A 17-game #OHLOpeningWeek is in the books and hockey is here to stay!
Here’s a look at some of the top storylines and peak performers from a busy week around the Ontario Hockey League.
SAIGEON LEADS THE WAY ON #OHLOPENINGWEEK:
Many wondered if Brandon Saigeon would be back in a Hamilton Bulldogs jersey this season. The fifth round pick of the Colorado Avalanche this past summer had a strong pre-season with the big club, but was ultimately sent back to Steeltown where he promptly led the OHL in scoring this past weekend with seven points (2-5–7) in two contests. Saigeon was in on all five goals in Hamilton’s season-opening loss in North Bay, recording a new career high with two goals and three assists. The 20-year-old put up 70 points (35-35–70) in Hamilton last season and it appears the sky is the limit in his fifth OHL campaign as he works alongside returning teammates MacKenzie Entwistle and Matthew Strome.
SPIRIT’S PERFETTI SCORES FIRST GOAL OF 2018-19:
Saginaw Spirit rookie Cole Perfetti came up with the first goal of the 2018-19 CHL season. The fifth overall pick of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection was an offensive producer in back-to-back Minor Midget seasons with the Whitby Wildcats and Vaughan Kings, putting up 125 points (52-73–125) last season. The goal was Perfetti’s first of two on the game, giving Spirit fans plenty to look forward to well into the future. He follows Cody Payne as the first Spirit player to score a pair to start the season since 2013. While Perfetti’s strong start is good news for Spirit fans, they also learned of the loss of captain Keaton Middleton this past weekend after he signed an AHL contract with the San Jose Barracuda, the top affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
BYFIELD CALMS THE STORM:
First overall OHL selection Quinton Byfield burst onto the scene in his league debut, scoring a big insurance goal to help the Sudbury Wolves defeat the Guelph Storm 4-2 on the road. Byfield buried a breakaway backhander, fending off two backchecking Storm players to outwait Anthony Popovich with 4:26 left in the third period. Byfield had a goal and an assist on the night, giving OHL fans a glimpse of just what he’s capable of. The 6-foot-5, 214Ib. centreman won an OMHA Championship with the York-Simcoe Express Minor Midgets last season and attended Canada’s National Under-17 Team Development Camp this past summer.
PETES START HOT, JONES COLLECTS NEW SEASON’S FIRST SHUTOUT:
The Peterborough Petes are the first OHL club to hit 2-0 in 2018-19. A memorable #OHLOpeningWeek saw the club open the campaign with a 4-0 blanking of the Kingston Frontenacs in their home opener on Thursday before travelling to Ottawa on Sunday for a 7-3 triumph. Sophomore netminder Hunter Jones stopped all 38 shots he faced in the opener to record his first OHL shutout on the eve of his 18th birthday. Offensively, Nick Isaacson started what he hopes is a bounce-back season from injury with three goals in two contests. Overage centreman Chris Paquette netted his second OHL hat-trick on Sunday, becoming the first Petes player to score two shorthanded goals in one game since Eric Staal back in 2002. The Petes were all smiles on the weekend despite surrendering a league-high 13 power play opportunities, killing off 12 successfully.
OTTERS MAKE STATEMENT IN FIRST-EVER SEASON OPENER AT HOME:
It’s hard to believe, but the Erie Otters opened the season on home ice for the first time in their 23-year OHL history, and oh, how they did. The Otters lit the lamp 12 times in a 12-1 win over the Flint Firebirds, with overage captain Kyle Maksimovich recording his first ever OHL hat-trick to start his fifth year in the league. Erie scored eight times in the third period, becoming the first OHL club since 2010 to do so in a single frame. Gera Poddubnyi (2-2–4) and Christian Girhiny (0-4–4) joined Maksimovich with four points on the night while 2017 first round pick Emmett Sproule (2-1–3) scored twice. Highly touted fourth overall pick Jamie Drysdale had a pair of assists in his OHL debut.
COLTS SKATE TO SECOND STRAIGHT BLOWOUT WIN IN OPENER:
For the second straight year, the Barrie Colts put up a crooked number on Opening Night at the stables. The Colts followed last year’s 11-2 rout of the Ottawa 67’s with a 9-2 victory over the Owen Sound Attack on Thursday. Buffalo Sabres prospect Matej Pekar was the star of the show in his OHL debut, scoring twice while adding an assist while 2017 OHL first overall pick Ryan Suzuki (1-2–3) and St. Louis Blues prospect Tyler Tucker (1-2–3) also notched three points. Fifteen of Barrie’s 18 skaters recorded a point in the win while Vegas Golden Knights prospect Maksim Zhukov made 35 saves in his first OHL action.
CUYLLE, FOUDY MAKE INSTANT IMPACT:
#OHLOpeningWeek was a mixed bag for the Windsor Spitfires, but the play of promising youngsters Will Cuylle and Jean-Luc Foudy had to inspire some confidence. Cuylle wasted little time getting on the board, tying Thursday’s home opener at three with the Guelph Storm with just under seven minutes left in the third period. Foudy set up the overtime winner 2:03 into the extra frame when he found Luke Kutkevicius off the rush for a 4-3 win. The Spits dropped a Friday night contest in London by a score of 5-2, but the continued development of top young talent is sure to keep the fans and scouts coming back to the WFCU Centre.
PERREAULT A STAR ON THE RISE IN SARNIA:
Steven Stamkos was the last Sarnia Sting rookie to score twice in his debut, but now he’s got company. Jacob Perreault, the son of long-time NHL forward Yanic Perreault, found the back of the net twice in Sarnia’s season-opening 6-2 win over the Saginaw Spirit on Saturday. The 19th overall pick of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Perreault joins the Sting from the Chicago Mission AAA program where he led the HPHL’s U16 circuit in scoring last season. Though the Sting lost OHL Player of the Year Jordan Kyrou (St. Louis) to graduation, there’s plenty to like for the future with the addition of Perreault as well as the emergence of Hlinka Gretzky Cup standout Jamieson Rees.
ROBERTSON GOES RIGHT BACK TO SCORING:
Entering the season as one of the league’s premier goal-scorers, Jason Robertson lived up to that billing in the Kingston Frontenacs’ home opener on Friday. Robertson, who is eyeing a third straight 40+ goal season, got things going in the right direction with his fifth career hat-trick as the Fronts defeated the Oshawa Generals 5-2. Robertson enters the 2018-19 season as one of eight players to score 100 or more career goals in a Frontenacs uniform and is well within reach of Nathan Moon‘s Frontenacs record 139 markers scored between 2006-11.
ICEDOGS’ THOMAS OPENS WITH 5-POINT EFFORT:
A second round pick by the Los Angeles Kings this past summer, Akil Thomas has blossomed into one of the league’s top playmakers and continued dishing out assists on #OHLOpeningWeek. Thomas had a goal and four assists, matching a career-high five points in Niagara’s season-opening 8-6 win over Mississauga on Sunday. Thomas, who had 59 assists last season, skated on a line alongside newly acquired teammate Ivan Lodnia and 2017 first round selection Philip Tomasino, winning 11 of 18 faceoffs in the process.