Goaltenders: Is This the Year For the OHL?

At the 2018 National Hockey League Draft, the Los Angeles Kings selected Jacob Ingham of the Mississauga Steelheads in the sixth round, 175th overall, while the Las Vegas Goldens Knights chose London Knights puck stopper Jordan Kooy in the seventh round, 208th overall.

At the 2017 Draft, the Vancouver Canucks selected Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires in the third round, 64th overall. Also selected in the third round was Sault Ste Marie netminder Matthew Villalta, 72nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings. Kaden Fulcher of the Hamilton Bulldogs and Kyle Keyser of the Oshawa Generals were signed as free agents by the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins respectively before the start of the 2017-2018 season.

Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

In 2016, Tyler Parsons of the London Knights was selected in the second round, 54th overall, by the Calgary Flames. The New Jersey Devils would nab Evan Cormier from the Saginaw Spirit in the fourth round, 105th overall.  Dylan Wells of the Peterborough Petes was selected in the fifth round. 123rd overall, by the Flames neighbours the Edmonton Oilers. while the Carolina Hurricanes would take Jeremy Helvig of the Kingston Frontenacs in the fifth round, 134th overall.

In 2015, MacKenzie Blackwood would be the only Ontario Hockey League goaltender selected at the draft. The New Jersey Devils would select Blackwood in the second round, 42 overall.

Ask around in hockey circles and many would tell you that goaltending is an area of weakness in the OHL when it comes to the NHL Draft. 2017 looks good at the moment, but Fulcher and Keyser were never drafted which means all 31 NHL Clubs passed on them seven times.

So why would 2019, which takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 21-22 be any different? Well the simple answer is: I don’t know. I don’t have some magic crystal ball that helps predict the future. Just the sheer number of goaltenders entering their draft year adds some intrigue. Add to them a couple of undrafted goaltenders that will be re-entering the draft adds another dimension.

During the 2016-2017 OHL season, an undrafted (in the OHL) Villalta drew my attention very early on. And as the season progressed, his draft stock began to rise. All the way to number 72 in the draft. So, is there another Matthew Villalta knocking at the door in 2018-2019?

When NHL Central Scouting released it’s players to watch list earlier this month, five OHL goaltenders were found on the list. They include Mack Guzda of the Owen Sound Attack as a B prospect, Luke Cavallin of the Flint Firebirds, Hunter Jones of the Peterborough Petes, Nicholas Daws of the Guelph Storm, and Kari Piiroinen of the Windsor Spitfires, all as C prospects. (a B prospect is considered a second or third rounder while a C prospect is considered a fourth, fifth or sixth round prospect).

It was no surprise to see Guzda at the top of Central’s list as he already had the benefit of an OHL season under his belt. During the 2017-2018 season, Guzda appeared in 30 games for the Attack posting a 3.20 goals-against average and .879 save percentage. But it has been a less-then-expected start for Guzda and his Attack Team. In seven games he boasts a 2-5-0-0 record with a save percentage at just .859 and a goals-against average of 4.11. But I have no doubt that he will improve on those stats as the season progresses.

Much like Villalta during the 2016-2017 season, if you haven’t started paying attention to the Petes’ Hunter Jones, then you should probably start now before you lag behind. He leads all OHL goaltenders in appearances (10), minutes played (539), shots faced (323), saves (303) and wins (8). Among puck stoppers who have played in four or more contests, he trails only Kooy in goals-against average (2.22 versus 2.01) and leads all netminders in save percentage (.938).

In eight of the complete games Jones has started this season, he has faced under 35 shots just twice. He had one poor start, allowing 6 goals against the Hamilton Bulldogs in two periods on September 29, 2018. His other starts would be a record setting pace.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, not making Central Scouting’s opening list is Hamilton netminder Zachary Roy. One has to wonder if things keep going the way they are in the Steel City, if there will be a goaltending controversy in the crease. Nick Donofrio, who went undrafted in 2018 and re-enters the draft, was the backup last season to Fulcher and the incumbent starter for this season.

It’s been a slow start for Donofrio, posting a 3-3-1-0 record with a 3.74 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. Roy was given his first OHL start on October 10 and put in a brilliant 42 save performance in a 5-2 victory over the Windsor Spitfires. A week later, Roy was given the start against the Mississauga Steelheads stopping 29 of 30 shots and getting the 5-1 victory. He was rewarded for his performance and started in back-to-back games and getting a 6-5 overtime victory on the road against the Oshawa Generals. Roy now has a 2.61 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

Perhaps the goaltender that is going to be the toughest to get a read on is Flint Firebirds’ Luke Cavallin. The Firebirds are off to a dismal start at 0-9-0-0 having allowed the most goals (53) and scoring the fewest (17) so wins are going to be tough to come by in Flint.

Emanuel Vella is the number one goaltender in Flint. Cavallin has only appeared in two complete games this season, five in total. He’s come on in relief of Vella twice, not allowing a goal on both occasions. But he was also given the hook on one occasion in a game everyone would like to forget, a 12-1 drubbing by the Erie Otters.

The only way to get a good read on Cavallin is to hope he plays and plays a lot and to constantly have eyes on his performance and not paying attention to the outcome. Because the outcome may not be pretty.

Kari Piiroinen of the Windsor Spitfires is in kind of a similar situation. Not that the Spits are the Firebirds, but that you need to have eyes on Piiroinen constantly as you never know when he will make his next appearance. At least that is what one would think when you are backing up the best netminder in the OHL in Micheal DiPietro.

However, the Finnish born Piiroinen has started three of the Spits nine games and came on in relief of DiPietro in another. He boasts a 2-2-0-0 record with a goals-against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .913, all of which are better then DiPietro’s stats. It’s possible the Spitfires might consider trading DiPietro in order to recoup some assets and that could benefit Piiroinen and his draft stock.

In Sault Ste Marie, Villalta is the incumbent for the Greyhounds. They began the season with OHL veteran Tyler Johnson as his backup, but he has since made the jump to the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. In comes Ethan Taylor, who was not on Central Scouting’s list.

Taylor has gotten 2 starts in the last ten days and has come on in relief of Villalta where he stopped all 15 shots he faced in a 6-2 loss the Ottawa 67’s handed the Greyhounds. Taylor has exceptional numbers: a 1-0-1-0 record to go along with his 1.65 goals-against average and .973 save percentage. There was a lot of intrigue surrounding Taylor, and with Johnson moving on, a window of opportunity has opened up for him. Now he has to make the best of his chances when his number is called upon.

The Guelph Storm’s Nicholas Daws did make Central Scouting’s list. He appeared in 14 games for the Storm a season ago posting a goals-against average of 4.06 and a save percentage of .880 and a 1-7-1-1 record. He has started three games for the Storm this season and his stats have regressed from a year ago with his 4.25 goals-against average and .843 saver percentage and a 2-1-0-0 record.

Daws is backing up veteran Anthony Popovich and will likely see more starts then the other backups who are draft eligible. The Storm currently lead the Midwest Division, second overall in the league, with a 6-2-1-0 record but with the league’s eighth worst goals allowed (33).  There is a real opportunity here for Daws and the Storm if he can put it all together and improve on his early season start.

Ryan Dugas of the 3-7-0-0 Kingston Frontenacs is another netminder not on Central Scouting’s list. The Fronts occupy the basement of the East Division and are third from the bottom in the entire league. Although he is backing up veteran Brendan Bonello, Dugas has been a bright spot of sorts for Kingston.

Dugas has appeared in 4 games, one of those being in relief of Bonello, and has a 2-1-0-0 record. His first OHL game was a 27 save shutout performance on September 29 against the Erie Otters. He holds a 2.52 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. He is Kingston’s goalie of the future and if he can steal some starts – and wins – he will draw some attention.

Finally, we have to give a mention to Barrie Colts netminder Jet Greaves. Currently behind veteran Kai Edmonds and 2017 Vegas Golden Knights draft pick Maksim Zhukov who the Colts selected in the 2018 Import Draft, I really like Greaves coming into the season if not for name alone.

The fact is that Edmonds and Zhukov were not getting it done for the Colts, who sit second to last in the Central Division and Greaves got a chance and has outperformed his partners. Although he has a 1-1-0-0 record, his loss came against the Mississauga Steelheads in which he stopped 28 of 30 shots and his teammates could only score once.

Greaves holds a 1.52 goals-against average with a .949 save percentage. It could be in the Colts best interest to give him more starts right now and see if he can run with it.

With all that said and out of the way, 2019 is not the best draft class to come out of the OHL. In fact, it could be one of the worst ever for the OHL. And that could bode well for a goaltending class that is better then usual – at least in sheer numbers.

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Bloodlines Trickle Through the Ontario Hockey League

 

Family Tree

It’s happening more and more when the National Hockey League Draft takes place in late June. Grandsons, sons, brothers and cousins of former NHL’ers and other professional leagues from around the world look to carve their own niche and it all begins with hearing their names called on the draft floor, which takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia on June 21-22, 2019.

There is no shortage of Ontario Hockey League players that will be in that position. A total of 17 players eligible for the draft for the first time have had a relative play in the NHL, drafted by an NHL squad, or played some form of professional hockey.

Today, we take a look at those players beginning with the Barrie Colts. The Colts have 3 players with bloodlines. Defenceman Victor Hadfield is the grandson on former NHL’er Vic Hadfield who appeared in 1002 NHL games with the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Center Ryan Suzuki is the younger brother of Nick Suzuki, a first round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, selected thirteenth overall in 2017 and later traded to the Montreal Canadiens. Finally, goaltender Luke Cavallin is the son of Mark who played professional hockey in Germany and represented Canada internationally in 25 contests. He also has a younger brother Adam playing Bantam Hockey.

The Guelph Storm also have a trio with hockey in their blood and hockey fans will certainly recognize two of the names. Centreman Mason Primeau is the son of Wayne Primeau and nephew of Keith Primeau. Wayne played in 774 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs. Keith appeared in 909 games with the Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers.

Left Winger Tag Bertuzzi is the son of former NHL’er Todd Bertuzzi. His NHL career consisted of 1159 games with the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings. He is also the cousin of Tyler Bertuzzi who has thus far played in 58 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings.

German born Hamilton Bulldogs’ forward Tim Fleischer has a brother Marc, who is just three years older and trying to make Germany’s top league.

Kitchener Rangers’ blueliner Jack York is the son of former NHL’er Jason York, who played a total of 757 games for Detroit, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators and Boston. The elder York also spent the lockout year in the Swiss League. Jack also has a younger brother Matthew playing in the CCHL.

For the London Knights, defenceman Andrew Perrott is the son of Nathan Perrott, a forward with 89 NHL games experience, who also played 266 American Hockey League games and 168 International Hockey League games.

Also from the Knights, is centreman Matvey Guskov. His father Alexander never played in the NHL but competed in 294 Kontinental Hockey League games and 468 games in the top Russian League (prior to the formation of the KHL). He also appeared in 54 international contests for the Russians.

Oshawa Generals right wing Danil Antropov is the son of former NHL’er Nik Antropov, a veteran of 788 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets.  Nik also played in 168 KHL games over his career.

Mack Guzda is a goaltender with the Owen Sound Attack and the son of a former goaltender Brad Guzda. The elder puck stopper never did play in the NHL but spent his career bouncing around the AHL, ECHL and IHL. He is also the cousin of Jeff Woywitka who played in 278 NHL games as well as 355 AHL games and a couple of seasons in Germany.

Peterborough Petes centreman Nick Robertson is the younger brother of Kingston Frontenacs scoring star and the 37th overall pick at the 2017 NHL draft Jason Robertson. They also have an older brother Michael currently playing at the University of Southern California.

That brings us to Nathan Staios, a defenceman with the Windsor Spitfires and the son of the current General Manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Steve Staios. Steve had a long career, appearing in 1001 NHL games with the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Atlanta Thrashers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and New York Islanders. He also appeared in 64 AHL games and 104 IHL games.

2017 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament Powered by Under Armour – Day 3 Summary

Top ranked London Jr. Knights improve to 3-0
All eight Quarter-Final berths to be determined Friday
Livestreams available at https://ohlcup.gameonstream.com.
Free access for Media and Fans for duration of OHL Cup

OHL Cup

Toronto, ON – Round-robin action continued on Thursday with eight games at the 2017 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament powered by Under Armour and hosted by the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

Day 3 action was headlined by the London Jr. Knights who maintain a perfect 3-0 record following a 6-2 win over the Brampton 45’s.

Thursday also included a pair of tie games as well as the first game of the 2017 OHL Cup to be settled in overtime as the Toronto Titans edged the Waterloo Wolves 2-1.

Mississauga Reps foward Mike Petizian leads the OHL Cup scoring race with six points including a goal and five assists in three games. Toronto Marlboros winger Graeme Clarke leads all players with four goals.

Here’s a quick look at Thursday’s action:

2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour Round-Robin Results:

Thursday March 16, 2017

Game 21: Elite Hockey Group 7 vs. Quinte Red Devils 2
Elite Hockey Group MVP – Gabriel Malek (2G)
Red Devils MVP – Michael Andrews (2G)
Recap – Stats

Game 22: Toronto Young Nationals 1 vs. Cambridge Hawks 0
Nationals MVP – Zach Roy (22 SV)
Hawks MVP – A.J. Scala (24 SV)
Recap  Stats

Game 23: Whitby Wildcats 3 vs. Team NOHA 3
Wildcats MVP – Jacob DiDanieli (1A)
NOHA MVP – Payton Vescio (2A)
Recap  Stats

Game 24: Toronto Marlboros 6 vs. Eastern Ontario Wild 3
Marlboros MVP – Billy Constantinou (1G)
Wild MVP – Luke Cavallin (28 SV)
Recap  Stats

Game 25: London Jr. Knights 6 vs. Brampton 45’s 2
Jr. Knights MVP – Peter Fleming (2A)
45’s MVP – Christopher Ishmael (2G)
Recap  Stats

Game 26: Mississauga Reps 2 vs. Ajax-Pickering Raiders 2
Reps MVP – Mike Petizian (1G)
Raiders MVP – Connor McMichael (1G)
Recap  Stats

Game 27: Toronto Titans 2 vs. Waterloo Wolves 1
Titans MVP – David Cunti (32 SV)
Wolves MVP – Riley McCabe (17 SV)
Recap  Stats

Game 28: Toronto Jr. Canadiens 3 – Mississauga Senators 0
Jr. Canadiens MVP – Justin Law Cobb (1G)
Senators MVP – Jordan Frasca
Recap  Stats

All tournament games feature live scoring complete with the OHL’s Game Centre module that includes individual shots on goal and face-off results.

Round-Robin action continues Friday with 12 games before the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final rounds take place on Saturday. The 2017 OHL Cup powered by Under Armour will conclude with Monday’s Championship Final.

2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour Remaining Schedule:

Friday March 17, 2017

Scotiabank Pond 1
8:00 am Toronto Titans vs. Whitby Wildcats
9:45 am Toronto Marlboros vs. Thunder Bay Kings
11:30 am Mississauga Rebels vs. Elite Hockey Group
1:15 pm Toronto Young Nationals vs. Quinte Red Devils
3:00 pm Toronto Titans vs. NOHA
4:45 pm London Jr. Knights vs. TPH Thunder

Scotiabank Pond 2
8:30 am TPH Thunder vs. Mississauga Senators
10:15 am Vaughan Kings vs. Waterloo Wolves
12:00 pm Toronto Jr. Canadiens vs. Brampton 45s
1:45 pm Mississauga Reps vs. Eastern Ontario Wild
3:30 pm Thunder Bay Kings vs. Ajax-Pickering Raiders
5:15 pm Mississauga Rebels vs. Cambridge Hawks

Saturday March 18, 2017

Quarter-Final Playoff Round:

Scotiabank Pond 1
10:30 am Quarter-Final 2 – 1ST Place Shanahan Division vs. 2ND Place Subban Division
12:15 pm Quarter-Final 4 – 1ST Place Lindros Division vs. 2ND Place Nash Division

Scotiabank Pond 2
10:00 am Quarter-Final 1 – 1ST Place Subban Division vs. 2ND Place Shanahan Division
11:45 am Quarter-Final 3 – 1ST Place Nash Division vs. 2ND Place Lindros Division

Semi-Final Playoff Round:

Scotiabank Pond 1
6:00 pm Semi-Final 1 – Winner Quarter-Final 1 vs. Winner Quarter-Final 2
8:00 pm Semi-Final 2 – Winner Quarter-Final 3 vs. Winner Quarter-Final 4

Monday March 20, 2017

Mattamy Athletic Centre

6:30 pm Championship Final – Winner Semi-Final 1 vs. Winner Semi-Final 2

Monday’s Championship Final will be broadcast live on Sportsnet Ontario.

The showcase provides fans and scouts one last opportunity to see many of the top minor midget aged players from across Ontario and parts of the United States compete for the OHL Cup performing against the best competition prior to the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.

For more information, please visit ohlcup.ca.