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OHL This Week: Dec. 28, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018

 

The second half of the 2017-18 OHL season is set to get underway. Here’s a look at what’s happening around the league.

OHL AT THE BREAK: MEDIA ASSESSMENTS AND PREDICTIONS:

The first half of the 2017-18 Ontario Hockey League season is in the books and as teams return from the holiday break the stretch drive to playoffs begins. A poll of various media who cover the league in broadcast booths and press boxes weighed in with opinions and comments on some of the players and teams who made the most noise during the first half, and those who will emerge from the pack down the stretch. Read more

20 OHL PLAYERS COMPETING AT 2018 IIHF WORLD JUNIOR HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP:

The Ontario Hockey League is proud to announce that a total of 20 current OHL players are listed on official International Ice Hockey Federation rosters to open the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo, New York. The 20 players includes a representative from eight of the 10 participating countries including Canada who leads the way with eight current OHL players followed by Russia and Slovakia with three each. Thirteen of the OHL’s 20 clubs are represented in the event with the London Knights and Mississauga Steelheads leading the way with three players followed by the Owen Sound Attack, Sarnia Sting and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds with two each. Read more

Canada is off to a 2-0 start at the World Juniors. Catch up on action from Day 1 and Day 2 of the annual tournament.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM AROUND THE ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE:

On behalf of the Ontario Hockey League, staff, players, and all 20 member teams, Merry Christmas! It’s been a busy month across the league with various promotions celebrating the season, charitable initiatives supporting families in our communities, and of course some holiday fun. Here’s a social media recap of the holiday season featuring some Christmas highlights from around the league. Read more

THOUSANDS OF TEDDY BEARS DONATED IN 2017:

Ontario Hockey League fans gave generously again this season donating over 60,000 Teddy Bears in support of various charities in OHL communities serving families and children in need. Watch

OHL AT THE BREAK: 10 FIRST HALF TAKEAWAYS:

The first half of the 2017-18 OHL season has come and gone. Here’s an overview of 10 prominent storylines that emerged between mid-September and the holiday break. Read more

67’s TAKE 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS OUTDOORS:

The Ottawa 67’s hosted the OHL’s first ever outdoor game on Ontario ice as 11,167 took in the CHL’s first ever open-air interleague game between the 67’s and Gatineau Olympiques. Watch

GREYHOUNDS, STING AND BULLDOGS IN CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS:  

Winners of 20 consecutive entering the break, the Soo Greyhounds remain the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League this week while the Sarnia Sting drop three spots to sixth. The Hamilton Bulldogs are up to eighth on this week’s rankings while the Barrie Colts received an honourable mention. Full Rankings

GREYHOUNDS’ MORGAN FROST NAMED OHL ‘ON THE RUN’ PLAYER OF THE WEEK AND CHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week for the week ending December 17 after leading the league with eight points in three games including four goals and four assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-9. Frost wrapped up the first half of the 2017-18 season with three-straight multi-point performances extending his personal point-streak to 11 while helping extend the team’s winning-streak to 20. Read more

COLTS’ AARON LUCHUK SIGNS WITH SENATORS:

The Ottawa Senators have signed Barrie Colts forward Aaron Luchuk to a three-year entry level NHL contract. Luchuk has recorded five points (three goals, two assists) over his first three games with the Barrie Colts after earning 51 points (28 goals, 23 assists) over his first 30 contests of the 2017-18 campaign with the Windsor Spitfires. A native of Kingston, Ont., Luchuk established new major junior career highs in goals (21), assists (32) and points (60), while appearing in each of Windsor’s 68 games in 2016-17. Having only missed one regular-season game for which he’s been eligible over four-plus seasons of his major junior hockey, Luchuk, who ranks second among OHL players in scoring this season, has registered 192 points (96 goals, 96 assists) over 239 career games with Windsor and Barrie. Read more

ERIC UBA COMMITS TO FIREBIRDS:

The Flint Firebirds have received a commitment from 2016 ninth round selection Eric Uba. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound right-winger has notched 21 points (8G, 13A) in 37 games with the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) this season. Prior to playing with Wellington, Uba amassed 62 points (28G, 34A) in 40 games with the Ayr Centennials (PJCHL). He played his AAA youth hockey with the Kitchener Jr. Rangers, racking up 42 points (17G, 25A) in 33 games. Read more

ATTACK’S LYSZCZARCZYK NAMED TOP FORWARD AT U20 DIVISION 1 GROUP B WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP:

Owen Sound Attack forward Alan Lyszczarczyk was named Top Forward of the 2018 IIHF Division 1 Group B World Championship in Slovenia, leading Poland to a second place finish. The 19-year-old led all players in scoring with 15 points including eight goals, seven assists and a plus-8 rating over five games. Read more

WAWANESA OHL PLAYS OF THE WEEK:

The 13th edition of the Wawanesa OHL Plays of the Week for the 2017-18 season feature another collection of the league’s Top-5 goals scored in the week ending December 17. This week’s highlights include a trio of individual efforts by Marian Studenic of the Hamilton Bulldogs with some sneaky moves in close, Brady Gilmour of the Saginaw Spirit who dances his way to a goal, and Cole Purboo of the Windsor Spitfires who bats one out of mid air.  Also included is a give-and-go between Soo Greyhounds Noah Carroll and Morgan Frost, and a shorthanded behind-the-back pass by Cliff Pu setting up an even better between-the-legs finish by Sam Miletic of the London Knights. Watch

VOTE SAM MILETIC IN #CIBCSHOWDOWN:

London Knights forward Sam Miletic not only headlines the Wawanesa OHL Plays of the Week, but is also the OHL representative featured in this week’s #CIBCShowdown which showcases one great play from all three leagues allowing fans the opportunity to choose their favourite play. See all the plays and vote at chlshowdown.ca.

OHL NETMINDERS DENY SHOOTERS IN JANES SAVES OF THE WEEK:

The holidays are a time for giving but in this edition of #JanesSaves it’s OHL goaltenders who take away goals as the first half of the 2017-18 season wraps up. This week features Jeremy Helvig of the Kingston Frontenacs, Kaden Fulcher of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Anand Oberoi of the Erie Otters, Hunter Jones of the Peterborough Petes, Mack Guzda of the Owen Sound Attack, Emanuel Vella of the Mississauga Steelheads, Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Garrett Forrest of the Flint Firebirds, Christian Propp of the North Bay Battalion, and Olivier Tremblay of the Ottawa 67’s. Watch

FOUR PLAYERS FEATURED IN OHL MILESTONE MOMENTS THIS WEEK:

Anand Oberoi (Erie Otters) earned his first career OHL shutout while Shane Collins (London Knights), Luke Drewitt (Kingston Frontenacs) and Kurtis Evans (North Bay Battalion) all scored their first OHL goal in the latest edition of OHL Milestone Moments. Watch

OHL CUP POWERED BY UNDER ARMOUR TOP 10 RANKINGS RELEASED:

The sixth edition of the weekly rankings sees the Vaughan Kings leapfrog the Mississauga Reps to take possession of third on the list thanks to a pair of recent victories. The Niagara North Stars rise one spot to number seven and Detroit Little Caesars climbs into the eighth spot while the Cambridge Hawks fall two slots to ninth. The Guelph Gryphons are back in the honourable mention category.  This week’s list comes in advance of the Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic which features 56 minor midget teams from across Ontario and the United States competing December 27-30 and includes all teams in this week’s rankings. Full Rankings

OHL GRAD NATHAN MARTINE FEATURED ON MASTERCARD JUNIOR HOCKEY MAGAZINE:

OHL graduate Nathan Martine is featured on the latest segment of ‘CHL Leaders’ on Mastercard Junior Hockey Magazine with Gino Reda. Now a business development specialist with Canon, Martine played parts of five seasons in the OHL from 2004-09, suiting up with Barrie, Mississauga, London and Guelph. Listen

CHL SATURDAY SHOWCASE FEATURES MOOSE JAW AT BRANDON:

Sportsnet features two clubs in the CHL Top 10 Rankings going head-to-head as the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors visit the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday at 3:30pm ET. The 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup Tour will be in Brandon this weekend as well. Catch all the action with RJ Broadhead and Sam Cosentino on Sportsnet.

 

COMMUNITY CORNER:

Colts team up with local minor hockey teams in Coach4Food Program: The Barrie Colts and the Barrie Food Bank are proud to announce another successful year of the Coach4Food Program with 47,980 pounds of food raised with the help of 17 local hockey teams. This being the fourth year of the program, it has now collected an incredible 117,980 pounds of food. The top team for 2017 was the Minor Atom AAA team and Bessie Protpapas who brought in 13,954 pounds of food alone. That team has won the chance to practice with the Barrie Colts along with their coaching staff this season. Full details at barriecolts.com.

Sting venue getting big upgrades: The Sarnia Sting are placing a significant investment into the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in hopes of enhancing the experience fans receive when attending Sarnia Sting home games. Installation of a new high-definition score clock and LED fascia ribbon began on Monday December 18th, new assets that are expected to be operational when the club returns to action on home ice against the Windsor Spitfires on Thursday. For more details visit sarniasting.com.

Storm jersey auctions raise funds for local Legion, Guelph Giants: The Guelph Storm have made a pair of charitable donations this past week as a result of recent special theme jersey nights. The Storm first raised $1,700 for the Guelph Giants Special Needs Hockey Club through their 8th annual benefit game. The game featured Storm graduate and former long-time NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi. Additionally, the Storm made a donation of over $9,000 to local Royal Canadian Legion branches through the club’s Vimy Ridge jersey auction. Get full details at guelphstorm.com.

Spirit host Superhero Hockey Night on Thursday: The Saginaw Spirit will host their 2nd annual Super Hero Night in support of the CAN Council of the Great Lakes Bay Region. The Spirit have a fun night planned for the whole family with special guest, Spiderman in attendance. The first 1,500 kids through the doors will receive a free super hero cape and fans dressed as their favorite super hero will be invited to participate in an on ice parade.

67’s celebrate 50th birthday on Friday: The Ottawa 67’s square off with the Oshawa Generals on Friday, marking 50 years to the day that they played their first ever game on December 29, 1967. Revisit the franchise’s rich past on Friday in the nation’s capital!

Bulldogs host Star Wars Night on Saturday: The Hamilton Bulldogs look to summon the force on Saturday night, holding Star Wars Night at FirstOntario Centre. Dress up as your favourite character as the Bulldogs take on the Kingston Frontenacs.

Spirit hold 2,000,000th fan celebration on Saturday: The Saginaw Spirit will set a Saginaw sports attendance record on Saturday when they play host to the Flint Firebirds. The Spirit will surpass attendance records set by all former Saginaw professional sports teams to become the most attended sporting event in the 127-year history of the city of Saginaw. Everyone who purchases a ticket receives an envelope when they enter The Dow Event Center. In that envelope will be a prize or coupon. Read more at saginawspirit.com.

 

ALUMNI NOTES:

OHL mourns the loss of Matthew Leszczynski: The OHL mourns the loss of alumnus Matthew Leszczynski who passed away at the age of 30 on December 17th. Originally from New Liskeard, Ont., Leszczynski had been residing in Oro-Medonte, Ont. A former right-winger chosen by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the second round of the 2003 OHL Priority Selection, Leszczynski played parts of two seasons with the Hounds from 2003-05. Matthew is survived by his parents Nancy and Peter of Oro-Medonte, his sister Amy Leszczynski (Corey Hastings) of Barrie, Maternal grandparents Eveline and Jim Rainville of Sturgeon Falls and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins as well as his favorite nephew Tristan MacIver. Full details on funeral arrangements can be found at adamsfuneralhome.ca.

Little becomes Jets franchise games played leader: Barrie Colts graduate Bryan Little became the new games played leader in Winnipeg Jets franchise history on Wednesday, scoring a goal in his club’s 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Little’s 710 career NHL regular season contests have all come with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets dating back to 2007. The Cambridge, Ont. native has 22 points (6-16–22) in 38 games this season. The 30-year-old played four seasons with the Barrie Colts from 2003-07, graduating as the club’s all-time leading scorer with 342 points (153-189–342) over 247 games. The OHL Rookie of the Year in 2004, Little also won a gold medal with Canada at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

Brown plays 1000th NHL game: Guelph Storm grad Dustin Brown played in his 1000th career NHL contest on Thursday, scoring the overtime winner in a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche. The 33-year-old native of Ithaca, New York is in the midst of his 14th NHL season in a career spent entirely with the Kings organization. Brown was a first round pick by the club in the 2003 NHL Draft. The former three-time Bobby Smith Trophy recipient as the OHL’s Academic Player of the Year spent three seasons with the Storm from 2000-03, recording 194 points (98-96–194) over 174 games. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings in 2012 and 2014.

5 OHL grads representing Canada at Spengler Cup: With a three-peat on the line and a final opportunity for player evaluations before the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the 2017 Spengler Cup holds a new meaning for the 20 players selected to wear the red-and-white. Five of those 20 players are OHL graduates in Matt D’Agostini (Guelph Storm), Chris Kelly (Sudbury Wolves), Jay McClement (Brampton Battalion), Will Petschenig (Saginaw Spirit) and Christian Thomas (Oshawa Generals). This year’s tournament is also being used by Hockey Canada as one of the last opportunities for the organization’s Canada’s National Men’s Team management and coaching staff. Follow along with the tournament at hockeycanada.ca.

Spinozzi signs AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Sarnia Sting graduate Kevin Spinozzi has signed an AHL contract with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. The 21-year-old has suited up in seven games this season following a five year OHL career spent between Sault Ste. Marie and Sarnia from 2012-17. The Kingston, Ont. native graduated as the captain of the Sarnia Sting last season, collecting 113 points (28-85–113) over his 275-game OHL career.

Ward wears U SPORTS, UPEI pride on his sleeve: A former 15th round success story with the Owen Sound Attack, Joel Ward’s story of perseverance continued at the University of Prince Edward Island where the now-NHL winger honed his craft for four seasons before earning a contract with the Minnesota Wild organization in 2005. The San Jose Sharks winger reflects on his journey to the NHL and recalls fond memories of his time playing U SPORTS Men’s Hockey in PEI. Ward played four seasons in Owen Sound from 1997-2001. Read more at USPORTS.ca.

 

KEY MATCHUPS:

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (29-3-2-0) vs. Saginaw Spirit (17-12-3-0)
Thursday December 28th at Saginaw

Just the fourth team in OHL history to own a winning streak of 20 games or more, the Soo Greyhounds look to continue their run of dominance on Thursday night in Saginaw.

All 20 OHL clubs will be in action on Thursday with a West Division clash between the Greyhounds and Spirit taking centre stage.

The Hounds remain without the services of standouts Boris Katchouk and Conor Timmins currently competing with Canada at the World Juniors. Reigning OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week Morgan Frost enters play on an 11-game point streak.

The Saginaw Spirit have been red hot since November 1st, playing to a 14-4-1-0 mark since then. Draft eligible centreman Blade Jenkins has turned heads while veteran addition Mason Kohn has paid big dividends in a Spirit uniform.

Sarnia Sting (25-8-2-0) vs. London Knights (18-14-2-0)
Sunday December 31st at London / Monday January 1st at Sarnia

The Sarnia Sting and London Knights continue their long-standing tradition of ringing in the new year together.

The 402 rivals will play a home-and-home set, ending 2017 in London before opening 2018 in Sarnia.

The Knights enter the weekend with wins in seven of their last 10 games. They’ll turn to production from Cliff Pu, Sam Miletic and 2018 NHL Draft prospect Evan Bouchard on the blue line as standout forwards Max Jones, Alex Formenton and Robert Thomas are off at the World Juniors in Buffalo.

The Sting are also short bodies up front as OHL scoring leader Jordan Kyrou and Slovakian centreman Adam Ruzicka are competing at the World Juniors. Los Angeles Kings prospect Drake Rymsha and veteran forward Jordan Ernst take on bigger roles up front.

 

SCHEDULE:

Thursday December 28:
London at Flint – 7:00pm
Peterborough at Guelph – 7:00pm
Mississauga at Hamilton – 7:00pm
Ottawa at Kingston – 7:00pm
Niagara at North Bay – 7:00pm
Kitchener at Owen Sound – 7:00pm
Erie at Oshawa – 7:05pm
Sault Ste. Marie at Saginaw – 7:05pm
Windsor at Sarnia – 7:05pm
Sudbury at Barrie – 7:30pm

Friday December 29:
Windsor at Mississauga – 7:00pm
Oshawa at Ottawa – 7:00pm
Niagara at Sudbury – 7:05pm
Flint at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07pm
Erie at Kitchener – 7:30pm

Saturday December 30:
*Moose Jaw at Brandon – 3:30pm (Sportsnet CHL Saturday Showcase)
Kingston at Hamilton – 4:00pm
Ottawa at Peterborough – 7:05pm
Flint at Saginaw – 7:05pm
Guelph at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07pm
Barrie at Owen Sound – 7:30pm

Sunday December 31:
Mississauga at North Bay – 1:00pm
Saginaw at Windsor – 1:05pm
Guelph at Sudbury – 2:00pm
London at Sarnia – 2:05pm
Hamilton at Niagara – 6:00pm
Kingston at Erie – 6:30pm
Owen Sound at Barrie – 7:30pm

Monday January 1:
North Bay at Oshawa – 2:05pm
Kitchener at Peterborough – 2:05pm
Sarnia at London – 4:00pm

Be sure to catch all of this weekend’s action at ohllive.com.

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