The OHL Weekend Notebook recaps the weekend that was with news, information and interesting facts from both on and off the ice. Here are 10 of the leading stories from this past weekend.
Frontenacs flirting with a playoff spot
Despite winning just two of their first 20 games to start the season, the Kingston Frontenacs are in the playoff conversation.
The Fronts jumped into an eighth place tie with the Niagara IceDogs to close out the weekend, gaining ground with each passing week.
Leading rookie Shane Wright notched his team-leading 35th goal of the season to edge the Oshawa Generals 4-3 in Friday night’s matchup, giving them the push they needed. Wright sits tied for the OHL scoring lead in the month of February, putting up 19 points (10-9–19) over 10 games.
The Niagara IceDogs, who have not seen a win in their last 14 games, were able to nab a point in Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Guelph Storm, tying the Fronts for 40 points on the season. They’ll look to maintain the eighth seed when they take on the leading Ottawa 67’s in Tuesday’s morning match before hitting the road for a trio of Western tilts with Saginaw, Flint and Windsor.
Firebirds’ hot streak comes to an end
The high-flying Flint Firebirds’ winning streak was halted at 15 games this past Saturday as Jacob Ingham shut down 45 of 46 shots in net for a Kitchener Rangers 4-1 road win.
Ty Dellandrea was the lone Flint scorer, netting his 32nd goal of the season on the power play with help from defencemen Riley McCourt and St. Louis Blues prospect Tyler Tucker, whose 11 points in his last four appearances helped earn him recognition as the OHL ‘On The Run’ Player of the Week. Kitchener’s Mike Petizian put up a pair of goals in what would be his Rangers’ third consecutive win.
While they’ve seen the end of one record-setting streak, the ‘Birds will be aiming to keep another alive when they shoot their shot at a 12th straight road win this Wednesday in Sarnia. Flint then returns to the Dort Federal Event Center to begin a four-game home stand.
Storm tracking in right direction
Captain Cam Hillis capped off a comeback win for the Guelph Storm on Sunday afternoon when he scored 2:10 into overtime to help them extend their point streak to its seventh game. The Storm erased a 4-2 deficit, coming back to hand the Niagara IceDogs their 14th straight loss as Daniil Chayka notched the tying goal in the game’s remaining 15 seconds before Hillis, a Montreal Canadiens draftee, finished the job.
The Storm headed into Sunday’s match with a 5-3 victory over the division rival London Knights, putting an end to on of their winning streaks for the second time this month.
Guelph owns a 6-0-1-1 tally over their last seven appearances and seven wins in their last 10.
Generals clinch playoff spot, pile up the points
The Gens skated away from the weekend successfully, also riding a seven-game point streak.
Following a 4-3 loss to Kingston in OT, Oshawa defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-2 in front of a Sportsnet audience before edging the visiting Windsor Spitfires 2-1 with netminder Zachary Paputsakis posting an impressive 38 save performance.
Oshawa’s point streak has helped them climb up the standings where they now sit tied with the Peterborough Petes for second place in the East Division.
The Generals became the third Eastern Conference club to secure a playoff spot on Thursday night.
Western playoff picture taking shape
The Western Conference playoff picture continues to take shape with the top four core of London, Kitchener, Flint and Saginaw securing their place in the postseason.
The Knights were the first to lock down their spot with a Thursday night 4-2 win over the Windsor Spitfires that was preceded by three straight victories. The Kitchener Rangers then held on to defeat the Erie Otters 4-3 Friday, landing them their guaranteed postseason appearance. They’d finish out the weekend back atop the Western Conference on a three-game win streak.
Saginaw’s 6-3 win over the North Bay Battalion, led by captain Damien Giroux’s four-point showing, solidified their playoff ticket. The Spirit picked up five out of a possible six points on the weekend, falling to Barrie in a 6-5 overtime contest before bouncing back with a 10-6 surge over the Sudbury Wolves.
Though their undefeated run was spoiled the day before, Flint’s playoff fate was sealed with the ninth-seeded Soo Greyhounds’ 4-2 loss to the Sarnia Sting on Sunday afternoon.
Perfetti and Rossi reach 100 points
A couple of highly acclaimed NHL Draft prospects became the first OHLers to be welcomed into the CHL’s esteemed century club over the course of their last few games.
Ottawa forward Marco Rossi hit the milestone in Thursday’s matchup with the Soo Greyhounds when he registered an assist on rookie Jack Beck’s fifth goal of the season in a 6-2 loss to the North Bay Battalion. Rossi would go on to add three helpers in his team’s 5-4 overtime win over the Soo Greyhounds the following night to bring his league-leading total to 103 points (33-70—103).
Cole Perfetti earned his way to 100 points in his Saginaw Spirit’s 10-6 win over the Sudbury Wolves. He hit the marker when he connected with Ilya Solovyov for his team’s fourth goal of the game.
Perfetti’s success continued when he put up a goal and an assist to help Saginaw double up on the Battalion 6-3 Sunday afternoon, surpassing the 100-point marker to become the Spirit’s all-time single season points leader, a mark previously set by Jack Combs in 2007-08.
The duo rounds out the top two slots in the OHL scoring race, with Oshawa’s Phil Tomasino next in line with 96 points (39-57—96) to his name.
Boka and Keating join elite club
Captain Luke Boka suited up for his 307th game in a Spits jersey Sunday night, becoming the franchise’s all-time games played leader. The fifth year OHL veteran surpassed John Scott Dickson’s mark of 306 games played between 2000-2005. Boka has accumulated 137 points (60-77—137) over his five seasons.
Ottawa’s Austen Keating was in similar company over the weekend when he became the first 67’s skater to hit the 300-game milestone with an amassed 300 points under his belt. The league veteran headed into the milestone game, a 6-2 loss to the Battalion, with 311 total points to his name. He’d finish out the weekend having banked a total of 314 points (110-204–314) in 302 games over the course of five seasons.
Wolves turn to Bowen, shock 67’s
After a 10-6 drubbing at the hands of the Saginaw Spirit on Friday, the Sudbury Wolves shuffled things up in the crease and turned to 19-year-old David Bowen, a former 13th round pick in 2016, who stepped in for a 26-save shutout in his season debut. What’s more, the win came against the CHL’s top-ranked Ottawa 67’s as the Wolves prevailed 2-0 on home ice, maintaining a two-point cushion on their Central Division lead. Bowen is the son of long-time Toronto Maple Leafs radio voice Joe Bowen, who once did play-by-play for the Wolves.
It will be interesting to see if Bowen gets the nod on Wednesday when the Wolves travel to take on the rival North Bay Battalion.
Sudbury has been without the services of star centreman and leading scorer Quinton Byfield for the past seven games after he suffered an injury on Feb. 7th in Oshawa.
Spitfires and Greyhounds searching for wins
While the team had a milestone to celebrate Sunday night, the Spits would ultimately skate away from their four-game week with losses all around. After falling to the Sarnia Sting on Tuesday, the squad dropped matches against London, Barrie and Oshawa.
The Soo Greyhounds hold a similar experience after they were handed their fourth straight loss on Sunday at the hands of the Sarnia Sting in a 4-2 decision. They played host to the 67’s on Friday where they’d fall 5-4 in a back-and-forth match ultimately decided by Joseph Garreffa’s hat-trick completion in overtime.
Sarnia seeing slice of victory
The flip side of Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie’s adversity saw the Sarnia Sting wrap up their weekend on a high note with a pair of wins. Ryan McGregor nabbed the first hat-trick of his five-year OHL career to push the Sting past the host Spitfires 6-4. Third year skater Brayden Guy had a three-point hand in the victory and went on to score back-to-back goals in Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 win over the Soo Greyhounds.