Toronto, ON – Ontario Hockey League action heads into the thirteenth week of the regular season schedule with 21 games beginning tonight through Sunday before pausing for the Holiday Break and returning to play on Monday December 28.
Here’s a look at what’s going on around the league:
AT THE RINKS:
Teddy Bear Toss in Barrie on Thursday: Teddies take flight in Barrie on Thursday as the Colts take on the Soo Greyhounds! All bears thrown on the ice will be donated to the Darling Foundation, Barrie Fire Services, and Barrie Police.
Petes Holiday Classic goes Thursday: The Peterborough Petes host the Owen Sound Attack on Thursday for their annual Holiday Classic game. This year fans have the opportunity to receive great prizes and giveaways as they enjoy the back end of a home-and-home set against Owen Sound. The Petes will be playing in support of those suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, with runner Catie Sims and Zak Mitchell, a Peterborough student who suffers from the disease, both performing the ceremonial faceoff. Fans can purchase chuck-a-puck tickets to support Catie and Zack and win over $250 worth of gifts and gift cards. For more information on the Petes Holiday Classic, please visit gopetesgo.com.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Night in Mississauga on Friday: If there was ever a time to put on an ugly Christmas sweater, this is it! The Mississauga Steelheads invite fans to wear their ugliest Christmas sweater on Friday night when they take on the Sarnia Sting.
Generals hold Food Drive on Friday: The Oshawa Generals, in partnership with Panera Bread, are requesting that all fans bring a non-perishable food item to Friday’s tilt against the Flint Firebirds.
Star Wars Night with the Spirit on Saturday: Darth Vader and his storm troopers will be in attendance in Saginaw on Saturday as the Spirit battle the Windsor Spitfires.
Toonies and Toys Night in Owen Sound on Saturday: The Attack host their Toonies and Toys Night at home to the London Knights on Saturday, joining forces with the Owen Sound Fire Department for their 2015 Holiday Toy Drive.
Attack Hunger Night a great success: The Owen Sound Attack, with many thanks to their dedicated fan base, were able to raise 1302Ibs. of food and over $700 in cash donations toward the Attack Hunger campaign on Wednesday night at home to the Barrie Colts.
Bulldogs visit McMaster Children’s Hospital: The Hamilton Bulldogs paid a visit to McMaster Children’s Hospital on Sunday, raising the spirits of the kids there as they engaged in games and discussion. Check out video footage of the Bulldogs’ special visit!
IceDogs and Niagara Regional Police visit Niagara Health Systems St. Catharines: The Niagara IceDogs teamed up with the Niagara Regional Police on Monday morning to visit the Niagara Health Systems St. Catharines site with a teddy bear delivery for the pediatric ward. IceDogs players Anthony DiFruscia, Jordan Maletta, Aaron Haydon and Blake Siebenaler were joined by Bones, Chief Jeff McGuire and other members of the Niagara Regional Police as they delivered teddy bears collected during the November 27th Teddy Bear Toss game to children throughout the ward. For more information on the special visit, please visit niagaraicedogs.net.
Spirit collect donations for Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan: Saginaw Spirit players were out collecting donations for Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan at Tim Horton’s locations throughout the city on Tuesday. Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan and the Saginaw Spirit have teamed up to spread hope by raising funds for local homeless shelters with events such as Tuesday morning’s collection and the Annual Hockey for the Homeless Event hosted by the Saginaw Spirit on Saturday, March 12.
Sting auctioning off ugly Christmas jerseys: The specially themed ugly Christmas sweater jerseys worn by the Sting on Friday December 11th are now up for auction. Proceeds will be donated to the Inn of the Good Shepherd. Jerseys are up for auction untilWednesday December 23. Bid here!
KNIGHTS’ CHRISTIAN DVORAK NAMED CHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Arizona Coyotes prospect Christian Dvorak of the London Knights is the CHL Player of the Week for the week ending December 13 after scoring three goals and four assists for seven points in two games with a plus-minus rating of plus-5. Dvorak took over the lead in the OHL’s scoring race with a pair of multi-point performances that also extended the Knights’ winning-streak to nine games. He was named first star in both contests last week including Thursday night with a goal and two assists in a 6-3 road win over the Barrie Colts, and Friday night in Sudbury with two goals and two assists in an 8-1 win over the Wolves extending his personal point-streak to 17 games.
STEELHEADS’ JACK FLINN NAMED VAUGHN CHL GOALTENDER OF THE WEEK:
Jack Flinn of the Mississauga Steelheads is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending December 13 after posting a 2-0-0-0 record including a shutout victory with a goals-against-average of 1.47 and save percentage of .958. Flinn made 68 saves in a pair of road victories for the Steelheads who extend their winning-streak to three games and climb to first place in the OHL’s Central Division with 38 points.
TIP TOP TAILORS OHL PLAYS OF THE WEEK – WEEK 12:
The Barrie Colts headline the 12th edition of the Tip Top Tailors OHL Plays of the Week, with San Jose Sharks prospect Kevin Labanc putting the finishing touches on a smooth passing play.
GETTING ON THE BOARD: FIRST OHL GOALS IN 2015-16:
Check out the players who have scored their first OHL goal in the past week! 112 different players have accomplished the milestone this season! Click on a player’s name below to watch his first OHL goal!
ROGERS HOMETOWN HOCKEY TOUR STOPS IN SARNIA THIS WEEKEND:
The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour stops in Sarnia this weekend as the crew explores Sarnia’s contributions to the world of hockey, from Hockey Hall of Famer Dino Ciccarelli to Sarnia Sting alumni Steven Stamkos and Alex Galchenyuk to up-and-comer Jakob Chychrun. The show will also feature a one-on-one interview with Canadian icon and Sarnia native, astronaut Chris Hadfield. For more information please visit hometownhockey.com.
Brandon Mashinter scores first NHL goal: OHL graduate Brandon Mashinter scored his first career NHL goal with the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday as they defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Mashinter scored with 10 seconds remaining in the third period for his first goal in 36 career NHL games. A graduate of the Belleville Bulls, Mashinter played in the OHL from 2004-09 between Sarnia, Kitchener and Belleville, appearing in 242 games while scoring 57 goals along with 43 assists for 100 points. He played in 41 career playoff contests, scoring 10 goals, seven assists and 17 points. He won an OHL title with the Kitchener Rangers in 2008.
Joseph Blandisi makes NHL debut: Barrie Colts graduate Joseph Blandisi made his NHL debut with the New Jersey Devils on Friday. The 2015 OHL Overage Player of the Year signed with the Devils as a free agent last season and has already made his ascent to the NHL ranks after recording seven goals, nine assists and 16 points in 18 games with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate in Albany. A former Colts captain, Blandisi played four OHL seasons from 2011-15 between Owen Sound, Ottawa and Barrie.
Brock McGinn named AHL Player of the Week: Guelph Storm grad Brock McGinn has been named the AHL Player of the Week. McGinn notched three goals and two assists for five points in two games last week, helping the Checkers to a pair of road wins over Western Conference foes. A second round choice by Carolina in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, McGinn has tallied 10 goals and three assists for 13 points in 13 AHL games with Charlotte this season. He made his NHL debut with the Hurricanes on Oct. 16 and has notched two goals and an assist in 14 NHL contests as well. McGinn won an OHL title with the Storm in 2013 and appeared in 227 career games over four seasons, recording 93 goals, 79 assists and 172 regular season points.
Veterans Blunden, O’Reilly back in NHL: OHL graduates and minor league veterans Mike Blunden and Cal O’Reilly are back in the NHL. Blunden scored his first goal since January 7, 2012 in Tampa Bay’s 5-4 overtime win over Toronto on Tuesday. O’Reilly, who is the older brother of Sabres star and Erie Otters grad Ryan O’Reilly, appeared in his first NHL game since February 15, 2012 in Buffalo’s 2-0 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday. A graduate of the Erie Otters, Blunden played four seasons in Erie from 2002-06, recording 100 goals, 81 assists and 181 points in 236 career regular season games. The elder O’Reilly is a graduate of the Windsor Spitfires and played three OHL seasons in Windsor from 2003-06, recording 45 goals, 149 assists and 194 points in 197 career regular season games. Both players are 29 years-old.
Matt Murray recalled by Penguins: With veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury sidelined with a concussion, Soo Greyhounds graduate Matt Murray has been summoned by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Thunder Bay, ON, native was the AHL’s Goaltender of the Year in 2015, going 25-10-3-1 with a 1.58 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage. The 6-foot-4 Murray set a new AHL benchmark last season with 304:11 of consecutive shutout minutes spanning six games. Murray has continued his stellar play this season, with a 12-4-0-0 record, a 1.84 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in 17 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. A third round pick by Pittsburgh in 2012, Murray played four seasons with the Greyhounds from 2010-14, going 79-60-4-10 with a 3.42 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage.
Mathieu Schneider to be inducted into U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame: Cornwall Royals graduate Mathieu Schneider will join Chris Drury, Angela Ruggiero and Ron DeGregorio in being inducted to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Thursday. Schneider played three seasons in Cornwall from 1986-89 where he was a point-per-game player scoring 44 goals and 126 assists for 170 points in exactly 170 career regular season games. The New York native and veteran of 21 professional seasons was selected by Montreal in the third round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft and would capture a Stanley Cup title with the Canadiens in 1993. He also helped the U.S earn their inaugural World Cup of Hockey title in 1996 and is among the top five American defencemen all-time in the NHL in nearly every statistical category. Recent OHL alumni to also receive the honour include Peter Karmanos Jr. in 2013, along with Kevin and Derian Hatcher in 2010.
Peca and Walker named honourary captains for AHL All-Star Classic: OHL graduates Michael Peca and Scott Walker have been named honourary captains for the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic held January 31 and February 1 in Syracuse, NY. Each year, the All-Star Classic honorary captains join the participating teams in the locker room and on the benches during the event, and are recognized for their careers at the annual AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony. Peca, who played four seasons between Sudbury and Ottawa from 1990-94, went on to play over 800 career NHL contests. Walker played two seasons in Owen Sound from 1991-93 and also played over 800 career NHL games before serving as head coach of the Guelph Storm from 2010-15. For more information please visit theahl.com.
KEY WEEKEND MATCHUPS:
Mississauga Steelheads (18-13-0-2) vs. North Bay Battalion (14-12-1-2)
Thursday December 17 at North Bay
The North Bay Battalion will be out to settle the score with the Mississauga Steelheads on Thursday after suffering a 7-0 defeat against them back on November 20th. The two clubs square off in a Central Division showdown as the Steelheads look to continue their three game winning streak. The division leading Steelheads are finding success of late, with strong contributions from reigning Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week Jack Flinn who leads the league with 1888 minutes played this season. Though they’ll be without Swedish winger Alexander Nylander, the Steelheads have had consistent production from draft eligible forwards Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian this season. The Battalion are led by captain Mike Amadio who enters play on an eight game point streak. The Troops knocked off the London Knights on Sunday and sit fourth in the Central Division with a record of 14-12-1-2.
Windsor Spitfires (18-9-5-0) at Saginaw Spirit (13-16-1-1)
Thursday December 17 at Windsor, Saturday December 19 at Saginaw
After a slow start and streaky stretches throughout the first half, the Saginaw Spirit are finding their groove. With wins in both of their last two games, the Spirit try and keep things rolling this weekend with a home-and-home set against Windsor on Thursday andSaturday. The Spitfires have taken two of three from the Spirit this season, but Saginaw got the better of Windsor in their last meeting on November 28th. Saginaw goaltender Evan Cormier has wins in five of his last six starts, boasting a 1.97 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage so far this month. The Spirit have benefitted from the addition of Mike Davies who has four goals, four assists and eight points in his first 13 games with the club. The Spitfires have an exciting recent addition of their own as Winnipeg Jets prospect Brendan Lemieux has four goals, two assists and six points in his first three games with Windsor.
Thursday, December 17
Sudbury at Niagara – 7:00pm
Mississauga at North Bay – 7:00pm
Owen Sound at Peterborough – 7:05pm
Saginaw at Windsor – 7:05pm
Sault Ste. Marie at Barrie – 7:30pm
Friday, December 18
Sudbury at Erie – 7:00pm
Hamilton at Kingston – 7:00pm
Niagara at North Bay – 7:00pm
Peterborough at Ottawa – 7:00pm
Sault Ste. Marie at Kitchener – 7:30pm
Guelph at London – 7:30pm
Sarnia at Mississauga – 7:30pm
Flint at Oshawa – 7:35pm
Saturday, December 19
Kingston at Ottawa – 1:00pm
Mississauga at Guelph – 2:00pm
Sarnia at Erie – 7:00pm
Flint at Hamilton – 7:00pm
Windsor at Saginaw – 7:05pm
North Bay at Barrie – 7:30pm
London at Owen Sound – 7:30pm
Sunday, December 20
Sudbury at Oshawa – 6:05pm
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