After losing their top three scorers to graduation, the Peterborough Petes look to forge a new offensive identity in the Liftlock City.
Replacing 110 goals from three big-time producers is no small task, but the Peterborough Petes embark on the 2016-17 season looking to stay competitive in the East Division.
With long-time veterans Eric Cornel, Greg Betzold and Hunter Garlent out of the picture, the maroon and white turn to a returning cast of forwards led by Florida Panthers draftee Jonathan Ang to fill the void.
“He’s got a tremendous skill set and he’s one of the fastest players in the OHL,” said Petes general manager Mike Oke. “Combining his skill and speed, we think Jonathan can be a threat every time he’s on the ice and help lead our offence into this new season.”
With Russian dynamos Pavel Gogolev and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev joining sophomores C.J. Clarke and Zach Gallant in the ranks of looking to develop into Petes producers of the future, a supporting cast including Steven Lorentz, Logan DeNoble and Adam Timleck will be counted on to help bridge the offensive gap this season.
The Petes face a unique situation regarding import players out of training camp. Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jonne Tammela, Peterborough’s first round (15th overall) selection in 2015, attended training camp along with 2016 picks Matyas Svoboda and Igor Martynov. Only two out of the three can begin the season in Peterborough.
Tammela will attend training camp with the Lightning, but while the Petes await his fate, they’re pleased with the training camp performances of both Svoboda and Martynov.
“We’re really at a wait and see here,” Oke said of the situation. “Tammela, should he be here, would be a big addition to our offence, but we’ve liked what we’ve seen from both Svoboda and Martynov to this point.”
The Peterborough blue line only loses one key piece from last season in Tampa Bay prospect Dominik Masin. Returning to carry the load are overage rearguards Kyle Jenkins and Brandon Prophet along with Lightning second rounder Matt Spencer.
“Both Kyle and Brandon bring a valuable level of strength and experience to our defence. They, along with Matt will be provided with lots of opportunity this season as they join Matt Timms, Nick Grima, Cole Fraser and Declan Chisholm.”
Spencer, a former third overall pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection, enters his fourth season in the league. He’ll see minutes in all situations for Peterborough.
“Matt is a guy we’ll be counting on,” said Oke. “He’s shown that he’s made strides in each of his seasons here and we certainly expect him to be a key guy on the back end. We know Tampa thinks very highly of him so we’re looking for him to be a quality guy in all three zones.”
While the Petes will look to establish themselves offensively in the early going, they’ll be counting on third year goaltender Dylan Wells to take the ball after being selected by the Edmonton Oilers this past summer.
A deal that saw overager Matthew Mancina sent to Mississauga has cleared the way for Wells to be the number one guy with the Petes.
“He’s a big goalie who has enjoyed some success in his career to this point,” said Oke of the former second round pick. “He had his ups and downs last year, but there were a number of nights where he really kept us in games and gave us a chance to win. He has a fair amount of international experience having won gold at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and we’re confident that he’s ready for the majority of our starts this season.”
Having missed the playoffs three years in a row from 2011-13, the Petes organization has come back to make three straight trips to the post-season. Oke is confident that the club is headed in the right direction.
“We’re returning a lot of players from last season. We may be a little bit younger, but we’re really excited about the young players we’ve added to the depth chart. We’re hopeful that some of our returning guys will make strides and that collectively, as a group we’ll continue to compete in the Eastern Conference.”
2015-16 Record: 33-28-2-5 (3rd East Division)
Head Coach: Jody Hull (5th season)
Key additions: Jonne Tammela, Matyas Svoboda, Igor Martynov, Pavel Gogolev, Declan Chisholm, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
Notable graduates: Eric Cornel, Hunter Garlent, Greg Betzold, Dominik Masin, Daniel Nikandrov, Josh Maguire
Leading scorer: Jonathan Ang* (68 GP, 21-28–49)
Leading scorer (defencemen): Kyle Jenkins* (62 GP, 8-32–40)
Leading scorer (rookie): Nick Grima (45 GP, 2-8–10)
Leading goaltender: Dylan Wells* (27 GP, 9-13-1-2, 4.59 GAA, .871 SV%)
Fast Fact: Peterborough’s 240 goals for last season were the most scored by the club since the 2005-06 season (269)
#OHLOpeningWeek schedule: Thurs. Sept. 22 vs. OTT (7:05pm)
* – among returning players
ontariohockeyleague.com will feature one team each day in advance of the 2016-17 season which begins Wednesday September 21.
Read more OHL 20 in 20 previews:
East Division: Hamilton Bulldogs, Oshawa Generals
Central Division: Sudbury Wolves, Mississauga Steelheads
Midwest Division: Guelph Storm
West Division: Saginaw Spirit