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2011/12 OHL Season Preview

It is that time of the year again. Where the great minds here at In The O... attempt to predict the storm that is the Ontario Hockey League. This year will not be easy as there has been lots of movement throughout the league. Players and management alike. Drafted players, recruited players, disgruntled players this off season had it all. And so far the preseason has not disappointed and come tomorrow night. Plymouth and Owen Sound will get it all started this season. Winford further delay let's get these conference predictions on the road


10. Kingston Frontenacs - after years of applying a 'band-aid' to the franchises problems. It looks as though the Fronts will finally go through a proper rebuild and take this season to let the young'ns get some playing time. But they still will not develop a goalie.

9. Peterborough Petes - this team is a year older but it has not improved much. By trading for Mike Morrison and OA Andrew Yogan the Petes have made it look like they are moving in the right direction but hose pieces will not be enough. There are still holes on this team and unfortunately for Peres fans this will be another year just missing the playoffs... Probably on the last day of he season too.

8. Barrie Colts - the addition of Aaron Ekblad has helped this team reduce the future amount of Goals against by 30 instantly. Add in the addition of Yuill, Sutch, Telegin and their new starting goaltender Mathias Neiderberger this team is vastly approved. Another year under the belt for Mark Scheifele and Eric Locke and offensively can be one of the best in the Eastern Conference. Too bad the majority of the Conference also got better.

7. Belleville Bulls - The Bulls will be taking a step in the right direction. They moved their former number 1 goalie, Tyson Teichmann to Erie making Malcolm Subban the bonafide number one goalie. In the same light the Bulls traded away their leading scorer Andy Bathgate wwcoring come from? Belleville is in the same boat as Barrie, a small step forward but the majority of the conference took a leap.

6. Mississauga Majors - The Majors can really go either way this year. After loading up for their OHL Championship & Memorial Cup run, the Majors are now in mini-rebuild mode. There are still some great pieces here and under the new GM/Coach James Boyd's style of play, could be very effective without the likes of Cizikas, DeSousa, Kitsyn and the like. JP Anderson will more than likely return and be the rock in the net. Which will give the Majors a chance every night.

5. Brampton Battalion - maybe it is the youth on the blueline or maybe hoping that the NHL drafted forwards can now break out. But I see that there is more hope in the city of Brampton than most give them credit for. Matej Machovsky still has prove that he could carry the load of being a number one goalie but he does have the ability to steal a game or two.

4. Ottawa 67's - last season the PMT line (Prince, Martindale, Toffoli) was unstoppable. Their secondary scoring... Not so much. Goaltender Petr 'Mrdazzle' Mrazek stood on his head and stole the show every single night. Both he and Martindale may not be back for the 67's this season. In the case of Martindale there are replacements ready to go. But to replace Mrazek... GM/coach Chris Byrne may have to make a trade for a lights out Net minder. If it wasn't for another team in their Division. I would say the 67's are poised to repeat as division champions.

3. Sudbury Wolves - After a slow start to last season the Wolves were able to place 7th and even knock off heavily favored Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs. This is a young team that has a full year under their belts together. Sgarbossa, Kuchin and Leivo will be a force up front while Corrado and McFadden will be putting up the points on the blueline. Johan Mattson will be expected to carry the workload much like Alain Valliquette did last season. And from what I have seen from him in the preseason, that should not be an issue.

2. Oshawa Generals - this was too close to call and will come down to the goaltending. The only knock that can be said about the Oshawa Generals is that Daniel Altahuller for all is potential and accolades he has received recently. Will still be a 17 year old rookie with no OHL experience. That will be the biggest difference. He will be given every chance to succeed but don't expect GM/Coach Chris DePiero to sit by. If he has to get an experienced goalie to help out, he will not hesitate. Thomas, Jenner, Laughton, Lessio, Jensen, Uvira, Andreoff and Labardo will get the job done up front. And the defense lead by Maggio and Valentine will shut them down.

1. Niagara IceDogs - The reason why the IceDogs are rated number one is simply the man in the net. Mark Visentin. This man is the difference between Oshawa and Niagara. The IceDogs can match up player for player with the Generals, Strome, Hamilton, Friesen, Aggozino, Theoret, Jenkins, Bennett. There is a great mix of skill and size up front while the back end can easily jump right in and provide an additional threat.


10. Guelph Storm - The Storm are entering the season without their big 3 of Latta, Beck and Holland. It will be a tough year in Guelph with some young stars who will learn by making mistakes. And that goes for the forwards and the defense. In net there is reliable Brandon Foote who has manned the Storm net for the past couple of seasons. But there is now Garrett Sparks who was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs this past June. Could there be pressure to play Sparks who played all of 19 games in his OHL career?

9. Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds - new GM Kyle Dubas has infused this team with a new attitude and has made quite a few roster moves that will benefit he team moving forward. However, with all the positive moves that Dubas has made he also had to deal Daniel Catenacci within his conference. The team is poised to break out. But it isn't this season. Add in what the rest of the conference has done. And the Soo can make it 3 years in a row missing the playoffs.

8. Windsor Spitfires - As much as Bob Boughner declared that this team will be around the 6th place rank in the West... I don't see that. Granted Jack Campbell and all his pedigree could still carry this team on his back but the loss of Kassian and Ellis may be too much to recover from. There are pieces in place with the likes of Ebert (Ellis V2.0?) and of course the returning Koko, Kuhn and Ryan upfront. But this year will be a Bjorne step back for the Spitfires.

7. Saginaw Spirit - The Spirit loaded up last season and fell short. What they are left with looks pretty good. Include the additions of Steven Strong and Jamie Oleksiak on the back end and the veteran group of forwards. The only question on this team is in the net. Can the combo of Galansky and Paterson get the job done when it counts. We don't think so.

6. Sarnia Sting - It is incredible what having a legitimate GM/Head Coach can do in terms of recruiting power. This Sting team has been transformed, much like the Greyhounds, but the Sting still got to build around Galchenyuk and Yakupov. Definite first rounders in this years NHL draft. Add in the likes of Maxwell in goal to teach Brando Hope. Anthony DeAngelo and Connor Murphy make the jump to the OHL helps this blueline which has struggled to stop the opposition. Reid Boucher and Ludvig Rensfeldt add a new dynamic making this team a three line threat. Is it enough this season? considering goaltenders have to adjust to playing in the OHL. Why wouldn't rookies who left the NCAA also struggle in he beginning? Sarnia makes a leap. But not a giant one.

5. Erie Otters - Much like last season this team will look like an unstoppable juggernaut most nights. And a complete enigma other nights. This year Ramis Sadikov is not expected back and it can be widely agreed that he was a big reason, if not the biggest reason for the Otters success. Greg McKegg isnexected back as is fellow Leafs draft pick Sondre Olden. Throw in Brett Thompson and Mike Cazzola. These veterans will have to help the young forwards grow up fast. The blueline may be young by they have looked good in preseason play. The question mark is whether or not the change of scenery for Tyson Teichmann will help him regain what many expected from him. If TT can not find it early, Chris Festarini will have to shoulder the load and he is as unproven as Teichmann.

4. London Knights - The Knights never rebuild. Just reload. And they loaded up on draft picks last season and got Max Domi in exchange for some of those picks. Not a bad exchange. Their horse Michael Houser will be more focused and determined after being passed up in the NHL draft yet again. With a goalie like him the defense can take more opportunities to help out the forwards and the forwards on turn. Do not have to focused so much on their defensive play. The Knights are back this season. But they are definitely not contending for a championship. But once in the playoffs. knights hockey is tough to beat.

3. Kitchener Rangers - Kitchener is definitely not the same team as last season. In consecutive years the Rangers lose a player that they would beg to have back. Captain Gabriel Landeskog will be sticking with the Avalanche in the NHL which gives an opportunity for someone to step up. Their forwards are not only skilled but can play physical which will work in their favor whole their top 4 on the blueline all have the ability to shut you down and light you up in the same shift. Goaltending is an issue as their new number 1 is an American. Recent history suggests that John Gibson is not the answer. But when you watch him play you can tell that he is definitely better than the previous American goaltenders.

2. Owen Sound Attack - Even without Joey Hishon and Garret Wilson in this seasons lineup, this Attack squad boasts probably the best young talent in the league. All season long you will be hearing the names Smith, Maidens and Brace. To go along with familiar names like Catenacci, Halmo, Childerley and Zweep. The defense will be tough to top but will have to work on protecting their all-star netminder Jordan Binnington. The man who saved their season and got them to the Memorial Cup.

1. Plymouth Whalers - Many people do not want to believe that the Whalers are this tears favorites to represent the OHL in this years Memorial Cup but it is highly possible. Plymouth is undoubtedly the most complete team in the OHL this season. They have the best goaltending in the league with 'Money' Wedgewood and Matt Mahalak. Their D is only missing that offensive defensman to keep the opposition guessing but that by no means there will be no scoring from the blueline. When it conne to their forwards. The Whalers matchup right alongside the Niagara IceDogs and the Oshawa Generals. Bathgate, Noesen, Rakell, Meurs, Aleardi, Mahalak, Heard and Whaley... Maybe even better than their Eastern Conference counterparts.

The great minds at ITO have made it so and declared their 2011/12 OHL predictions. Now only time will tell whether or not you praise our predictions. Or mock ITO for being completely wrong. Either way let the season begin.

Comments :

Anonymous said...

Isn't Carnavale with Sarnia. I think they are ranked a little low with all the goal scoring they have.

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