OHL Round Up: Closing Out 2016.

By Ryan Noble (@ryannoble66) of A Very Barrie Colts Blog

Guess who’s back. Back again. The OHL is back from the Christmas break and for the most part it was business as usual around the O. As we head into 2017 we take a quick moment to look at how the final week around the league played out.

The Hot 3

Okay, so not the team you probably expected to see but it is a new year so let’s start the hot 3 with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Remember a week ago, when they started at the bottom of the East Division? Well, now they are here… You know, 3rd in the East. Good, right?

This climb in the standings may have happened quickly, but not easily. They had a home and home against the Erie Otters and had to close the week against the hot Peterborough Petes. First, they took a 5-3 win over the Otters and then managed to take a 2-1 shootout win.

The first game saw Adam Laishram score a pair of goals and add an assist to complete his first star of the game performance. Brandon Saigeon also had a strong game for the Bulldogs scoring a goal and adding 2 helpers. He also did a solid job of generating pucks on goal with 8 shots total. The second game saw Strome with the lone goal which was enough to get the team to extra periods, and then the shootout to claim the win, and sweeping the home and home series.

Not much can top a home and home series win with the Otters. Well, not unless you play dragon slayer. To top off a great week, the Bulldogs ended the Peterborough Petes 10 game winning streak. Over that time, Peterborough has gone from being a struggling team to one that topped our last Top 3 post. Which is, as you know, why these kids play in the OHL… Right?

Peterborough scored first but Connor Roberts and Matt Luff scored late in the 1st to take the lead. The Petes came out strong in the 2nd period and managed to take the lead with a pair of goals but the 3rd was all Hamilton. MacKenzie Entwistle tied the game and the team would put up 3 goals in about 7 minutes. Matthew Strom scored, Matt Luff got the insurance goal and second of the night, while Will Bitten took the final bite (drum roll) to end the streak. Hamilton got the 6-3 win.

The 3 wins started their own winning streak. These wins could be the start of something. Remember when Peterborough managed to win a few games straight?

So many hot teams right now in the OHL but it would be silly not to include the Owen Sound Attack.  In probably the toughest division in the league and they have been so a lot more competitive than anyone thought they would be. Currently riding a 7-game win streak, the team has looked outstanding and do not seem to be slowing down at all.

They started the weekend with a 3-0 win over North Bay. Michael McNiven earned the shutout stopping all 23 shots faced. The team generated 45 shots on goal and dominated the faceoff circle winning 39 of 58 faceoffs. Jonah Gadjovich had a strong night putting up a pair of goals while Ethan Szypula put up the third. The team enjoyed getting a 3-0 shootout so much that they did it again the following night against the Kitchener Rangers. Michael McNiven earned another shootout stopping 28 shots. Schmalz, Hancock and Gadjovich scored the goals for the Attack.

The team closed the weekend with a 5-1 win over the Barrie Colts. Hancock and Campbell both got a pair of goals and Suzuki scored the other. Michael McNiven looked to get his 3rd straight shutout but Lucas Chiodo managed to snap his shootout streak. He finished the night with 22 total saves. The win was the teams 7th straight and has them with an 8-2-0-0 record over the last 10 games. With some home games coming up on the schedule you can’t help but wonder how long this winning streak could continue.

The London Knights are on a 4-game win streak. The team beat the Oshawa Generals 5-3 and then went on to win a home and home series with Sarnia – over the 2 games, they outscored the Sting 9-4. In the final game for them this weekend, former Barrie Colts forward Adrian Carbonara earned the first star of the game putting up a goal and an assist while generating 6 shots on goal. Owen MacDonald put up a goal and an assist while Evan Bouchard put up a pair of assists and ended the night a +4. Tyler Johnson saved 29 shots on 32 faced shots. London is currently riding a 7-2-0-1 record over their last 10 games.

Honourable mention to the Peterborough Petes. Despite their loss, the team won 10 straight games. Not only are they doing work on the ice but the also made a trade with the hopes of strengthening the team.  The team picked up forward Nikita Korostelev and defenceman Alex Black from the Sarnia Sting for defenceman Nick Grima and picks.

The Greyhounds also deserve to make this section earning points in each of their last 7 games (6-0-1-0) as they continue to be the best in the west (division).

The Guelph Storm have also been playing well over the last few games picking up points in their last 4 straight games. Winning over Kitchener, Sarnia and Sudbury while pushing the Soo to the edge before falling in the shootout. Before the current streak, the team lost 7 of the 10 games before. Is this a sign of the team turning things around?

 

Not Hot

The Barrie Colts and Niagara IceDogs continue to fight over who is worst in the league and right now the Colts are winning! Or losing? They are defiantly losing. They have lost 3 games straight and have only earned 5 points over their last 10 games played. The team also traded blueliner Matt Brassard this past week for some picks. He has only been one of their top young guys who has really stepped up. The team however, did pick up some good picks which they desperately need.

North Bay has also been bad. Over the last 7 games they have got 1 point in an OT loss. They are lucky to be in the Central Division which is loaded with bad teams this season. Steelheads and Wolves are the only teams with winning records in the division. North Bay, Niagara and Barrie have lost 12 games straight combined. Maybe we can just add the entire division to this part of the post?

It’s Trade Season

We are getting near the OHL trade deadline, and since the trade freeze was lifted this past week, the league has already seen two fairly significant deals.

The Peterborough Petes were the first team to make a big splash. On Saturday, the Petes swung a deal for talented forward Nikita Korostelev. At first glance, the trade looks like a drastic overpayment by Peterborough, but the deal makes sense for a team that has to beef up. The Petes absolutely have to make some noise in the playoffs this season and with how weak their conference is, a couple key pieces like Korostelev could go a long way.

Earlier in the week, the conference leading Oshawa Generals swung a far less flash, but equally impactful trade. Oshawa acquired underrated defenseman Matthew Brassard from the Barrie Colts. The 18-year old defender is a shot-generating machine. He currently sits fourth among OHL bluliners in shots per game and the move to Oshawa could be huge for his development as a player. The Generals lead the league in goals from defensemen and the addition of Brassard will only add to that. The trade also gives the Generals a young shot-generating defender for when All-Star Mitch Vande Somple moves on – whether that be at the trade deadline or in the offseason.

Sudbury and Hamilton made quieter depth deals as playoff teams begin to position themselves for the stretch run. With a trade freeze still in effect for players at the World Junior championship – and rumours about big names like Cirelli and Bracco swirling – the next ten days will be very interesting around the OHL.

 

 

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