Ontario Hockey League Week in Review: Week 1
Photo courtesy of CHL Images
By Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)
With the first week of the Ontario Hockey League season in the books, fans and media alike are starting to get a grasp of what certain players and teams are capable of achieving this year. In this post, I look back at what performances and news bits stood out from the week that was.
Note: this is a weekly column I will try to post every Monday or Tuesday.
- The Owen Sound Attack are for real. They dominated a solid Windsor Spitfires team, 6-1, in their own building and followed that up with a convincing 5-2 win over the Saginaw Spirit in the Attack’s home opener. I was at that game the Attack were the better team for the full 60 minutes. They used their speed very effectively, won almost every battle along the boards and dominating the Spirit physically. The Attack had no problems creating chances and beat an NHL drafted goaltender, Jake Paterson (Red Wings), five times. While two games is only a small sample, one can only wonder what this team is capable of if and when forwards Artur Gavrus (Devils) and Jarrod Maidens (Senators) return to the lineup.
- The Barrie Colts may not be the team many, myself included, thought they would be. While the top line of Anthony Camara (Bruins), Mark Scheifele (Jets) and Steven Beyers have produced at a good rate over the first three games of the season, the team has had some trouble putting the puck in the net – besides in their season opener against Ottawa. Looking at their roster, they’re quite top heavy up front and on the blue line. While they do have quite a few guys with potential to produce and contribute at good rates, until they do so the Colts will have trouble keeping pace with the top teams in the Eastern Conference. While it’s still very early, a close win over Ottawa followed by losses to Kingston and Mississauga, both of which are expected to finish bottom-4 in the East, isn’t going to get many people excited.
- The London Knights are ready to defend their title, and they made that statement clear. The team has played and beaten Guelph, who many consider one of the better teams in the Western Conference, and Erie, a team on the rise. The thing with the Knights is they didn’t just win those two games, they were absolutely dominant, winning both games by an 8-2 score. I expected the Knights to be very good but figured they would finish 3rd in the West. They showed in the first week of the season that they are not messing around and are serious about going on another title run. Looking at how they played in their first two games, I wouldn’t bet against them.
- What I learned: Seth Griffith (Bruins) has a legitimate shot at winning the scoring title. While I expected him to finish near the top of the league, I did not expect him to register five goals, including a hat trick, and six points in his first two games against two NHL drafted goaltenders in Oscar Dansk (Blue Jackets) Garret Sparks (Maple Leafs). It’s worth noting that Griffith is the OHL’s player of the week, and deservedly so. The sky is the limit for Griffith and he’s going to give Scheifele, Sean Monahan and anybody else in the running all they can handle.
- Jason Dickinson is the real deal, and he’s not getting near the credit he deserves. The 2013 eligible picked up three goals in his first two games of the season and showed that he’s ready to take the next step forward. While right now many project him to be a late first rounder or early second rounder, I am fully confident in saying he will be a top-20 pick this year. He’s not being talked around in the same group as Kerby Rychel of the Spitfires and Max Domi of the Knights, but he will be by the end of the season; I guarantee it. Monahan is in a league of his own at the top of the OHL rankings.
- I underestimated the Sudbury Wolves, and I’m not going to hide from it. They beat two very good teams in the Oshawa Generals and Brampton Battalion this weekend, and did so pretty convincingly by winning by a combined score of 8-3. They’re getting production from all their top players, as evident by seven Wolves having at least two points, and Joel Vienneau has been good for them between the pipes. If they can continue their balanced attack and Vienneau plays as he did in the first two games, the Wolves should be one of the better teams in the East.
- The rookie scoring race is going to be fun to watch this year. Obviously Connor McDavid is the favorite to finish atop the crop of rookies, and rightfully so, but he’s going to have some stiff competition. Jaden Lindo of the Attack was very impressive this weekend and, like McDavid, tallied two points in two games. Russian Sergey Tolchinsky of the Soo Greyhounds and Dominik Kubalik of the Sudbury Wolves, among a couple others, also put up two points in their first two games. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out as there are a lot of good rookies in the league this year.
This concludes my week in review from the opening week of the season. There was a lot I didn’t get to, but that just goes to show you how good the OHL is this year. I’ll be back next week with the second edition of OHL week in review so stay tuned.