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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Mississauga Reps are 2017 OHL Cup powered by Under Armour Champions

OHL Cup

Toronto, ON – The first all-Wild Card Championship Final in OHL Cup history didn’t disappoint.

Dennis Golovatchev scored with nine seconds remaining in the third period to give the Mississauga Reps their first ever OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour Championship with a 3-2 win over the Toronto Nationals at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Golovatchev wristed a quick release past Nationals goaltender Zach Roy off an offensive zone faceoff win by linemate Lucas Rowe, making the Reps the second Wild Card entry following the 2010 Mississauga Rebels to ever hoist the OHL Cup.

“We’ve worked on that faceoff play all season,” said Golovatchev following his late-game heroics. “We pulled it off perfectly. Rowe won it back to me and I just shot the puck.”

The winner came two minutes after the Nationals fought back to tie the score at two on a goal by Brandon Coe.

“We didn’t want to go into overtime because we knew it was going to be nerve-wracking,” said Golovatchev of the feeling on the Reps’ bench. “When coach put me on, we said ‘number two’ – that’s our faceoff play, and it worked.”

OHL Cup Champs
The Mississauga Reps defeated the Toronto Nationals 3-2 in the championship game of the 2017 OHL Cup at Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto on Monday March 20, 2017. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Mississauga carried the play for much of the game, outshooting the Nats 41-26 as Toronto goaltender Zach Roy turned in a solid performance to keep his team in the game to the bitter end.

The Reps were presented with the OHL Cup Trophy by OHL Commissioner David Branch, GTHL Vice President Ken Smith as well as Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada.

OHL Cup scoring leader Mike Petizian earned Reps Player of the Game honours with a goal and an assist before being named the MVP of the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour, recording five goals, eight assists and 13 points over seven contests.

“It’s been a tough go,” said Petizian,” but the guys never quit. I love how we battled back.”

Reps head coach Harry Evans echoed those remarks, admiring his team’s resilience.

“This team has never let me down,” he said “They’ve got no quit in them. Our goal all along was to get to this point. We took some lumps along the way but we got here.

“We had a long, hard road, but the kids stuck together. I give them credit. They really took it upon themselves to put in the work and we got the job done.”

The Reps started from behind as the  Nationals got on the board first, capitalizing 9:27 into the opening frame as Rory Graham got his stick on a Carter Schott point shot, tipping the puck past an outstretched Ryan Dugas in the Mississauga goal.

The game opened up in the second as both teams got creative.

Mississauga carried the play early on, forcing Roy into some difficult saves before finally getting on the board with 3:11 left on the clock.

Petizian set up linemate Aaron Jamieson in the slot, dishing a behind-the-back feed through the middle as Jamieson didn’t hesitate, beating Roy with a quick release to make it a 1-1 game.

The Reps outshot the Nationals 19-8 in the second, ending the frame on a two-man advantage that featured numerous big saves from Roy to keep the score knotted at one.

Mississauga’s five-on-three advantage carried over into the third and the Reps capitalized on a fresh sheet of ice as Petizian continued his torrid scoring pace.

Taking a feed through the middle from Lucas Rowe, Petizian stepped into a one-timer that beat Roy over the glove just 48 seconds in to give the Reps a 2-1 lead.

The Reps would hold that lead until the twelfth minute of the third period as Nationals leading scorer Ethan Keppen won a board battle off the forecheck before finding an oncoming Brandon Coe all alone in the slot to tie the score at two with 2:12 remaining.

Just when it looked as though the OHL Cup Final would require overtime for a third straight year, Golovatchev stepped up off the faceoff to rip a wrister into the back of the net.

The Toronto Nationals end their 2017 OHL Cup Showcase with an overall record of 5-2-0. They were led in scoring by Ethan Keppen who recorded a goal and seven assists for eight points in seven games.

Nationals goaltender Zach Roy earned Player of the Game honours for his team and was named to the Gatorade OHL Cup All-Star Team sporting a 1.43 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and two shutouts while leading all goaltenders with 315 minutes played.

The OHL Cup Champion Mississauga Reps wrap up their unforgettable showcase with a record of 6-0-1, outscoring opponents 24-12. They were led in scoring by Petizian while Jamieson Rees also recorded over a point-per-game with five goals, four assists and nine points in seven games.

Six players from the 2017 OHL Cup were also named to the Gatorade All-Star Team, a selection of the annual showcase’s top performers as chosen by OHL Central Scouting.

Three players from the Championship Final including Mississauga forwards Jamieson Rees and Mike Petizian joined Ethan Keppen, Robert Calisti and Zach Roy of the Nationals in the list of standouts. Mississauga Rebels blueliner Anthony Aguanno rounded out the selections.

The 2017 OHL Cup Championship Final was played before an enthusiastic crowd at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto and was broadcast to a national audience 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.

2017 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament Powered by Under Armour – Day 2 Summary

OHL Cup

Three teams carry 2-0 records at midway point of round-robin
Lives treams available at https://ohlcup.gameonstream.com.
Free access for Media and Fans for duration of OHL Cup

Toronto, ON – Round-Robin action continued today with 16 games at the 2017 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament powered by Under Armour and hosted by the Greater Toronto hockey League.

Day 2 action was headlined by a trio of clubs maintaining a perfect 2-0 record including the GTHL champion Mississauga Rebels, the top ranked ALLIANCE champion London Jr. Knights, and the Wild Card entry Mississauga Reps.

The two-day scoring race features three players ahead of the pack including Mike Petizian of the Reps, Cole Perfetti of the Whitby Wildcats, and Brendan Sellan of the Vaughan Kings each with five points.

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

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

Wednesday March 15, 2017

Game 5: Eastern Ontario Wild 3 vs. Thunder Bay Kings 1
Wild MVP – Alex Johnston (1G, 1A)
Kings MVP – Christian Cicigoi (32 SV)
Recap – Stats

Game 6: Team NOHA 1 vs. Waterloo Wolves 1
NOHA MVP – Camaryn Baber
Wolves MVP – Keean Washkurak
Recap – Stats

Game 7: Elite Hockey Group 4 vs. Cambridge Hawks 2
Elite Hockey Group MVP – Dalton Duhart (3G)
Hawks MVP – David Anderson (1G, 1A)
Recap – Stats

Game 8: TPH Thunder 4 vs. Brampton 45’s 1
TPH MVP – Johnny Beecher (1G, 1A)
45’s MVP – Owen Porter (27 SV)
Recap – Stats

Game 9: Mississauga Rebels 2 vs. Toronto Young Nationals 1
Rebels MVP – Philip Tomasino (2G)
Nationals MVP – Zach Roy (36 SV)
Recap – Stats

Game 10: London Jr. Knights 4 vs. Mississauga Senators 2
Jr. Knights MVP – Aidan Preuter (1G)
Senators MVP – Jordan Frasca (1G)
Recap – Stats

Game 11: Vaughan Kings 3 vs. Toronto Titans 1
Kings MVP – Christian Sbaraglia (13 SV)
Titans MVP – Eli Shiller (32 SV)
Recap – Stats

Game 12: Mississauga Reps 3 vs. Toronto Marlboros 1
Reps MVP – Ryan Dugas (28 SV)
Marlboros MVP – Nicholas Zabaneh (1A)
Recap – Stats

Game 13: Toronto Jr. Canadiens 2 vs. TPH Thunder 1
Jr. Canadiens MVP – Jackson Glassford (31 SV)
TPH MVP – Carson Riddle
Recap – Stats

Game 14: Whitby Wildcats 4 vs. Waterloo Wolves 0
Wildcats MVP – Cole Perfetti (1G, 2A)
Wolves MVP – Washkurak
Recap – Stats

Game 15: Quinte Red Devils 4 vs. Cambridge Hawks 1
Red Devils MVP – Emmet Pierce (3A)
Hawks MVP – Ryan Campbell
Recap – Stats

Game 16: Toronto Young Nationals 4 vs. Elite Hockey Group 3
Nationals MVP – Brandon Coe (1G, 1A)
Elite Hockey Group MVP – Dalton Duhart (1G)
Recap – Stats

Game 17: Ajax-Pickering Raiders 2 vs. Eastern Ontario Wild 1
Raiders MVP – Matthew Altomare
Wild MVP – Alexandre Charlebois
Recap – Stats

Game 18: Vaughan Kings 4 vs. Team NOHA 4
Kings MVP – Drew Ferris (1G, 1A)
NOHA MVP – Cole Craft (1G, 1A)
Recap – Stats

Game 19: Mississauga Reps 3 vs. Thunder Bay Kings 2
Reps MVP – Jamieson Rees (2G)
Kings MVP – Owen Belisle (2G)
Recap – Stats

Game 20: Brampton 45’s 1 vs. Mississauga Senators 1
45’s MVP – Sebastian Labora (32 SV)
Senators MVP – Deacon Holmes
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 Thursday with eight games on the schedule before wrapping up Friday 12 games.  Quarter-Final and Semi-Final action goes Saturday, concluding with Monday’s Championship Final.

2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour Remaining Schedule:

Thursday March 16, 2017

Scotiabank Pond 1
8:30 am Quinte Red Devils vs. Elite Hockey Group
10:15 am NOHA vs. Whitby Wildcats
12:00 pm Brampton 45s vs. London Jr. Knights
1:45 pm Waterloo Wolves vs. WC4

Scotiabank Pond 2
9:00 am Cambridge Hawks vs. WC1
10:45 am Eastern Ontario Wild vs. Toronto Marlboros
12:30pm Ajax-Pickering Raiders vs. WC3
2:15 pm WC2 vs. Toronto Jr. Canadiens

Friday March 17, 2017

Scotiabank Pond 1
8:00 am WC4 vs. Whitby Wildcats
9:45 am Toronto Marlboros vs. Thunder Bay Kings
11:30 am Mississauga Rebels vs. Elite Hockey Group
1:15 pm WC1 vs. Quinte Red Devils
3:00 pm WC4 vs. NOHA
4:45 pm London Jr. Knights vs. TPH Thunder

Scotiabank Pond 2
8:30 am TPH Thunder vs. WC2
10:15 am Vaughan Kings vs. Waterloo Wolves
12:00 pm Toronto Jr. Canadiens vs. Brampton 45s
1:45 pm WC3 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.