Games to Watch:
Thursday, Nov. 3
Mississauga at Brampton: The top two teams in the Central division square off for the second time this season in what should be a hotly contested game. Brampton shocked the Majors in the first meeting between the two clubs back in early October; winning by a score of 5-1 and handing Mississauga their first loss of the season.
As they did in the first game, the Battalion will hope to take advantage of home ice, but playing in front of the home fans hasn’t really been much of an advantage at all for them this season. With only two wins out of eight home games, Brampton will try to turn around their home woes and beat the Majors for a second time at the Powerade Centre.
Oshawa at Niagara: Two teams expected to be two of the best and most exciting teams to watch in the OHL meet for the first time Thursday night in St. Catherines. While the Generals are still finding it hard to get themselves over the .500 mark, the Icedogs are playing like the top team they were expected to be coming into the year.
Having only suffered a shootout loss in their last five games, the Icedogs have moved themselves into third place in the Central division. Their high-powered attack featuring the likes of Ryan Strome, the Hamilton brothers (Dougie and Freddie), and captain Andrew Agozzino finally has the team playing to their capability in front of reigning goaltender of the year Mark Visentin.
They will get a stiff test from an Oshawa team that also has the potential to become a contender. Led by a bevy of high NHL draft picks like Nicklas Jensen, Boone Jenner and Lucas Lessio, the Generals have no trouble scoring but do struggle with keeping the puck out of their own net; something they will need to pay close attention to against Niagara.
Friday, Nov. 4
Owen Sound at Ottawa: The defending league champion Attack are starting to play better hockey as of late but they will face a tough test against the East division-leading Ottawa 67’s in Ottawa on Friday night.
Winners of four straight games and seven of their past 10, the 67’s are as hot as they come right now in the OHL. Their potent attack led by Tyler Toffoli, Sean Monohan and Shane Prince is proving to be one of the hardest offenses to stop in the league. When they do get slowed down however, they have no problem relying on goaltender Petr Mrazek and a stingy defense that has yielded just 39 goals (second best in the league.)
Sunday, Nov. 6
Plymouth at Saginaw: Always an entertaining game between these two Michigan rivals, the Whalers and Spirit face off for the second time this year in a game of pretty big significance. Saginaw has shown signs of coming to life recently but remain in last place in the West division and six points behind the visiting Whalers. Both teams came into the season with high expectations but have found it hard to keep their heads above water in the tough Western Conference.
The stakes will be high in this one as one team hopes to keep their distance while the other will be looking to make up some ground.
Players To Watch:
Vincent Trochek (Saginaw): Last week it was Brandon Saad who found his way on this list, and this week his Saginaw teammate and fellow Pennsylvanian Vincent Trochek makes the cut as a player to watch in the OHL this week.
The 18-year-old saw a seven-game point streak come to an end last Saturday against Sarnia so the Pittsburgh native will be looking to get back on track in Saginaw’s two games this weekend. During his point streak, Trochek racked up 15 points which catapulted him into the top 15 in league scoring and will need to continue to score if the Spirit hope to move up in the Western Conference.
Vladislav Namestnikov (London): Namestnikov started the season rather slowly, registering just two points in his first three games, but since then the young Russian has found his scoring legs and is back to being arguably the most dangerous weapon in the Knights attack.
The Tampa Bay first-rounder in 2011, Namestnikov is as crafty as they come in the OHL. His skating, puck-handling and ability to protect the puck have drawn comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk and he will only get better as he continues to fill out his light frame.
Reid Boucher (Sarnia): Teammates Nail Yakupov and Charles Sarault have already been featured in this segment and now Reid Boucher finds his name next to some of the OHL’s elite. The 18-year-old has benefitted from playing with the great Yakupov and has become somewhat of a trigger man for the Sting.
A fourth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils, Boucher came over from the U.S. Development Program and has had no trouble finding the back of the net in his first OHL season. In 15 games he has 12 goals and five assists; ranking third on the team with 17 points.
J.T. Miller (Plymouth): Like Boucher, Miller left the U.S. Development team, but as a first-round NHL draft pick, his expectations were much higher coming into the season. On a talented Plymouth team that has had a hard time playing consistent hockey, Miller has been the club’s most consistent performer this year. The 18-year-old leads the team with 17 points and is tied for the team lead with eight goals.
A two-way center with good size and speed, Miller is a hard-working player who plays with skill and determination. His skill-set has drawn comparisons to Ryan Kesler but as a New York Rangers draftee, the best comparison might be that of his future teammate Brandon Dubinsky.
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.