2013/14 OHL Assesments (Part 3) & Semi Final Predictions

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Although Barrie and North Bay delivered an awesome matchup in the Eastern Conference, one could see the second round of this year’s OHL playoffs as a bit of a disappointment.

Okay, you probably could of assumed that the Oshawa and Peterborough series would have been pretty lopsided in the Generals favour, but I doubt anyone would have expected the two Western Conference quarterfinals would be done in rather short order.

While the games in both series were close ones for the most part, the Erie Otters’ offence proved too much for the  Soo Greyhounds too handle in its four game sweep, and the Guelph Storm’s depth was more than likely the key difference to knocking out the London Knights in five games.

I highly doubt that the two conference finals will be short contests, but if they are, this year’s playoffs may end up being a rather disappointing one. Especially with the amount of hype going into it.

Before I get to my predictions for the semis, here are my thoughts on the four teams that were knocked out in the second round.

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Peterborough Petes (32-30-0-6 – 3rd in Eastern Division/6th in Eastern Conference – Eliminated by Oshawa Generals in four games)

What I Predicted: If no big players are dealt, which seems like an annual occurrence with this team, a playoff spot is in the cards for the Petes come March.

What Actually Happened: No one major was traded for once, and thanks to a dramatic come-from-behind series win over Kingston, the Petes advanced to the second round for the first time since they won the OHL title in 2006.

What Lies Ahead: A possible home playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. They will lose overage defenders Nelson Armstrong and Clark Seymour, overage netminder Andrew D’Agostini, but pretty much everyone else will be coming back.

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Barrie Colts (37-28-1-2 – 2nd in Central Division/4th in Eastern Conference – Eliminated by North Bay Battalion in six games)

What I Predicted: I don’t believe that the Colts will end up returning to the OHL finals this year, but I do think that this will be a side that gets better as the year goes on, and that Barrie will be a tough team for anyone to play against in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

What Actually Happened: Pretty much that. The Colts had a chance to win the division and made short work of Sudbury in the first round. In fact, you can make a case that they might of had a chance to win the Eastern Conference title given its postseason showing.

What Lies Ahead: A little bit of a regression. With a few graduating from the forward core, it might take a little bit for the younger guys to step up, and that process might also happen on the back end if Aaron Ekblad goes straight to the NHL.

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Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (44-17-2-5 – 1st in West Division/2nd in Western Conference – Eliminated by Erie Otters in four games)

What I Predicted: I think the Greyhounds should hover around the battle for the sixth playoff spot this season, with a chance to earn a home playoff seed if the stars align.

What Actually Happened: A team that I thought would be a major threat come next season arrive a year earlier that I expected. Not only did they earn that home playoff seed, but they won a division title for the first time since 2008.

What Lies Ahead: With this year’s playoff experience in their record books, the Greyhounds might be the team to beat in the Western Conference come next season. Granted they do lose Matt Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and Darnell Nurse may be headed to Edmonton full-time, but this team will return a lot more than others.

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London Knights (49-14-1-4 – 3rd in Midwest Division/4th in Western Conference – Eliminated by Guelph Storm in five games)

What I Predicted: This Knights team is once again a force to be reckoned with. Even though they are already going to the Memorial Cup as the hosts, anything less will be viewed as a disappointment.

What Actually Happened: The Knights did have a strong year, but their total of 103 points were not enough to even win its division. Perhaps it was their inconsistent form, the loss of Olli Mattaa to the NHL, Anthony Stolarz’s injury and playoff suspension, or a young defensive core. But no matter the reason, this year’s Knights team were unable to match the success of the past two squads.

What Lies Ahead: First there is the Memorial Cup, where the Knights will have to get back into game-shape after having almost a month off. When it comes to next year, the team will be losing Stolarz, three overage defenders, and a number of drafted 94-born forwards. Plus, Max Domi, Bo Horvat, and Nikita Zadorov may all move on to the NHL. The window may finally be closing, for now at least.

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What do you mean North Bay isn’t rocking these uniforms all of the time? Well that’s a major disappointment, especially as we head into my Conference Finals predictions.

Eastern Conference

1) Oshawa Generals vs. 2) North Bay Battalion: Oshawa in six (As a Northern Ontario lad, I’m rooting for North Bay here, especially since the Greyhounds are out. However, I feel like the Generals might be the better side overall here, especially with Scott Laughton and Michael Dal Colle up front. Daniel Altshuller has shut down everyone thus far as well, but the Battalion are a much tougher team to go up against than the Steeleheads and the Petes.)

Western Conference

1) Guelph Storm vs. 3) Erie Otters: Guelph in seven (I tossed and turned over this one, as both sides are pretty much even from top-to-bottom, well other than McJesus versus everyone in an NHL Draft prospect party. In the end, I decided to go with the Storm though, mainly because of the fact that they have home ice. Anything less than a seven-game series between these two talented teams will be a major disappointment.)


A Look Back At The 2009 OHL Draft

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As I post this to the internet, the 2014 edition of the OHL Draft is just a few hours away from getting into full swing, with the Sarnia Sting having announced yesterday that highly-touted defender Jakob Chychrun would be the first overall selection in this year’s event.

In this instant access world, everyone wants to have a quick opinion on what each of the 20 teams does on draft day, but it’s pretty much impossible. The vast majority of us have yet to see those drafted in person, and our lone glimpse may only come from a YouTube highlight reel.

I have always been of the belief that you have to let at least five years pass before you make any final judgements on a draft, and with the 1993 birth-year players leaving the junior ranks, I figure this time is right to do my annual review of a previous OHL Draft by taking a look back at what happened in 2009.

Barrie Colts

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 8 Toronto Marlboros Ryan Strome C 225 105-190-295 New York Islanders Organization
 3 48 Quinte Red Devils Zach Hall C  221 68-156-224 Barrie Colts
 4 62 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Ryan Wells D  0 N/A London Nationals
 4 68 Hamilton Huskies Clint Windsor G  100 26-49-10 (4.24) Miramichi Timberwolves
 5 68 Toronto Young Nationals James Hennessy LW  0 N/A Unknown (Stayner Siskins in 12/13)
6 101 Peterborough Petes Mitchell Bursey D 32 1-1-2 St. Catharines Falcons
 7 128 Whitby Wildcats Quincy McIvor F  0 N/A Unknown (Whitby Fury in 11/12)
 8 148 Toronto Young Nationals Tye Campbell RW  0 N/A North York Rangers
 9 168 Ajax-Pickering Rangers James Doering D  0 N/A Unknown (Pickering Panthers in 11/12)
 10 188 Mississauga Senators Dylan Smoskowitz F  255 86-55-141 Oshawa Generals
 11 208 Detroit Belle Tire Cory Czarnik C  0 N/A Unknown (Tri-City Storm in 10/11)
 13 248 Toronto Young Nationals Tyson Fawcett C  130 35-40-75 Barrie Colts
 14 268 Hamilton Huskies Mitchell Nardi C  0 N/A Lake Superior State Lakers
 15 288 Upper Canada Cyclones Jarrett Williams D  0 N/A Unknown (Westport Rideaus in 12/13)
 15 293 South Central Coyotes Michael Robinson LW  72 5-10-15 Wellington Dukes

Ryan Strome ended up becoming a star in the league, though that was after he was traded to Niagara in a deal that saw the Colts pick up Alex Pietrangelo at the 2010 trade deadline. The Zach Hall pick ended up being good in the long run though, and Tyson Fawcett was a nice snag in the late stages of the draft.

Belleville Bulls

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 18 Quinte Red Devils Tyson Teichmann  G  130 31-7-7 (4.01) Wellington Dukes
 2 32 Toronto Marlboros Michael Curtis LW  311 80-75-185 Erie Otters
4 63 Toronto Marlboros Steven Strong D  228 12-35-47 Guelph Gryphons
 4 78 Mississauga Senators Alex Basso D  280 38-120-158 London Knights
5 98 Central Ontario Wolves Scott Simmonds LW  245 21-49-70 Belleville Bulls
7 136 St. Catharines Falcons Matt Moes RW  0 N/A Unknown (St. Catharines Falcons in 11/12)
 8 158 Peterborough Petes Cole Murduff D  79 1-9-10 Lindsay Muskies
 9 178 Ottawa Valley Titans Phillip Doucet LW  0 N/A Unknown (Gloucester Rangers in 11/12)
 10 198 Ajax-Pickering Raiders Steven Deeg RW  0 N/A Wellington Dukes
 11 218 Toronto Marlboros Malcolm Subban G  118 64-42-6 (2.52) Boston Bruins Organization
 12 238 Brantford 99ers Dillan Walker D  0 N/A St. Catharines Falcons
 13 258 Ottawa Valley Titans Nikolas Van Essen LW  0 N/A Unknown (Ottawa Valley Titans in 08-09)
 14 278 Ajax-Pickering Raiders Ryan Logan D  0 N/A Cobourg Cougars
 15 298 Central Ontario Wolves Eric Wintjes D  0 N/A Unknown (Ottawa West Golden Knights in 12/13)

The Bulls did get a top-notch goalie in this draft, but it was in the 11th round and not with their first pick. Their next four picks were pretty solid as a whole after Teichmann though.

Brampton Batallion

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 17 York Simcoe Express Barclay Goodrow RW 313 127-102-229 North Bay Battalion
 3 52 Niagara Falls Rivermen Mathew MacLeod RW  291 54-76-130 North Bay Battalion
 4 73 Toronto Junior Canadiens Michael Mastrangelo LW  4 0-0-0 Unknown (Saint John Sea Dogs in 12/13)
 5 89 Villanova Knights Domenic Alberga C  259 35-51-86 Ryerson University
 7 127 London Knights Jacob Riley G  51 11-19-7 (3.75) London Nationals
 7 137 Philadelphia Jr. Flyers Tyler Rehm LW  0 N/A Janesville Jets
 8 157 Rochester Alliance Jeffrey Stengiein C  0 N/A Michigan State Spartans
 9 177 Mississauga Reps Mark Luzar D  0 N/A Harvard Crimson
 10 197 Toronto Red Wings Daniel Leavens C  0 N/A Robert Morris Colonials
11 217 Mississauga Reps Jordan Auld D  127 3-27-30 Unknown (Queen’s Golden Gales in 12/13)
12 237 North York Rangers Adam Shibuya G  0 N/A Unknown (Toronto Jr. Canadiens in 11/12)
 13 257 Mississauga Reps Andreas Tsogkas C  96 3-14-17 Toronto Lakeshore Patriots
 14 277 Nickel City Sons Darcy Haines C  0 N/A Soo Thunderbirds
 15 289 Halton Hurricanes Spencer Abraham D  247 23-72-95 Erie Otters
 15 297 Halton Hurricanes Nicholas Pierog RW  0 N/A Penticton Vees

This might be my favourite draft so far. All of the guys who stuck around in the OHL were solid players, and Spencer Abraham was a heck of a pick in the final round.

Erie Otters

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 10 Toronto Young Nationals David Broll LW  255 47-92-139 Toronto Maple Leafs Organization
 2 28 Burlington Eagles Jeremy Gottzmann C  139 7-21-28 Milton Icehawks
 2 30 Central Ontario Wolves Brady Austin D  322 29-81-110 London Knights
 3 41 Burlington Eagles Jordan Coccimiglio C  121 5-10-15 Queen’s Golden Gales
 3 54 Toronto Young Nationals Michael Neville LW  0 N/A Michigan Tech Huskies
 5 83 Mississauga Senators Mikkel Poldma D  0 N/A Aurora Tigers
 5 90 Oakville Rangers Chris Festarini G  119 47-52-7 (3.52) Truro Bearcats
 7 138 London Knights Matthew Wildman C  0 N/A London Nationals
8 150 OPS Major Midget Adam Wood G  4 6.70 (2-2-0) Wellington Dukes
9 170 Pittsburgh Hornets Kevin Zugec D  0 N/A Rochester Jr. Americans
 10 189 Markham Majors Mark Gazdic D  18 0-1-1 London Nationals
 10 190 Ottawa Senators Keegan Harper D  0 N/A Pembroke Lumber Kings
 11 210 Kingston Jr. Frontenacs Kristian Grant D  108 4-20-24 Queen’s Golden Gales
 12 230 Central Ontario Wolves John McGuire RW  119 4-3-7 Rochester Americans
 13 250 Huron Perth Lakers Mitchell McIntosh C  4 0-0-0 Niagara Falls Canucks
 14 270 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Matt Halloran D  0 N/A Listowel Cyclones

While Erie’s draft isn’t that bad, most everyone that did something after they moved on from the Otters. That would certainly change in a few years time when that McJesus fellow came around.

Guelph Storm

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 11 London Knights Carter Sandlak LW  272 59-63-122 Plymouth Whalers
 3 53 Cushing Academy Julian Ciocco D  0 N/A Unknown (Philadelphia Little Flyers in 09/10)
 4 71 Toronto Marlboros Zack Mitchell RW  322 102-141-243 Guelph Storm
 5 82 Toronto Marlboros Luke Juha D  0 N/A Penn State Nittany Lions
 6 104 Huron Perth Lakers Mac Nichol D  68 1-2-3 Listowel Cyclones
 6 111 Brantford 99ers Ryan Horvat LW  185 32-52-84 Guelph Storm
 6 120 York Simcoe Express Jeff Dinallo C  0 N/A Clarkson Golden Knights
 7 120 Detroit Compuware Jacob MacDonald D  0 N/A Cornell Big Red
 8 151 London Knights Scott Lombardi RW  0 N/A London Nationals
 8 160 Illinois Minor Midget Garrett Sparks G  138 71-48-9 (2.97) Toronto Maple Leafs Organization
 9 180 Toronto Young Nationals Taki Pantziris D  21 2-4-6 West Kelowna Warriors
 10 191 Soo North Stars Patrick Watling C  187 36-66-102 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
 11 211 Lambton Jr. Sting Brett Thompson RW  0 N/A Lambton Shores Predators
 12 231 Markham Majors Shawn Hulshof LW  0 N/A SUNY-Oswego
 13 247 Upper Canada Cyclones Connor McLaren RW  0 N/A Gloucester Rangers
 14 271 North Central Predators Caleb Cameron LW  0 N/A RIT Tigers
 15 291 Burlington Eagles Daniel Poliziani D  116 3-17-20 Truro Bearcats
 15 299 Niagara Falls Rivermen Nik Passero RW  0 N/A London Nationals

The Julian Ciocco pick aside, this draft is a pretty good one. You have a pair of players who are key cogs in this year’s OHL title hunt, and an 8th round pick who was one of the top netminders in the league. Also, take a look at Nik Passero’s wonderful stache.

Kingston Frontenacs

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 2 Toronto Junior Canadiens Alan Quine C 252 90-128-218 New York Islanders Organization
 2 22 Quinte Red Devils Steven Broek LW  82 6-7-13 Unknown (Belleville Bulls in 10/11)
 2 37 Mississauga Rebels Brett Morgan LW  40 4-3-7 Hockey Trainer
 3 42 Upper Canada Cyclones Clark Seymour D  288 14-43-57 Peterborough Petes
 4 69 Mississauga Senators Franky Palazzese G  175 71-69-26 (3.13) Sudbury Wolves
5 97 London Knights Ryan Davidson C  58 6-7-13 Unknown (London Nationals in 11/12)
5 100 Upper Canada Cyclones Ben Hutton D  0 N/A Maine Black Bears
 6 102 Team Comcast Eric Neiley C  0 N/A Dartmouth Big Green
 7 122 Whitby Wildcats Jarett Smith LW  0 N/A Unknown (Uxbridge Bruins in 12/13)
 8 142 Kingston Jr. Frontenacs Nathan Perry G  0 N/A Cobourg Cougars
 9 162 Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves Liam Kirkwood D  0 N/A Deceased (Leukaemia in 2012)
 10 182 Illinois Minor Midget AJ Jarosz LW  0 N/A Soo Eagles
 12 222 Whitby Wildcats Andrew Medico D  0 N/A Unknown (Pickering Panthers in 11/12)
 13 242 Toronto Jr. Canadiens David Freidmann C  0 N/A Robert Morris Colonials
 13 256 Mississauga Reps Matthew Wintjes G  0 N/A Michigan Tech Huskies

Oh Kingston. To be fair on this one, Palazeese thrived after he left town, Quine was dealt to get Ryan Spooner in a run during the 2010-11 season, Broek quit hockey after he was dealt to Belleville, and Morgan had concussion issues.

Kitchener Rangers

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 3 York Simcoe Express Ryan Murphy D 228 53-167-220 Carolina Hurricanes Organization
 2 23 Chicago Steel John Moore D  61 10-37-47 New York Rangers Organization
 3 43 Mississauga Senators Ben Fanelli D  201 10-37-47 Kitchener Rangers
 3 47 Kingston Junior Frontenacs Keli Grant RW  35 5-2-7 Kitchener Dutchmen
 6 103 Culver Academy Barrett Kaib D 0 N/A Northern Michigan Wildcats
 7 123 Eastern Ontario Wild Eric Ming RW  240 57-59-116 Niagara Ice Dogs
 8 143 Mississauga Reps Ben Thomson LW  303 65-85-150 North Bay Battalion
 9 163 Oakville Rangers Braedan Russell F 0 N/A Surrey Eagles
 10 183 St. Catharines Falcons Kyle Woodhouse LW  0 N/A St. Catharines Falcons
 11 203 Pittsburgh Hornets John Gibson G  59 38-19-1 (2.60) Anaheim Ducks Organization
 12 223 Waterloo Wolves Zachary Lorentz LW  253 64-64-128 Plymouth Whalers
 13 243 Upper Canada Cyclones Tanner Benton LW  0 N/A Brockville Tikis
 14 263 South Central Coyotes Jason Lang C  0 N/A Unknown (Villanova Knights in 10/11)

Now this is a draft. Solid OHL players from top to bottom, a top-line defender (though you could argue how much defending he did while he was free-wheeling) with their top pick, and John Freaking Gibson in the 11th round.

London Knights

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 19 Kingston Junior Frontenacs Scott Harrington D  216 13-68-81 Pittsburgh Penguins Organization
 2 35 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Jake Worrad D  184 15-51-66 Belleville Bulls
 3 51 Chatham Cyclones Dane Fox F  243 118-109-227 Erie Otters
 4 65 Chatham Cyclones Seth Griffith RW  207 102-129-231 Boston Bruins Organization
 6 119 Shattuck St. Mary’s Daniel Elser LW  41 1-5-6 Des Moines Buccaneers
 7 139 Lake Forest Academy Darcy Greenaway F  198 86-72-158 Kingston Frontenacs
 9 179 St. Catharines Falcons Tommy Barszcz C 0 N/A Bonnyville Pontiacs
 10 199 Hamilton Huskies Yanni Raillis RW  0 N/A St. Catharines Falcons
 12 239 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Greg Milner C  8 1-1-2 Whitby Fury
 13 259 Cambridge Hawks Nicholas Coone G 0 N/A Unknown (Elmira Sugar Kings in 11/12)
 14 262 Burlington Eagles Alexander Murray G  0 N/A Prince George Spruce Kings
 14 279 Burlington Eagles Jake Lukasic RW  0 N/A Unknown (Burlington Eagles in 08/09)
 14 280 Thunder Bay Kings Daniel Morin D  0 N/A Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
 15 282 Southern Tier Admirals Jordan Bolibruck LW  0 N/A Port Colborne Pirates
 15 286 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Taylor Speed G  0 N/A Windsor Lancers

Perhaps they regret not having Dane Fox’s goals as an overager, but they got Greg McKegg for him so that’s not too bad. Scott Harrington became a leader at the back end, and for a fourth rounder, Seth Griffith was outstanding.

Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 15 Toronto Marlboros Stuart Percy D  218 25-96-121 Toronto Maple Leafs Organization
 2 34 London Knights Dylan DeMelo D  218 25-100-125 San Jose Sharks Organization
 4 75 Toronto Marlboros Justin Rasmussen C  80 8-9-17 Dieppe Commandos
 5 95 Upper Canada Cyclones Doug Harvey LW  59 2-2-4 Kemptville 73′s
 6 115 Sun County Panthers Brendan McCann LW  79 3-5-8 LaSalle Vipers
 7 135 Toronto Junior Canadiens Eric Diodati D  173 10-39-49 Windsor Spitfires
 9 175 South Central Cyclones Daniel Lisi LW  0 N/A Sacred Heart Pioneers
 10 195 Cleveland Barons Kevin Irwin C  0 N/A Green Bay Gamblers
 11 215 Ajax-Pickering Raiders Connor Wilkinson G  0 N/A Dieppe Commandos
 12 235 Niagara Falls Rivermen Brett Foy C  196 33-34-67 Mississauga Steelheads
 13 255 Illinois Minor Midget Jacob Dutter D  0 N/A Unknown (Team Illinois in 08/09)
 14 275 Toronto Marlboros Brandon McMartin D  0 N/A Smiths Falls Bears
15 295 York Simcoe Express Hayden Neuman G  0 N/A Elmira Sugar Kings
 15 300 Oakville Rangers Ori Abramson D  0 N/A New Jersey Hitmen

Yeah there’s a lot of guys who didn’t do much, but when you get two top-line defenders in Percy and DeMelo, I don’t think you can be that upset about how your draft went.

Niagara Ice Dogs

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 7 Toronto Marlboros Lucas Lessio LW  167 80-70-150 Phoenix Coyotes Organization
 2 27 St. Catharines Falcons Douglas Hamilton D  213 40-147-187 Boston Bruins Organization
 3 57 Brantford 99ers Andrew Fritsch RW  274 103-118-221 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
 4 80 Barrie Colts John Chartrand G  61 22-29-2 (4.24) Nipissing Lakers
 5 87 St. Catharines Falcons Joey De Concilys D 0 N/A Brown Bears
6 106 Northfield Mount Hermon Kevin Bremner D  0 N/A Unknown (Brampton Battalion Midget AAA in 10/11)
 6 107 Vaughan Kings Phillip Di Giuseppe LW  0 N/A Michigan Wolverines
 6 112 Mississauga Senators William Lovatsis LW  0 N/A Pickering Panthers
 8 147 Kitchener Rangers Mitchell Theoret LW  293 65-95-160 Barrie Colts
 9 167 Rochester Alliance Riley Bourbonnais C  0 N/A RPI Tigers
 10 187 Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs Michael Casale RW  0 N/A Kingston Voyageurs
 11 207 Mississauga Rebels MacKenzie Braid D 133 6-15-21 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
 12 227 Rochester Alliance Cole Bardreau C  0 N/A Cornell Big Red
 14 267 Brampton 45′s Victor Piszczek D  0 N/A Unknown (Caledon Golden Hawks in 12/13)
 15 287 South Central Coyotes Christian Weidauer D  0 N/A Prince George Spruce Kings

Since Lucas Lessio didn’t play for Niagara at all (he was traded to Oshawa where he would end up playing in the OHL), that sort of takes away from how things went. Though Dougie Hamilton made up for it by playing like a first round selection during his time in the OHL. Di Giuseppe would of been fun to watch in this league, whether it had been for Niagara or Windsor where he rights were dealt later on.

Oshawa Generals

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 4 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Boone Jenner C 227 111-135-246 Columbus Blue Jackets Organization
 2 39 Toronto Junior Canadiens Tyler Biggs RW  60 26-37-53 Toronto Maple Leafs Organization
 3 44 Detroit Compuware Colin Suellentrop D  313 11-74-85 Oshawa Generals
 3 45 Chatham Cyclones Kyle Hope LW  268 44-80-124 Owen Sound Attack
 5 84 Ottawa Senators Brent Norris C  0 N/A UConn Huskies
 5 91 Barrie Colts Brian Hughes C  165 13-13-26 Unknown (Oshawa Generals in 13/14)
 7 124 Welland Junior Canadians Patrick Koudys D  0 N/A Penn State Nittany Lions
 8 144 Burlington Eagles Liam Board RW  0 N/A Georgetown Raiders
 8 154 Halton Hurricanes Sean McGovern C  0 N/A St. Lawrence Saints
 11 202 Toronto Marlboros Eric Chevrier D  0 N/A Brooks Bandits
 11 204 Sun County Panthers Tony Spidalleri LW  0 N/A Leamington Flyers
 12 224 Detroit Little Caesars James McDowell D  304 35-71-107 Sarnia Sting
 13 244 Illinois Minor Midget Lane King RW  0 N/A Marquette Royals
 14 264 Mississauga Reps Santo Provenzano G  0 N/A Unknown (Toronto Red Wings in 10/11)
 15 284 Chicago Young Americans Brett Curran D  0 N/A Unknown (Connecticut College in 12/13)

The first few picks of this draft is pretty awesome. Everything else besides Hughes and McDowell, not so much.

Ottawa 67′s

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 16 Peterborough Petes Cody Ceci D  265 49-121-170 Ottawa Senators Organization
 2 31 St. Catharines Falcons Aaron Taylor LW  22 1-1-2 St. Catharines Falcons
 2 36 York Simcoe Express Steven Janes LW  256 55-61-116 Windsor Spitfires
 3 55 Mississauga Reps Tyler Graovac C  228 58-72-130 Minnesota Wild Organization
 4 76 Toronto Jr. Canadiens Nicholas Foglia C  204 23-28-51 Unknown (Brampton Battalion in 12/13)
 5 96 Mississauga Rebels Cooper Rush D  0 N/A Prince George Spruce Kings
 6 116 South Central Coyotes Michael McKee D  0 N/A Western Michigan Broncos
 8 156 Brantford 99ers Braden Mann G  0 N/A Unknown (Milton Icehawks in 12/13)
 9 164 Upper Canada Cyclones Ryan Van Stralen LW  182 52-63-115 Ottawa 67′s
 9 176 Brantford 99ers Remy Giftopoulos LW  230 61-60-121 Windsor Spitfires
 10 196 Toronto Marlboros Evan Rodrigues C  0 N/A Boston Terriers
 11 216 Ottawa Valley Titans Troy Anderson G  0 N/A Unknown (Perth Blue Wings in 10/11)
 12 236 Brockville Braves Maxime Dumond LW  0 N/A Unknown (Alaska-Fairbanks in 12/13)
 14 276 Toronto Young Nationals Blake Stephenson D  0 N/A Unknown (Stoufville Spirit in 10/11)
 15 296 Kingston Frontenacs Paul Dorsey G  1 0-1-0 (6.62) Royal Military College

This reminds me a lot of the Brampton draft from earlier, with top notch OHL players all over the place, and a pair of players who are in NHL systems. Not sure about that Aaron Taylor pick though.

Owen Sound Attack

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 9 Lambton Jr. Sting Curtis Crombeen D  127 4-21-25 Sarnia Legionnaires
 2 29 Mississauga Rebels Tyler Morgan LW  0 N/A Unknown (North York Rangers in 11/12)
 2 40 Vaughan Kings Jordan Binnington G  157 86-51-14 (2.90) St. Louis Blues Organization
 3 49 York Simcoe Express Jack Kuzmyk D  230 2-26-28 Unknown (Erie Otters in 12/13)
 6 109 Whitby Wildcats Brendan Sims RW  0 N/A Unknown (Whitby Fury in 10/11)
 7 129 Vaughan Kings Brayden Rose D  234 8-61-69 Owen Sound Attack
 8 149 Toronto Junior Canadiens Cameron Brace C  265 106-100-206 Belleville Bulls
 9 169 Lambton Jr. Sting Tanner Ferguson D  0 N/A Chatham Maroons
 10 184 Brantford 99ers Brennon Pearce LW  0 N/A Elmira Sugar Kings
 11 209 Mississauga Senators Nathan Granitto C  0 N/A Cochrane Generals
 11 219 London Knights Greg Staeger D  0 N/A Unknown (London Nationals in 11/12)
 12 229 Grey-Bruce Highlanders Austin Rigney D  0 N/A Aurora Tigers
 13 249 Toronto Red Wings John Paul Cesario G  6 1-3-0 (4.16) Unknown (Pickering Panthers in 12/13)
 13 252 Toronto Titans Tyler Wade LW  0 N/A Unknown (Newmarket Hurricanes in 10/11)
 14 269 Huron Perth Lakers Brad McClure LW  0 N/A Penticton Vees

Well besides that Tyler Morgan pick in the second round, this draft was another solid one. Also, what the heck is the Cochrane Generals team that I get cover out here doing in this draft look-back?

Peterborough Petes

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 6 Sun County Panthers Matthew Puempel LW  195 119-94-213 Ottawa Senators Organization
 2 36 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Luke Hietkamp RW  215 20-20-40 Wilfrid Laurier
 3 46 Markham Majors Andrew D’Agostini G  191 71-85-11 (3.74) Peterborough Petes
 3 59 Ottawa Senators Kyle Rankin C  0 N/A Princeton Tigers
 4 79 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Derek Mathers RW  184 20-31-51 Philadelphia Flyers Organization
 5 86 Mississauga Senators Reid Jackman LW  15 0-1-1 Brampton Bombers
 6 105 Ajax-Pickering Raiders Jake Bannister RW  0 N/A Unknown (Cornwall Colts in 12/13)
 6 118 North York Rangers Jason Kelly C  5 0-2-2 Ryerson Rams
 7 126 Ottawa Senators Kurt Gowdy RW  55 3-6-9 Unknown (Kemptville 73′s in 11/12)
 8 146 Ajax-Pickering Raiders Khalid Alli LW  0 N/A Unknown (Cornwall Colts in 12/13)
 9 166 Peterborough Petes Turner Evans C  0 N/A Ohio State Buckeyes Lacrosse
 10 186 Upper Canada Cyclones Dylan McDiarmid D  0 N/A Gloucester Rangers
 11 206 North Jersey Avalanche Justin Selman C  0 N/A Michigan Wolverines
 12 226 Whitby Wildcats Keinan Brown G  0 N/A Unknown (Cobourg Cougars in 11/12)
 14 266 Markham Majors Geoffrey Bezruchko C  64 5-1-6 Unknown (Orangeville Flyers in 11/12)

I’ve waited for a heroic cross-sport athlete to show up, and we got one in a Ohio State lacrosse player. As per usual for the Petes at this point, this wasn’t the best of drafts, especially since their top pick in Puempel would end up being traded to Kitchener.

Plymouth Whalers

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 13 Huron Perth Lakers Garrett Meurs RW  265 78-114-192 Colorado Avalanche Organization
 2 33 Culver Academy Matt Mahalak G  148 77-46-13 (3.11) Kingston Frontenacs
 4 64 Detroit Compuware Stefan Noesen LW  215 100-120-220 Anaheim Ducks Organization
 5 93 Pittsburgh Horners Jonathon Miller F  61 25-37-62 New York Rangers Organization
 5 99 North Jersey Avalanche Nicholas Malysa D  294 3-28-31 Plymouth Whalers
 6 113 York Simcoe Express Calvin Higley LW  0 N/A Aurora Tigers
 7 133 London Knights Dylan MacDonald D  65 0-3-3 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
 8 153 Ohio Blue Jackets Conner Burton C  0 N/A Unknown (New Jersey Hitmen in 12/13)
 8 159 Eastern Ontario Wild Kevin Tansey D  0 N/A Clarkson Golden Knights
 9 173 Mississauga Senators Adam Nanji RW  6 1-0-1 Georgetown Raiders
 10 193 Detroit Compuware Peter Hand D  0 N/A Sioux Falls Stampede
 11 213 Thunder Bay Kings Adam Restoule LW  59 3-3-6 Lakehead Thunderwolves
 12 223 Shattuck St. Mary’s Kenneth Gillespie F 0 N/A New Jersey Hitmen
 13 253 Vaughan Kings Christian Elsborg RW  0 N/A Valley Jr. Warriors
 14 273 Toronto Junior Canadiens Chris Albertini D  34 3-1-4 Victoria Grizzlies
 15 282 Ohio Blue Jackets Sean Kuraly C  0 N/A Miami Redhawks

The Plymouth Whalers had a good draft in its first few picks? I’m flabbergasted. On a side-note, I would have loved to see what Kuraly would have done with some of the teams the Whalers had over the last couple of years. Well before this year’s eight place finishers.

Saginaw Spirit

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 14 Mississauga Senators Anthony Camara LW  245 66-56-122 Boston Bruins Organization
 2 24 Detroit Little Caesars Vincent Trocheck C  264 120-179-299 Florida Panthers Organization
 4 66 St. Francis High School Alex Lepkowski D  228 8-23-31 Oshawa Generals
 4 70 TPH Thunder Jay Williams G  0 N/A Miami Redhawks
 4 74 Peterborough Petes Paxton Leroux D  36 1-1-2 Kitchener Rangers
 7 130 Detroit Victory Honda Frank Schumacher D  87 6-12-18 Gatineau Olympiques
 7 134 Kitchener Rangers Mark Scheifele C  158 84-133-217 Winnipeg Jets Organization
 9 174 Quinte Red Devils Billy Ulrick C  0 N/A Cornwall Colts
 10 194 Detroit Compuware Dominik Shine RW  0 N/A Northern Michigan Wildcats
 12 228 Mississauga Reps Keenan Hodgson C  0 N/A Nepean Raiders
 12 234 Mississauga Senators Marc Bessey D  0 N/A Loyola Marymount Lions
 13 254 Kitchener Rangers Carlton Richard C  0 N/A Unknown (Kitchener Jr. Rangers in 10/11)
 14 274 Verona High School Joseph Fiala D  0 N/A Quinnipiac Bobcats
 15 294 Nichols High School Peter Dudek G  0 N/A Buffalo State College Bengals

Loyola Marymount has a hockey team? Colour me impressed. Although Schiefele was dealt to Barrie before the start of the 2010-11 season for Mavric Parks, this draft was pretty good one. Plus, since Trocheck once won me five bucks in a NHL Draft bet, he always has a soft spot in my heart.

Sarnia Sting

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 12 Toronto Marlboros Brett Ritchie RW  220 99-92-191 Dallas Stars Organization
 3 50 Sarnia Legionnaires Craig Hottot RW  195 45-50-85 Bassist in Sunday Sounds Good
 3 55 York Simcoe Express Brandon Francisco LW  186 31-46-77 Newmarket Hurricanes
 4 72 St. Catharines Falcons Jamie Phillips G  0 N/A Michigan Tech Huskies
 5 92 Ohio Blue Jackets Joseph Campagna LW  129 40-37-77 Moncton Wildcats
 5 94 Mississauga Reps Ryan Zupancic D  53 0-3-3 UOIT Ridgebacks
 6 110 Toronto Jr. Canadiens Braden Kavaratzis LW  19 3-3-6 Fort Erie Meteors
 7 132 Soo North Stars Kyle Paat D  0 N/A Wellington Dukes
 8 152 Brantford 99ers Jake Milligan LW  0 N/A Ancaster Avalanche
 9 172 Mississauga Senators Kyle Dutra C  0 N/A Mercyhurst Lakers
 10 192 Peterborough Petes Nelson Armstrong D  91 13-45-58 Peterborough Petes
 11 212 TPH Thunder Jordan Cosby RW  0 N/A ECU Pirates
 12 232 Lambton Jr. Sting Sean Parker G  0 N/A Sarnia Legionnaires
 14 272 Lansing Capitals Reid Boucher LW  135 90-55-145 New Jersey Devils Organization
 15 290 Ohio Blue Jackets Connor Murphy D  68 14-30-44 Phoenix Coyotes Organization

Two quick notes here. Firstly, I need to book Craig Hottot’s band. Secondly, there’s a hockey program at ECU? As for the draft, it’s not really all that hot after the Brett Ritchie pick, until you get to the final two players. This is what having Alex Galchenyuk and Nail Yakupov on your team can do for you.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 1 York Simcoe Express Daniel Catenacci C  266 107-145-252 Buffalo Sabres Organization
 2 21 Quinte Red Devils Nick Cousins C  264 102-189-291 Philadelphia Flyers Organization
 3 60 Illinois Minor Midget Trevor Morbeck RW  220 29-51-80 Muskegon Lumberjacks
 4 61 Toronto Junior Canadiens Justin Thomas LW  33 5-5-10 Amherst Ramblers
 5 81 Burlington Eagles Patrick Volpe D  32 0-0-0 Kingston Voyageurs
 6 108 Vaughan Kings Ryan Sproul D  172 57-96-153 Detroit Red Wings Organization
 7 121 Toronto Young Nationals Chad Thibodeau LW  130 5-12-17 Wellington Dukes
 8 155 Clarington Toros Brian Bunnett C  0 N/A Wellington Dukes
 9 161 Soo North Stars Paul Orlando G  0 N/A Unknown (Exeter Hawks in 12/13)
 10 181 London Knights Matthew Fuller D  44 3-5-8 London Nationals
 11 201 York Simcoe Express Andrew Shutt LW 0 N/A Unknown (York Simcoe Express in 08/09)
 12 221 Thunder Bay Kings Adam Fares RW  0 N/A Unknown (Trail Smoke Eaters in 11/12)
 13 241 Whitby Wildcats Connor Hale RW  0 N/A Whitby Fury
 14 261 Mississauga Rebels Adrian Rizos G  0 N/A Unknown (Villanova Knights in 10/11)
 15 281 Chatham Cyclones Jarrod Oliphant LW  0 N/A Blenheim Blades
 15 292 Florida Jr. Panthers Devin Loe F  0 N/A Miami Redhawks

Good old Patrick Volpe. As for this draft, Cat and Cousins were two really great picks, even if Catenacci was dealt to Owen Sound later on. Plus, here’s a friendly reminder that the draft pick that was used to pick up Ryan Sproul originally came from Barrie for Behn Robertson. Thanks again Colts brass.

Sudbury Wolves

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 5 Notre Dame Hounds Justin Sefton D  327 28-67-95 Saginaw Spirit
 2 25 Vaughan Kings Frankie Corrado D  259 15-95-110 Vancouver Canucks Organization
 2 38 North Central Predators Kristoff Kontos C  337 70-126-196 Saginaw Spirit
 5 85 Sun County Panthers Kyle Shaw F  45 3-0-3 Pembroke Lumber Kings
 6 114 St. Catharines Falcons Gregory Jambrosich C 183 12-17-29 St. Catharines Falcons
 7 125 Toronto Titans Kevin Banaschewski G  0 N/A Unknown (North York Rangers in 10/11)
 8 145 Ajax-Pickering Raiders Brennan Serville D  0 N/A Michigan Wolverines
 9 165 Peterborough Petes Keenan Murray D  0 N/A Napanee Raiders
 10 185 Windsor Jr. Spitfires Brendon Anger LW  0 N/A Wheatley Sharks
 11 205 Barrie Colts Josh Leivo LW  193 74-102-176 Toronto Maple Leafs Organization
 12 225 St. Catharines Falcons Jimmy Sheehan D  11 0-0-0 St. Catharines Falcons
 13 245 Sudbury Midget AA Adam Di Brina LW  0 N/A Aurora Tigers
 14 265 Sudbury Nickel Capitals Andre Comtois RW  0 N/A Unknown (Sudbury Nickel Barons in 12/13)
 15 285 Detroit Compuware Paul Berrafato G  0 N/A Amarillo Bulls

Two solid defenders to get things started, and an excellent late developing scoring threat in the 11th round? That’s a not bad day at the office.

Windsor Spitfires

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
1 20 Windsor Jr. Spitfires Austen Brassard RW  256 70-77-147 Winnipeg Jets Organization
 3 58 Burlington Eagles Steven Trojanovic D  256 26-82-108 Guelph Storm
 4 67 Detroit Compuware Craig Duininck D  309 28-69-97 Sudbury Wolves
 6 117 US NTDP Austin Czarnik C  0 N/A Miami Redhawks
 7 131 Chicago Mission Jordan Schmaltz D  0 N/A North Dakota
 8 141 Ottawa Valley Titans Matthew Peca C  0 N/A Quinnipiac Bobcats
 9 171 Detroit Compuware Blake Pietila LW  0 N/A Michigan Tech Huskies
 10 200 Toronto Jr. Canadiens Michael Nishi G  31 12-9-4 (3.46) University of Toronto Varsity Blues
 11 214 Detroit Compuware Josh Malecki G  8 0-2-0 (4.33) Unknown (Barrie Colts in 10/11)
 11 220 Sun County Panthers Dylan Seguin RW  4 0-1-1 Leamington Flyers
 12 240 Windsor Jr. Spitfires Evan Makaric D  0 N/A Wheatley Sharks
 13 246 Ann Arbor Midget Travis Maezes C  0 N/A Michigan Wolverines Baseball
 13 251 Mississauga Reps Eric Locke C  233 116-135-251 Saginaw Spirit
 13 260 London Knights Michael Whaley  C  218 9-34-43 London Nationals

A college baseball player? I love this draft already. Eric Locke, even though he was dealt, is an awesome 13th round pick, and while many of the other players were traded away, they were used to help the team pick up other players during their run as an elite team in the OHL. On a side note, if they were able to get a couple of those college players, the Spitfires would have been lethal after Ellis and Hall left.

And of course, we can’t wrap up our 2009 retrospective without taking a look at the CHL import draft.

Rnd. No. Team Player Name Pos. OHL Games Played Career Stats Current Status
 1 3 Plymouth Whalers Gabriel Landeskog RW 114 60-52-112 Colorado Avalanche Organization
 1 6 Kitchener Rangers Tomas Tatar LW  0 N/A Detroit Red Wings Organization
 1 9 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Robin Lehner G  47 27-13-3 (2.80) Ottawa Senators Organization
 1 12 Barrie Colts Alexander Burmistrov C  62 22-43-65 AK Bars Kazan
 1 15 Owen Sound Attack Roman Berdnikov RW  63 16-21-37 Avangard Omsk
 1 18 Peterborough Petes Jiri Sekac F  8 0-0-0 HC Lev Praha
 1 21 Niagara Ice Dogs Petteri Simlia G  11 1-4-2 (4.14) Jukurit
 1 24 Windsor Spitfires Tom Kuhnhackl C  97 47-50-97 Pittsburgh Penguins
 1 27 Oshawa Generals Alain Berger F 109 48-37-85 Bern
 1 30 Ottawa 67′s Petr Mrazek G  132 75-37-10 (2.87) Detroit Red Wings Organization
 1 33 Saginaw Spirit Tadeas Galansky G  42 18-15-3 (3.63) Jukurit
 1 36 Erie Otters Ramis Sadikov G  119 51-50-10 (3.53) Kareliya St. Petersburg
 1 39 Sudbury Wolves Stefan Stepanov D  7 0-1-1 Buran Voronezh
 1 42 Saginaw Spirit Ivan Telegin C  156 81-88-169 CSKA Moscow
 1 45 Kitchener Rangers Patrik Andersson D  55 0-19-19 Mora
 1 48 Ottawa 67′s Matias Sointu LW  51 8-21-29 TPS
 1 51 Brampton Battalion Valeri Knizev LW  10 0-0-0 HC Ceske Judejovice
 1 54 Sudbury Wolves Edijs Leitans F  55 9-10-19 ERC Ingolstadt
 1 58 London Knights Anton Klementyev D  0 N/A Sokol Krasnoyarsk
 2 62 London Knights Kalle Ekelund D  163 13-55-68 Karlskrona
 2 68 Oshawa Generals Jakub Strnad LW  18 0-1-1 HC Kladno
 2 70 Barrie Colts Denis Gladkov LW  0 N/A Unknown (Twin Cities Northern Lights in 09/10)
 2 72 Erie Otters Victor Perezhogin F  0 N/A Kristall Elektrostal
 2 73 Guelph Storm Vadim Guskov RW  39 1-0-1 Kristall Elektrostal
 2 76 Sarnia Sting Ted Brithen F  9 1-2-3 HV71

Boy I would have loved to have seen Tatar in the OHL. Also, look at those fun goalies that came to the CHL, heaven forbid we stop that from happening. Thanks a lot again for that stupid import goalie ban David Branch.


2013/14 OHL Assesments (Part 2) & Second Round Predictions

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As ever, the opening round of the OHL playoffs was a tale of two conferences. (What a terrible way to start this blog post off I know).

The proceedings Western Conference was pretty straight forward, minus London Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz channelling his inner Ron Hextall and a bit of a test for the Erie Otters from the Saginaw Spirit.

However, the first round in the Eastern Conference ended up being really interesting. For starters, the Mississauga Steelheads took the top-ranked Oshawa Generals to three overtime games, and the Barrie Colts took the Sudbury Wolves behind the woodshed in a series that I thought would be a lot closer.

Then we had two game seven’s. After trailing by a 3-1 margin, the North Bay Battalion roared back to life and defeated the Niagara Ice Dogs by a score of 2-1, thanks in large part to an impressive third period showing on home ice.

But the biggest story was in Kingston, where Nick Ritchie’s overtime goal gave Peterborough the series victory over the Frontenacs, and made the Petes only the fourth team in league history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. The collapse by the Frontenacs means that they still haven’t won a playoff series since 1998, and it is far away the most shocking development from the first round of the post-season.

So before we look ahead to the second round of the playoffs, let’s bid a fond farewell to the eight teams who have seen their season come to a conclusion.

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Mississauga Steelheads (24-38-1-5 – 5th in Central Division/8th in Eastern Conference – Eliminated by Oshawa Generals in four games)

What I Predicted: While I’m having a hard time seeing them making the playoffs this year, I will not be surprised if the Steelheads are right in the mix in the Eastern Conference in a couple more seasons.

What Actually Happened: Once again, the Steelheads snuck into the post-season and gave the top team in the conference a run for their money. Sunrise, sunset.

What Lies Ahead: I might actually have the Steelheads as a sure-fire playoff team come next season. The entire defence is pretty much returning, and they actually have a possible high-point producer in Bryson Cianfrone. However, they will probably need a big season from Spencer Martin in goal in order to do that.

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Niagara Ice Dogs (24-35-3-6 – 4th in Central Division/7th in Eastern Conference – Eliminated by North Bay Battalion in seven games)

What I Predicted: At the moment, I have the Ice Dogs missing the playoffs, but they might prove me wrong if the young players and the goaltending do well.

What Actually Happened: Although Chris Festarini left the team around the deadline, Brent Moran was alright in a bigger role, and Brendan Perlini had a break-out campaign to lead the younger scorers into the post-season. They just about pulled off a huge upset over North Bay, but it wasn’t to be.

What Lies Ahead: With a ton of 1996 born players on the roster, the Ice Dogs should be in the mix for a home playoff seed in its first year in their brand new arena (the Meridian Centre) in St. Catharines. It’s a little bit early to know exactly how the offence will be, but with Perlini and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Carter Verhaeghe leading the way, they might be the best one-two punch in the Eastern Conference if it all plays out right.

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Plymouth Whalers (28-33-0-7 – 4th in West Division/8th in Western Conference – Eliminated by Guelph Storm in five games)

What I Predicted: If the Whalers can answer the questions around it’s new additions, this is a team that will not only be in the hunt for a home seed come playoff time, but they could find themselves once again facing London for a spot in the OHL finals.

What Actually Happened: Well obviously not that. They continued their playoff streak for yet another season, but losing a ton of guys from last season’s Western Conference finalists and bringing in a ton of new faces took a lot longer to mesh than I expected.

What Lies Ahead: It’s the Plymouth Whalers. Do you really think they will have another off year? Both goalies will be back, and the only big name that they will lose to the pro ranks will be Ryan Hartman. Also keep an eye on US NTDP forwards Sonny Milano and Jordan Greenway, who I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the OHL for the 2014/15 campaign.

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Owen Sound Attack (31-29-3-5 – 4th in Midwest Division/7th in Western Conference – Eliminated by Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in five games)

What I Predicted: I see the Attack fighting it out in that third to fifth range as the season winds down, but if the question mark in goal answers itself early, this is a side that might be a sleeper pick in the Western Conference.

What Actually Happened: Brandon Hope and QMJHL waiver pick up Jack Flynn weren’t bad in goal, and the squad was pretty solid, but being in the same division as Erie, Guelph, and London didn’t help matters any.

What Lies Ahead: Since the Attack will only lost their three overage player to graduation (the most notable being Kurtis Gabriel), this team should be contender to earn home ice advantage for the 2015 playoffs. Once again though, it will be interesting to see if Flynn and Hope will be the netminding duo once the season starts.

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Saginaw Spirit (33-30-4-1 – 3rd in West Division/6th in Western Conference – Eliminated by Erie Otters in five games)

What I Predicted: It might take a little bit for the Spirit’s blue line to get up to speed with everyone else. If they are able to do that, the Spirit should not only win their division, but also provide the Knights with a challenge in the postseason.

What Actually Happened: My faith in the Spirit was a bit off. Jake Paterson, while solid yet again, wasn’t the world beater that I though he would be in his final OHL season. They made a big move at the deadline on defence to add Jesse Graham, but they still found themselves up against the high-flying Erie Otters. They pushed the Otters to three overtime games though, and played very well given the fact that it was just days after the passing of Spirit forward Terry Trafford.

What Lies Ahead: It’s kind of hard to say at this point, the Spirit lose quite a bit when it comes to graduates, but they do have some solid pieces up front coming back in Jimmy Lodge, Nick Moutrey, Dylan Sadowy, and Blake Clarke. Whether or not those players will be used as trade bait to fix up the back-end for the future, remains to be seen.

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Sudbury Wolves (33-24-3-8 – 3rd in Central Division/5th in Eastern Conference – Eliminated by Barrie Colts in five games)

What I Predicted:  If everything goes to plan, and the Wolves forwards are as good as they look, Sudbury has their best chance to make some noise in the post-season since their run to the league finals in 2007.

What Actually Happened: A pretty disappointing campaign to say the least. Sudbury looked to have a division title in it’s grasp around the deadline, and even loaded up a little bit by getting Trevor Carrick on defence and forward Radek Faksa. Instead, things went south late, as they lost home ice advantage and ended up being shoved aside by Barrie.

What Lies Ahead: A pretty interesting summer. The defence will be younger next year, and Troy Timpano might take the full starting load in his second year, even though a nice Import goalie draft pick would help a lot with that if it was still allowed (Thanks a lot David Branch). The biggest question mark will be up front, as the team has five forwards who will be overage candidates.

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Windsor Spitfires (37-28-3-0 – 2nd in West Division/5th in Western Conference – Eliminated by London Knights in four games)

What I Predicted: If Jordan DeKort does well, the Spitfires could be in the mix for a home seed come March. But if things go South, this team could be scratching and clawing just to get into the dance.

What Actually Happened: DeKort was replaced early in the proceedings by Alex Fotinos of Barrie, and the team had a chance to possibly win the division over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the later part of the season. However, when Slater Koekkoek suffered yet another season-ending shoulder surgery, things went south in a hurry and they were no match for the Knights.

What Lies Ahead: Though they will lose Koekkoek, Ben Johnson, and Brady Vail, the Spitfires won’t fall too far off next season, especially with Joshua Ho-Sang leading the way and if they are able to land Montreal Canadiens draft pick and 2013 import draft pick Jacob De La Rose. As ever, I expect the Spits to take a run at some college guys, namely defender Will Butcher and forward Nick Schmaltz.

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Kingston Frontenacs (39-23-3-3 – 2nd in East Division/3rd in Eastern Conference – Eliminated by Peterborough Petes in seven games)

What I Predicted: For a team that’s only made the conference finals once in their franchise history (in 1993), it’s hard to imagine the Frontenacs actually jumping over that hurdle after years in the wilderness. But if everything goes right for them, a trip to the OHL finals might be in the cards.

What Actually Happened: The Kingston Curse struck again big time, as the Frontenacs will go down as the fourth team in league history to blow a 3-0 series lead, and will also join the 2004/05 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds as the only clubs to lose the seventh and final game on home ice. They had many chances to wrap up the series, including an early 3-0 lead in Game Six, but they were unable to seal the deal.

What Lies Ahead: On the one hand, most of the top players on the team should be back, with the biggest being leading scorer Sam Bennett. However, overage goalie Matt Mahalak will be leaving town, which means their will again be more questions marks in between the pipes, which could have been solved with bringing an import if they allowed it in the CHL (Again, thanks a lot David Branch.) Plus, given the collapse in the first round, it will be curious to see how the team will try and move on from what happened.

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Before we get to my second round predictions, let’s take a minute to discuss the legend that is David Ling, especially with what happened to the Frontenacs in the first round.

Back in the 1994/95 season, Ling went off big time with 135 points to finish second in league scoring (in a tie with Windsor’s Bill Bowler and four points behind Oshawa’s Marc Savard) and picked up the CHL Player of the Year award.

He continued that scoring pace in the playoffs, with 15 points in just six games, despite playing with a broken thumb. But why only six games? Well, despite having a bye in the first round (only 14 teams made the playoffs back then), the team were knocked off in the quarter-finals by the Belleville Bulls, bringing an end to arguably the best squad the Frontenacs have ever had.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I mainly did this just to delay my playoff picks for Round 2, as I am still debating who is going to win the two massive series in the Western Conference.

Eastern Conference

1) Oshawa Generals vs. 6) Peterborough Petes: Oshawa in five (After stunning Kingston, I expect the Petes to have a ton of momentum heading into the second round. However, the Generals are just too strong in my opinion to be knocked off here.)

2) North Bay Battalion vs. 4) Barrie Colts: Barrie in six (This is a series that can go either way, but with Barrie easily taking care of Sudbury and North Bay having to go through a seven-game battle with Niagara, I think that will be a major advantage for the Colts.)

Western Conference

1) Guelph Storm vs. 4) London Knights: London in seven (Yes, the Knights don’t have Anthony Stolarz for the entire series after his suspension for slashing Joshua Ho-Sang,  defender Zach Bell is out for the entire playoffs, and fellow blueliner Brady Austin is not out of action because of mono. However, this team has won the last two league titles, and I picked them to win the championship yet again back in the fall. I would be silly to bet against them now.)

2) Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. 3) Erie Otters: Sault Ste. Marie in seven (Okay this is my hometown bias pick, but my mind was made up during the Saginaw series. With the Spirit pushing the Otters to overtime on three occasions, they showed the blue-print for what can be done to beat the high-flying squad. With the Greyhounds squad being stronger than Saginaw, I honestly think they have what it takes to what some might see as an upset.)

I’m off to try and prepare myself for the two series I just talked about, so I’ll catch up with you all again for the semi-finals.


2013/14 OHL Assesments (Part 1) & First Round Predictions

So here we go again. After another interesting regular season, the 2014 OHL playoffs will start off on Thursday, with a bevy of story-lines in store.

In the East, the Oshawa Generals look to be the team to beat, but the North Bay Battalion have been strong as of late and might be a stern test for them. Plus, the Barrie Colts and Sudbury Wolves are going head-to-head in a series that you could easily see happening in the conference finals, let alone the first round.

The opening set of series in the Western Conference should be straight forward, as all eyes are set on two insane second round affairs between Guelph/London and Sault Ste. Marie/Erie. However, anything can happen in the first round, so an upset might be in store that no one is expecting.

But before we get to all of that, we have to say our goodbyes to the four teams that missed out on the playoffs, and also take a look at what lies ahead for those clubs.

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Sarnia Sting (17-44-2-5 – 5th in West Division/10th in Western Conference – Eliminated on Friday, February 28)

What I Predicted: When it comes down to it, this might be a long winter for fans in Sarnia, as the Sting seem set to return to the bottom of the league.

What Actually Happened: Exactly that. Despite the scoring exploits of Nikolay Goldobin and Anthony DeAngelo, it wasn’t enough to keep the Sting out of the cellar. However, they did allow Soo Greyhounds forward Sergey Tolchinsky to score the goal of the season, so there is that.

What Lies Ahead: Other than a change in team ownership, the Sting is currently preparing to make the first overall pick in April’s draft. It’s the fourth time that the team has had the top selection, having drafted Jeff Brown (1994), Steven Stamkos (2006) and Alex Galchenyuk (2010) previously. Toronto Junior Canadians defenceman Jakob Chychrun is widely considered to be the top overall selection, but don’t be surprised if they end up taking Vaughn Kings forward Adam Mascherin.

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Kitchener Rangers (22-41-2-3 – 5th in Midwest Division/9th in Western Conference – Eliminated on Thursday, March 6)

What I Predicted: It seems like it might be  a couple of years until the Rangers go back to the top of the mountain, but I have proven wrong by this team before.

What Actually Happened: My first instinct was right. The Rangers found themselves fighting for scraps in a division where Guelph, Erie, and London ran roughshod, and the massive changes in the roster from last season proved too much to overcome.

What Lies Ahead: There are some good pieces in the Rangers lineup, especially at forward, so I expect them to be in the playoff mix once again in 2014/15. The only question mark I have is the goaltending, and since no one can draft import netminders anymore (Thanks a lot David Branch), I am expecting Kitchener to take a long look at Michigan recruit Hayden Lavigne, whose rights they got at the deadline from Belleville.

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Ottawa 67′s (23-39-3-3 – 5th in East Division/10th in Eastern Conference – Eliminated on Sunday, March 16)

What I Predicted: There is a chance that this team could make the post-season again this season, despite finishing in the basement when things wrapped up last March.

What Actually Happened: The 67′s had an opportunity to force a tiebreaker game against Mississauga if they were able to beat North Bay on the last day of the season, but were blown out of the building in a 12-1 loss to the Battalion instead. As a result of that defeat, the club will miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in its history.

What Lies Ahead: A move back to the Ottawa Civic Centre (or whatever it’s called these days) is the biggest thing, along with having a second season out of Travis Konecny to build the offence around. Chris Byrne will probably be the most likely coach on the hot seat at the start of the campaign, so the key will be not to get off to a slow start.

Remi Elie of the Belleville Bulls. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Belleville Bulls (23-38-4-3 – 4th in East Division/9th in Eastern Conference – Eliminated on Friday, March 14)

What I Predicted: I think the Bulls will be around the bottom of that six team logjam that will contend for the Eastern Conference crown, but given the fact that the East is such a mess right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bulls sneak into the discussion for the East Division title.

What Actually Happened: Well certainly not that. Despite a slow start, and trading away Brendan Gaunce to Erie, the Bulls still had a chance to sneak into the post-season before losing in overtime to Oshawa in it’s second last game of the season. Nevertheless, it was a quick drop-off from a team that was a win away from being in the finals a year earlier.

What Lies Ahead: The biggest question is where exactly the Bulls will be playing in a few years time. The team’s lease at the Yardmen Arena runs out next season, and the debate is raging on whether the facility will be renovated or if a new arena will be built. With Chatham seemingly always coming up now in relocation rumours, it will be interesting to see what happens next with this team.

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It has come to my attention from a number of well-placed and reliable sources, that this former North Bay Centennials legend is no longer playing in the league, thus rendering the 2014 OHL playoffs meaningless.

Nevertheless, I suppose I should still go about making my soon-to-be wrong playoff picks here for the opening round of the post-season, since that’s what everyone is here for anyways.

Eastern Conference

1) Oshawa Generals vs. 8) Mississauga Steelheads: Oshawa in four (The Generals are just too strong for the Steelheads in this one. I expect this series to be rather one-sided.)

2) North Bay Battalion vs. 7) Niagara Ice Dogs: North Bay in four (For the first time since 2002, OHL playoff hockey has returned to the Gateway City, and the fans there should be rewarded for their long wait with a nice playoff run. Like the Generals/Steelheads series, this one should be over quickly.)

3) Kingston Frontenacs vs. 6) Peterborough Petes: Kingston in five (It’s nice to see the Petes back in the post-season, but I don’t think they have enough to match up with Kingston on offence.)

4) Barrie Colts vs. 5) Sudbury Wolves: Sudbury in seven (This is easily the most interesting series of the first round, and I can see this going either way. However, since I picked Sudbury to be in the OHL finals back in the fall, I’m not going to change things around now.)

Western Conference

1) Guelph Storm vs. 8) Plymouth Whalers: Guelph in five (Since the Whalers never miss the post-season, I can see them taking at least one game from the Storm. But an entire series? I doubt that will happen.)

2) Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. 7) Owen Sound Attack: Sault Ste. Marie in four (This series is a rematch of the awesome six-game affair the two sides had in the first round back in 2013, but I don’t think this one will be quite as exciting. However, since I picked the Greyhounds to win in a sweep, watch out for something truly strange to end up happening.)

3) Erie Otters vs. 6) Saginaw Spirit: Erie in five (Given everything that the Spirit have gone through since the death of Terry Trafford, I expect them to put in all that they have left in the tank into trying to pull off the upset. However, Erie has way too much firepower offensively to try and contain over a seven game series.)

4) London Knights vs. 5) Windsor Spitfires: London in five (For awhile, I thought this would be a really tough test for the Knights in the first round. But with Windsor; defender Slater Koekkoek suffering another season-ending shoulder injury, and London finishing off the season strongly, the Memorial Cup hosts should make their way to the second round with ease.)

Anyways, that does it for now, or until the second round at least. Enjoy the playoffs kids, it should be a heck of a ride.


The 2014 Brier Review

Written by Brett Punkari (With Cameos by Lucas Punkari)

The 2014 edition of the Brier started off kind of bizarre, but eventually the cream rose to the top with the top three teams. However, we did have  a bit of a surprise for fourth place as a team had a  rekindling of some of their old magic from 2006.

Champions: Alberta (Kevin Koe)

Kevin Koe

The 2010 Brier champions picked the best time to have their best game when it mattered the most.  Although they had a bit of a slow start percentage wise, and they had two bad games in Draw 17 against Quebec and the 1 vs. 2 game against British Columbia, things turned around with an extra end semi-final win over Quebec and an excellent game in the final. As a result of the win, they will become the first Team Canada in Brier history next year in Calgary.

Where the heck was this performance during the Olympic Trials? Nevertheless, Koe’s team was probably the best in the field all week, and it was nice to see them rewarded in the playoffs. Plus, it was cool to see Pat Simmons get his first Brier title, as the other three players had already won four years ago.

Team Percentages

Lead: Nolan Thiessen – 88% (Tied for Fifth – Two perfect games)

Second: Carter Rycroft - 86% (Third)

Vice: Pat Simmons - 86% (Tied for Third)

 Skip: Kevin Koe - 85% (Tied for Third)

Second: British Columbia (John Morris)

Carter Rycroft John Morris

Now John Morris and Jim Cotter know how Glenn Howard felt after losing both the Olympic Trials and Brier finals in the same year back in 2009. They were the best team percentage wise in the round-robin, and they had a spectacular showing in the 1 vs. 2 game against Alberta, but in the all-important final they came out flat. That was especially noticeable when they had the hammer as they only had singles while Alberta scored three points with the hammer on three occasions.

Of course, now with all the potential team changes upcoming, it’s hard to tell if Johnny Mo will stay with this team. But if he does stay, they will break through and win a Brier.

Like Brett said, the B.C. squad went flat at the worst possible moment, which is a huge shame as we haven’t had a close Brier final now since 2010 when Kevin Koe won in an extra-end over Glenn Howard.

Again, with all of the off-season changes, who knows what happens with this team. However, this year was Jim Cotter’s coming-out party on a national stage, and he deserves to be mentioned as a Brier contender in the future.

Team Percentages

Lead: Rick Sawatsky – 95%  (First – Three perfect games)

Second: Tyrell Griffith – 88% (Second)

Vice: John Morris – 90% (First)

Fourth: Jim Cotter – 87% (First)

Third: Manitoba (Jeff Stoughton)

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Yes, Jeff Stoughton is back on the podium once again at the Brier, but it was definitely an UnStoughton like week. Although they started off at 4-0, their numbers were not that great and they could have easily been 1-3. They did pickup their percentages during the week, it was not enough as a key miss in the 3 vs. 4 against Quebec took them out of contention, although they had an excellent showing in the bronze medal game.

This might be Stoughton’s final Brier appearance, and if it is, he has had an incredible career.

In what seemed awfully familiar to what happened at the Olympic Trials, it just seemed like the guys were off a little bit, as guys like Mead and Stoughton were missing shots that they would make with their eyes closed a couple of years ago. It’s hard to see Stoughton making another run at the Olympics, but it’s safe to say that no matter what happens, he will go down as one of the best skips in the history of the game.

Team Percentages

Lead: Reid Carruthers – 88% (Tied for fifth)

Second: Mark Nichols – 90% (First)

Vice: Jon Mead – 88% (Second)

Skip: Jeff Stoughton 86% 2nd

Fourth and Biggest Surprise: Quebec (Jean-Michel Menard)

Kamloops B.C.Mar7_2014.Tim Hortons Brier.Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard.CCA/michael burns photo

The 2006 champions broke a few speakers and maybe some glass with their yelling and screaming, but they showed off some of that ’06 magic once again, especially with a crucial win in Draw 17 over Alberta and a terrific 3 vs. 4 game victory over Manitoba.

Unfortunately, they would come up one end short in the semi-final to Alberta and they would fall flat on their face in the bronze medal game to Manitoba. However, this squad looked like they would match Brad Jacobs feat of winning the Brier from the 3 vs. 4 game, which would have been a huge deal.

Menard’s run was a surprise, especially as it was his first playoff run since his Brier victory, but I’m not sure if it was the biggest shocker of the week. Going into the week, Menard was our pick for fifth place, so I’m not that stunned that he did well.

Eddie MacKenzie

For me, the biggest surprise of the week was Eddie MacKenzie of Prince Edward Island. Okay yes the province got relegated because of the CCA’s three-year result format (which is no fun at all for me, as I was hoping a big province would stumble, or Brad Jacobs would be destroying Nunavut), but he won four games! I don’t think anyone saw that coming. 

Team Percentages

Lead: Philippe Menard – 90% (Tied for Second)

Second: Eric Sylvain – 85% (Tied for Fourth)

Vice: Martin Crete – 86% (Tied for Third)

Skip: Jean-Michel Menard – 84% (Tied for Fifth)

Biggest Disappointment: Newfoundland and Labrador (Brad Gushue)

Kamloops B.C.Mar3_2014.Tim Hortons Brier.Newfoundland/Labrador,lead Geoff Walker,second Adam Casey,third Brett Gallant.CCA/michael burns photo

This image of the team says it all. Coming into this week, we figured that this was Brad Gushue’s best ever shot at winning that elusive Brier crown since making the final in 2007, especially after his great showing last year.

However, there seemed to be problems right from the start, as the front end of Geoff Walker and Adam Casey were struggling and Brett Gallant was the worst third of the week at one point. This forced Gushue to make hero shots once again, and led to me calling him the Eve Muirhead of men’s curling, as he had to make all kinds of tough shots to get out of trouble.

If you want to win a Brier, you can’t do that kind of thing that often.

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Hey, you take that back about Evelyn’s team. Anna Sloan is a heroine of justice.

There is a valid point to Brett’s point about Gushue though, as he just had to make circus shot after circus shot just to keep his team in it. Given all of the changes ahead in the curling world, I would expect Gushue’s squad to be a trials threat in a few years time. But who knows after what happened in Kamloops. 

Team Percentages

Lead: Geoff Walker – 89% (Fourth)

Second: Adam Casey – 83% (Ninth)

Vice: Brett Gallant – 81% (Ninth)

Skip: Brad Gushue – 85% (Tied for Third)

Award Winners

Kamloops B.C.Mar8_2014.Tim Hortons Brier.Alberta lead Nolan Thiessen,second Carter Rycroft,third Pat Simmons.CCA/michael burns photo

Playoff MVP: Carter Rycroft (Alberta)

First Team All Stars: Rick Sawatsky (British Columbia), Mark Nichols (Manitoba), John Morris (British Columbia), and Jim Cotter (British Columbia)

Second Team All Stars: Philippe Menard (Quebec), Tyrell Griffith (British Columbia), Pat Simmons (Alberta), and Kevin Koe (Alberta)

Ross Harstone Award: Greg Balsdon (Ontario)

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The Punkari Brothers 2014 Brier Preview

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Brett’s Picks

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Before we start, I would like to give a personal congratulations to Jennifer Jones and Brad “COME ON!” Jacobs for their Olympic gold medal performances in Sochi. While Jones dominated and ran the table (which is a first in the Olympics on the women’s side), Jacobs did things the hard way as usual. He started off with a 1-2 record but turned up the intensity when it came to the playoffs as he destroyed both China and Great Britain by a combined score of 19-9.

Now that the Olympics are over, its on to the Brier which has an extra added incentive this year as the winning team will return in 2015 as Team Canada, just like at the Scotties.

1) Manitoba (Jeff Stoughton – Charleswood Curling Club – Winnipeg)

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(LtoR – Skip – Jeff Stoughton “Power”, Vice – Jon Mead, Lead – Reid Carruthers, Second – Mark “Bam Bam” Nichols)

After a very disappointing showing at the Olympic Trials, the Stoughton crew decided to take their frustrations out on the field (and Mike McEwen, again) to win Manitoba. Ho hum right?

Well that was about to change as an announcement came shortly afterwards that Nichols and Carruthers would swap positions at the Brier, which makes this team even deadlier with Nichols upweight ability being almost godlike compared to Carruthers. This will help Carruthers focus on draws more, which he is good at. Also, don’t forget about Mead and Stoughton and their runback ability.

2) Alberta (Kevin Koe – Glencoe Curling Club – Calgary)

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(LtoR – Skip – Kevin Koe, Vice – Pat Simmons, Second – “Jesus Christ” Carter Rycroft, Lead – Nolan Thiessen)

Speaking of disappointments, a lot of people thought this team from Calgary would be a potential dark-horse at the very worst for the Olympic Trials, but they struggled by going winless until their final two games. We’re still not sure how it happened as we know the potential of this lineup, but things just did not click.

So after winning another tight provincial final over Kevin Martin (and potentially ending his career in the process) I see Koe’s true form returning with his deadly hitting ability shining through, which will again make this team a threat.

3) Newfoundland and Labrador (Brad Gushue – Bally Hally Golf And Curling Club – St. John’s)

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(LtoR – Skip – Brad Gushue, Vice – Brett Gallant, Second – Adam Casey, Lead – Geoff Walker)

This team just missed out on making the Olympic Trials and they are also coming off of a great showing at last year’s Brier. However, you have to wonder though if Brad Gushue is carrying this team on his back, as he made a boatload of hero shots at the Brier and the Pre-Trials just to keep his team in it.

If the rest of the team can play well, then they could be a threat for Newfoundland’s first brier since Jack MacDuff won in 1976.

4) British Columbia – John Morris (Vernon and Kelowna Curling Clubs)

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(LtoR – Skip – “Johnny Mo” John Morris (throws third), Vice – Jimmmmmmmmmmmm Cotter (throws fourth), Second – Tyrel Griffith, Lead – Rick Sawatsky)

This team was the biggest surprise of the Olympic Trials in December as John Morris took the Cotter team all the way to the finals before losing to Brad Jacobs. Jim Cotter played fantastic during the trials and the provincials so the pressure could be more on Morris to make more shots as he can be hit or miss, especially with upweight hits. However, if he can do that, watch out for them to make another run to the title like they did at the Trials.

5) Quebec (Jean-Michel Menard – Etchemin Curling Club – Saint-Romauld)

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(LtoR – Skip – Jean-Michel Menard, Vice – Martin Crete, Second – Eric Sylvain, Lead – Philippe Menard)

Last year, Jean-Michel Menard came very close to making the playoffs, which was impressive considering how stacked the field was in Edmonton. Now granted, this field is a bit weaker than last year, but if he is gonna return to the playoffs, he’ll have to knock off one of the big four teams. That may not be an easy feat, however, with his experience it can be done.

6) Saskatchewan (Steve Laycock – Nutana Curling Club – Saskatoon)

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(LtoR – Skip – Steve Laycock, Vice – Kirk Muyers, Second – Colton Flasch “Gordon” (Saviour of the Universe), Lead – Dallan Muyers)

In 2011 Steve Laycock, who normally played third became the skip of a Saskatchewan team that included Pat Simmons. However it ended in disappointment as they finished 4-7.

After Simmons left to join up with Kevin Koe, things kind of went downhill and Laycock struggled as a result. However things have looked on the up and up this year with a semi final appearance at the Pre-Trials and a return to the Brier, so this might be a team that you should not sleep on.

7) New Brunswick (James Grattan – Gage Golf & Curling Club – Oromocto)

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(LtoR – Skip – James “Jimmy the Kid” Grattan, Vice – Jason Roach, Second – Darren Roach, Lead – Josh Barry)

Last year James Grattan looked like a potential playoff threat, especially after a giant upset over Kevin Martin, until he faded late in the going. He might be a bit of a long shot to makes the playoffs this year though, as he will ned to have no bad games at all and try to pull off one or two big upsets.

8) Ontario (Greg Balsdon – Glendale Golf & Country Club – Hamilton)

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(LtoR – Skip – GREG BALSDON!, Vice – Mark Bice, Second – Tyler Morgan, Lead – Jamie Farnell)

Of note, alternate Steve Bice may also play in the second or lead role during the week, as the front end tends to switch around.

All good things have to come to an end at some point and it happened this year in Ontario. Greg Balsdon pulled off the upset of the provincials by defeating Glenn Howard and ushering in a new era in Ontario men’s curling after Howard had won eight straight provincial titles.

Balsdon could be known as the Giant Killer from now as a result, as he also pulled a giant comeback in the Pre-Trials against Brad Jacobs, as he won 10-9 after being down 8-3 after six ends. So the big names may have to watch out for this team, which are the biggest wildcard in this entire field.

9) Northwest Territories/Yukon (Jamie Koe – Yellowknife Curling Club)

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(LtoR – Skip – Jamie Koe, Vice – Kevin Whitehead, Second – Brad Chorostkowski, Lead – Robert Borden)

Two years ago Jamie Koe was the Cinderella story of the Brier by making it to the playoffs for the very first time for not only his team, but for the Territories as a whole. They ended up being 5-6 last year, but that was in a very stacked field that we have talked about before. Last year they were 5-6 but granted the field was stacked as mentioned before.

Now with a slightly changed lineup (Whitehead replaces Tom Naugler) and a weaker field, could Koe catch the magic of 2012? Perhaps, but the chances might be very slim.

10) Nova Scotia (Jamie Murphy – Lakeshore Curling Club – Lower Sackville)

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(LtoR – Skip – Jamie “Don’t call me Charlie” Murphy, Vice – Jordan Pinder, Second – Mike Bardsley, Lead – Donald McDermaid)

In 2012, Jamie Murphy upset Mark Dacey to make his first Brier appearance. Early on, he doing pretty well with a 4-3 record until losing four straight games to finish at 4-7. Since then, he has played in many World Curling Tour events, but I’m not sure if his record will improve that much from two years ago.

11) Northern Ontario (Jeff Currie – Fort William Curling Club – Thunder Bay)

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(LtoR – Skip – Jeff Currie, Vice – Mike McCarville, Second – Colin Koivula, Lead – Jamie Childs)

So without Brad Jacobs, we were going to have a new Northern Ontario team at the Brier. In the end, it turned out to be 1996 Canadian Junior Champion Jeff Currie, who does have a pretty decent lineup for this Northern Ontario squad.

However this does show the issue with this Province and Newfoundland when it comes to the quality of the overall teams on a national stage, and I see nothing struggles for this squad, though he could pull off an upset or two.

12) Prince Edward Island (Eddie MacKenzie – Charlottetown Curling Club)

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(LtoR – Skip – Eddie Mackenzie, Vice – Anson Carmody, Second – Tyler Mackenzie, Lead – Sean Ledgerwood)

For the third time in the last four years, Eddie MacKenzie has returned to the Brier to represent Prince Edward Island, and he has made another change by bringing his son Tyler into the mix. However it could be another long tournament for him, as he tries to finish anywhere but last, which is where he his ended up in his previous trips to the Brier.

Lucas’s Picks

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Whoa whoa whoa Brett, before we get started, we have to also salute Scottish curling heroine Eve Muirhead on her bronze medal at the Winter Olympics. Okay maybe that’s just me.

As for the Brier field, you can probably divide into in three tiers once again. There’s a solid group of teams who can contend, and then another group of teams who are in the mid-level that might sneak into the playoff discussions, and your bottom feeders.

1) Manitoba (Jeff Stoughton)

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Other than some blips at the 2012 provincials, last year’s Brier final to Brad Jacobs, and the Olympic Trials in Winnipeg, this team has been the best in the country over the last few years. It’s hard to say what happens after this season, but I expect this squad to get things done once again.

2) Alberta (Kevin Koe)

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I picked this team to win the Trials. I have no further comment on that great move.

Anyways, like Brett said earlier, Koe’s squad should be a lot better at the Brier, especially since in his two previous trips for Alberta he finished in first and second place in 2010 and 2012 respectively.

3) Newfoundland & Labrador (Brad Gushue)

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Since his 2007 runner-up finish to Glenn Howard in Hamilton, this is Gushue’s best shot at a Brier title. Given the way that he has made shots over the last year, I would be stunned if he doesn’t sneak into the semi-finals at the very worst.

4) British Columbia (John Morris)

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After an amazing run at the Olympic Trials, a lot more will be expected of this squad, especially since they are the host team. Cotter is no slouch though, and Johnny Mo is as solid as they come, so the playoffs should be in the cards. A Brier title won’t be too surprising either.

5) Quebec (Jean-Michel Menard)

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As Brett said earlier, the 2006 Brier champion has the stuff to make it to the playoffs. But if he doesn’t get a win over the top four teams coming into this week, he may have some problems.

6) Saskatchewan (Steve Laycock)

Steve Laycock; Kevin Martin

Since the bad boys of the prairies led by Brock Virtue didn’t return, a somewhat improved Laycock team is back for the land of the Green Riders. If he plays as well as he did at the Pre-Trials, Laycock could be a sleeper. However, if he struggles, it could be a long week.

7) Ontario (Glenn Howa…Wait who won the provincials? GREG BALSDON!!!)

Kitchener Ont.Nov9,2013 Capital One Road to the Roar.Skip Greg Baldson.CCA/michael burns photo

It will be weird to see someone other than Glenn Howard at the Brier for Ontario, but Balsdon is no slouch. I’m not sure he will make the playoffs in his first trip to the nationals, but this team will be in the mix all week as the biggest wild-cards in the event.

8) Northwest Territories/Yukon (Jamie Koe)

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First of all, let us discuss how great these shirts are that the team will be selling at the patch. I don’t expect them to have a 2012 playoff showing, but a 5-6 showing isn’t out of the question.

9) New Brunswick (James Grattan)

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It’s been nearly 20 years since James’ big run at the 1997 Brier, so I don’t think he’s really a kid anymore. His quick start was a nice surprise last year, but I don’t expect that to happen again.

10) Nova Scotia (Jamie Murphy)

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It’s sort of the same thing with James Grattan when it comes to Jamie Murphy. I see this team battling for wins all week long, but I don’t see them finishing super high up in the standings

11) Northern Ontario (Not Brad Jacobs. AKA: Jeff Currie)

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Since Jacobs’ isn’t here, the former national junior champion (over Ryan Fry by the way) will have to prevent Northern Ontario from being in the relegation round next year. Though to be fair, Jacobs destroying Nunavut might be the most violent thing TSN has showed since WCW Monday Nitro.

12) Prince Edward Island (Eddie MacKenzie)

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Poor Eddie. If he gets a win this week, I’ll be impressed.


The 2014 Scotties Review

Written by Brett Punkari (With Cameos by Lucas Punkari)

At the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, we caught a glimpse of some of the teams that we could see in the Olympic Trials in four years time. That of course includes the teams that were already in the trials this past year, as the top four teams were in the 2013 event in Winnipeg earlier this season. However, when the dust settled, there was one clear cut team that stood out from everyone else.

Champions & Biggest Surprise: Team Canada (Rachel Homan)

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Complete annihilation is probably the best way  to describe Rachel Homan’s performance at this year’s Scotties, as they destroyed teams left, right and centre on their way to a repeat title.

They also broke a few records along the way, as Allison Kreviazuk, Emma Miskew and  Homan broke Scotties records for shooting percentage during the round-robin, and they became the first team since Linda Moore in 1985 to go undefeated and win the title. In fact their team percentage of 90% would have tied them with Glenn Howard of Ontario at last year’s Brier, which sounds even more ridiculous.

The reason they are the biggest surprise is just how they disposed of other teams so easily, as we all watched with our jaws on the ground for the team’s complete destruction of the field. It almost made you think they took their frustrations from the Olympic trials out on the field.

Even as a diehard Rachel Homan supporter, I could never have imagined that she and the rest of her team would demolish the field with such ease. In fact, Rachel herself never had to throw her final rock all week long, which is an unheard of feat.

Simply put, Homan’s display in Montreal was without a doubt the most dominant run by a rink that I have ever seen, as she only had three really close games all week long. This rink should be the favourite in her second trip to the World’s in March, and it’s hard to see anyone knocking them off any time soon. 

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However, I will say that I would actually pick British Columbia’s Kesa Van Osch as the biggest surprise of the week. For a team that many expected to struggle in her first Scotties event, she was right in the playoff mix near the end of the week with a 6-5 record, which will set the stage for her being more of a threat in the future.

Team Percentages

Lead: Lisa Weagle (88% – Tied for 3rd)

Second: Allison Kreviazuk (90%  - First – Scotties Record)

Third: Emma Miskew (91% – First  – Scotties Record)

Skip: Rachel Homan (90% – Scotties Record - Perfect Game in Draw 16 against Newfoundland & Labrador)

Runner-Up: Alberta (Val Sweeting)

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Val Sweeting had been riding off of the high of a very good showing at the Olympic Trials back in December, and has really put on some great performances as of late. A lot of praise has to be given for Val and company in her second trip to the Scotties after a disappointing showing in 2010 in Sault Ste. Marie, especially with the sweeping ability of Joanne Courtney.

The 2014 season was the coming out party on a national stage for Sweeting. Sure she missed the playoffs at the Trials after a great start, but she was great at the Alberta provincials and was red-hot in the playoffs on her way to a second place showing. Though she came up short in the finals to Rachel Homan, she was right in the game until the very end, and that should bode well for her to be a future title threat.

Team Percentages

Lead: Rachel Pidhern (88% – Tied for Third)

Second: Dana Ferguson (84% – Tied for Fourth)

Third: Joanne Courtney (83% – Third)

Skip: Val Sweeting (84% – Fourth)

Bronze: Manitoba (Chelsea Carey)

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Chelsea Carey got thrown to the wolves in her first two games as she had to face Canada and Saskatchewan. While the Canada game looked like a carbon copy of her first game at the trials (where she lost to Jennifer Jones) as she got destroyed by Rachel Homan, she had a terrific bounce back win against Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton.

The confidence grew from there, and they played better as the week went on. However, the one glaring issue was Carey herself, as she got outcurled by the other skips by a few percentage points in at least a few of her games.

After shedding the title of the best skip yet to make a Scotties (and moving it over to Crystal Webster in the process), Carey showed why she’s one of the top skips in the country this past week. Depending on what happens with Jennifer Jones’ rink after the Olympics, Carey’s run in Montreal will not only make her a top team again in the coming years, but a true blown threat to win it all in the years to come.

Team Percentages

Lead:  Lindsay Titheridge (88% – Tied for Third)

Second: Kristen Foster (84% – Tied for Fourth)

Third: Kristy McDonald (82% – Tied for Fourth)

Skip: Chelsea Carey (85% – Second)

Fourth: Saskatchewan (Stefanie Lawton)

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For the past three years, Stefanie Lawton had the talent to get through her provincials easily, but she and her team just couldn’t seem to break through. They finally did this year, and they pretty much showed what they have to offer.

Even though they finished in fourth place, they had good percentages throughout the week, and unlike most teams they weren’t blown out in any of their losses. In fact, they were were one of only two teams to push Team Canada to 10 ends during the round-robin.

Well I could argue that Lawton pulled a Lawton later in the week, as she lost to Sarah Koltun of the Yukon in her final round-robin game and missed out on a spot in the 1 vs. 2 game on Friday night. Despite all that, Lawton did well and if the team stays together, they will be in the mix during the next four year run.

Team Percentages

Lead: Marliese Kasner (85% – Seventh)

Second: Sherri Singler (88% – Second)

Third: Sherry Anderson (85% – Second)

Skip: Stefanie Lawton (84% – Third – Perfect Game in Draw 8 against Quebec)

Biggest Disappointment: Nova Scotia (Heather Smith “Dacey”)

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We thought that maybe with a young team and her previous experience at the Scotties that this team would be one of the darkhorses to make the playoffs. Well that did not happen as the team under-performed, especially Heather Smith in a couple of games. Even though their percentage picked up a little bit they were never in contention throughout.

Okay, Brett had Smith has his darkhorse, but mine was actually Andrea Crawford, who narrowly missed out on making it into the playoff yet again. That chance will happen soon though for the New Brunswick rink.

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My biggest disappointment though was Allison Ross of Quebec. I thought the host rink would have a better showing than how they faired in Kingston in 2013, but there were a lot more lopsided results this time around, and they were never near the 4-7 mark I expected of them. 

Team Percentage

Lead: Teri Lake (90% – First – Perfect Game in Draw 17 against Ontario)

Second: Blisse Joyce (80% – Tied for Eighth)

Third: Jill Brothers (79% – Tied for Sixth)

Skip: Heather Smith (78% – Fifth)

Award Winners

Canada skip Rachel Homan in the 1 vs 2 game, 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Sandra Schmirler Award (MVP): Rachel Homan

First Team All Stars: Teri Lake (Nova Scotia), Allison Kreviazuk (Team Canada), Emma Miskew (Team Canada), Rachel Homan (Team Canada)

Second Team All Stars: Morgan Court (Ontario), Sherri Singler (Saskatchewan), Sherry Anderson (Saskatchewan), Chelsea Carey (Manitoba)

Marj Mitchell Sportsmanship Award: Sherry Anderson (Saskatchewan)


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