the Maple Leafs camp with a new shelf of experience and will likely lead the Attack’s blue line in the 2010-11 season.

Starting goaltender Scott Stajcer, a 5th round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft (140th overall) to the New York Rangers has been identified as one of the most talented goalies in the Ontario Hockey League. The 19-year-old Cambridge native has been described by coach, Mark Reeds, as calm in the net with a strong sense of positioning. Stajcer’s style of play, along with his size (6 foot 3, 191lbs), reminds many analysts of a younger Steven Mason. In the 2008-09 season Stajcer captured the starting role from Tyler Beskorowany (now playing for the Dallas Stars affiliate team, the Texas Stars of the AHL). Playing on a struggling squad, Stajcer was able to raise the level of his game and finish with an even record (15-15-3-2), a .906 save percentage and 3.56 goals-against average. That same season, the netminder was invited to play in the 2009 CHL Top Prospects game. The 2009-2010 season struck Stajcer with greater misfortune partly due to the absence of top scorer, Joey Hishon. Rangers ‘ Player Personnel Director, Gordie Clark, commented on the situation by stating, “Near the end of the season, I caught one of his games, and by then he looked tired. That’s what happens when you average so many shots. His team clearly would have been much better with Hishon healthy. Hishon would have been scoring, and Scott would have been stopping the puck to get them into the playoffs.” This season the Attack have renewed scoring capabilities which will allow Stajcer to exercise the skills and experience he is bringing back with him from the New York Rangers training camp.

The biggest change to the Attack may have occurred with the recent separate but related trades of Steven Shipley to the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for Andrew Shaw, Matt Petgrave and three picks, while over-ager Jason Wilson was exchanged a few days later for 17-year-old sniper Andrew Fritsch.

Shaw, a 19-year-old Belleville native, enters his third year in the Ontario Hockey League. Known as being a fearless player, the center brings grit to the Attack’s forward line-up as well as solid skill and a nice hard shot. Shaw tallied 11 goals, 25 assists and 129 PIM last season and was among the leaders in the OHL for fighting majors.

Matt Petgrave, an 18-year-old defenseman hailing from Brampton, Ontario is expected to bring extra support to the backend. General Manager of the Attack, Dale DeGray, supported the addition of Petgrave, “He is a very talented defenseman with a lot of upside.”

Lastly, Andrew Fritsch, the young Brantford native, fills the gap within the Attack’s forwards and adds more talent to the top six. Last year Fritsch had an outstanding rookie season, coupled with his excellent hockey sense and accurate shot, Fritsch has the potential fit in with some of the OHL’s elite.

With many new faces on the Attack, it seems that there has been a shift in attitude amongst the players. Positioned in the smallest market in the CHL, the Owen Sound Attack have had a history of player`s reporting dissatisfaction which affects the general atmosphere amid the team. However, this season, the Attack presents an energetic group that has faith in the talent and depth of their roster.

The effort and enthusiasm displayed in the first few games by the Attack proves that the team has a strong core of returning players along with new addition rookies who seem to be motivated and engaged. Also, the trades made by Dale DeGray, have to this point, presented positive results. If the first week of the Attack`s season is anything close to indicative of how the season will prevail, it would be no surprise to see the Owen Sound Attack become a key contestant in the Western Conference.

- Vicky Grygar, In the O Blogger

OHL Eastern Conference Top 10 Power Rankings

1. Oshawa Generals - Undefeated in 4 games, the Oshawa Generals have proven in the early stages of the season that they are legit competitors for the top spots on the east. Christian Thomas very well should have been in my 50 goal scorers projection for this year. Coming off a 41 goal and 66 point season, Thomas is leading the Gens with 5 goals and seven points, while rookie Lucas Lessio has 3 and 1, one of many players with four points on the Gens. Michael Zador has four wins in net, and Boone Jenner hasn't heated up yet... The Gens look like they could continue the roll and sit around the top of the Eastern Conference for weeks to come.

2. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors - Although tied with the Brampton Battalion for six points, the Majors have only had one tough loss against the Ottawa 67's, 7-2 this past Sunday. However, they did beat the Windsor Spitfires 5-1 Friday, and the Belleville Bulls 5-3 Saturday, proving they are still dangerously offensive. The Majors still have all the pieces necessary to lead the Eastern Conference for the majority of the season. Casey Cizikas, Jordan Mayer, and Justin Shugg each have five points, while Devante Smith-Pelly and Finnish rookie Mika Partanen have 3, not to mention a huge potential of secondary scoring... Majors are still my pick to headman the conference.

3. Ottawa 67's - Move up after their 7-2 victory over the St. Mike's Majors. Shane Prince is doing a fine job quarterbacking the 67's scoring, and there are too many names that could be noted as offensive juggernauts to mention any at all... However, I will say Chris Perugini has played great, picking up the only two 67's wins, stopping 73 of 77 shots... Uhhh, I think it's time to give him the number one spot... If he played the other two games, would they be two and two? Ottawa moves up if they play Perugini and continue to utilize their scoring potential.

4. Niagara IceDogs - IceDogs stay about the same. This team has an extreme potential to succeed this season. Although they lost two of their three games over the weekend, they losses were indeed tough. 4-3 to Guelph after being up 3-1 into the third, and 4-3 to Brampton in overtime after coming back to tie the game 3-3 late in the third of what turned out to be quite the emotional match-up. The IceDogs will continue winning games, and with a fairly easy upcoming schedule facing Sudbury and Barrie this coming weekend, The IceDogs should gain the points and possibly even move up depending on how Ottawa and Mississauga make out. Ryan Strome, Alex Friesen, Andrew Agozzino, Freddie Hamilton, and now Steven Shipley provide a first-line scoring ability that could compete with any other OHL club, not to mention their depth potential that could very well be the most evenly balanced in the league.

5. Kingston Frontenacs - The Fronts had a tough weekend, finishing with a loss to the undefeated Oshawa Generals. Kingston, along with the other three teams Oshawa has beat, just couldn't solve the superb goaltending of Michael Zador, not to mention Christian Thomas' scoring streak. The Fronts have a solid team, despite being two and two, and will still remain and a powerful opponent in the East Division. Should stay around third in the East Division, and 5th in the conference.

6. Brampton Battalion - The soldiers drop this week for me. Why? Because it just doesn't quite make sense as to how they are first in the Central Division. I just can't see Mississauga and Niagara losing their games this weekend, not to mention Brampton being too successful in the upcoming weekend where they face the Kingston Frontenacs, the red hot Owen Sound Attack, and the Mississauga Majors on Thanksgiving Monday... Just can't see Brampton's young team continue the streak.

7. Peterborough Petes - Matt Puempel is huge for the Petes. Last season's rookie of the year will be one of the OHL's top scorers and prospects in 2011. Ryan Spooner, another one to watch out for in the scoring race. The team has had a shaky start, but with the young talent and skill this team could very well turn it around. I have faith in the Petes and to me, they just plain have a better team then any I am about to talk about in the next three spots.

8. Sudbury Wolves - The Wolves have an average team, John MacFarland is impressive, Marcus Folingo, and Mike Lomas have the ability to put up some numbers, but judging by their play this past weekend, the team just doesn't seem to have much secondary scoring. The Wolves are a pain to play against, but just don't have the offensive chemistry to do anything great this year, which is why they will stay around the mid-late mark in the rankings this season.

9. Belleville Bulls - Sure, they have some talent.. They're 1-3. Don't have as many games as Peterborough or Sudbury, face Barrie on Wednesday which could result in a win, but then they have London, Sarnia and Niagara, and to be direct, the Bulls just haven't done anything for me to prove they can legitimately compete in the top of the conference. Until I see something to prove me otherwise, they stick around the ladder half of the standings.

10. Barrie Colts - Not much to say here. Really.. This is a seriously damaged team. Lost their captain, star players, Head Coach and GM... They're rebuilding. They'll be 10 all year unless they make some big moves, but they don't have much to offer. 10 for sure.

- Jeff Blay

San Jose Sharks Draftee Freddie Hamilton Reflects on NHL Rookie Camp

NHL Camp Blog

- Freddie Hamilton, Niagara IceDogs
My first taste of pro hockey was a great experience. 
I started out in San Jose for a few days, before heading to Penticton, BC for a rookie tournament, where I played the prospects from Anaheim, Vancouver, and Edmonton. 
I had been to San Jose in the summer for their development camp, so it was nice knowing most of the coaches, staff and some of the other players, as well as being more familiar with the city and rink. The camp showed me what being a pro is all about.  The guys are constantly at the rink, in the gym, or trying to recover for the next day.  Being able to skate and train in the Sharks practice facility, play against faster and stronger players, and learn from experienced coaches was a lot of fun. Flying on the team's private jet, being able to watch guys like Thornton and Heatley go about their days, and playing against Freeze (Alex Friesen, who attended the Vancouver Canucks rookie camp) wasn't bad either.  This experience will help me this season while playing with the IceDogs, and I can't wait to be better in camp next year.   
- Freddie

Steven Shipley's Debut with the Niagara IceDogs

Newest contributor of the In the O Radio Show's blogging team, Vicky Grygar, talks about big name addition Steven Shipley as an IceDog, and why Owen Sound may not have been the right fit. 

Following the trade of Andrew Shaw, Andrew Fritsch, and Matt Petgrave to the Owen Sound Attack in exchange for 18 year-old Steve Shipley, over-ager Jason Wilson, and picks, many Niagara fans were skeptical. Sending off a keynote player like Andrew Shaw is always difficult for fans and the team itself. Even more skepticism lay in the fact that what Niagara was receiving was yet to be deemed..."worthy" of such trade.

After the IceDogs home-opener vs. the Erie Otters, much of the initial uncertainty has been long forgotten. Contributing with a goal and assist, as well as time on the power play and penalty kill, Steven Shipley flourished in his debut as an IceDog.

Drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 NHL Draft (98th overall) to the Buffalo Sabres, the Ilderton, Ontario native earned the first star of the night, in addition to an overwhelming welcoming by Niagara fans. To add to his resume, Shipley won a world U-17 gold medal with Team Ontario in 2009, and represented the Owen Sound Attack at the CHL Top Prospects Game. This begs the question as to why there was any skepticism about this trade to begin with. How could this 6 foot 2 offensive power be overlooked? One could very well assume it must have something to do with his former hockey club. This isn't to say that Shipley was not a key contributor to the Attack, the forward tallied 23 goals and 40 assist last season ('09-10). The problem lies in the fact that Shipley may not have been utilized by the Attack in the best way. This ultimately leads to the issue of whether or not it is in the best interest of a player's development to remain on a team that fails to properly utilize its showcase players.

It was refreshing to see the IceDogs coaching staff relay the utmost confidence in this trade at the home-opener. Shipley was given ample amounts of ice time against the Otters, which is exactly what a player arriving to a new team requires. The first two periods were if anything an adjustment for the new center, but by the third Niagara got to experience Shipley engaged and playing with a comfortable rhythm.

It is pivotal for young, up-and-coming hockey players to be provided with confidence from the coaching staff. Niagara's display of commitment in their decision to pick up Shipley was evident during the home-opener, and it seems to have paid off judging by his level of play towards the end of the 3rd period. It will be interesting to see Shipley develop with a new organization - an organization that is self-assured and in no-doubt of this player's abilities.

-Vicky Grygar
In the O Radio, Blogger

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