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A Major Surprise: Majors continue to impress

Through eight games, no one expected the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors to be where they are. Despite missing several players for various reasons, they’re still 7 and 1 and atop the Eastern Conference standings.

The biggest surprise of this young season has to be the play of forward Riley Brace. The 19-year-old has exploded out of the gates tallying nine goals and six assists in his first eight games. What has been more impressive is his ability to score shorthanded. He has five already.

I’ve been to a couple Majors games so far this season and was around for last year’s Memorial Cup run. Brace is definitely a changed player. He’s showed dynamic skill with the puck and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. The fact that the Woodlawn Ontario native can play a physical game is appealing as well. He’s gelled nicely on the top line with fellow veteran and second year Major Derek Schoenmakers as well as rookie Russian speedster Sergey Kuptsov. Many are starting to think that Brace’s handlebar moustache has been the key to his success.

Despite currently missing notable pieces such as defenseman Stuart Percy (injury), Jordan Mayer (injury) , Jamie Wise (suspension) , Mississauga continues to play well. It’s scary to think that this team may even get power forward Devante Smith-Pelly back in the mix if things don’t pan out for him with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. The way he’s played the last couple months, Smith-Pelly would be a force to be reckoned with if he returns to the OHL this season.

Once again, I think the biggest x-factor for this squad has to be goaltending. JP Anderson is arguably a top three net minder in the entire Ontario Hockey League and has been for a while. Although he surrendered five goals in a Thanksgiving Day dismantling by the Brampton Battalion, Anderson looked solid. The thing that sets him apart from other OHL goalies is his ability to make timely stops. The coy and timid tender made a couple of miraculous saves in that Battalion game before he was absolutely bombarded in the third period.

For the Majors, flying under the radar is what they’ll do all season. Gone are the high profiled names like Casey Cizikas, Justin Shugg and Marc Cantin. In comes a very blue collared team led by Brace, Schoenmakers and Wise. So far, this team has lacked the flashiness but have made up for it with their work ethic.

Many predicted a MAJOR rebuilding year for this team but instead, they’re producing MAJOR results.

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