Five Ontario Hockey League games to mark on your calender

OHL_NTIH5751As the Ontario Hockey League training camps get underway this week, it’s a good time to make a list of five important games in the first half of the season to check out. It’s going to be a strong and competitive year this season with most teams icing a high calibre of young talent.

1. Friday, October 11th. Peterborough Petes at North Bay Battalion

Brampton_BattalionIn a historic night for North Bay, the Battalion make there first home appearance after being moved from Brampton. Their home arena is currently being renovated and won’t be ready until puck drop on October 11th. This keeps them on the road from September 20th to October 6th. It will be their first meet up with the Petes.

2. Sunday, October 13th. Guelph Storm at Kingston Frontenacs

163px-Guelph_Storm_Logo.svgArguably two of the strongest teams in the Ontario Hockey League this year, this game will be a barn burner. Guelph has 11 players who have attended NHL training camps and that experience will definitely play a part this year. Kingston on the other hand have 3 skills Team Canada veterans (amazing to say their Team Canada veterans already at this age) and have had plenty of international hockey experience to add to their roster. Look out for both of these teams through out the season.

3. Friday, November 8th. Barrie Colts at London Knights

mast-logoIn there first meeting since last year’s J. Ross Robertson Cup final, the Barrie Colts will be looking for some retaliation on the London Knights. Redemption won’t come easy however as the Knights will be looking for a three-peat this year as champions. In 2012 they made it all the way to the Memorial Cup finals but lost to the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes.

4. Sunday December 29th. Belleville Bulls at Kingston Frontenacs

fronts-logoThe 3rd installment of this years Battle of Highway 401 continues. I’ve already mentioned the key players on the Frontenacs but both teams will have plenty of fire power. Looking at the talent that is just showing up for the Bulls training camp, Belleville is going to be coming out of the gates firing this year.

5. Sunday, December 29th. Ottawa 67’s at Oshawa Generals

Ottawa67sCan’t write a list of must watch games without mentioning both the Ottawa 67’s and Oshawa Generals. Although Ottawa is in a bit of rebuilding mode, they are not a team to be taken lightly and neither are the Generals. Both training camp rosters are stacked with young talent, some of the best in years. No doubt this is a match watch game as we close out the first half of the OHL season.

Guelph Storm oozes NHL Talent

163px-Guelph_Storm_Logo.svgThe Guelph Storm announced today that they had to cancel their exhibition game that was supposed to take place on September 6th against the Mississauga Steelheads. The reason may intrigue you.

The Storm can’t ice a team as they have 11 players reporting to various National Hockey League training camps. 8 of those players were draftees (between the 2012 and 2013 draft) and are returning to the squad this season along with 3 forwards who were invited to camps as free agents.

The 2012 draftee class included Matt Finn, who will report to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brock McGinn, who will report to the Carolina Hurricanes are spending some time with their AHL affiliate the Charlotte Checkers,  Scott Kosmachuk, who will report to the Winnipeg Jets and Tanner Richard who will report to the Tampa Bay Lightning and unfortunately will not return to the Storm as he has signed on with the organization. The other three will return to Guelph for another season.

Tyler Bertuzzi. (Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Tyler Bertuzzi. (Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The 2013 draftee class included Jason Dickinson who will report to the Dallas Stars, Tyler Bertuzzi who will report to the Detroit Red Wings, Ben Harpur who will report to the Ottawa Senators, and  Justin Auger and Zac Leslie who will both be headed to the west coast with the Los Angeles Kings. All five will be back on the Storm’s roster.

The final three who were invited to camps as free agents are Ryan Horvat who will report to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and Hunter Garlent  and Zack Mitchell who both will join Soo Greyhound Sergey Tolchinsky with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Guelph Storm has a history of developing strong players over the years. Notable Storm alumni include Drew Doughty, Craig Anderson, Ryan Callahan, Todd Bertuzzi, Cam Janssen and Dustin Brown just to name a few.

With this kind of young talent calibre on hand, the rest of the Midwest division better get out their rain coats and be ready for a wild Storm this upcoming OHL season.

Kingston Frontenacs acquire Corey Pawley from London Knights

(Photo: kingstonfrontenacs.com)
(Photo: kingstonfrontenacs.com)

The Kingston Frontenacs are not fooling around this season. General Manager Doug Gilmour announced today that the team has acquired intense forward Corey Pawley from the London Knights. In return the Knights will pick up the Frontenacs fourth round selection at the 2015 OHL Priority Selection draft.

The 18 year old Sarnia native suited up for 27 games with the Knights last season and earned himself 7 points with 3 goals and 4 assists. The low point score doesn’t phase Gilmour however. According to the Frontenacs media release, Gilmour is thrilled.  “Corey plays with a lot of intensity in his game,” said Gilmour. “He’s competitive, with a lot of speed, and an offensively creative player. We’re excited to add him to our roster and can’t wait to see him at Training Camp.”

Ikonen. (Photo credit: OHL Images)
Ikonen. (Photo credit: OHL Images)

The Frontencs are bolstering their line up to help already famed players Roland McKeown, Spencer Watson and Sam Bennett. Other players to look out for is along with Pawley, is Finnish sensation Henri Ikonen. Ikonen was selected in the 6th round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The upcoming exciting season for the Kingston Frontenacs will start next Thursday, August 29th as training camps are set to open up. On-ice scrimmages will be open to the public on both Friday August 30th and Saturday August 31st.

Kingston open up their 2013-2014 OHL campaign on the road in Peterborough as they take on the Petes. That game is set on Thursday, September 19th and puck drops at 7:30.

Fan Voice: Captain Oshawa and the Oshawa Generals

Captain Oshawa is a die hard Oshawa Generals fan who can be seen through out each and every home game cheering them on. He even has own cape for pete sakes! He’s the superhero the Generals need!

(Twitter: @CaptainOshawa)
(Twitter: @CaptainOshawa)

March Hockey:  Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Captain Oshawa: I was born and raised in Oshawa Ontario and got into hockey from playing road hockey like a lot of Canadian kids.

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Oshawa Generals?

CO: Oshawa being my hometown . I have a lot of pride for my Gens with all the great players and the history behind the team.

MH: What is your favourite Generals moment?

CO: My favourite Gens moment is when a Gens player gets drafted to the NHL. It’s bringing them close to their dream.

MH: Who is one player to look out for on the team and why?

Dal Colle. (Photo: oshawagenerals.com)
Dal Colle. (Photo: oshawagenerals.com)

CO: I’ve got 2 . Micheal Dal Colle is a very talented special player. Also Bradley LaTour  I think will have a great year. He is gritty but will pop in some goals as well.

MH: How do you think the upcoming season will play out for Oshawa?

CO: We are losing a few players but I still know the boys will come out and play hard every night.

MH: Who’s your favourite hockey player of all time and why?

CO: Gretzky. He wasn’t the biggest or fastest, he was just awesome.

MH: Who would play in your dream hockey game? Team wise.

CO: My dream team game would be Oshawa Generals vs Peterborough Petes in the Memorial Cup in Oshawa.

If you’re a passionate fan and want your team of league featured, I want to hear from YOU! Find me on twitter @MarchHockey, or send me a message on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/MarchHockey

Fan Voice: Trevor Burrell and the Kitchener Rangers

Trevor Burrell. Twitter: @tburr51
Trevor Burrell. Twitter: @tburr51

Trevor Burrell is a die hard sports fan who cheers on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays and the University of Michigan when he’s not busy cheering on the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Trevor Burrell: I live in Waterloo ON. Had a backyard rink when I was 3-4 years old and have played and been a fan ever since.

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Kitchener Rangers?

rangers50logo_TB: Went to my first Ranger game as a young kid and looked at the players as heroes. Would go with my dad, sister and friend every Friday night, wait for autographs and would play mini sticks between periods in the basement by the old souvenir store. As I got older 13-14 I was on my own to go with friends to games and would rarely miss any home games. I bought my season tickets for the first time in 1996 season and have had them ever since. As my age got older I got a car and have been to almost all of the rinks in the OHL following the team.

MH: What’s your favourite Rangers moment?

TB: Best Ranger moment was being in Quebec City to see the team with the Memorial Cup and the post game celebrations. Continue reading “Fan Voice: Trevor Burrell and the Kitchener Rangers”

25 Years of Owen Sound Attack hockey

Current_Owen_Sound_Attack_LogoThis upcoming season marks the 25th anniversary of the Owen Sound hockey being part of the OHL. Originating in 1989, the Attack play their home games out of J.D. McArthur Arena which is inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.

The Holdy family owned former OHL team, the Guelph Platers and decided to move them down south to Owen Sound for the 1989-90 season. Owen Sound kept the Platers name up until the year 2000. At that point the Holdy family decided to sell the franchise to any buyer across Ontario. If it wasn’t for a group of local business men, the Owen Sound Platers was nearly the Cornwall Platers out of Cornwall, Ontario. However, as history shows, everyone banded together to keep the Platers in Owen Sound. A name change was held to form the modern sounding Owen Sound Attack. They won their first J. Ross Robinson Cup in 2011 to become Ontario Hockey League champions.

dan3Owen Sound has a few notable NHL alumni that has gone through their ranks. A notable one is Dan Snyder, a former Attack captain who had his number 14 retired by the team after Snyder died from injuries suffered in a car accident in 2003 while he was just beginning his NHL career with the Atlanta Thrashers. In case you’ve lived under a rock for the past little while, current NHLer Dany Heatley was at the wheel.

Other Attack NHL alumni include Sean Avery, Kevin Weekes, Paul Bissonnette, Bobby Ryan and Wayne Simmonds just to name a few. Their current roster include World Junior Team Canada goaltender Jordan Binnington and former Ottawa 67 Cody Ceci.

Here’s to another 25 years of Owen Sound hockey.

One on One with Phoenix Coyotes 2011 First Round Draft Pick, Connor Murphy

Murphy Grunge2941

Connor Murphy is one blue line defender you do not want to come across. At 6’3″ he is a towering addition to any blue line he’s on. While suiting up for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting for the past two seasons, he’s notched up 44 points in 68 games. He previously played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and in that same year was selected 20th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes. This past winter he scored the overtime game winner of the gold medal match up at the  2013World Juniors in Ufa, Russia.

You may even recall his father, Gord Murphy, a bruising defenceman who spent 14 seasons in the National Hockey League between the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Atlanta Thrashers. He is currently assistant coach to Kevin Dineen of the Florida Panthers.

I jumped at the chance at this opportunity to go into the mind of a first round drafted player.

March Hockey: You were drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft, how did you mentally prepare to go into an event of that stature?

(Photo: sarniasting.com)
(Photo: sarniasting.com)

Connor Murphy: The preparation was all in the NHL Combine off the ice, in games during the season, and in the interviews with each team. So once the draft came, it was all about enjoying the experience and soaking it all in. I always watched the draft growing up, so it was pretty surreal being there with my family and around teammates of mine. Continue reading “One on One with Phoenix Coyotes 2011 First Round Draft Pick, Connor Murphy”

Highlighting the Kingston Trio: Frontenacs’ McKeown, Bennett and Watson

fronts-logoThere are a few times in every team’s history where a full roster just seems to come together. Years of drafts picks and scouting seem to pay off. Coaches direct. Players gel. Goalies become brick walls.

This year could turn into just that for the Kingston Frontenacs. A historical year where everything just goes right. After going through a rebuilding year that only amassed 19 wins, the Frontenacs picked up 24 picks in 2012’s OHL draft. Those picks have become almost a full roster. A roster of players centered around a core of three; two forwards and a defenceman. 3 U18 World Champions.

(Photo: thescoutingreport.org)
(Photo: thescoutingreport.org)

Defenceman Roland McKeown was selected second overall in the 2012 OHL Priority draft. At 6’1”, he is a towering presence on the blue line; a Drew Doughty type player if you will. Collecting 29 points in 61 games, he was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team. Now entering his second year with the black and gold he will enter with a gold medal under his belt after winning with U18 Team Canada back in April of this year. International competition experience can never hurt.
 

(Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Left winger Sam Bennett has an incredible eye for hockey. His hockey sense is what makes his game excel. Sharing his rookie year with McKeown, Bennett notched 40 points in 60 games leading him to be a part of the OHL Second All-Rookie Team. He not only comes into his second year with an U18 gold medal; he comes in with two. Within four months he’s been an U18 World Champion twice.

(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

 

Then there’s Spencer Watson. An explosive and dynamite forward from London, Ontario. A sharp shooter with a keen eye for knowing just where to put the puck. He led the U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in scoring for Team Canada while capturing his own gold medal.

 

All three players have had one year of playing time together to get used to each other on the ice and started to really gel at the end of last season. With Bennett and Watson playing on one Team Canada squad while McKeown and Bennett played on the other, there’s no reason to not expect exciting things from these three once the puck drops in September.

With Coach Todd Gill entering his third season and his second with the boys, they will already know what to expect from each other. I won’t be surprised to see a long post season run in the Limestone City. It’s time for optimism.

Get ready Ontario Hockey League. The Frontenacs are back to prominence.

Spencer Watson‘s Two Goal Performance lifts Canada over Slovakia

(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament opened up with exhibition games on Saturday in Piestany, Slovakia. The crowd was in for a treat at Zimny Stadion as Kingston Frontanacs forward Spencer Watson put on a dazzling display to help Team Canada secure its first exhibition win.

Watson opened the scoring eight minutes into the first period with help from Jake Virtanen and Ryan Pilon. The first period proved to be all Canada as 5 minutes later Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle added another. Up 2-0 heading into the second period, the Canadians were putting on a show.

The Slovakians however, had something to say about that. Four minutes into the second period, Ladislav Romancik cut the Canadians lead in half and it seemed that they were going to make a game of it. Team Canada seemed to not stay out of the penalty box as they took two early on.

Spencer Watson sealed the deal for Canada in the third period as he notched his second of the game. Dal Colle picked up another assist to the goal adding to both players impressive first game performance. Julio Billia and Mason MacDonald shared both goaltending duties stopping 17 shots. Slovakia was out shot as the Canadians threw 50 at their net minder.

Team Canada’s next exhibition game will take place this coming Monday, August 5th as the Czechs welcome into their city of Breclev. Czech Republic should give the Canadians a bit more trouble this time around.

Three Kingston Frontenacs make final Team Canada cut

Hockey Canada announced its final roster for the upcoming 2013 U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament and all three Kingston Frontenacs selections have made the final roster.

Hockey_Canada_LThis year’s tournament, also known as the U18 World Cup, will take place at the beginning of August in Breclav, Czech Republic and Pietsany, Slovakia. Team Canada has been dominant coming home with gold the past 5 years. This year’s team is ready to make it 6. They open up the tournament with their first exhibition game August 3rd against host nation Slovakia.

Roland McKeown, Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson impressed the Team Canada brass at exhibition games over the past few days. The games showcased the best the Canadian Hockey League has to offer. Watson exploded in the 3rd period with 2 goals in Saturday night’s game and added 2 assists Monday afternoon. All three showcased there tremendous skills and hockey sense to help the big red machine as they head to the Czech Republic.

Upon returning to North America, all three will suit up into the black and gold of the Kingston Frontenacs as training camp opens up on August 29th. Pumped and still in hockey mode, the three will be eager to get back on Ontario Hockey League ice. The Frontenacs will be a strong team this year and will be looking to make a long trip into the post-season.

Team Canada’s roster also includes hard shooting Aaron Ekblad from the Barrie Colts and another strong forward Jared McCann from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. 2014 will shape up to exciting draft year.