An eventful week in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) saw the Erie Otters fire their coach, Matvey Petrov of the North Bay Battalion getting signed by the Edmonton Oilers, the London Knights losing games, and a new leader in the Eastern Conference. There was a little bit of everything for everyone, but if you haven’t been paying attention, we have you covered. Here’s what you may have missed this week.
Erie Otters Fire Chris Hartsburg
On Thursday morning, The Hockey Writers‘ Mark Schieg reported that the Otters had fired head coach Chris Hartsburg after three-plus seasons with the club. The Otters have started the season 3-7-1 and currently sit in last place in the Western Conference as well as last place in the overall league standings. Schieg also reported that the team’s associate coach B.J. Adams would be taking over the head coaching duties on a permanent basis.
“B.J. has been a staple of our Hockey Operations Department for the last six seasons, and we’re thrilled to promote him to the head coaching role,” said Otters’ general manager Dave Brown. “Coach Adams has showcased great pride, dedication, and patience in this organization, and we have full confidence in him as our Head Coach. He’s been part of the highest highs with the team, and we trust in his abilities to get our team back to the top.”
“I’d like to start by thanking [owner] Jim Waters and [general manager] Dave Brown for entrusting me with the opportunity to lead this team,” said Adams. “I’ve been proud and humbled to be part of such a great organization for the last six seasons, and I’m looking forward to leading and developing our group of young men on and off the ice.”
Brown will be tasked with turning an Otters team with the league’s worst point percentage around without some of their most notable players. The schedule doesn’t leave them any breaks either. They play in Guelph on Friday night before hosting the Knights on Saturday. It might be a rebuilding season in Erie, but the message has been sent — losing will not be tolerated.
Matvey Petrov Signs With Edmonton Oilers
On Wednesday, the Edmonton Oilers announced that they had signed North Bay Battalion forward Matvey Petrov to an entry-level contract. The Oilers drafted Petrov in the sixth round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft after he was the first-overall selection in the CHL Import Draft in 2020. Of course, he would be unable to play in the OHL in 2020-21 thanks to the ongoing pandemic, but spent the season playing in the MHL where he scored 22 goals and added 20 assists in 58 games.
The 2003-born forward and Russia native has been on a tear to start the season. Through his first 14 games in the league, he has scored 10 goals and added another eight assists. With the help of Petrov, the Battalion have occupied first place in the Eastern Conference for some time to start the season and although they have surrendered it, at least for the time being, they seem to be ahead of schedule in their rebuild.
“I feel so good,” said Petrov via BattalionHockey.com. “I’m so happy to be part of the Edmonton Oilers organization. I’m looking forward to working hard in North Bay, and I’m honoured to be able to sign my first contract with the Oilers.”
London Knights In the Loss Collumn
An undefeated month of October had the London Knights feeling pretty good about themselves, but their start to November has been far from fruitful. After beating the Owen Sound Attack in overtime, the Knights lost back-to-back games against the Flint Firebirds and Guelph Strom in overtime. The loss in overtime on Tuesday marks the fifth time that they have gone to overtime in their 11 games.
The Knights still hold first place in the Western Conference with an absolutely stunning .864 points percentage. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Storm, and Firebirds are right on their heels, but the Knights do have the advantage in the games played category. Having only played 11 games, they hold the advantage over the Greyhounds and Storm. There’s plenty of work for them to do of course, but they have set themselves up for success with their start. Getting things back on track is critical for them now.
67’s Take Over First In Eastern Conference
They were supposed to be rebuilding and they were supposed to be towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but here we are midway into November, and they sit in first place. Taking five of six possible points against the Peterborough Petes, North Bay Battalion, and Kingston Frontenacs have them where they are, and while it is still incredibly early in the season, there’s never really a bad time to be in first place.
With the second-youngest roster in the OHL, the Ottawa 67’s have been nothing short of an incredible story to start the season. After losing their head coach André Tourigny to the Arizona Coyotes just weeks before the season was scheduled to start, he was replaced by Dave Cameron, the former Ottawa Senators head coach. Cameron has set out to get all of his players to play a solid all-around game, including skating hard, being physical, and playing defensive-minded hockey.
To say that it has worked would be an understatement. They currently have the second-best points percentage right behind the Kingston Frontenacs with .654 and are 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games. With only one over-age player on the roster, general manager James Boyd had options for improving the roster as the season goes on, but it needs to be the right move.
“Always looking to improve the team,” said Boyd. “Always looking, but as in the past, whose ice time are they taking and how does that affect our team? In order to bring an over-ager in they would have to be a significant improvement or significantly improve the makeup of our team.”
“We have our eye on a number of options to improve our team, but sometimes not doing anything is the best move for the team.”
An Eventful Week
There have certainly been less eventful weeks in the OHL this season. Hirings and firings, losses from the undefeated, signings in the NHL and more. It’s been a great week in the OHL for some, not so great for others, but it has been interesting to say the very least. All of the talk about the standings could be completely changed by the time next Friday comes, but for now, those who are in first place get to enjoy it and those who lead in other categories get to feel like kings. Another great week in the OHL is in the books, and I can’t wait for the next week.
Currently a journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, I have always had a passion for the OHL and the Ottawa 67’s in particular. I have been attending games since I was young, and being involved with sports has always been a dream of mine. Sports writing fits perfectly into that. You can also find me talking and writing other sports (primarily Canadian football) on my website 13thmansports.ca!