OHL Monday Night Major

Welcome to another week of the Monday Night Major.  I apologize for missing last week but unfortunately, sometimes life’s crazy schedule takes precedence over the hockey talk.  I know, it’s shocking, right?  As only the second time in six years missing a week of coverage it was a little disappointing.

The good news is I am back this week and ready to pontificate about the Ontario Hockey League once again.

Sarnia rebounds after a tough start

You could forgive fans in Sarnia if they were ready for the season to be over on October 12th of this year.  On that night the Sting had dropped their seventh straight to begin the year and things were not looking positive.

Offensively things were decent with the team averaging three point seven goals for during that stretch.  Defensively, however, things were far from good.  Sarnia had surrendered six and a half goals against over that opening seven-game span.

Then something happened in Sarnia.  The Sting acquired Ryan Roth on October 10th and the week after it began turning around.  The team has won seven of eight contests since October 12th and has been on fire offensively with Sean Josling leading the way with 12 goals and 10 assists in those eight games.

Roth has also been outstanding with 15 points during that stretch while the often underrated Jamieson Rees has added 22 points during that stretch as well.

Part of the issue for their early struggles could be the addition of Roth but let’s not forget Rees only played one game for the Sting prior to October 12th as well.  Roth was a huge addition but it is hard to ignore that the turnaround has also come at the same time Rees returned to the lineup.

At first glance, it would be easy to credit Rees and Roth for the turnaround, but the team has also reduced their goals against to just three-point seven-five goals against during that stretch; half of what they were giving up during their poor start.

The addition of Jordan Kooy in goal this week should only continue to reduce that number going forward.

Newly acquired Jordan Kooy looks to help reduce Sarnia’s goals against. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Iimages.

Everyone was quick to write off the Sting early in the year but it appears that the team is poised to be competitive in a very balanced Western Conference.

 

FIVE IN THE BOX

Drew Hunter

Hunter found himself the odd man out in the overage numbers game in Niagara once Ivan Lodnia was surprisingly returned by the Minnesota Wild.

Niagara wanted to resolve that issue quickly and found a home for Hunter in Erie where the team received a fourth-round pick for the veteran defender.

Hunter opened the year with nine points in 12 games for Niagara and looked very solid at both ends of the ice, even posting a plus one for the rebuilding IceDogs.

Now with a chance to play in Erie’s top six, Hunter has made the most of his opportunity with two assists and a plus-four rating in his first two games as an Otter.

This is an outstanding move for Erie as they get a big defenceman that can play in all situations of the game.  In addition to that, Hunter is also a high-quality person in the dressing room.

Drew Hunter prior to his only appearance on IceDogs This Week. Hunter moves to the Otters looking to solidify their top four.

Hunter’s development into a top-four defenceman after being selected in the 12th round in 2016 has been impressive to watch. This might be Hunter’s first true opportunity for top-four minutes in the league and a 40 point season could be had as a result.

While every General Manager in the league would opt to keep Lodnia over Hunter, Erie may have picked up a big piece for their team at a very affordable price.

 

Chad Yetman

Yetman is coming off his first 20 goal season in the OHL last year and has built on that great year with 19 points in his first 16 games this year.

Perhaps more impressive than the point total is the fact that Yetman has 13 goals thus far and is on pace for 55 goals. While he may not hit Alex DeBrincat-like numbers for the Otters, there is no doubt Yetman has become an offensive force few could have projected him to be as a 10th round pick in 2016.

Yetman had a terrific October for the Otters as he found the back of the net in eight of nine contests the Otters were involved in.

OHL coaches are always talking about finding a way to get a consistent effort out of their players and few have been more consistent for Erie coach Chris Hartsburg this season.

Barret Kirwin

Last season’s trade from the Guelph Storm to the Owen Sound Attack seemed to allow Kirwin to blossom offensively.  Following the trade, he had 22 points in 29 games to finish the year.

Kirwin has continued to take advantage of the opportunity in Owen Sound this year.  The 19-year-old center has 15 points in the Attack’s first 15 games played.

Kirwin has formed a solid one-two punch with Aidan Dudas in Owen sound this season and the Attack are off to a solid start leading the mid-West division through the first quarter of the year.

Perhaps more impressive than the offensive contribution is that Kirwin also leads the team in plus/minus at +13, illustrating the veteran center’s impact at both ends of the ice.

The Attack have surprised many with their start and could continue to make noise in the Western Conference as a surprise contender should they make an acquisition or two of star players.

Curtis Douglas

The 6’9″ Dallas Stars prospect is coming off a 27 goal season and is once again on pace for another 53-55 point season.

While I don’t think anyone expects eye-popping offensive numbers from Douglas he finds a way to contribute effectively at both ends of the ice.

Curtis Douglas of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Douglas can use his size to be a dominant two-way center in the league and this season he has found a way to contribute more defensively than his other years in the league.

Douglas leads the Windsor Spitfire with a +13 mark this season which is impressive given he is always out against other teams’ top lines.

With Windsor off to a terrific start to the year, more attention should be heaped on Douglas as the season continues as perhaps one of the most underrated centers in the league.  It’s impressive you can underrate somebody that tall but that seems to be the case with Douglas this year.

Dylan Myskiw

Myskiw was waived through the Western Hockey League and seemed destined to come to the London Knights in what seemed to be the worst kept secret in junior.

Along the way though there was a complication where the Sarnia Sting put in a claim on the veteran goaltender.

Eventually, Myskiw made his way to London as part of the Jordan Kooy trade and now looks to be the choice for the Hunters to try to help turn around an un-even Knights’ season.

Myskiw posted a solid 28 wins and .914 save percentage for the Edmonton Oil Kings last season before becoming a victim of the overage numbers game this year in Edmonton.

Myskiw’s presence should help a Knights team reliant on rookie Brett Brochu and the apparently unhappy Jordan Kooy this year.

One thing is for certain for Myskiw in London;  he’s going to get the best opportunity for success with the Knights looking to return deep in the playoffs this season.

Twitter Suspension Outrage!

Social media has changed the way the hockey world communicates.  Each night there are millions of twitter handles discussing hockey at all levels of the game; from the NHL to minor midget hockey.

While social media is terrific for providing updates, it also creates a lot of unfortunate negativity on a nightly basis.

The most annoying aspect of this negativity is not that people are tagging teenagers to insult their play on the ice (that’s another argument) but rather the seemingly hourly calls for suspensions each night.

It amazes me how many people see a hit in a game and instantly start calling for a suspension.  In their calls for a suspension, it is rare that they illustrate concern for the player on the receiving end, just that justice must be served!

The funny part about this to me is that the league does not need your assistance via twitter, folks.  If a team feels something was out of line, they are quite capable of submitting it for review on their own. They do not need your assistance by tweeting the league.

You are not helping the league either by tweeting about these incidents. If you want to help generate interest tweet about great plays on the ice or player interest stories. I have yet to see anyone become a fan of a league because of people tweeting about infractions on the ice you do not agree with.

I truly admire the passion but let’s keep the focus on the good in the game.  The decision-makers in the league offices will take care of the rest without your input. Yes, you can support your team while reducing the overall anger on twitter.

Thanks again for reading the Monday Night Major.  Until next week keep supporting the OHL and enjoy the games.