LALONDE AND JOHNSTON NAMED OHL TOP PERFORMERS OF THE WEEK

Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced Top Performers of the Week for the week of regular season games ending Sunday, January 9, 2022.

Spitfires’ Wyatt Johnston Named OHL Player of the Week

Dallas Stars prospect Wyatt Johnston of the Windsor Spitfires is the OHL Player of the Week, recording two goals and six assists for eight points in two games along with a plus/minus rating of plus-6.

Johnston helped the Spitfires climb to within two points of the West Division-leading Soo Greyhounds, defeating them in back-to-back games on the road. Johnston earned first star honours in Windsor’s first action since Dec. 28th on Saturday, scoring while adding three assists in a 5-2 win. He added another goal and three more helpers in Sunday’s 10-4 victory over the Greyhounds, picking up second star recognition in his fourth 4+ point outing of the season. He also extended his current point streak to seven games.

An 18-year-old native of Toronto, Ont., Johnston has climbed into a tie for second in OHL scoring with 54 points (20-34–54) in 29 games. His 1.86 points-per-game are the third-most in the League while his 127 shots on goal have him tied for third. Johnston was selected by the Dallas Stars with the 23rd overall pick of the 2021 NHL Draft. He was originally Windsor’s first round (6th overall) pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection from the Toronto Marlboros U16 program.

Johnston is the OHL’s first player to claim Player of the Week honours twice this season.

Other candidates from the past week include Windsor Spitfires teammate Matthew Maggio who recorded seven points (3-4–7) in two games on a line alongside Johnston. Mississauga Steelheads forward Luca Del Bel Belluz was also in the running with seven points (2-5–7) in three games.

2021-22 OHL Players of the Week – Regular Season:
Jan. 3 – Jan 9: Wyatt Johnston (Windsor Spitfires)
Dec. 27 – Jan. 2: James Hardie (Mississauga Steelheads)
Dec. 13 – Dec. 19: Ty Tullio (Oshawa Generals)
Dec. 6 – Dec. 12: Lucas Edmonds (Kingston Frontenacs)
Nov. 29 – Dec. 5: Wyatt Johnston (Windsor Spitfires)
Nov. 22 – Nov. 28: Brennan Othmann (Flint Firebirds)
Nov. 15 – Nov. 21: Brandon Coe (North Bay Battalion)
Nov. 8 – Nov. 14: Antonio Stranges (London Knights)
Nov. 1 – Nov. 7: Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs)
Oct. 25 – Oct. 31: Tucker Robertson (Peterborough Petes)
Oct. 18 – Oct. 24: Rory Kerins (Soo Greyhounds)
Oct. 11 – Oct. 17: Calum Ritchie (Oshawa Generals)
Oct. 4 – Oct. 10: Jack Thompson (Sudbury Wolves)


Otters’ Nolan Lalonde Named OHL Goaltender of the Week

Nolan Lalonde of the Erie Otters is the OHL Goaltender of the Week, securing back-to-back wins with a 1.44 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in a pair of weekend contests.

Lalonde helped the Otters extend their winning streak to four, turning aside 67 of the 70 shots he faced to defeat the Kitchener Rangers in consecutive road wins. He made 27 saves and stopped four of five shootout opponents in a 3-2 win over the Rangers on Friday. Lalonde returned to the crease on Saturday, making a season-high 40 saves as the Otters prevailed over Kitchener 4-1 to earn second star recognition.

An 18-year-old from Kingston, Ont., Lalonde leads OHL rookies with nine wins, also posting a 3.59 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in 24 games this season. The 6-foot-1, 186Ib. goaltender was assigned a ‘C’ rating by NHL Central Scouting on their latest Players to Watch list for the 2022 NHL Draft. Lalonde was selected by Erie with their third round (49th overall) pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection.

Also considered for the award this week, Niagara IceDogs netminder Josh Rosenzweig went 2-0-0-0, recording his first career OHL shutout to go with a 2.00 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. Montreal Canadiens prospect Joe Vrbetic of the North Bay Battalion made 71 saves across a pair of wins, recording a 2.37 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

2021-22 OHL Goaltenders of the Week – Regular Season:
Jan. 3 – Jan. 9: Nolan Lalonde (Erie Otters)
Dec. 27 – Jan. 2: Joe Ranger (Mississauga Steelheads)
Dec. 13 – Dec. 19: Owen Bennett (Guelph Storm)
Dec. 6 – Dec. 12: Mack Guzda (Barrie Colts)
Nov. 29 – Dec. 5: Leevi Merilainen (Kingston Frontenacs)
Nov. 22 – Nov. 28: Tye Austin (Peterborough Petes)
Nov. 15 – Nov. 21: Ben Gaudreau (Sarnia Sting)
Nov. 8 – Nov. 14: Joe Vrbetic (North Bay Battalion
Nov. 1 – Nov. 7: Roman Basran (Mississauga Steelheads)
Oct. 25 – Oct. 31: Patrick Leaver (Oshawa Generals)
Oct. 18 – Oct. 24: Jacob Oster (Guelph Storm)
Oct. 11 – Oct. 17: Brett Brochu (London Knights)
Oct. 4 – Oct. 10: Tucker Tynan (Niagara IceDogs)


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

OHL WRITERS’ DRAFT ELGIBLE PLAYERS OF THE MONTH: DECEMBER 2021

The Ontario Hockey League had to postpone more games than anyone wanted to see in December due to the COVID-19 Protocols, but there were some pretty good performances that should not be ignored.

Pavel Cajan of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

In previous season, I looked for one performance that I would feel comfortable saying that player was the Player of the Month. But because of the lost season one year ago and the number of players re-entering the NHL Entry Draft in 2022, I decided for this year to select one forward, one defenceman and one goaltender. Here we go.

Up front, It’s Mississauga Steelheads forward Luca DelBelBelluz who scored 4 goals and 9 assists in 9 contests in the month of December and a whopping 31 shots on goal. He had 4 multi point games including a four-assist night against North Bay on December 29 and he was held off the scoresheet in just two contests.

DelBelBelluz now has 15 goals and 21 assists on the season and sits second in points on the Steelheads just two points behind James Hardie. Among draft eligible players, he is third in points, tied for third in goals and second in assists and easily leads all draft eligible players in plus/minus with a plus-27.

Also considered were a pair of Hamilton Bulldogs. Avery Hayes had 6 goals and 7 assists in 9 games while Ryan Humphrey had 3 goals and 8 assists in 9 games. Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs had 3 goals and 7 assists but played in just 4 games because of the World Junior Championships and the Fronts being in COVID protocol.

On the blueline I could have gone a number of different ways but settled on Kirill Kudryavtsev of the Soo Greyhounds. The 5’11, 200-pound Russian scored once and added 6 assists in 7 games for the Greyhounds raising his totals to 2 goals and 16 assists in 28 games on the season.

I gave the nod to Kudryavtsev because I liked his all-around game. He was kept off the scoresheet in 2 of those 7 games, but the Greyhounds were 0-1-1 in those games. In the 5 games he registered a point? 4-0-1. He is an important player on the Greyhounds blueline as a rookie.

Also considered were Saginaw Spirit defenceman Pavel Mintyukov with 3 goals and 5 assists in 10 games, Samuel Mayer of the Peterborough Petes with 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games, Ty Nelson of the North Bay Battalion with 8 assists in 9 games and Rodwin Dionicio of the Niagara IceDogs with a goal and 5 assists in 5 games.

The decision in net was the easiest and that was Pavel Cajan of the Kitchener Rangers. The draft re-entry netminder simply gives the Rangers a chance every time he mans the crease. He went 4-1-1 in the month of December with a stellar .919 save-percentage.

In his only regulation loss, Cajan stopped 32 of 34 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Windsor Spitfires. In his only other loss – in overtime- he stopped 34 of 38 shots in a 4-3 OT loss to the Soo Greyhounds. On the season Cajan has a save-percentage of .904 – third among draft eligible goalies and a goals-against-average of 3.23 – fifth among draft eligible goalies.

Also considered was North Bay Battalion netminder Dom DiVincentiis. In 4 appearances he went 1-2-0 with a .909 save-percentage

FORWARDS

December – Luca DelBelBelluz – Mississauga Steelheads

November – Kyle Jackson – North Bay Battalion

October – Tucker Robertson – Peterborough Petes

DEFENCEMEN

December – Kirill Kudryavtsev – Soo Greyhounds

November – Gavin While – Hamilton Bulldogs

October – Ty Nelson – North Bay Battalion

GOALTENDERS

December – Pavel Cajan – Kitchener Rangers

November – Patrick Leaver – Oshawa Generals

October – Brett Brochu – London Knights

Luca Del Bel Belluz – Mississauga Steelheads – Player Profile

HTWTDOBPOSSHOOTSOHL DRAFTNHLCSCOUNTRY
6’1”17811-10-2003CLeft51st 2019C ProspectCANADA
SEASONLEAGUETEAMGPGAPTSPIM
2018-2019Under-16Toronto Red Wings3120123218
2019-2020OHLMississauga Steelheads581568
2020-2021OHLDID NOT PLAY     

I feel that NHL Central Scouting’s ranking of a C-Prospect for Luca Del Bel Belluz if the Mississauga Steelheads was the result of the lost Ontario Hockey League season of a year ago due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It has affected many players throughout the OHL and I wonder how things may be different had they OHL played. That said, it could all change come draft day in June.

Luca Del Bel Belluz of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Terry Wilson, OHL Images.

At 6’1, Del Bel Belluz has some good size but he is a lanky 178 pounds. He’s getting top line minutes and opportunities on the powerplay and his production has not disappointed. He currently leads Mississauga in assists with 17 and is second on the team in goals (14) and points (31) in just 26 games. He trails James Hardie by just one point. His 5 game winning goals leads the team easily. His 14 goals come on just 77 shots on goal for an 18.2 shooting-percentage, also tops on his squad.

There is much more to like about Del Bel Belluz than just his name. He is extremely creative with the puck, protects it well, has excellent vision and an uncanny ability to buy time and space for himself and his teammates. He is as effective at dishing the puck on his backhand as he is on his forehand. He can play the forecheck and cycle game very effectively. He’s not the hardest worker on the ice, but you can’t knock his effort.

Del Bel Belluz is effective in his own zone as well. He understands where the center needs to be and he gets there. He has somewhat of a long reach and is very effective in getting his stick in lanes and taking away opportunities. He can sometimes be overpowered by players his size, and this is where adding some bulk will help improve that part of his game.

His game is not all perfect. Skating, or more specifically his mechanics, needs some work. Some tweaking there will help him generate more power in both his first steps and overall speed. If he could have a separation gear, there’s no telling what he may be capable of. And that’s the thing with skating. As you move up in levels of hockey, the skating coaches improve but sometimes it’s not easy getting a player to change his mechanics when he’s been skating the same way for years.

Only time will tell if he can improve, but I know he will put the effort required into it. He’s trending up in the scouting world and I would bet that as of now, he is probably a mid to late second round pick.