Games To Watch:
Friday, Dec. 16
Brampton at Ottawa: The two division leaders in the Eastern Conference meet for the fourth time this season with the 67’s having won two of the previous three meetings. The Battalion have certainly put the “surprise” label behind them as they have played excellent hockey all year long and must now be considered a legitimate threat in the East.
Head coach Stan Butler has to be considered the front-runner for coach of the year as no one would have predicted Brampton to be where they are in the standings at this point in the season. He will have to make sure his players are on their toes in defending Ottawa’s dynamic trio of Sean Monohan, Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince.
Saturday, Dec. 17
Sudbury at Niagara: Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Sudbury Wolves have quietly moved into a playoff spot in the East and will be looking to move closer to the IceDogs in the Central division.
With 88 goals for, the Wolves are the second lowest scoring team in the OHL but that hasn’t stopped them from winning hockey games and a low scoring affair might just be what the doctor ordered as Niagara will be without goaltender Mark Visentin, defenceman Dougie Hamilton and forwards Ryan Strome and Freddie Hamilton. All four players survived this week’s cuts and will play for team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Sunday, Dec. 18
Sarnia at Brampton: The Battalion play their second marquee game of the week as they welcome the high-scoring Sarnia Sting to the Powerade Centre. The Sting struggled through the absence of forward Nail Yakupov, but with the star Russian back in the lineup, a return to form is most definitely to be expected.
It will be Sarnia’s third game in as many days so Brampton will be hoping that the likes of Yakupov and Charles Sarault will be a little road weary for this Sunday matinee.
Players To Watch:
Matej Machovsky (Brampton) The 6’2 Czech goalie has been one of the biggest surprises this year in terms of OHL goaltenders. In his second season in the league, Machovsky has taken the reigns of Brampton’s number one guy and ran with them. The 18-year-old has a record of 12-6-2 and ranks in the top 10 in both goals against and save percentage.
Undrafted in his first chance, Machovsky can expect to hear his name called this time around at the 2012 NHL draft as his performance and his physical stature is certain to have his stock on the rise.
Colin Behenna (Barrie) The Colts will be without two of the OHL’s top guns for the next few weeks as both Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele were selected to play for team Canada at the WJHC. That leaves the 20-year-old Behenna to pick up the slack for his departed teammates, and as an accomplished veteran player, he should have little trouble doing so.
The diminutive overage captain of the Colts ranks fifth in the league in scoring with 49 points in 30 games, and with the likes of Ivan Telegin, Daniel Erlich and Zach Hall still in the mix, Behenna should have no problem continuing to rack up the points.
Radek Faksa (Kitchener): The 17-year-old Czech rookie has more or less taken the league by storm in his first OHL season. With his impressive size (6’3, 202) and an equally impressive all-around game, Faksa has seen his draft status rise to that of a potential first-round pick.
The league’s leading rookie scorer with 15 goals and 32 points in 30 games, Faksa has been one of the biggest reasons for Kitchener’s impressive turn-around. Having amassed 16 points in 10 November games, the big rookie has continued his fine play with five points in six December contests.