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Series Preview - Niagara IceDogs vs. Oshawa Generals


The Oshawa Generals roll into Niagara to face the Ice Dogs for game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.  Both teams steamrolled over their first round opponents – the Ice Dogs took the Brampton Battalion in 4 straight games while it took the Generals 5 games to defeat the Kingston Frontenacs.

There should not be any shortage in scoring during this round.  In the first round, the Ice Dogs outscored their opponent 18-3 while the Gens outscored their opponent 32-17 including a 10 goal outing in game 2.  Leading the way is Christian Thomas of the Generals with 5 goals and 13 points in 5 games.  Thomas, a 3-time named OHL Player of the Week, is the leading scorer in the OHL playoffs so far.

While the Gens had an outburst in scoring in round 1, it’s safe to believe this won’t be the case in round 2.  Led in net by newly NHL-signed Mark Visentin, the Ice Dogs allowed an average of less than 3 goals each game during the regular season.   In fact, the Ice Dogs only allowed three goals total in round 1.   Since being acquired from the Barrie Colts, Generals’ starting goaltender, Peter Di Salvo has won 22 of 35 games in action.

The Gens and Ice Dogs only met twice in the regular season.  They split the season series with the each team winning at home.  Both games were played before 2011 and the teams have changed a lot since then.   Visentin did not see any ice time in either game while Di Salvo only faced action in the second game (which the Gens won 4-2).

OFFENSE:

Led by 3rd highest scorer, Ryan Strome, in the regular season, the Ice Dogs can put together three solid lines with a good offensive attack.  The likes of Andrew Agozzino, Freddie Hamilton, Darren Archibald, David Pacan and etc, the Ice Dogs carry one of the deepest forward line-ups in the entire OHL.

The Generals offensive threat can be just as dangerous.  They are led by Christian Thomas who scored 54 goals (99 points) in the regular season, good for second overall in the OHL regular season.  Right behind him is Andy Andreoff and Alain Berger.  The Gens offensive talent continues with Nicklas Jensen, Lucas Lessio and Boone Jenner – all are eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

DEFENSE:

Niagara’s blueline is lead by Dougie Hamilton.  As a top rated draft pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, he is solid on both ends of the ice using his speed and size to stop opponents.  Tim Billingsley played a big role on the blueline but the Ice Dogs will be without his services.  Billingsley was give 10 games for a headshot given to Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67’s.  He is eligible to return for game 4 of the series.  The Ice Dogs will look to import d-man Simon Gronvaldt along with young guns Jesse Graham and Luke Mercer.

On the other end, the Generals are led by top Lightning prospect, Calvin de Haan. de Haan is a solid puck moving  defenseman.  The Gens will look to the likes of Scott Valentine, Daniel Maggio and Nick Quinn to try to shutdown the high offensive of the Ice Dogs.

GOALTENDING:

Mark Visentin helped lead the Canadian U19 team to a gold medal win in the 2011 World Junior Championships.  Visentin finished second in the league in goals against average and save percentage


Peter DiSalvo helped lead the Barrie Colts to the Eastern Conference title last year and has improved his play since being picked up by the Generals for the second half of the season.

COACHING:

Niagara’s Marty Williamson is finishing off his 7th year as a Head Coach in the OHL.  He spent his first 6 seasons with the Barrie Colts with only two teams finishing under .500.  Last year, he was behind the bench of the Eastern Conference champs and helped lead the team to the OHL finals but lost in 4 to the high flying Windsor Spitfires.  Each team coached by Williamson has made the playoffs and only two teams failed to make it out of the first round.

Oshawa’s Chris DePiero took a similar route as Williamson.  He is entering his 7th season as a part of the coaching staff in the OHL.  His first year and a half he was an assistant coach when he took over reigns as Head Coach at the end of the 2007-2008 season. DiPiero’s teams were not as successful as Williamson’s missing the playoffs 3 of 4 times.  In the year he took over, DiPiero’s team made it to the Eastern Conference finals but fell to division rival, Belleville Bulls.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Niagara 2 @ Oshawa 4 (Dec 29, 2010)
Oshawa 5 @ Niagara 6 (Oct 16, 2010)

KNOWN LINEUP CHANGES

Niagara Ice Dogs
Tim Billingsley – suspension – eligible April 13

Oshawa Generals
Emerson Clark – suspension – eligible April 9

PLAYERS TO WATCH (regular season stats)

Niagara Ice Dogs
Ryan Strome – 33 goals, 106 points
Freddie Hamilton – 38 goals, 83 points
Andrew Agozzino – 43 goals, 74 points

Oshawa Generals
Christian Thomas – 54 goals, 99 points
Andy Andreoff – 33 goals, 75 points
Boone Jenner – 25 goals, 66 points

NHL DRAFT PICKS

Niagara Ice Dogs
Mark Visentin (Phoenix Coyotes round 1, #27 overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Steven Shipley (Buffalo Sabres round 4, #98 overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft)
Freddie Hamilton (San Jose Sharks round 5, #129 overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft)
Jason Wilson (New York Rangers round 5, #130 overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft)
Alex Friesen (Vancouver Canucks round 6, #172 overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft
David Pacan (Chicago Blackhawks round 6, #177 overall, 2009 NHL Entry Draft))
Tim Billingsley (Phoenix Coyotes round 7, #189 overall, 2008 NHL Entry Draft)
Eligible 2011: Ryan Strome (19th in CS’ North American Skaters midterm ranking)
Eligible 2011: Dougie Hamilton (7th in CS’ North American Skaters midterm ranking)

Oshawa Generals
Christian Thomas (New York Rangers round 2, #40 overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft)
Tony DeHart (New York Islanders round 5, #125 overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft)
Calvin de Haan (New York Islanders round 1, #12 overall, 2009 NHL Entry Draft)
Scott Valentine (Anaheim Ducks round 6, #166 overall, 2009 NHL Entry Draft)
Eligible 2011: Boone Jenner (18th in CS’ North American Skaters midterm ranking)
Eligible 2011: Nicklas Jensen (20th in CS’ North American Skaters midterm ranking)
Eligible 2011: Lucas Lessio (44th in CS’ North American Skaters midterm ranking)
Eligible 2011: Colin Sullentrop (117th in CS’ North American Skaters midterm ranking)

SPECIALTY TEAMS (regular season)
Powerplay: Niagara 3rd, Oshawa 9th
Penalty Kill:  Niagara 3rd, Oshawa 11th

SCHEDULE
Game 1: Thurs., April 7 at Niagara 7:00
Game 2: Sat., April 9 at Oshawa 7:05
Game 2: Mon., April 11 at Niagara 7:00
Game 4: Wed., April 13 at Oshawa 7:05
Game 5: Fri., April 15 at Niagara 7:00 *if necessary
Game 6: Sun., April 17 at Oshawa 6:05 *if necessary
Game 7: Mon., April 18 at Niagara 7:00 *if necessary

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