Games to Watch:
Wednesday, Oct. 26
Sarnia at Sault Ste. Marie: The first and second place teams in the West Division will meet for the second time this season in the Soo on Wednesday night. In the first meeting the Greyhounds waltzed into Sarnia and surprised the Sting with a convincing 5-2 win. After 13 games each, the two teams are seperated by two points with Sarnia’s 9-2-2 record showing the way, but they will have to contend with a Greyhounds team that will be coming in on a three game winning streak. The Hounds have been paced by the scoring of Brett Findlay, Nick Cousins and Andrew Fritsch while the Sting will look to who else; superstar and OHL leading scorer Nail Yakupov.
Friday, Oct. 28
Barrie at Brampton: Not many expected the Brampton Battalion to play in many exciting and important games this year, but the club continues to exceed expectations and find themselves currently in second place in the Eastern Conference’s East Division. They will be in tough Friday night as they play host to a Barrie Colts team who will be playing its first game with star forward Mark Scheifele back in the lineup.
The return of Scheifele gives the Colts another weapon adding to their already potent attack up front, but goals won’t come easy against a stingy Brampton defense and strong goaltending.
Mississauga at Ottawa: The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will do battle for the first time this season Friday night in Ottawa as the Central leading Majors take on the East leading 67’s. Mississauga will be looking to get back on track following their poorest outing of the season in a 8-4 loss to Plymouth in front of the home fans.
The 67’s come into the game riding a two-game winning streak and will hope for another strong performance from goaltender Petr Mrazek who has been outstanding in goal this year. Should the flood-gates happen to open, Ottawa has no problem scoring either, thanks to the duo of Sean Monohan and Tyler Toffoli.
Sunday, Oct. 30
Sarnia at London: The second big matchup of the week for Sarnia comes on Sunday afternoon when they make the short trip to London to take on the top-ranked Knights. The Sting will be travelling from Saginaw on Saturday night after a game with the improving Spirit and will need to dig deep to find the energy that is certain to be needed against London.
The Knights kicked off the week with a shootout loss to Kitchener last night and host Owen Sound on Friday night. They should be well rested by the time the Sting come rolling in and will be looking to pounce on their road-weary opponents.
Players To Watch:
Brandon Saad (Saginaw): After surprisingly starting the season with the Chicago Blackhawks, Saad was returned to Saginaw and has since gone on a scoring tear. In five games the 19-year-old has a whopping eight goals and 13 points which included a four goal, five-point game against Brampton last Thursday.
The big winger’s return has sparked an impressive turnaround for the Spirit who have won their past four games after enduring a lengthy six-game losing streak.
Mark Scheifele (Barrie): Like Saad, Mark Scheifele will be hoping for a similar return to the OHL following his early season stint with the Winnipeg Jets. One of the most talked about players during the pre-season and the first few weeks of the regular season, Scheifele couldn’t quite grasp the speed and complexity of the NHL and struggled through seven games with the Jets who felt a return to junior would be best.
The 18-year-old should have no problem picking his game back up in junior where he will join a Barrie team that already features three of the league’s top four scorers.
Brett Findlay (Sault Ste. Marie): Findlay continues to be one of the biggest contributors for the surprising Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and currently finds himself among the league’s top 10 scorers. The 19-year-old center has turned into one of the best playmakers in the league as the triggerman for linemates Nick Cousins and Michael Schumacher.
Continued success in this his second OHL season could pave the way for the undrafted Findlay to catch the eye of some NHL teams who were quick to pass on the Echo Bay native in the draft.
Brandon Maxwell (Sarnia): While Nail Yakupov gets all the pub in Sarnia (and rightfully so) goaltender Brandon Maxwell has arguably been equally as important to the club’s early season success. With an 8-2 record and a top 5 ranking in both goals against and save percentage, Maxwell has been everything he was expected to be when the Sting acquried him from the Kitchener Rangers.
A sixth-round pick by Colorado in 2009, the 20-year-old is on a roll through the first month of the season and will need to continue his stellar play if the Sting hope to remain contenders in the West.
Resident of Windsor, Ontario. Extensive knowledge of both the NHL and junior hockey in Canada, particularly the OHL. Writer for THW covering the Winnipeg Jets and the OHL as well as covering Phoenix Coyotes prospects for Hockey’s Future.