OHL This Week – Dec. 31 to Jan. 3, 2016

Toronto, ON – The second half of the 2015-16 Ontario Hockey League season is underway and continues with 24 games today through Sunday.

 Here’s a look at what’s going on around the league:

AT THE RINKS:

IceDogs host New Year’s Eve Skate on Thursday: Skate with your favourite IceDogs on New Year’s Eve after they battle the Kitchener Rangers. All in attendance are welcome to bring their skates and meet the players post-game.

Limited edition 60th anniversary Petes magazine on Thursday: Fans in attendance in Peterborough on Thursday will receive a special commemorative 60th anniversary Petes magazine courtesy of Peterborough This Week. For more information on this limited edition magazine, please visit gopetesgo.com.

Eventful weekend in Flint: Bring two non-perishable food items to the Dort Federal Event Center on Saturday when the Firebirds host the Windsor Spitifres and receive $2 off your game tickets! Sunday’s home game against Sault Ste. Marie is Dort Federal Credit Union Family Night, featuring free thunderstix for the first 2,000 fans, face painters, balloon twisters, bounce houses and plenty of fun for everyone!

Michael McLeod bobblehead giveaway in Mississauga: Don’t miss your chance to go home with a bobblehead collectable featuring one of the OHL’s rising stars! Michael The first 2,000 fans through the doors on Sunday in Mississauga will receive a free Michael McLeod bobblehead!

Skate with the Spitfires on Sunday: Meet your favourite Spitfires following Sunday’s tilt against the Saginaw Spirit! All fans in attendance are encouraged to bring skates to the game and hit the ice with the Spitfires following the final horn! Fans 16 years and younger require a helmet and skates in order to enter the ice surface.

COMMUNITY CORNER:

Otters’ 20th anniversary fan vote continues: The Erie Otters are letting the fans have their say! Chris Campoli and Travis Dermott have been voted as the best defencemen in Otters history and now the goalies are up to a vote! Choose between Jaroslav Janus, Devin Williams, Steve Valiquette, T.J. Aceti, J.F. Perras, Ramis Sadikov, Adam Munro and Josh Disher. Vote today!

OHL TALENT SHINES AT WORLD JUNIOR HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP:

OHL players are prominent performers for their respective countries at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Helsinki, Finland. Through Wednesday, Alexander Nylander (Sweden/Mississauga Steelheads), Matthew Tkachuk (United States/London Knights), Dylan Strome (Canada/Erie Otters), Christian Dvorak (United States/London Knights) and Olli Juolevi (Finland/London Knights) have all recorded over a point-per-game in the tournament. A total of 28 OHL players are listed on tournament rosters. For scores, statistics and stories, please visit worldjunior2016.com.

TORONTO JR. CANADIENS WIN MARLIES HOLIDAY CLASSIC TOURNAMENT:

The Toronto Jr. Canadiens came away as winners of the Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic Tournament defeating the Toronto Red Wings 3-2 in Wednesday’s final. Draft eligible defenceman Ryan Merkley took MVP honours as the Jr. Canadiens, who were ranked third in last week’s OHL Cup Minor Midget Top 10 Rankings, came away victorious in the 50-team showcase. For scores and stats visit torontomarlboros.com.

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! 119 different players have accomplished the milestone this season! Click on a player’s name below to watch his first OHL goal!

Tyler Burnie, Nick Grima, Ondrej Kachyna

ROGERS HOMETOWN HOCKEY TOUR MAKES STOPS IN SARNIA AND OSHAWA:

The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour made stops in Sarnia and Oshawa in recent weeks, documenting a pair of the OHL’s outstanding hockey communities with great stories and content that can be found at hometownhockey.com. Check out features about the history of the Sarnia Sting that includes bright stars such as Steven Stamkos, and a story highlighting the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Oshawa Generals.

ALUMNI NOTES:

8 OHL grads win Spengler Cup gold: OHL graduates Mark Cundari (Windsor Spitfires), Trevor Carrick (Sudbury Wolves), Derek Roy (Kitchener Rangers), Daniel Paille (Guelph Storm), Manny Malhotra (Guelph Storm), Cory Emmerton (Brampton Battalion), Tom Pyatt (Saginaw Spirit) and Matt D’Agostini (Guelph Storm) have won Spengler Cup gold with Team Canada. The Canadians defeated host HC Davos 4-3 on Thursday as D’Agostini provided the winning goal midway through the third period. Pyatt and Roy also scored to help Canada capture a 13th Spengler Cup title and first since 2012.

Subban transforms hospital into ‘Winter Wonderland: OHL graduate P.K. Subban continues to do great things in the Montreal community. His latest humanitarian work has seen him transform a hospital into a children’s winter carnival. Subban, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman in 2013, played four OHL seasons with the Belleville Bulls from 2005-09.

Toffoli leading NHL plus/minus: Ottawa 67’s graduate Tyler Toffoli, fresh off his second career NHL hat-trick on Monday, currently leads the NHL in plus/minus with a plus-22 rating. The 23 year-old from Scarborough, ON, is currently fifth in goals with 18 on the season paired with 11 assists for 29 points in this, his third full NHL season. Toffoli, who twice had 50+ goal seasons in the OHL, was a two-time Jim Mahon Trophy recipient as the OHL’s top scoring right winger. He also won the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2011. Toffoli also received the Red Garrett Memorial Trophy as the AHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2013 after recording 333 career points (163-170–333) in 252 career OHL regular season games with the Ottawa 67’s from 2008-12.

Jeremy Smith named AHL Player of the Week: Niagara IceDogs graduate Jeremy Smith has been named the AHL Player of the Week. Smith backstopped the Wild to their first winning streak of the season last week, turning aside 52 of 54 shots in consecutive victories over Central Division foes. Smith has made 16 appearances for Iowa in 2015-16, going 3-10-2 with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. A seventh-year pro, Smith has a record of 112-81-17 in 221 career AHL games with Iowa, Providence, Springfield and Milwaukee, compiling a 2.45 GAA and a .916 save percentage while recording 12 shutouts. The native of Brownstown, Michigan played four OHL seasons between Plymouth and Niagara from 2005-09, going 61-39-4-6 with a 3.16 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 122 career regular season appearances.

KEY WEEKEND MATCHUPS:

Hamilton Bulldogs (14-17-3-0) vs. Erie Otters (29-4-1-0)
Saturday January 2 at Erie / Sunday January 3 at Hamilton

A good test awaits the Hamilton Bulldogs this weekend as they enter having won three of their past four contests, setting their sights on playoff contention in the Eastern Conference.  The Bulldogs will face an Otters club without star performers Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat and Erik Cernak who are all away at the World Junior Hockey Championship as they try and make the most of their opportunity to defeat the best in the West. Goaltender Charlie Graham has been solid of late, helping the Bulldogs earn a point in each of his seven December starts.  The Otters continue to find success despite being shorthanded of late. They’ve bounced back from a loss to Sudbury with wins over Sarnia and Guelph heading into the weekend.

North Bay Battalion (17-13-1-2) vs. Barrie Colts (20-12-0-1)
Saturday January 2 at Barrie / Sunday January 3 at North Bay

North Bay and Barrie clash on Saturday in a matchup of two competitive clubs battling in a closely contested Central Division. The Battalion had a five game winning streak snapped at the hands of Owen Sound on Tuesday, but have been playing good hockey of late as they trail first place Barrie by four points in the division. The Colts defeated Niagara in a shootout on Monday as newly acquired goaltender David Ovsjannikov made 41 saves in the win. Veteran forwards Kevin Labanc, Justin Scott and Anthony Stefano continue to produce as the Colts keep their eyes on the Central Division crown.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Thursday December 31
Mississauga at North Bay – 1:00pm
Sault Ste. Marie at Windsor – 2:05pm
Sarnia at London – 4:00pm
Ottawa at Erie – 6:00pm
Kitchener at Niagara – 6:00pm
Guelph at Peterborough – 6:05pm
Sudbury at Barrie – 7:30pm

Friday January 1
Mississauga at Owen Sound – 2:00pm
Sudbury at Oshawa – 2:05pm
Peterborough at Kingston – 7:00pm
Guelph at Kitchener – 7:30pm

Saturday January 2
Hamilton at Erie – 7:00pm
Ottawa at Niagara – 7:00pm
Sault Ste. Marie at Saginaw – 7:05pm
London at Sarnia – 7:05pm
North Bay at Barrie – 7:30pm
Windsor at Flint – 7:30pm
Oshawa at Owen Sound – 7:30pm

Sunday January 3
Kitchener at Guelph – 2:00pm
Ottawa at Mississauga – 2:00pm
Barrie at North Bay – 2:00pm
Saginaw at Windsor – 2:05pm
Erie at Hamilton – 3:00pm
Sault Ste. Marie at Flint – 5:00pm

CATCH ALL OF THE ACTION ON OHL LIVE

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