MISSISSAUGA – Two weeks into the Ontario Hockey League season, the Mississauga Steelheads have found themselves starting the season with a record of zero wins and three losses, and last in the central division.
In all fairness, this ‘slow start’ was rather predictable.
The Steelheads arguably had the toughest schedule in the entire OHL to start their season, squaring off against the Sudbury Wolves, the Oshawa Generals, and the Barrie Colts, teams who are all projected to have deep playoff runs and are among the best of the best in the entire league.
In their season and home opener, the Steelheads were thrown into the fire, tasked with the challenge of shutting down projected top-3 pick in the upcoming draft, Quinton Byfield, who had come off a dominating performance prior to the matchup, in which he tallied five points in two games.
While Mississauga did the best they could against Byfield, the Steelheads fell to the Wolves, by a score of 3-1.
Things did not get any easier for the Steelheads in the following week for the second game of the season, once again at home, but this time against an Oshawa Generals team that returned numerous players from their playoff team the year before.
However, the Steelheads were blessed with the return from Thomas Harley, who was sent down from the Dallas Stars’ training camp. While Harley was not expected to debut against the Generals, the first-round pick from this summer’s draft was quickly put into the starting lineup very close to game-time to log key minutes for head coach James Richmond.
Although the Steelheads may have added Harley, they still were unable to shut down the Generals’ trio of Allan McShane (Canadiens), Ty Tullio, and Oliver Suni, combining for 9 points on route to a 6-5 victory on the road in Mississauga.
After the loss to the Generals on Friday night, the Steelheads had no time to rest, traveling to Barrie to square off against the Colts, who also had a massive addition of their own, as Ryan Suzuki returned after attending the Carolina Hurricanes’ camp.
Suzuki (1 goal, 3 assists) and Tyson Foerster (3 goals, 3 assists), led the way for the Colts, as Barrie scored seven goals on their former teammate, Kai Edmonds, defeating the Steelheads and giving them their third loss of the season, by a score of 7-3.
Despite the three-game losing streak to start the season, there have been a few bright spots for the team after each game, highlighted, by the strong start of Cole Schwindt (Panthers). Schwindt has started the season off quite hot, with 1 goal and 4 assists, playing on the top line with Keean Washkurak (Blues), developing chemistry early into the season.
Another bright spot for Mississauga thus far has been their contributions from the backend offensively. In only two games, Harley has been a force for Mississauaga, while import Ole Bjorgvik-Holm has impressed as well early into his OHL career, and finally, Duncan Penman leads the team in goals with 2.
Now that the Steelheads have gone through the ‘gongshow’ of opponents to open their season, they will have an opportunity to bounce back against an also struggling Hamilton Bulldogs team at home on Friday night.
Not to mention, Harley will finally be able to have a week of practice under his belt to regain some of the chemistry from last season. With that being said, Mississauga will also have the ability to make the necessary adjustments for their weekend at home starting with the Bulldogs, but also against the Windsor Spitfires, who they were undefeated against in the 2018-2019 season.
There is no need to panic on the Steelheads’ behalf.