The second-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League makes their second visit to the Leon’s Centre when the Kingston Frontenacs take on the Oshawa Generals on Friday night at 7 PM. The two Eastern Division rivals have met twice this season, with Oshawa coming out with a 4-1 win in both contests including the opening night of the OHL season in Kingston and last in Oshawa on September 29th.
The Frontenacs will play their first of four games without head coach Kurtis Foster and forward Shane Wright who are in Alberta currently representing Canada at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge set to begin on November 2nd. Wright scored his first career OHL goal against the Generals on September 29th in the second game the teams played each other.
Interim Head Coach:
Assistant coach Luca Caputi will take over the reins behind the bench in the interim as the club faces the top-ranked team in the OHL before heading on the road for a date against a tough Peterborough Petes team just three points back of the Generals for the division lead.
Caputi has the team preparing hard for their matchup vs Oshawa running detail-oriented practices throughout the week as he looks to get the Frontenacs back on the win column. After practice on Wednesday, he spoke to me about his preparation. “We’re trying to cross off all the boxes and make sure we’re ready because obviously we respect where they are in the standings and it’s something we want to work towards,” commented the 31-year old former NHL’er drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007.
He is continuing to stress aspects to the game on his team to help mitigate goals against as the Frontenacs need to lower their team goals-against to give themselves a better chance at success. Caputi said: ”We got to tighten up in the d-zone, we got to stop pucks, we have to eliminate the zone time other teams have. They’re spending too much time in our end and the way to do that is to play quick fast defence in layers and I think we’ve instilled some aspects on the players from day one how we want to defend. It’s been a season-long commitment but sometimes you have to tweak it.”
After working alongside a few head coaches already he says he’s always picking up things from other coaches but added: “Come Friday night (vs Oshawa), I’m just going to be me,” stressed the former assistant coach with Guelph Storm.
Kingston announced this week they had acquired veteran defenceman Nick King from the North Bay Battalion in another move by GM Darren Keily meant to help bolster a young team. King, with 169 OHL games played, will add even further to the experience current over-age teammates, Jakob Brahaney and goaltender Brendan Bonello are bringing to the team. “I’ve seen a lot of talent so far in the first three days coming in. Everyone gets along really, really well, which is a big thing, not just on the ice but off it as well,” said the 20-year-old said at Wednesday’s practice.
Captain Jakob Brahaney added: ”It’s nice to add his experience. He’s a skilled defenceman, I’ve only practiced with him twice now, but he’s a great skater who can zip the puck around and I’m looking forward to him helping us out.”
With North Bay, King’s last appearance was on October 4th. He had three assists in 6 games played this year. King also registered a multi-point game with two power-play points on September 26th in a Battalion win over Kitchener.
King should be able to help with his experience and spoke of his time in North Bay as a player who doesn’t like to say a lot in the room, but enjoys mentoring and helping younger players with some tips. Commenting on this he says: ”I want to lead by example, that’s what I’ve always really done. I’ve never really said a lot in the room, I’ve always looked to lead on the ice, but for sure I want to help out when I can.” The Waterloo, Ontario native has also proven he can help generate some offence from the backend scoring 40 points last season in 67 games with the Battalion. He gets pucks to the net with 118 shots and registered 5 power-play goals last season as well.
Oshawa Game Notes:
Brahaney spoke after practice Wednesday about the teams need to remain focused saying, “Oshawa is a strong team so we’ll definitely have to ready. It’s a Friday night at Leon’s Centre so it’s an exciting time and we have to be ready right from puck drop.”
Forward Nick Wong will square off against his former teammates after being traded by Oshawa to the Frontenacs last January. The flashy winger has scored two goals in his four games played vs Oshawa since the trade and enters the game with an assist in three straight games.
Kingston’s Emmitt Gordon and Oshawa’s William Ennis squared off just 2:19 into the season opener as the game had some energy from the start. Unfortunately for Kingston, the Generals Danil Antropov would score on the power-play with Gordon called for instigating in what has become as concern for Kingston getting scored on first in 11 of 14 games so far.
The Generals could have some strong goaltending with Andrew MacLean possibly starting. He is tied with the Petes’ Hunter Jones for the league lead in goaltender wins (10). MacLean has started both times against Kingston so far and the Frontenacs will be looking to get more than the 13 shots they had on the steady netminder in the last matchup when he gave up one goal.
Nick King began skating with the club this week after the trade from North Bay. His veteran presence should help stabilize the blueline. A big-strong two-way defenceman, his game style should help mix with the current group. “All the guys mesh together well, so we just have to get on a bit of a roll and we should be fine,” he says of the team turning the corner with some wins.
Kingston visits the Petes on Tuesday, November 5th at 7:05 PM from the Memorial Centre in Peterborough.