Toronto, ON – Just three more weeks until the 2016 Ontario Hockey League playoffs! 10 teams have clinched but lots of exciting battles for position remain with 26 games tonight through Sunday.
Here’s a look at what’s going on around the league:
AT THE RINKS:
Alexander Nylander bobblehead night on Thursday: The first 2,000 fans into the Hershey Centre to catch the Mississauga Steelheads against the Oshawa Generals on Thursday will received a free limited edition Alexander Nylander bobblehead!
Alex DeBrincat poster giveaway on Saturday: The first 1,000 fans into Erie Insurance Arena to see the Erie Otters face the Niagara IceDogs on Saturday will received a free Alex DeBrincat poster!
Faith Night, Family Night in Flint: The Flint Firebirds will be holding their first ever Faith Night on Saturday at home to the Kingston Frontenacs before another Family Night at the Dort Federal Event Center on Sunday at home to the North Bay Battalion. Don’t miss out on Sunday’s post-game skate with the players!
Attack raise $35,000 through Heartbeats and Hockey Sticks event: The Owen Sound Attack raised $35,000 toward the Owen Sound Cardiac Rehabilitation program through their Heartbeats and Hockey Sticks event on February 6th. Full Story
Derek Rogers commits to Generals: The Oshawa Generals made a special signing on Saturday when 11-year old Derek Rogers signed a one-day contract with the team. Derek plays sledge hockey with the Durham Steelhawks. Full Story
SPITFIRES’ LOGAN BROWN TAKES WEEKLY HONOURS:
2016 NHL Draft prospect Logan Brown of the Windsor Spitfires is the Pioneer Energy OHL Player of the Week for the week ending February 28 after recording seven points in three games including four goals and three assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-2. Brown continued his offensive production with a trio of multi-point performances last week giving him five-straight and totalling 12 points in that span. A native of Chesterfield, Missouri, Brown is playing in his second career OHL season with the Spitfires. The 6’6’’ power forward turns 18 on Saturday and is second in team scoring with 62 points in 51 games including 16 goals and 46 assists.
OTTERS’ WILLIAMS NAMED VAUGHN CHL GOALTENDER OF THE WEEK, SETS SINGLE-SEASON WINS RECORD:
Devin Williams of the Erie Otters is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending February 28 after posting a 2-0-0-0 record including a shutout victory along with a goals-against-average of 0.50 and save percentage of .973. Williams earns the award for the second time this season allowing just one goal on 37 shots backstopping the top ranked Otters to a pair of victories for a first place record of 47-11-1-0 in the OHL standings. Williams set an Otters single season franchise record on Sunday with his 37th win played before a national Sportsnet audience stopping 17 shots and earning second star honours in a 2-1 triumph over the Niagara IceDogs. A 20-year-old from Saginaw, Michigan, Williams is playing in his fifth career OHL season with the Otters. He currently leads all OHL netminders with a goals-against-average of 2.19 and is tied for first with a save percentage of .921.
TIP TOP TAILORS OHL PLAYS OF THE WEEK – WEEK 22:
Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome cuts through the opposition to headline the 22nd edition of the Tip Top Tailors OHL Plays of the Week! Be sure to head over to fanchoice.ca and cast your vote for Dylan who is this week’s OHL representative in the CHL Fan Choice vote!
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! 144 different players have accomplished the milestone this season! Click on a player’s name below to watch his first OHL goal!
OHL MOURNS THE LOSS OF ANDY BATHGATE:
The Ontario Hockey League is deeply saddened by the loss of Hockey Hall of Famer Andy Bathgate, 83, who passed away on Friday. A native of Winnipeg, MB, Bathgate played two seasons with the Guelph Biltmores from 1951-53 capturing the Robertson Cup and Memorial Cup in 1952. Bathgate is in an elite class of big goal scorers in hockey history, joining Doug Gilmour as the only other player to have scored game winning goals in both the MasterCard Memorial Cup and Stanley Cup Finals. Full Story
NHL TRADE DEADLINE SEES WOOD DEALT TO ARIZONA:
Though activity at the NHL’s trade deadline didn’t greatly impact the OHL, one player was on the move on Monday. North Bay Battalion defenceman Kyle Wood was involved in a trade that saw the Colorado Avalanche trade him to the Arizona Coyotes along with veteran Alex Tanguay and fellow prospect Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels) in exchange for Kitchener Rangers graduate Mikkel Boedker. Wood was Colorado’s third round (84th overall) pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Lindros, Ellis among Ontario Sports Hall of Fame inductees: OHL graduates and NHL standouts Eric Lindros and Ron Ellis are set to be inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame on October 17th. The two long-time forwards are a part of a 2016 induction class that also includes former Toronto Blue Jay Tony Fernandez and basketball standout Leo Rautins. Lindros played three seasons with the Oshawa Generals from 1989-92, winning an OHL championship and MasterCard Memorial Cup title in 1990. Ellis played parts of four seasons with the Toronto Marlboros from 1960-64 before a lengthy NHL career spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
21 OHL grads named to initial World Cup of Hockey rosters: A total of 21 OHL graduates have been named to preliminary rosters for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey set to take place in Toronto beginning September 17, 2016. The 21 league alumni were named among the 128 players unveiled on Wednesday who will compete on eight teams in a best-on-best international showcase. Full Story
McDavid named NHL Rookie of the Month: Erie Otters graduate Connor McDavid has been named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for January, one day before coming up with two goals including the overtime winner in Edmonton’s 2-1 win over Buffalo on Tuesday. McDavid recorded five goals and seven assists for 12 points in as many February contests. The 2015 CHL Player of the Year has 12 goals, 19 assists and 31 points in 28 games with the Oilers this season. McDavid played three OHL seasons in Erie from 2012-15, recording 97 goals, 188 assists and 285 points in 166 career regular season contests. McDavid was the recipient of both the Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s Most Outstanding Player and the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as OHL Playoff MVP last season.
Bigras scores first NHL goal: Owen Sound Attack graduate Chris Bigras scored his first career NHL goal in Colorado’s 6-3 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. The Elmvale, ON, native was playing in his 21st game of the season with the Avs after spending the first part of the season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage where he recorded six goals, 13 assists and 19 points in 37 games. Bigras played four seasons in Owen Sound from 2011-15, suiting up in 234 regular season games while becoming the Attack’s franchise scoring leader among defencemen with 35 goals, 120 assists and 155 points and a plus/minus rating of plus-40. He was Colorado’s second round (32nd overall) pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Stolarz sets new team record in AHL: London Knights graduate Anthony Stolarz made 51 saves to set a new Lehigh Valley Phantoms franchise record on Wednesday as they defeated the Syracuse Crunch 3-2 in a shootout. The record comes in the Phantoms’ 20th season as a franchise, one that dates back to 1996-97 when they started out as the Philadelphia Phantoms. The Edison, NJ, native is 22-12-5-3 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 37 AHL games this season. He appeared in 55 regular season games over two seasons in London from 2012-14, going 38-8-2-2 with a 2.44 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and five shutouts. He was an OHL champion in 2013 and was Philadelphia’s second round (45th overall) pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Corrente’s OT winner sends Mustangs to OUA West Finals: OHL graduate David Corrente’s overtime winner on Sunday pushed the Western Mustangs past the Toronto Varsity Blues 4-3 to advance to the OUA West Finals with a 2-1 series win. Western meets the reigning champion Guelph Gryphons who defeated the Ryerson Rams 11-3 in game 3 of their semi-final series on Sunday. Carleton meets UQTR in the OUA East finals. A former Oshawa General and Mississauga St. Michael’s Major, Corrente played five OHL seasons spanning 256 regular season games from 2007-12.
KEY WEEKEND MATCHUPS:
Erie Otters (47-11-1-0) vs. London Knights (43-13-2-1)
Thursday March 3 at London
The two top clubs in the Western Conference clash in London on Thursday as the Knights look to seize an opportunity to climb closer to the Midwest Division leading Otters with a win. The Knights are 1-2 against the Otters this season with three meetings left on the schedule including a home-and-home set in games 67 and 68 on March 18th and 19th. London has won five straight at home and features top NHL Draft prospect Matthew Tkachuk on a 10-game point streak that dates back to February 4th. The Otters are trying to put themselves in a position to have the division out of reach by the final weekend of the season, and a big win on Thursday would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. Erie enters action with wins in four straight.
Windsor Spitfires (36-18-6-0) vs. Sarnia Sting (36-17-5-2)
Friday March 4 at Sarnia
A highly anticipated matchup between two West Division foes goes Friday in Sarnia. The Sting and the Spitfires have been locked in a heated battle for the division for some time now and the race appears to be going right down to the wire. Friday’s meeting between the two clubs is one of three remaining on the schedule. Sarnia holds a 2-1 edge in the season series so far.
Mississauga Steelheads (30-27-1-3) vs. Peterborough Petes (28-26-2-4)
Saturday March 5 at Peterborough
Two clubs looking to overcome poor results last weekend are back in action, with each looking to gain precious ground in the middle of the Eastern Conference. The Steelheads had a pair of forgettable losses against Owen Sound and Barrie and but are still within reach of home ice advantage in the first round if they can pull things together quickly. The Petes have lost four straight and sit just two points behind Mississauga with a shot at securing home ice themselves. The two clubs have split their season series with a win apiece so far. Two meetings remain on the schedule.
Thursday, March 3
Erie at London – 7:00pm
Owen Sound at North Bay – 7:00pm
Hamilton at Peterborough – 7:05pm
Sault Ste. Marie at Sarnia – 7:05pm
Ottawa at Barrie – 7:30pm
Friday, March 4
Barrie at Niagara – 7:00pm
Owen Sound at Sudbury – 7:00pm
Kingston at Saginaw – 7:05pm
Windsor at Sarnia – 7:05pm
Ottawa at Guelph – 7:30pm
Erie at Kitchener – 7:30pm
Sault Ste. Marie at London – 7:30pm
Oshawa at Mississauga – 7:30pm
Saturday, March 5
Guelph at Hamilton – 7:00pm
Sudbury at Niagara – 7:00pm
Mississauga at Peterborough – 7:05pm
North Bay at Windsor – 7:05pm
Owen Sound at Barrie – 7:30pm
Kingston at Flint – 7:30pm
Sunday, March 6
Sault Ste. Marie at Guelph – 2:00pm
Kitchener at London – 2:00pm
Sudbury at Mississauga – 2:00pm
Kingston at Windsor – 2:05pm – CHL on Sportsnet
Ottawa at Hamilton – 3:00pm
Niagara at Erie – 5:00pm
North Bay at Flint – 5:00pm
CATCH ALL OF THE ACTION ON OHL LIVE