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In The O Fight of the Week Nov 30

I have to agree with the announcer on this fight, I have no idea why this started, but I am happy it did.
This week’s fight of the week comes to us from Kitchener, where Ben Thompson of the Rangers takes on Stephen Gaskin of the Storm.
There were some heavy hands in this one as the two traded some bombs. I give the decision to Thompson in this one though as he got the upper hand in the end. Hats off to these two for an entertaining bout, our in the O Fight of the Week!

David Pacan: Success Started in Cumberland

Special Thanks to Chris Messina


David Pacan has developed into a steady two-way forward in the Ontario Hockey League with the Niagara Ice Dogs. He was selected by the team in the 14th round of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection, while the team was still playing out of Mississauga. From there, the product of the Ottawa Sting minor hockey association went on to play two seasons with the Cumberland Grads in the Central Canada Hockey League (2007-08 & 2008-09). His strong play with the Grads earned him a Div-1 scholarship in the NCAA with the University of Vermont Catamounts. After only one year in the Green Mountain State he packed his bags and headed to Niagara.
The 6-foot-3 center has been a welcomed addition up front for the Ice Dogs as he’s averaged nearly a-point-a-game (89 in 91 games) in his year-and-half with the team. “It’s been awesome, making the transition from College to the OHL. It’s been great. The guys have been great, everyone from the coaches to the owners. It’s just been a blast,” says the Ice Dogs overage forward.
The Ice Dogs have had strong teams the last couple of years and expectations are high again this season. The team features two players that were top 10 picks in the National Hockey League’s draft last June (Ryan Strome –New York Islanders and Dougie Hamilton-Boston Bruins). For Pacan and his teammates it offers a chance at redemption after a disappointing playoff exit last spring. Niagara was knocked out in the Eastern Conference final by the St. Michael’s Majors in 5 games. “We had a great team last year. We were that close to going to the OHL championship. I thought we had a great playoff, we just couldn’t close it at the end. This year we have pretty much the same team and hope to get farther than last year,” says Pacan.
The Former Grad remembers his time in Cumberland fondly as he was a member of a couple of competitive teams. Two of his former Grads teammates Eric O’Dell (St. John’s Ice Caps – affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets) and Jason Akeson (Adirondack Phantoms – affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers) are playing in the American Hockey League this season. “It was a great two years. We had great guys on the team, guys like Akeson and O’Dell. We had really good teams. It was a great time for me to develop my skills. I had a great time (in Cumberland),” recalls Pacan.
In those two seasons with the Grads, he suited up for 118 games, scored 34 goals and compiled 94 points. He credits the coaching he got in Cumberland, from his former coach Mark Grady (now head coach of the Smiths Falls Bears) and then assistant coach Paul Flindall (current Grads head coach) for his success. “Mark really focused on me being a better player. I was fortunate to have him as a coach. He never took it light with me. I loved everything that he taught me. Paulie was just a great guy to, I still talk with him and stay in touch, both guys you’ll remember forever,” says Pacan.
Pacan was a part of a couple of Grads teams that had a lot of regular season success, sometimes a rarity for city based teams in the CCHL. “The last two years I was there we had strong teams, we finished top 5 in the standing. We just couldn’t close it in the playoffs. We got knocked out in the first round both years. I wasn’t too happy about that, but you learn from your mistakes,” says Pacan.
While starring for Cumberland in his early junior hockey days he was recognized by pro scouts. The Chicago Blackhawks selected him in the 6th round of the NHL Entry draft in 2009, making him the first player to be drafted directly into the world’s greatest league as a member of the Grads. The organization has a list of alumni currently playing in the NHL such as Matt Bradley and Claude Giroux, but none were members of the organization when they were drafted.  “It was awesome. Guys like Grady and Paulie helped me out the two years I was there. I credit a lot of my success to them. Being the first player to get drafted out of there was a huge honour for me. It was an unbelievable experience,” recalls the Blackhawks prospect.
On draft day, the native of Ottawa knew that his name might get called, but he couldn’t sit around all day waiting for his name to be called. “My brother and I went mini-golfing. I just couldn’t sit in front of a computer to see if my name was going to come up or not. We went mini-golfing then I got the call and it was just excitement from there,” recalls Pacan.
Being a part of the Blackhawks organization, Pacan has had the opportunity to attend the organizations development camps in the summers since he’s been drafted, something he feels has helped his game. “They’ve been awesome. You get to play with guys that have played pro or are trying to play pro just like you. You learn a lot from them. You learn a lot from the older guys being in a pro development camp. It’s just awesome to bring back the confidence to this league,” says Pacan.
It’s been a long journey for Pacan that has taken a couple of different turns, but at this rate one of those turns could lead him to the NHL.

ITO Three Stars & Power Rankings: Week 10

Welcome back for another edition of the ITO Power Rankings, as well as our Three Stars for the week of November 21st-27th. As the end of November nears, we are starting to get a good idea of which teams are real contenders this season, which teams are pretenders, and which teams never were. The next six weeks is absolutely critical to teams around the league, as decisions need to be made between now and the January 10th Trade deadline.
ITO 3 Stars
1. Malcolm Subban (Belleville Bulls) – Often overlooked by his big brother’s success in the N.H.L., Malcolm is quickly becoming known on his own merits. Already the leading Goaltender in the Ontario Hockey League on GAA, Subban has been a large part in the success of the Belleville Bulls this season. Malcolm played in all three of his team’s games over the last week, allowing just two goals while posting a shutout over Guelph. Malcolm would stop 87 of 89 shots he faced, for save percentage of .978. Clearly the best player in the league this week, ‘The Subban Wall’ is this week’s ITO First Star.
2. Brendan Gaunce (Belleville Bulls) – While Subban was stopping nearly everything he saw, someone was still needed in Belleville to put pucks in the other net, and that’s where Brendan came in this week. Riding a super-hot stick, Gaunce would strike for five goals in his three games, as well as adding an assist. Starting with a two goal performance on Thursday night in Erie, Brendan would follow up the next night, scoring another pair of goals in a whitewashing of Guelph. To round out the weekend, Gaunce would score a goal and an assist in a win over Oshawa. By scoring five times, and registering six points, along with a +5 rating, Brendan Gaunce is the ITO Second Star for Week 10.
3. Tobias Rieder (Kitchener Rangers) – Not to be outdone, Tobias Rieder was equally as important to the Kitchener Rangers this week, scoring five times and adding an assist of his own. Tuesday night, Tobias would start the week right, scoring a hat trick in a big win over Guelph. Friday night, Rieder would add another marker, as the Rangers would send Erie to defeat. Tobias would wrap up his weekend by adding another goal, as well as an assist, in yet another big victory, this time over Sarnia. For this, as well as his +3 rating this week, Tobias earns his spot as the ITO Third Star for November 21st-27th.
ITO Power Rankings
1. London Knights – (Last Week: 1) By winning two of their three games this past week, the London Knights retain the top spot in the ITO Power Rankings, which they have held since the beginning of the season. The lead is beginning to diminish, however, as many teams have set their sights on the league leaders. After a loss on home ice to Barrie, the Knights would rebound with victories in Erie and Brampton. London hosts Saginaw on Friday night, then travel to Owen Sound for a contest the following evening.
2. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 4) With wins in all three contests this week, the Rangers vault into the number 2 spot in the OHL Power Rankings. 9-1 in their last ten, and points in 13 of their last 14 games, Kitchener has become one of the most feared teams in the league. The Rangers would outscore their opposition 17-5 in three victories this week, knocking off Guelph, Erie, and Sarnia along the way. Kitchener plays three games in three nights this week, starting Thursday night in Brampton. After returning home to face Mississauga, the Rangers will finish their week in Erie on Saturday night.
3. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 2) The Whalers find themselves down one spot this week, after losing two of three. A win over Saginaw on Wednesday kept the Whalers’ streak intact, but losses to Peterborough and Guelph over the weekend caused the team to slide. Plymouth has a pair of home games this week to try and steady things, hosting Sault Ste. Marie on Friday and Guelph on Saturday.
4. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 8) A big jump into the top five for the Belleville Bulls this week, as they win three straight games, improving to 9-2 in their last 11 games. The Bulls started the week with a strong 3-1 victory in Erie, then blanked Guelph the next night. Belleville would return home for a Sunday afternoon matinee, defeating Oshawa handily. Looking ahead, the Bulls host Kingston on Wednesday night, beginning a home and home series that wraps up on Friday night. Belleville returns home the next night to take on Windsor to end the week.
5. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 3) Playing without star forward Nail Yakupov for much of the week, the Sting suffered, losing all three contests. After losing in a shootout to Barrie on Thursday, Sarnia would be dropped in back to back contests over the weekend, first to Niagara, and then in Kitchener. The Sting hit the road for a pair of games, starting in Peterborough on Thursday, and playing the following night in Oshawa. Sarnia comes home for a Sunday afternoon contest against Sault Ste. Marie to finish the weekend.
6. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 7) Ottawa continues to impress, sitting atop the East Division, and climb one spot this week, despite earning a split from their two games. The 67’s opened the weekend on Friday, losing on home ice to Oshawa, but would come back in the third period on Sunday to defeat Kingston in a shootout. Ottawa has a three game weekend in front of them, starting at home to Windsor on Friday night, and playing games in Peterborough on Saturday, and in Mississauga Sunday.
7. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 13) With three straight wins this week, the IceDogs leap back into the top ten in the OHL Power Rankings. Once considered a contender, Niagara is fighting to erase a slow start. Big wins over Brampton, Windsor, and Sarnia this week vault the IceDogs up the ranks, and Niagara will look to continue the rise with three games this weekend. The IceDogs host Erie on Thursday and Barrie on Saturday, before playing Sunday afternoon in Brampton.
8. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 6) Right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference, the Battalion continue to keep pace with the top teams in the OHL. Brampton could only muster one win in three games this past week, causing a small drop in the Power Rankings. After a win Wednesday in Mississauga, the Battalion would lose back to back games to Niagara and London. If Brampton is to get back on pace, they start Thursday, when they host Kitchener. A game in Sudbury on Friday is followed by a Sunday afternoon contest at home to Niagara, finishing three games in four days.
9. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 5) After a good start to the week, Peterborough would struggle, and find themselves down four spots this week in the OHL Power Rankings. The Petes would earn two points in Plymouth on Friday night, but would be on the wrong end of scores in Saginaw and Windsor, stalling the teams’ momentum. A big week lies ahead for Peterborough, as they play host to Sarnia on Thursday and Ottawa on Saturday, before traveling to Oshawa to wrap up the weekend Sunday evening.
10. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 10) No change for Barrie, though the Colts did win two out of three games this week, both against top opposition. After winning in Sarnia on Thursday, the Colts went into London on Friday and earned two points again. A tough loss on home ice to Sudbury on Saturday prevents Barrie from gaining ground this week. The Colts hit the road for three games this week, starting in Owen Sound Wednesday. Barrie also takes on Erie on Friday, and plays in Niagara Saturday.
11. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 15) After falling four spots last week, the Wolves make that ground back this week, after winning both games they played. The victories over Owen Sound and Barrie help Sudbury move up the Rankings, but for the Wolves to continue upwards, they will need a good week coming up. Sudbury hosts Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday evening, and will have Brampton in town for a contest on Friday.
12. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 12) Still at number 12 this week, the Owen Sound Attack were able to earn three points from a pair of games over the last seven days. After the Attack lost a shootout contest in Sudbury Friday night, Owen Sound retaliated by winning a night later, knocking off Sault Ste. Marie. This week, the Attack hosts Barrie on Wednesday night, then plays in Guelph on Friday. Owen Sound finishes the weekend back at home on Saturday night, when London comes to visit.
13. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 9) The Guelph Storm are one of many teams that have seemed to settle into the middle of the pack in their conference. They would win two and lose two over a four game week, but slide four spots landing at number 13. Guelph would start the week with a lopsided loss in Kitchener on Tuesday, and would be whitewashed by Belleville on Friday night. The Storm replied over the weekend, picking up victories over Plymouth and Mississauga to salvage an even record for the week. No rest for Guelph this week, as they play three games in three days over the weekend, starting with a visit from Owen Sound on Friday. The Storm then take to the road for weekend stops in Plymouth and Saginaw.
14. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 11) After an impressive start, the Greyhounds have begun to falter as of late, and dropped both decisions this past week in the process. While the Hounds would pick up a point from a shootout loss to Saginaw on Friday, a loss the next night to Owen Sound would continue the Soo’s downward trend. The Greyhounds hit the road for four games in the next seven days, starting Tuesday when they play in Sudbury. With three more games over the weekend, starting Friday in Plymouth, and making stops in Saginaw and Sarnia, this could be a make-it or break-it week for Sault Ste. Marie.
15. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 16) The Spits continue their slow trend upwards, climbing another spot this week, after earning a split in a pair of contests. A loss to Niagara on Friday night would start Windsor’s week on the wrong foot, but the Spitfires rebounded to take down Peterborough on Sunday afternoon. Windsor is another team that plays three times from Friday to Sunday this week ahead, playing contests on the road in Ottawa, Belleville, and Kingston.
16. Mississauga St. Michaels Majors – (Last Week: 14) It has been a long steady fall for a team that was one game away from winning the Memorial Cup on home ice this past May. The Majors got off to a terrific start to the season, but have since won just five times in their last twenty contests. Mississauga would fail to earn a point over the last week, dropping all three of their games. A midweek loss to Brampton was followed with defeats at the hands of Kingston and Guelph, and the Majors are in full free-fall. If that weren’t enough, the Majors will have their hands full this week, with two contests, both against top teams in the OHL. Mississauga plays in Kitchener on Friday night, before returning home to tangle with Ottawa on Sunday.
17. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 17) Contenders no more, the Generals are now vying in hopes of simply making the playoffs this season. A sluggish start would cost Chris DiPiero his job behind the bench, and Gary Agnew has fared little better, as Oshawa continues to sputter. They would split their games this week, starting Friday with a big road win in Ottawa. The Generals would fail to string together consecutive wins, dropping a game in Belleville Sunday afternoon. Oshawa has a pair of home games this week to try and right the ship, starting Friday night when Sarnia comes to town. The Generals also host Peterborough on Sunday evening.
18. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 18) Saginaw remains planted at number 18 this week, as they continue to play inconsistent hockey. The Spirit would win two of three games this week, improving on a record that needs work. After a loss in Plymouth, Saginaw would get a shootout win over Sault Ste. Marie on Friday, and picked up another win a night later against Peterborough. The Spirit will look to keep winning this week, starting with a game in London on Friday night. After that, Saginaw returns home for the weekend, with games against Sault Ste. Marie and Guelph.
19. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 19) While playing better as of late, the Frontenacs have dug themselves quite a hole, a hole that may be too much to get out of in Kingston. The Fronts would earn three out of four possible points last week, defeating Mississauga on Friday, but losing in a shootout to Ottawa on Sunday. Three games await Kingston this week, starting Wednesday in Belleville. Belleville returns the visit to Kingston on Friday night, and the Frontenacs wrap up the week hosting Windsor on Sunday afternoon.
20. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) There is an OHL team that plays in Pennsylvania, but they haven’t given us much to talk about this season, and have become a league afterthought by November. Now with just three wins in their first 25 games, the Otters are already relegated to playing for pride, and maybe some of them who might be dealt off to contenders before the January trade deadline. The losing streak would hit ten games after three more losses this past week, as Belleville, Kitchener, and London would all take turns earning victories over Erie. The Otters play three games in three nights from Thursday through Saturday of the week ahead. After playing in Niagara, Erie comes back home for games with Barrie and Kitchener.
The ITO Three Stars and Power Rankings can be found every Tuesday here at In The O… The Radio Show. Be sure to check back next week to see where your favourite team ranks, but if you can’t wait for your OHL fix, find me on Twitter, @N24Nicholson.

Did Hockey Canada Select the right OHLers?

Like we do every sinigle time a Team Canada selection camp roster comes out, yours truly at ITO uses his knowledge to decipher whether it is a good call, or bad call for said player to be on or left off the roster. Considering that the IIHF U20 WJHC is the SuperBowl of Junior hockey, yes I believe this is bigger than the Memorial Cup, lets look at the OHL players who made the selection camp, and the ones from the Summer Evaluation camp that did not… and some other possible misses.


Mark Visentin (NIA) – I have already received a lot of hate for liking how the kid plays. Through the past 2 seasons I have gotten to know him really well and even though many call me biased. I think the strength to Visentin is his mental game. Mentally, I don’t think I have met a more solid goaltender. Nothing rattles this kid and you can call him a choke artist but I am sure the team was called Canada, not Visentin… But as for him being selected even though his current OHL season is worse than his rookie season… He brings you experience. With only 3 players listed to camp who were on last years team, the repeat factor gives him a huge advantage. Mark will be hungry to prove the doubters wrong which has been the story of his career
$cott Wedgewood (PLY) – Yes, I spelled his name with a dollar sign. As a Yahoo Sports writer said ‘he is money’ (although I have been saying this for over 2 seasons now and that is the first I heard from them) Scott has been the victim of just being born amongst his current goaltender crop. There are a lot of ‘just as good’ goalies since he has been growing up and even though he can steal more games than the average tender, never seemded to get his due. After almost petitioning (must be the money comments I make) for him to be on this team, Wedgewood will get a crack at being Team Canada’s goaltender on the world’s biggest stage. He has the ability, the technique and the mental ability to stand tall, just needed the opportunity.


Cody Ceci (OTT) – That hasn’t already been said about Ceci. The kid is a star plain and simple. He is not a big defenceman by anyone’s standard (6’1”) but he can play like Chara. Already listed at 210lbs Cody has mastered using his size to help his game. Vision is great, angles and skating are great, there are barely any flaws in this kids game. I even remember the playoffs two seasons ago and seeing Ceci and looking up who drafted him, but no one drafted him… he was a rookie.
Dougie Hamilton (NIA) – This is not surprising as he has pretty much been groomed to be the next great OHL offensive defenceman to ever play the game in hockey. Offensively Dougie is having a great year. Defensively not his best. He is still using his body when he needs to but I think to make Team Canada he will have to put his offence to the side and wait instead of create. Not the worst selection to this team but you could replace him with another if you truly wanted.
Scott Harrington (LDN) – I don’t know about him. Maybe I just don’t like shutdown defenceman. Just something about them make me believe they are so interchangeable. Granted as far as OHL nominees to the camp roster, Hockey Canada got this right. If there is a better Canadian shutdown defenceman, I don’t know who it is… you may be saying a name right now, and I will address him later.
Ryan Murphy (KIT) – Remember when Ryan Ellis made the squad the first time to just QB the power play? I absolutely expect that to be Murphy’s role on this team. Arguably the best puck moving defenceman on this team but I think he possess more vision for that PP than a few others. The question is whether he can be 100% healthy for camp and for the tournament. He makes his return this week and you just never know. With that in mind a 100% healthy Ryan Murphy gets a thumbs up from ITO.
Jamie Oleksiak (SAG) – Thumbs Down. I like the guy, I do. Heck he stood around for a long long interview and never look disturbed. He is a great guy to talk to. Problem is he is still learning the OHL game and it is painfully evident. I think the one thing that disturbs me is that during the Summer camp DSP yard saled Oleksiak. Granted it was Smith-Pelly (Runaway Freight Train on Skates) but at 6’7” 245lbs… You shouldn’t be sprawled all along the ice.


Freddie Hamilton (NIA) – Everytime I have tried to talk to Freddie there seems to be this hate between us. I know he explained it one time, but I don’t buy that reasoning. But, I do not feel that the personal feelings should have me declare that he will not make the team. But I do agree with him getting an invite to tryout.  If Don Hay puts him with Strome for a line then he has a shot. It isn’t that Strome has been the one doing the work as Freddie has progressed leaps and bounds since being selected by San Jose in the NHL Entry Draft. I still have a feeling that he may not make it. I say you have to give him a shot in camp, but he will have to out work a lot of talent.

Boone Jenner (OSH) – Maybe it is because the Generals in total have been bad, not awful, but under achieving. For that reason I don’t think Jenner should have made the selection camp roster. I like what he can do, but others who have been more consistent this season can do the same.

Tanner Pearson (BAR) – Where did this kid come from? Many have said that, and look at what he did last year as a rookie on a really bad Barrie team. Now look at what he did on his Jr B team in Waterloo… see the pattern here. He didn’t fall out of the sky. He is leading the OHL in points and looks like a monster with the puck, I see him in a 3rd line role if he makes it. He is ok with the camp invite because he is leading the league in scoring. Otherwise I pass on him.

Mark Scheifele (BAR) – After his stint with Winnipeg, he has attacked the OHL like a man possessed and Hockey Canada is capitalizing on this. Rightfully so. If he was left off the list there would be more outcry than others who were left off the list. I don’t think I can find anything wrong with this selection.

Ryan Spooner (KGN) – Now if this was last season I would be clawing my eyes out asking why is he on here. Like Scheifele, Spooner has attacked the league possessed. Whatever they told him in Boston before sending him back has worked. Yes there has been games where he has been benched in the third. But he is a more complete player than ever. I do not care what he has done offensively I have never seen him play defence like this before. Will score big points with Coach Hay.

Ryan Strome (NIA) – I like the selection, but I can see him getting cut. He can play with anyone, can see the small holes to deliver the puck. Slick hands and skating, but there is just something (like Freddie) where I can see him not making the team. But as for the Selection camp, absolutely.

Christian Thomas (OSH) – Now I know what I said about Jenner, should apply here. But I do not think you pass up an opportunity at letting a 50 goal scorer not come to camp. They were not cheap 50 goals either, he worked hard for them. Thomas is wearing the C right now and something about that letter seems to have given him motivation to improve on the little things. Coin toss on the selection because of the lack of success the Oshawa Generals should be having under his leadership.

Tyler Toffoli (OTT) – another player I personally have issues with (why do these guys hate me?) but that is not what I am hear to discuss. Last year I said he should have been given an invite as he either lead the OHL in points, or was just the Top Canadian leading the OHL in points, but he should have gotten an invite. After much debate, I did concede to the notion that you need to be more of a complete player. This year Toffoli has done just that and stepped up his physical game large. He won’t make this team to be an energy guy although players of his ilk have done it before, so if he can not make the top 9, I don’t see him sticking around. Give him motivation, and he will definitely show off his best.

I know I said I would get to the ones who did not get selected, but I will save that until tomorrow on whether or not I agree or disagree. Really there are only 2.5 I do not like. And if you include the ‘will not make team’ about 5 in total. There is always debate when it comes to the OHL selections for the camp which is why I love this league.

Thoughts from the Editor - Week ending November 27th

After a slow September and October(4 Goals and 10 Assists) Sudbury’s Michael Sgarbossa has exploded for 12 Goals and 6 assists in the month of November. Sgarbossa now sits 7th and 16th in League leader for goals and overall points respectively.

After putting up 12 goals and 29 points by the end of October, the amount of forward depth has dropped Zach Hall down the depth chart and he has only put up 4 pts in November (2 goals 2 assists)

Belleville has won 9 of their 12 games this month (12th game is on November 30th) and Malcolm Subban is 8-1 this month with a 1.42GAA and a 9.52SV%

In 12 games this month the Plymouth Whalers went 9-3 and have taken over the top spot in the West division. Rickard Rakell lead the way offensively, (9 Goals and 10 Assists) while the Duo of Mahalak and Wedgewood had a combined GAA of under 2.15 and a SV% of .932

After starting out 7-0 the Majors have come back down to earth with 2 wins in the month of November. 2-6-1-1 in their last 10 games.

The London knights are still leading the league in scoring with 114 goals for  and are tied for second in the league with total goals against (69). Belleville leads the league with 66 goals against

The Oshawa Generals now lead the Eastern Conference in goals against with 111 allowed in 29 games (3.82 goals per game) while the Erie Otters have scored the least amount of goals (59) and allowed the most (129) in the league. The Otters are also a perfect 0-10 in their past 10 games.

Kitchener Rangers forward Tobias Reider hit the 20 goal plateau for the second straight season, to put his sophomore season in comparison to a former Kitchener Ranger. Jeff Skinner had 20 goals in his sophomore season at the end of November too, Skinner finished with 51

There are 3 teams with less than 400 Penalty minutes as a team as of November 27, 2011. Erie Otters (352), Kitchener Rangers (364) and Sarnia Sting (375). That averages out to just over 14.08, 14.56 and 14.42 PIM per game respectively.

If the playoffs started today, Belleville, Brampton and Peterborough would be seeded 2, 3 and 4 in the Eastern Conference. How many people would have ranked those teams that high as passed a third of the season? In the West, Saginaw and Erie would be out of the playoffs.

The Guelph Storm, Soo Greyhounds and Windsor Spitfires have more road wins then they do at home.

500th Career OHL Game for Marty Williamson

The Niagara Ice Dogs celebrated Coach Marty Williamson’s 500th career OHL game with a big win. While the boys razzed him about the milestone on the bench, it was on the ice the team paid tribute to their coach by putting the puck in the net -many times -with a 6-1 defeat of the Central Division’s top ranked Brampton Battalion.

Williamson began his odyssey into the coaching profession after returning to Ontario following a brief career as a pro hockey player in the minor leagues and in Europe. Williamson says he just fell into coaching at the age of 27 when he realized he still had the passion for the game and an opportunity arose to help a friend with a midget team. Williamson eventually became the head coach of the team which led him to good success in the Junior A tier two league. In 2004 Williamson was named head coach of the Barrie Colts in the OHL.

It was at his first game in the OHL he was welcomed to the league by Ottawa 67s coach Brian Kilrea. Williamson views Kilrea as one of his mentors saying “he is the model in this league….a wonderful man and good friend.” While Williamson wanted to be like Kilrea and stay with one team throughout his OHL career, Williamson was lured away from the Barrie Colts to become coach and general manager of the Niagara Ice Dogs in 2010.

While Williamson enjoys the added role of general manager, he says “coaching is where the fun is at.” He particularly enjoys the OHL because “it is a development league. For me as a player I would have loved to go to the NHL… To watch these guys reach their dreams, I get a kick out of it. They’ve got talent, they’ve got the pursuit. It’s great to be part of it. The coaching staff here is a great part of guiding them (towards pro careers)….Being in the dressing room with the guys is the best part.”

While Williamson led the Tier II Aurora Tigers to the Royal Bank Cup which he says is “one of the toughest trophies to win,” don’t count him out yet for winning the Memorial Cup which many believe is the toughest trophy to win. Williamson says the Ice Dogs are still on track to have a successful year. He says the Ice Dogs are “starting to win week-ends and get consistency. There is work to do to get the team where I want it, a piece or two missing….. Everything looks great on paper. We’ve got the skill and talent to be a top team. We need a little more grit added to this team…, with my GM hat, my job to do in the next month or two is to add that…..I still believe in this hockey team…we have gone through a lot of adversity but we are going to have a strong second half.”

The Ice Dogs may have more adversity in the near future as Mark Visentin, Ryan Strome, and Dougie and Freddie Hamilton are expected to leave to attend Team Canada selection camp and then subsequently for the World Juniors. Williamson says the “four really have a good chance to make Team Canada (and it will be a) tough 7 games without them. But those guys will win a gold medal and make this team better when they get back.”

Dog Bytes:

  • Carter Verhaeghe scored his first career OHL goal Thursday evening against Brampton
  • Trevor Peterson scored his first career OHL goal Friday evening against Windsor
  • Broderick Kelly has been called up from the St. Catharines Junior B squad
  • Two former Ice Dog goaltenders shared the game Friday night for Windsor- John Cullen and Jaro Pavelka
  • Ice Dogs swept the week-end:

-Thursday defeated Brampton 6-1

-Friday defeated Windsor 6-3

-Saturday defeated Sarnia 4-2

Import Success and Injury Woes

At what point did things go from bad to worse in Erie? Last place in the league, 11 points behind their next closest basement dweller, what's happened there this seasons? Of course this blog isn't about the Otters so moving on...

The Kitchener Rangers pounded the Erie Otters 7-3 last night. Of course that isn't exactly exceeding expectations for this Ranger team, who now has 33 points on the season. Talk about exceeding expectations, and you have to think of Radek Faksa and Tobias Rieder. The Kitchener Rangers two import picks are leading the team lately. Rieder has 19 goals, and Faksa has 13. It's not unusual for a player to come here from Europe and take a year to adjust to Canada. They usually don't find their stride until their second season. But Faksa has jumped on the ice and fit in perfectly. With his 2 goals last night, he now has 26 points in 23 games, and this should continue as, for some odd reason, he is not expected to join the Czech team at the World Juniors.

Tobias Rieder has been firing on all cylinders so far this season. 19 goals in 24 games, giving him 32 points so far this season. Just to compare that, former Ranger turned NHL first round pick, All star and Calder trophy winner Jeff Skinner took 25 games to reach 19 during his 50 goal season, which was his last in Kitchener. Not to put too much pressure on Rieder (Who just got on twitter @TobiRieder9), but I'm pretty sure everyone on East Ave and a few folks in Edmonton would love to see this trend continue.

And he may have to keep that trend up with the Rangers defensive corps all banged up. Goalie John Gibson is out with a sore back, and when it gets better he'll likely be off to the USA World Junior camp. Carolina draft pick Ryan Murphy is still out with his concussion but is likely to return Thursday vs. Brampton. Rookie blue liner Jared Gilbert has a broken wrist, and add that to Evan McEnemy, who is sitting the whole season after hurting his leg back in October. If a goalie and three defenders down wasn't enough, Andrew Cresenczi also has a sore hand, and sophomore forward Matia Marcantuoni has a shoulder that is so swollen, doctors have yet to even look at it.

Yet with all these injuries the Rangers have yet to skip a beat. They've won 7 of there last 8, are sitting in 4th place overall in the OHL (one point ahead of the 67's with a game in hand), and even received an Honourable Mention in the CHL Top 10 this past week. Once a few of these guys get back from injuries and the World Juniors are over, expect this team to really take off.

One final thought, when was the last time so many Rangers were expected to play at the World Juniors for different teams? The most I remember in the past was in 2002/2003 when Derek Roy, Gregory Campbell and Steve Eminger all played for Team Canada, but this year we have John Gibson (USA), Ryan Murphy (Canada) and Tobias Rieder (Germany), and I believe the Czech's could really use Radek Faksa, although that probably won't happen. It's great to see the Rangers international scouting staff working so well! Just as long as they don't burn the Canadians come that gold medal game.

ITO Prospect Files: Slater Koekkoek

This week we head to Eastern Ontario and take a look at the Peterborough Petes' hot prospect. The smooth-skating, offensive-minded defenseman is blossoming into one of the best Defenders in the 'O'. Let's get to know Slater Koekkoek's game a little better...

NHL Draft Prospect: Slater Koekkoek – Peterborough Petes

The Line:
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 183 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Defence
Draft Eligible: 2012

When you first look at Slater Kokkoek’s stat-line from last season it isn’t the goals, the assists or the penalty minutes that jumps out at you. What you first see is the plus/minus. Last season, playing with the Peterborough Petes, the Mountain, Ontario product was a minus 29. This is where I hate this statistic. When watching Slater play you see the genius in his game. His defensive and offensive positioning is usually on point and his passing is very creative. He often-times gives you the “how did he see that” moment. But you can’t see that in a stat-line. All you see is that his defensive game must be sub-par due to his plus/minus.

In his rookie season, Koekkoek, had 23 points, seven of them being goals. This season in 22 games he has already scored five goals and 17 points. His offensive game is flourishing as have his Peterborough Petes squad who find themselves right in the thick of it in the Eastern Conference. Slater brings an up-tempo style to his game. He can skate well and makes great first passes that allow for the creation of team speed through the neutral zone, all of this while playing more than 26 minutes per night.

There is a lot to like with Slater, as there should be with a prospect of this caliber. But, what needs to be improved upon is his defensive play, below his own icing line. He can be caught out of position from time to time and at the next level this could turn into a lot of lapses in coverage. His game is raw and he will be a bit of a project to help him refine his game, but he has a high ceiling. His skill set is there and thus, he should be a mid-first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

NHL Player Comparison: Erik Karlsson

What Happened to the Attack?

This is a question many people are asking. So lets take a look and see if we can provide an answer. Last season many people, including myself, predicted the Attack to be a very low seed in the western conference and possibly the playoffs too.  Clearly I was wrong and I have no problem admitting my mistake. This season many people thought the Attack would be a competitive team despite losing, Mignardi, Hishon, Wilson and Fritsch. What would make them competitive would be the hope of a repeat season by Jordan Binnington. I have said it before and I will say it forever, Binnington saved Owen Sound’s season last year and made it possible for the Attack to not only win the OHL championship but also be considered a contender in the Memorial Cup. 
I am still peeved that OHL coach of the year, Mark Reeds, decided to go with Stajcer in the Memorial Cup over the red hot Binnington (unlike other posts where I rip goalies, I like Stajcer. But he clearly wasn’t 100%). Based on that decision, I even suggested that Reeds give back his coach of the year award, I mean who goes to the their starting goaltender and says, ‘I don’t think you will win tonight, you are sitting.’
But I digress from ripping the coach. What’s done is done.

So far this year Binnington has not been his spectacular self. Sure he does not have the same rock solid defence in front him, or the same offensive firepower but there seem to be something missing from his game this season. For the Attack to have a shot at making some noise come playoff time, Binnington will have to reclaim his number 1 goaltender position from Scott Stajcer who has been the better of the two thus far.

What is also missing in the Sound, from the outside looking in, is the cohesive team unit that seemed to emanate through the television set when watching their games. Maybe it is the youth on the team, maybe it is the new faces in the room, but there doesn’t seem to be the same team feel as last season.

The Attack lost a lot of fire power up front (Hishon, Wilson, Mignardi and Shaw) and from the blue line (Blacker and Stanisz). To replace what was lost… the Attack added Daniel Catenacci, while trading away Andrew Fritsch to get the Buffalo Sabres draft pick. Catenacci is doing his part leading the team in scoring, on pace to best last season’s point totals, but is also last on the team in the plus minus category with a -8. Definitely not what you would want to see from a highly sought after commodity, but you knew what you were getting when trading from him.

The big difference this season is the blueline. It is not as solid as it was a year ago as it misses the experience Blacker and Stanisz provided, but they can learn and turn it up in the second half. A work in progress is a work in progress but sometimes you can not wait and maybe a move is necessary to help out your goaltenders. I say this because on average Stajcer and Binnington face over 30 shots a night. Sure that is pretty average but it is also the quality of shots they are facing. Unlike games featuring the Missisauga Majors, these shots are not clappers at JP Anderson from 100 feet away hoping to catch him off guard. The goalie duo are having to come up big more often than not and it is catching up to them in the W/L category.

But you may be asking yourself, ‘so you have pointed out their faults, so what is the solution?’ Good Question.
Plain and simple, the Attack need to unload their veterans and give the kids a chance to learn and play. Lets face it the Attack, if they choose to attend currently have to deal with the Soo, London, Plymouth and possibly Kitchener, all currently ahead of them. It is a big hill to climb so why not get value from your pieces. The way the Western Conference currently looks, you will be making the playoffs, and the young guys will be getting the experience you want them to get.

The Trading block may only have Scott Stajcer on it right now as he has been rumoured to be off to Saginaw for at least 3 weeks now, but Oshawa is also in the mix as Chris DiPiero is not happy in the lack of progress in ‘stud’ Daniel Altshuller.
The rumour mill has also been churning in regards to Matt Petgrave and Jay Gilbert, there is interest in the two defenceman, both as individuals and as a package.
If there is a serious offer for the two defenceman, then look for a rebuild in the Sound which will undoubtedly put the GM in the hot seat considering what was given up for Catenacci just to pull the plug after a third of the season.

This is the dilemma in Owen Sound at the moment… maybe making a move will turn the ship around. Or maybe it will sink the ship. Owen Sound is always an interesting case study and no one ever knows the answers. 

ITO Three Stars & Power Rankings: Week 9

Welcome back for another edition of the ITO Power Rankings, as well as our Three Stars for the week of November 14th-20th. We have now reached the point in the season where the standings won’t mean as much to the Power Rankings as how a team has been playing recently, and we should start to see teams fluctuate up and down as they go through the ebbs and flows of the Ontario Hockey League season.

ITO 3 Stars

1. Tanner Pearson (Barrie Colts) – The league’s leading scorer continued putting up points at a rabid pace this week, registering ten points in just three games. After picking up an assist Thursday against Sudbury, Tanner would have a huge game in Ottawa a night later, scoring three goals including the overtime winner, and adding three assists in a 6-5 win. Sunday afternoon, Tanner would help out on all three goals, as the Colts would defeat Kingston 3-1. With ten points, three of them goals, Tanner Pearson was a clear choice as the ITO 1st Star of the week.

2. Tyler Toffoli (Ottawa 67’s) – It only makes sense that the league’s second leading scorer would be this week’s 2nd Star, as Tyler Toffoli earns the nomination with a big week of his own. Toffoli’s week began with a two goal, three point performance against Barrie on Friday night, helping the 67’s earn a point. After being kept off the scoresheet in Belleville the next night, Tyler would finish the week big, racking up three goals and five points in a 5-2 win over Niagara. By scoring five goals and three assists in three games over the weekend, Tyler Toffoli is the ITO 2nd Star for Week 9.

3. Mark Visentin (Niagara IceDogs) – Mark finds himself back in the ITO Three Stars this week, as two shutouts in the same week is just too much to ignore. Mark would stop all 24 shots he would face in a blanking of Mississauga on Thursday, and kept rolling a night later, stopping 16 shots for another shutout in Kingston. Despite being hooked early in a loss to Ottawa on Sunday afternoon, Mark’s performance this week is worthy of being our Third Star for the week.

ITO Power Rankings

1. London Knights – (Last Week: 1) The London Knights continue to reign atop the OHL Power Rankings this week, though their lead on the rest of the league is beginning to shrink. The Knights started the weekend off with a loss on home ice to Plymouth, but would take both ends of a home and home series with Owen Sound to retain the top spot. This week, London hosts Barrie on Friday night, then play in Erie and Brampton on Saturday and Sunday.

2. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 3) Plymouth has registered 19 points in the last ten games, and kept the streak alive by winning all three games over the last week. After an overtime win in Windsor on Thursday, the Whalers would defeat London and Kitchener over the next two nights, wrapping a perfect week. Looking ahead, Plymouth hosts Saginaw on Wednesday night, has Peterborough come into town for a Friday night game, and finishes in Guelph Saturday.

3. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 2) Not even winning two of three games this week was enough to stop the Sting from slipping a spot this week, landing at number three. A Thursday night loss at home to Kitchener would prove to be their undoing, despite winning both ends of a home and home series with Saginaw over the weekend. Sarnia gets a rematch in Kitchener coming up on Sunday afternoon, but not before playing host to Barrie on Thursday and Niagara on Saturday.

4. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 5) Two wins in three games helps the Rangers climb to the number four spot this week. A big win in Sarnia on Thursday was followed by a blowout win over Erie the next night. Only a Saturday night loss to Plymouth kept Kitchener from enjoying a perfect week. The Rangers play three home games this week, starting Tuesday against Guelph, and playing games Friday versus Erie and Sunday against Sarnia.

5. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 8) Peterborough climbs into the top five this week, winning two of three games to stay in the hunt in the East Division. The Petes would split a home and home series with Belleville during the week before defeating Windsor on Saturday night. Peterborough heads out on the road this week, playing games over the weekend in Plymouth, Saginaw, and Windsor.

6. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 4) The Battalion slide two spots to number six this week, after picking up three points over a three game weekend. Brampton started the week by losing a shootout in Saginaw Thursday night, then lost to Sault Ste. Marie the next night. The Battalion would rebound on Sunday to end the week, posting a shutout over Sudbury. Brampton plays a pair of weekday games this week, playing in Mississauga on Wednesday and Niagara on Thursday. After a couple of days off, the Battalion will end the week at home, taking on London.

7. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 7) The 67’s find themselves holding firm at number 7 this week, and they seemed to get better as the week progressed. Ottawa would start out the week with a tough OT loss at home to Barrie on Friday, but rebounded to win both weekend games, winning in Belleville before knocking off Niagara to end the week. Just two games on tap for the 67’s this week, as they will host Oshawa on Friday night, before a Sunday matinee in Kingston.

8. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 6) Belleville drops a couple of spots this week, after dropping consecutive games. After winning the opener of a home and home series with Peterborough on Wednesday, the Bulls would drop game two, and then lose again on Saturday to Ottawa. Belleville will play three times this week, playing in Erie on Thursday and Guelph on Friday. The Bulls finish the weekend on Sunday afternoon when they host Oshawa.

9. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 14) Guelph is one of this week’s biggest movers, climbing five spots this week to land at number nine. The Storm would only play twice in the last week, but would win both games, knocking off Oshawa at home on Friday night, and shutting out Erie a night later. After a light week, Guelph will make up for it in the week ahead, as they play four times in the next seven days, beginning Tuesday night in Kitchener. The Storm return home for a couple of games on Friday and Saturday, hosting Belleville and Plymouth, before finishing the week in Mississauga on Sunday afternoon.

10. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 15) Another team leaping up the Power Rankings, the Colts find themselves at number 10 this week, after winning three big conference games. Barrie would defeat Sudbury on Thursday night, picked up an overtime win a night later in Ottawa, and wrapped up the week in style, with a win at home over Kingston. A tough week lies ahead for the Colts, however, as they hit the road to play against two of the top teams in the league, in Sarnia on Thursday, and in London on Friday. Barrie completes three games in three nights when they return home to tangle with Sudbury on Saturday.

11. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 10) The Greyhounds are down one spot this week, after splitting a pair of games in a relatively quiet week. The Soo would register a big win over Brampton on Friday night, but would lose on home ice just two nights later, dropping a decision to Mississauga. Another light week for Sault Ste. Marie lies ahead, as the Hounds play just two times once again, both at home. Saginaw comes into town for a Friday night contest, and Owen Sound visits one night later.

12. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 12) The Attack are able to remain at twelve this week in the Power Rankings, even though they earned three points in three games over the last week. Owen Sound would defeat Erie on Wednesday night, but found themselves unable to build on the momentum, losing both ends of a home and home series with a highly touted team from London. Only two games are on the schedule for the Attack this week, as they head out for games in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie on Friday and Saturday.

13. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 13) The IceDogs remain at 13 this week, despite winning two of their three games. After shutouts against Mississauga and Kingston on Thursday and Friday nights, Niagara would lose the weekend finale in Ottawa. On deck for the IceDogs this week, they host Brampton on Thursday night, then set out on the road, making stops in Windsor on Friday night, and Sarnia Saturday.

14. Mississauga St. Michaels Majors – (Last Week: 9) Mississauga continues to struggle through the month of November, losing two of three games this past week. Losses in both Niagara and Sudbury last week sent the Majors plummeting down the Power Rankings, despite a win over Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday night that ended a four game losing streak. Mississauga will look to right the ship in the coming week, playing three times, yet not having to play games on back to back nights. The Majors host Brampton on Wednesday, before heading to Kingston for a Friday night contest. Mississauga finishes the week with a contest at home to Guelph on Sunday afternoon.

15. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 11) Sudbury found themselves spiralling down the Power Rankings this week, falling four spots. The Wolves would lose to start the week in Barrie on Thursday, but returned home to knock off Mississauga the very next night. Sudbury would be shut out by Brampton Sunday afternoon on home ice, causing the slide. Just a pair of games await the Wolves this week for them to stop the freefall, as they host Owen Sound on Friday night, and play again in Barrie on Saturday.

16. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 17) Windsor earned three points in three games this past week, and the end result sees them up one spot in the OHL Power Rankings. Thursday night, the Spits would drop an overtime loss to Plymouth, then turn in an ugly performance in a loss in Peterborough on Saturday. Windsor responded well, earning the win in Oshawa the next evening, which allows them to leap past the Generals this week.

17. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 16) Oshawa went winless this past week in three tries, earning just a single point for their efforts. Starting with a loss on the road in Guelph on Friday night, the Generals would drop home ice decisions to Kingston in overtime on Saturday, and to Windsor on Sunday evening. The loss to Windsor would see Oshawa slip one spot this week. The Generals play a pair of road games in a light week, playing in Ottawa on Friday evening, and in Belleville on Sunday afternoon.

18. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 18) No change for Saginaw this week, as they would lose two of three matchups last week. The week would start well for the Spirit, as they would pick up a shootout victory over Brampton on Thursday, but would lose both ends of a home and home series with Sarnia, preventing Saginaw from gaining on the teams in front of them. The Spirit begin on the road this week, playing games in Plymouth on Wednesday and Sault Ste. Marie on Friday. Saginaw returns home for a Saturday night contest with Peterborough.

19. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 19) Kingston remains near the bottom of the OHL Power Rankings, but managed to pick up a win out of three contests this week. After being blanked by Niagara on Friday, the Frontenacs would head to Oshawa, where they would spoil Oshawa’s anniversary party with a come-from-behind overtime victory. The following afternoon, however, Kingston would lose in Barrie, halting momentum. The Fronts have a pair of home games this week, and will try to keep up their better play of late. Kingston hosts Mississauga and Ottawa on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

20. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) I don’t think things can get any worse for fans in Erie. My father’s pick as a team to watch this season, the Otters have seen their season flushed down the drain by a horrific start. Losses in Owen Sound and Kitchener this week were compounded by being shutout on home ice by Guelph. Erie would score just twice in their three contests this week, and now have just three wins in their first 22 games. The Otters play three games in three nights this week, hosting Belleville on Thursday, before playing in Kitchener Friday evening. Erie wraps the week up back at home on Saturday evening, hosting London.

The ITO Three Stars and Power Rankings can be found every Tuesday here at In The O… The Radio Show. Be sure to check back next week to see where your favourite team ranks, but if you can’t wait for your OHL fix, find me on Twitter, @N24Nicholson.

Knights Sweep Attack.......Barely

It was an emotional game in Owen Sound Saturday night as the Attack and London Knights faced off for the first game of a home and home series. It was a roller coaster game and the Knights took advantage of several Owen Sound mistakes to lead 5-0 until a Matt Petgrave goal for the Attack in the second period. Unfortunately the goal was soon followed up with a controversial collision between two rookies.

A mid-ice hit by Knight’s phenon Max Domi left Belarus native Artur Gavrus lying motionless on the ice for several minutes until he was removed by ambulance. Attack member Petgrave said “it seemed like a clean hit, bad luck on Gavrus’ part. He was trying to take the puck out and got his head up at the last second.”
The second period continued in an ugly fashion as emotions were high and led to several fights. Many Attack fans were infuriated no call was made on the Gavrus-Domi collision although Petgrave admits “it was a clean hit at the end of the day.” Domi reported to the local Owen Sound paper, "You obviously don't want to see anything like that. It definitely wasn't my intent."
The third period resulted in cooler heads and the Attack managed to make a game of it, however, the Knights clinched it with an empty net goal for a 7-5 final.
The Attack headed to London Sunday for the second-half of the week-end match up. Petgrave was hoping to take the emotions with the team not for “retaliation(but to) try to get them clean.” And try they did. Outstanding goaltending on the part of Scott Stajcer stopped 47 out of the 49 shots. Ultimately the Attack lost 3-2 in overtime.
While the CHL top ranked team the London Knights swept the home-home series, the Owen Sound Attack didn’t make it easy for them.
· Max Domi’s father, ex-Leaf tough guy Tie Domi was in attendance Saturday night.
· The police were in attendance as well to escort the Knights out of the arena
· Arthur Gavrus underwent an MRI which found no spinal injuries. He has a severe concussion and is currently under 48 hour watch.
· Gavrus’ spot to represent Belarus in an up-coming tournament over the Christmas break may now be at risk.

Thoughts from the Editor... week ending Nov 20

Here I am, another Sunday and more crazy thoughts and stats to fill up some space, but also to add a different perspective on how you may be viewing the OHL right now. Leave a comment below... positive or negative.

The Niagara IceDogs continue to struggle and be seen as a giant anomaly. Niagara currently sitting at a record of 11-10-0-2 have let up the third most goals in the Eastern Conference while scoring 4th highest in the Conference. 6 players boast better than a 0 +/- while Steven Shipley still leads the team with a -10.
Mark Visentin is enjoying a roller coaster season. With a 6-7-0-1 record, Visentin still has a plus 3 GAA and a SV% under .890 but he does have 4 shutouts this season. 7 of the 15 games he has appeared in his GAA has been 1 or less. In the other 8 games, 4 or higher.

The Oshawa Generals should not be forgotten although they are trying hard to be an afterthought. Despite having 9 players with at least double digits for points, 2nd in the Eastern Conference in Goals for, the Generals are sitting in 8th place in the conference. In true Generals fashion this team leads the Conference in PIM with 536, 64 more PIM than the next team. Oshawa has also let in the most goals in the Eastern Conference, 9 more than Kingston, and are third worst in the league. Goaltending and Defence is an issue and they should either blow up the lineup or definitely get help because  something is wrong in Oshawa.

After marching up the East Division, putting up 6 straight victories, the Belleville Bulls dropped Two 4 point games this week. Bulls are currently sitting in 3rd in the division with Peterborough and Ottawa just sitting ahead of them. The Bulls, despite their 6 game winning streak, never played a complete 60 minute game during the stretch, relying on the unbelievable goaltending from Subban and Chartrand.

For those experts who said the Plymouth Whalers would be unstoppable, well it looks like you can begin to brag once again as the Whalers have rattled off a 9-0-01 record in their last 10. Whalers have scored the second most goals in the league while taking over top spot in the West Division leading Sarnia by 1 point. JT Miller has been unbelieveable since I handed him a single American Dollar with 9 goals and 23 points in his last 16 games. Scott Wedgewood is also on fire in the month of November with a 5-0-0-1 record in 6 games this month sporting a 1.64GAA 946V% and 2 shutouts in November.

After a RED HOT start, London’s Michael Houser is being overshadowed yet again. With a 5-2 record in November he is being outshined by the like of the aforementioned Wedgewood and Subban but still sporting a respectable 2.86GAA and 9.14SV%. I point this out because the lack of ‘statistical evidence’ suggesting he is a top goaltender does not mean that he is not pulling out all the stops to steal games and help his team when they don’t play in front of him.

Ottawa’s Tyler Toffoli is looking to not only take over the top spot in the OHL Scoring race but run away with the Goal Scoring title as well. My preseason prediction of Sean Monahan outscoring Toffoli was a bit of a joke but if anyone could do it, it would be a player on his line. Tyler currently has 24 goals in 22 games while sitting 8 pts behind Barrie’s Tanner Pearson in the overall scoring title with 43pts to date. At current pace Toffoli could have 70 goals if he stays healthy… although he is expected to make a big splash and more than likely make Team Canada for the World Junior Hockey Championship. Back to Back 50 Goal seasons is not out of the realm of possibility with Tyler.

Kitchener fans need not worry that John Gibson has an American passport anymore. Gibson is in the T-5 with a .927SV%, in the T-10 with a 2.70GAA and 4th in the league with 11 wins.

4 of the 5 Goalies in the league with the most wins are American born, Michael Houser, Brandon Maxwell, John Gibson and Jack Campbell.
There are 3 European Goaltenders in the top 10 in OHL Wins category, Petr Mrazek, Mathias Niederberger and Johan Mattsson.
The Top 3 Canadian Born goaltenders in the Wins Category is JP Anderson, Matt Murray and Scott Wedgewood. Team Canada WJHC Incumbent Mark Visentin, is tied for 17th in the league with 6 Wins.

Don't Look Now

Two weeks ago I wrote about Ryan Murphy getting hit by Tom Kuhnackl, and how this would be a huge blow to the Kitchener Rangers... What was I thinking? The team has now won 5 straight, and are 8-1-1 in there last 10. Anyone seen the Midwest division standings lately? The boys in blue are only 4 points back of the mighty London Knights, a team they beat in a shoot out not too long ago.

So what's going on here? Has it been a lull in the schedule, playing only weak teams? Sarnia, Guelph, Erie, Oshawa and Sudbury (in no particular order) all fell victim to the Rangers over the last 5 games. Those teams, With the exception of Sarnia, are at the lower ends of their respective divisions, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad teams. Regardless, the Rangers should have had 8 out of 10 points easy, and they got all 10. That's impressive. So whats with this sudden surge?

Look no further than John Gibson, Radek Faksa, Tobias Rieder and Zach Lorentz. Why Lorentz? As the kids say, he's got mad shoot out skillz bro. He came in to camp determined to be a better player and he has improved over last season, and he's continuing to get better.

Gibson has been incredible between the pipes, and Rieder and Faksa seem to score on almost every shot lately.

So far in the Month of November, Gibby has a 2.17 GAA and 0.941 Save percentage. When was the last time a Rangers net minder had those stats? Steve Mason? The guy is stopping and blocking almost everything out there and impressing everyone around the rink. He proved it even more on Thursday against Sarnia, when he outplayed former Rangers tender Brandon Maxwell. Maxx got pulled in that game after allowing 3 goals, while Gibon only allowed 2 goals on 40 shots.

Faksa has 9 points in seven games so far this month, good enough to get him placed on the top 5 of the OHL's Preliminary draft list for the upcoming NHL draft this summer. It seems he's found his stride in this country and is on his way to a great season.

The other import playing on East Ave, Tobias Rieder, has 10 points in the last 7 games including A three point night last night against Erie. In his sophomore season in Kitchener, Rieder has really stepped his game up and impressed all the fans in Kitchener. I'm sure there's a few scouts in Edmonton who are quite happy too.

The return of Captainacci (Rangers captain Michael Cattenaci) has been great as well. In his two games back the captain has 5 points including 4 last night against Erie. Hopefully this team can start getting healthy soon and we'll get Creszenci and Murphy back soon (and maybe McEnemy for the playoffs).

One more topic of note, City Council approved the expansion the the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, so at this time next year there will be an additional 1000 seats plus all new media boxes (more leg room for people 6ft tall maybe?) and private boxes. It only took 2 months to get this approved. Maybe Niagara's city council should pick up the slack too?

Debate Time: Clint Windsor vs. Daniel Altshuller

As per request from @lpunkari I have decided to take my time on this subject matter.  The subject at hand you ask, how is Clint Windsor rated higher than Daniel Altshuller. It is a good topic, one that I already have strong feelings about. SO lets try and take a look at this as impartial as possible… as if.

Lets look at the things that ‘matter’ right now. The Stats. Both goaltenders are sporting almost identical stats in the 2 areas that matter most. Goals against average and save percentage. Clint Windsor is not even listed amongst the top 32 goaltenders in the GAA category. Windsor is spotting a big ol’ 3.98 while Altshuller has a 3.50 GAA. Sure Altshuller is not exactly turning heads considering his Team Canada pedigree and Jr. A resume.  But for a goalie who has played 2.5 times more games, the GAA should be waited considerably more in favour of Altshuller.

Looking at the Save percentage, another ‘key’ stat when evaluating goaltenders, both goaltenders are tied at .898. but again, it should be noted that Altshuller has played in 2.5 more games than Windsor. Where Windsor has had 166 shots, Altshuller has had 509 save attempts.

The main topic of contestation I have, is how do you rank a back up goaltender higher than a starter goaltender.

Sure, as pointed out by Thayne Hallyburton in the ‘shootout’ we had for this week’s Radio Show, I just seem to hate everything that is Clint Windsor. The kid who is 6’4” plays like he is 5’6” in the net. He stays deep in the net, his ‘rebound control’ consists of making sure he stops the puck and hoping his D can clear the puck. His glove is average, he can not play the puck and I see no athletic ability.

When I look at Daniel Altshuller I at least see potential to be a great goaltender. Yes, as mentioned he has not turned heads in a positive manner. The Oshawa Generals look like fools for trading for Altshuller but I still say that Daniel is the better prospect. His rebound control is solid. Athletic ability rivals some of the top goaltenders in the OHL. Great glove, great stick side, my only argument is that he is playing like Jack Campbell. Last season when Jack Campbell came into the league he was completely unprepared for what the OHL is, bigger faster stronger. That is an absolute fact. Daniel is coming into that right now, basically being shelled shocked by much better talent than he faced all last season in the CCHL.

What is never factored into goaltender draft rankings is their athletic ability and the odds/percentage of recovery. Altshuller in all those ‘intangible’ categories leads Windsor, but his numbers given the level of expectation is horrendous. I still believe the last half of the season will show a night and day revelation in the Generals goaltenders numbers and ability. On the flip side, Mathias Neiderberger will continue to carry the load in Barrie and thus limit Clint Windsor to less than 17 starts this season.

Which goes back to one of my main arguments, how do you rate a back up higher than a starter?

It is moments like this that I believe these scouting services should hire Thayne and myself, besides our absolute A+ analysis of prospects, we also input common sense into our potential draft rankings. And in ours, I can guarantee We agree that Altshuller is higher than Windsor. 

ITO Prospect Files: Kristoff Kontos

This week, we head north to the nickel belt to take a look at the play of second generation player, Kristoff Kontos. Let's get to know his game a little better...

NHL Draft Prospect: Kristoff Kontos--Sudbury Wolves

The Line:
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 203 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Center
Draft Eligible: 2012

The pride of Penetang, Ontario, Kontos is a big, bruising center who plays the game hard, both ways. The late 1993 birthday held him back a draft year and that's a good thing as far as his status is concerned. He has gotten off to a hot start and that has caused his stock to rise.

Kontos is most effective in games where the intensity and physical play is cranked up to 10. When he is going hard, he is a tough player to stop. When the game is more of a finnesse style, he tends to fade into the background. it's not that he doesn't have the skill to play that game, it just appears that he isn't as into it.

I think Kristoff's game is one that will improve at the next level, where the intensity will be dialed up every night and he will have to bring it every night. With that said, he has gotten off to a hot start, scoring 6 goals and 13 points in his first 18 games this season and the scouts are noticing.

Kontos is a pitbull in front of the net, and is next to impossible to move. He is an adequate skater and has an NHL-caliber shot to go along with a very deft set of hands. The pedigree is also there as Kontos's father, Chris, played in the NHL and pro over seas for a long time.

Kontos projects to be a late second or early third rounder and, if his play continues on this pace, he could move up even more. The power game is something that is hard to find and although his power game is raw, it is there...and NHL teams will want it.

NHL Player Comparison: Todd Bertuzzi (now, not-so-much 10 years ago)

The Ryan Rupert Saga

Special Thanks To Bryan Thiel


There’s a saying out there that goes something along the lines of “you can do something right 1,000 times, but still slip up that 1,001st time.”

While the OHL may not have gotten each of the last 1,000 right, they were on a hot streak. But that 1,001st time? Well…it turned a lot of heads.

By now you’ve probably heard that Ryan Rupert of the London Knights received a five-game suspension for his chop to the mid-section of Sault Ste. Marie’s Nick Cousins, an action that sparked a bench-clearing end to their game on November 11th. As the weekend passed, many awaited the discipline that would be handed down to one half of the Rupert twins, and many speculated on the length of the suspension.

There were those out there that didn’t think the incident necessitated anything more than a 10-game ban. Others began with 15, trying to use the recently-handed down Tom Kuhnhackl suspension as a basis for comparison. Along with those two groups, there was the more serious stratosphere, where ideas of suspending Rupert for the bulk of 2011/12 or longer lived.

A majority of the people fell within the last two groups, so you can imagine the outpouring of confusion and ire when it was announced the Rupert would miss five games for his actions. Just five. No more, no less.

In a league where double-digit suspensions have been consistently handed out for dangerous incidents this season marking a step forward in discipline and on-ice awareness, Rupert’s ban is a step backwards. Along with Kuhnhackl, Oshawa’s Christian Thomas was handed a 10-game suspension for a stick-swinging incident against Saginaw. The Spirit’s Josh Shalla was saddled with a ten game ban for a headshot and (ironically on the same day Rupert’s suspension was announced) both Dean Pawlaczyk and Alex O’Neil received 15 and 10 games respectively for head hits. Those are just a few of the more serious suspensions this year.

Along with that, in a multi-media world that’s dictated by video evidence and social networking, the glare on the perceived ‘miss’ intensified when the realization was reached that there was no video explanation from the OHL. Pawlaczyk had one and so did O’Neil, but if you search for a video detailing the events of the incident and the determining criteria in the suspension, you won’t find it.

OHL Commissioner David Branch did release a statement on the discipline handed down and his views on it however.

"We didn't see a baseball-style swing as some accounts had it. We viewed it as more of a chopping action. Illegal use of the stick is something of concern, but he also hit the Soo player in a place on the body that is well-protected."

Branch also took into account that Rupert was reacting to Cousins, who was suspended two games for enticing the Knights player after the final buzzer.

He discounted further discipline for bullying after Rupert threw off his gloves and punched the Greyhound player. "We looked at that, but we didn't see that as the classic case of bullying. He did hit the player, but then realized what he was doing was wrong and stopped." Courtesy: London Free Press, Slash in the Pan

The common factors in each of the suspensions up until Rupert’s were simple, with the suspensions looked upon as a lesson and a punishment rather than just a one or the other. Lessons in how to identify a player in a vulnerable position and not take advantage of him. Lessons in how to think before you act and to try and control your emotions in the heat of battle. Lessons in how to take responsibility for your actions.

If Cousins wasn’t in a vulnerable, unsuspecting position when Rupert struck him across the midsection, then he certainly was when Rupert tossed his gloves aside and jumped atop his back to pummel the crumpled heap lying on the ice. If Rupert had controlled his emotions, the argument of whether Cousins goaded him or not would be moot because this would have never happened. And in terms of Rupert taking responsibility for his actions? He instead skated away relatively free, although he lost the ‘no previous history’ argument in the process if any of this happens again.

The reasoning was there for a longer suspension, and whether you believed he should get eight or 80 games, the recklessness and irresponsibility of Rupert’s decision could hardly be disputed.

And while this has all been about Rupert and his actions, has anyone bothered to ask the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds how they feel about this? If you were to watch one of your players felled by this action and see the offender get five games, what would your reaction be?

Even more than to save it’s face today and tomorrow, a longer suspension would help the OHL going forward. Not just to support the standard they’ve implemented, but to protect Rupert. On the day of the suspension, the next matchup with the Greyhounds is 17-games away. A 5-game ban all but ensures Rupert is in the lineup for that one. While a 17-game suspension wouldn’t save Rupert from the repercussions in future meetings, you can bet that first one between the Soo and London won’t be friendly.

Should a suspension be designed to not only punish but protect? Perhaps. But these days suspensions are also designed to send a message or teach a lesson. And those messages that were delivered crystal clear before are now lost in translation thanks to this.

The 5 Game Dilemma... and other issues

So upon hearing that London Knights forward Ryan Rupert only received 5 games for impersonating a lumber jack, I wanted to do what many people have done. And write my initial reaction to the situation providing complete knee jerk reaction.

Well I decided to fester on the manner before providing my knee jerk reaction.

I think the main problem with Ryan Rupert getting 5 games for his slash and mugging of Soo Greyhounds' Nick Cousins is the fact that a) it was only 5 games and b) Nick Cousins got 2 games for his 'part' in the altercation.

SO lets just look at the first issue here. Only 5 games for a first time offender who freely slashed an opposing player who was 'defenceless' and then proceeded to use his aggression to pounce on the fallen Greyhound and punch him with his bare hands. Mr. David Branch has proved again, as a Yahoo! Sports writer likes to say, 'the only thing consistent about the OHL is its inconsistency.' This season has set the precedents further than before by practically stating, if you attack a player in the head in any way, shape or form, it is 10 games and possibly more. Lets look back at 2 other suspensions that were 20+ games. former OHLers Zack Kassian and Zac Rinaldo both received indefinite suspensions for basically open ice hits that did make contact to the opposition players head. Yes, they were repeat offenders but those were also hockey plays. Ryan Rupert did not openly slash Cousins during a hockey play. The game was over, the buzzer went, and the Greyhounds got onto the ice to celebrate their new goaltender, Jack Campbell, first win as a member of the Soo. So how is this less of a suspension? This shows a great level of 'lack of respect' for your fellow league mates. and again, it was not a hockey play. This is equivalent to the instances where legal action is pursued due to stuff that happens in the confines of the game. Am I saying that legal action should be pursued? no. I believe that if it happens in the sporting world, during a period of time designated as 'playing time' then the law does not apply. That said, there should be a stiffer penalty for Rupert.

Now looking at point b, I have talked to many a media and players in regards to whom Nick Cousins is... needless to say, I am surprised to admit that 80% of these people agreed that if it would happen to a player in the OHL it would be Cousins. Fine, the man has a mouth on him, plays that agitator card and gets under your skin. Sean Avery made a career out of it, Steve Ott is doing the same in Dallas and there are countless others around the world who get paid to be that person. The issue with Cousins is that Branch actually suspended Cousins for 'taunting'? or did he suspended him for being in striking distance of a London Knights players' stick? 2 Games for 'excessive celebration'? I don't know. I am unsure how the victim got penalized 40% of what the attacker received... and he was suspended before the attacker was. Mathematically this makes Rupert's actions only 250% more heinous than Cousins 'taunting' the player. how you can suspend the player who was hit with the slash, and then a few more blows from bare knuckled fists is beyond me... then again it is the OHL... Nothing should surprise me anymore. But thank you David Branch for keeping this guy on his toes.

Oh yeah, here is the consistent part of the OHL. Dean Pawlaczyk and Alex O'Neill each received suspensions for head shots on the same day as Rupert got 5. Pawlaczyk earned a 15 game suspension for being a repeat offended, Dean was already suspended for 10 games earlier this season. If healthy and he does not get another suspension, Pawlaczyk would only play, at best 35 games this season, just over half the season. As for O'Neill, he fell under the head shot equals 10 games minimum theory.

Consistency meets inconsistency... Or maybe, us as media who was declaring that there should be at least 15 game suspension for Rupert are nothing but hungry sharks wanting blood... Nah, lets go with the inconsistency thing. The court of public appeal has spoken. Thank you Mr. Branch for ignoring it entirely.

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