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Trading Places

It has been a tumultuous week for junior hockey! With the excitement of the World Junior tournament winding down, the rush to the trade deadline in the OHL heats up.

While fans of the OHL may find the flurry of trades great fun, it must be remembered OHL players are teen-agers and a trade means once again moving to an unknown city. A trade also means pressure of adapting to a new living environment as well as the stress of proving one’s worth on the ice to a new coach, team and fan base.

One OHL player eagerly taking on those pressures is newly acquired Niagara Ice Dog Brett Ritchie, previously with the Sarnia Sting. When asked about his arrival to St. Catharines, Ritchie said he “couldn’t be happier, it was one of the teams I really wanted to go to …..I came right from Sarnia and caught practice. It’s been a quick transition, (but) a good group of guys here made me feel welcome.”

Ritchie describes his move to Niagara as a great opportunity to be on “a team that is going to go deep in the play-offs with all of the talent they have up front and in the back-end with Mark Visentin……..we are going to challenge for the Memorial Cup.”

Not only is this a great opportunity hockey-wise for Ritchie but he is looking forward to the off-ice perks of living in the Niagara region. Now closer to his immediate family who live in the Orangeville area, Ritchie has other family members living in Niagara. He is also looking forward to being reunited with minor hockey teammate, Ryan Strome. As well, Ritchie has the advantage of good advice from his father Paul Ritchie an OHL alumnus. The elder Ritchie is familiar with being trading having played for London Knights, Belleville Bulls and Guelph Platers from 1980-83.

On Friday evening while Ritchie laced up for his first game with Niagara, there were two players in the visitor’s room lacing up for perhaps the last time with the Owen Sound Attack. It was the elephant in the room. Many in the arena seemed to know about the imminent trade of two prominent Attack players but the players had not been told. As the twitterverse heated up Saturday morning it became apparent the expected Attack trade had fallen apart because a player involved was not satisfied with the move. The GMs must get back on their phones and work out more details as the clock ticks down to the January 10th trade deadline.

In the last week GMs have made final decisions whether this is the year to go for a Memorial Cup run or the year to continue rebuilding. Fans have enjoyed speculating and debating about moves. Sports bloggers have tried hard to be the first to announce trades. But behind the scenes bags will be packed, good-byes said, schools may be changed (again) and billets will adopt a new family member. This is the world of the OHL.

Dog Bytes:

  • Tom Kuhnhackl completed his 20 game suspension and made his Ice Dog return known by scoring the first goal of the game and being named third star
  • Andrew Agozzino was the sole scorer in the shoot out resulting in the Ice Dogs defeating the Attack 4-3
  • Mark Visentin’s arrival in the arena mid-way through the second period was caught on camera which resulted in a spontaneous standing ovation from the crowd
  • Saturday’s game vs. Sarnia Sting will be the return of Ryan Strome, Freddie Hamilton, Dougie Hamilton and Mark Visentin after winning the bronze medal with Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship
  • The Ice Dogs are 5-2 in the last 7 games without the four Team Canada players
  • Brett Richie’s arrival makes 11 Ice Dogs drafted by NHL teams (Dallas Stars, 2nd round 44th overall)

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