An early look at the wild, wild OHL West Division. All data in
parenthesis indicate last year’s totals:
SARNIA (32-21-13; third place, OHL West; eliminated in first round of
playoffs by Plymouth in five games). THEY’VE MOVED ON: RW/C Jon Sim (44-50-
90); D Shane Kenny (11-21-32); D Marek Posmyk (8-16-24); Tim Verbeek (17-17-
34). THEY MIGHT BE BACK: G Greg Hewitt (3.10 in 18 games) and G Patrick
DesRochers (3.35 in 56 games). SUMMER DEALS: Acquired C Peter Sarno (33-88-
121) from Windsor for two draft choices; acquired C Peter Cava (30-60-90) and
two conditional 1999 draft choices from Sault Ste. Marie for C Chad Cavanaugh
(17-23-40) and four draft choices. KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: RW Jeff Heerema
(32-40-72), LW/C Robb Palahnuk (7-12), C Darryl Knight (17-34), RW Ivan
Novoseltsev (26-22), D Greg Willers (13-21), D Abe Herbst (1-24-25), D Ryan
VanBuskirk (8-17-25), D Dan Watson (6-15-21).
POSSIBLE OVERAGES: LW Andrew
Proskurnicki (20-33-53, 229 PIM), Michael Hanson (13-22-35, 231 PIM). TOP
FIVE DRAFTS: 1st (14) LC Ryan Hare, Sarnia Jr.B; 2nd (34) RW Tyler Coleman,
Petrolia Jets Jr.B; 4th (74) LW Travis Albers, Nepean Jr.A; 5th (95) RD
Julius Halkenny, North York Jr.A; 5th (100) LD Cory Brekelmans, Strathroy
TWO QUESTIONS PER TEAM: Will Hewitt and DesRochers both return? Will
Sarno (who led the OHL last year in phantom assists) learn how to play a
little defense under the watchful eye of head coach Mark Hunter?
STING OUTLOOK: Sting move into a new rink that is already sold out.
The rabid, demanding Sarnia fans expect a winner; the Sting have a lot of
players returning. Some observers have said Greg Hewitt has already moved on
to pro hockey, but if he comes back to play goal with DesRochers the Sting
will have one of the best tandems in the Canadian Hockey League. A good as
Sarno is offensively, Cava could be the real key.
PLYMOUTH (37-22-7; second place, OHL West; eliminated in the OHL semi-
finals by Guelph in four games). THEY’VE MOVED ON: G Robert Esche (2.88 in
48 games); RW/C Andrew Taylor (33-38-71, 124 PIM); RW Jesse Boulerice (20-23-
43, 170 PIM); ; C Brian Passmore (9-13-22); RW Yuri Babenko (22-34-56); D
Sergei Fedotov (5-11-16); D Pat Parthenais (2-7-9, 155 PIM). THEY MIGHT BE
BACK: CHL MVP C Dave Legwand (54-51-105); D Paul Mara (16-33-49). SUMMER
DEALS: Acquired RW Adam Colagiacomo (25-31-56) for C Brian Passmore and two
draft choices; acquired two draft choices from Toronto for RW Sheldon Keefe
and two conditional choices; offered tryout to free agent defenseman Maxim
Linnick (4-14-18, 130 PIM for St.Thomas Jr.B). KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: C
Harold Druken (38-44-82); C Julian Smith (16-26-42); LW Randy Fitzgerald (11-
24-35); LW Eric Gooldy (16-20-36); LW Jamie Lalonde (3-4-7, 171 PIM); LW Kris
Purdy (4-2-6); D Kevin Holdridge (4-15-19, 106 PIM); D Nikos Tselios (10-30-
40); D Shaun Fisher (3-24-27); G Scott Holsinger (3.95 in 16 games).
POSSIBLE OVERAGES: LW/C Rick Smith (8-5-13); D Troy Smith (3-13-16, 72 PIM);
C Steve Wasylko (4-18-22). TOP FIVE DRAFTS: 1st (15) C Kris Vernarsky, Team
USA User-18; 2nd (35) LW Kyle Chapman, Stoufville Jr.A; 3rd (49) RD Jared
Newman, Compuware Jr.A; 4th (67) G Dwayne Bateman, Trenton Jr.A; 5th (101) G
Rob Zepp, Newmarket Jr.A.
TWO QUESTIONS PER TEAM: How will the Whalers goaltending shake out?
Will Import selections LW Tomek Valtonen and RW Denis Arhipov have an impact?
WHALERS OUTLOOK: If Legwand and Mara return and the Whalers’
goaltending questions get answered, this team will challenge for the
division. Even if Legwand and Mara don’t return, there’s plenty of good
LONDON (40-21-5, first place, OHL West; eliminated in OHL semi-finals by
Ottawa in four games). THEY’VE MOVED ON: D Evgeny Korolev (9-31-40); D Jeff
Brown (12-42-54); D/F Jim Moss (6-8-14); LW Mark Cadotte (39-55-94); RW Scott
Thompson. SUMMER DEALS: Assistant coach Tom Hedican moved back to North Bay.
THEY MAY BE BACK: RW Max Spiridonov (54-44-98); C Rico Fata (43-33-76).
POSSIBLE OVERAGES: C Richard Pitirri (33-39-72); G Elliot Faust (5.03 in 9
games), Spiridonov. KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: G Gene Chiarello (3.16 in 51
games); D Alex Henry (5-9-14); D Joel Erskine (0-9-9, 205 PIM); D Peter
Reynolds (0-8-8); LW Jay Legault (39-56-95); LW Krys Barch (9-27-36); LW/C
Chris Kelly (15-14-29); Mike DePetrillo (4-8-12); LW Tom Kostopoulos (24-26-
50, 108 PIM); RW Mike Mazzuca (8-9-17, 161 PIM); C Joel Scherban (2-5-7).
TOP FIVE DRAFTS: 1st (17) LD Bobby Turner, Quinte Jr.A; 3rd (60) LD Steven
Rawski, Mississauga Senators Bantam; 4th (78) RW Tyler Durham, Shelburne
Jr.A; 5th (91) LW Matt Belanger, Mississauga Jr.A; 5th (105) LD Dan
Jancevski, Tecumseh Jr.B.
TWO QUESTIONS PER TEAM: Can Gene Chiarello do it again? Will Rico Fata
find someone who can play at his level?
KNIGHTS OUTLOOK: After a storybook season, head coach Gary Agnew has a
little tweaking to do to get the Knights back on top. Between Henry, Erskine
and Reynolds, there’s a lot to like on the London blue line. The return of
Spiridonov and the underrated Pitirri – along with a full season from
Scherban – is the key to the London attack.
SAULT STE. MARIE (20-39-7; 4th place, OHL West; missed playoffs).
THEY’VE MOVED ON: D Richard Jackman (33-40-73, 111 PIM); C Todd Miller (17-
25-42); RW Scott Page (2-9-11, 178 PIM); C Scott Behrens (7-15-22); LW Trevor
Tokarczyk (3-2-5); RW J.J. Dickie (1-1-2); D Matt Osborne; G Terry Joss (5.18
in 16 games). SUMMER DEALS: Acquired C Larry Paleczny (23-33-56) and a
conditional draft choice from Owen Sound for Chad Woollard (3-9-12) and two
draft choices; acquired C Chad Cavanaugh (17-23-40) and four draft choices
from Sarnia for C Peter Cava (30-60-90) and two conditional 1999 draft
choices. POSSIBLE OVERAGE: RW Bryan Duce (12-22-34). KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:
G Jake McCracken (4.18 in 55 games); D Nick Grady (1-4-5); D Chris Biagini
(4-4-8); D Robert Mulick (0-10-10); D Bill Browne (3-8-11); D Jake Gibson (1-
2-3); D Daniel Passero (12-18-30); LW Ryan Jardine (28-32-60); RW Chad Spurr
(20-34-54); LW Martin Galik (22-15-37); LW John Osborne (13-11-24); RW/C Osk
Hewer (8-11-19); Nick Jones (5-10-15, 235 PIM); C/LW David Wight (6-7-13);
Josh Bennett (4-5-9, 161 PIM); Tim Zafiris (3-7-10); Cory Pecker (3-4-7).
TOP FIVE DRAFTS: 1st (6) LD Derek Fox, Quinte Jr.A; 3rd (45) RD Paul
Ballantyne, Waterloo Bantam; 3rd (48) RW Murray Magill, Thunder Bay Midget;
3rd (54) LW Ryan Healy, North York Jr.A; 5th (94) RW/RD Ryan Bayliss, Markham
TWO QUESTIONS: Will head coach Dave Cameron and general manager Dave
Mayville continue to allow this group to grow? Can Cory Pecker rebound from
GREYHOUNDS OUTLOOK: The Soo has the most players returning in the
division. ‘Hounds should be the most improved team in the division.
WINDSOR (19-42-5, last in West Division; missed playoffs). THEY’VE
MOVED ON: G Michal Podolka (4.99 in 23 games); RW Dean Mando (8-12-20), Rick
Smith (8-5-13); D Drew Felder (1-8-9, 149 PIM); D Cameron Kincaid (2-5-7).
SUMMER DEAL: Acquired two draft choices from Sarnia for C Peter Sarno (33-
88-121). THEY MAY BE BACK: C/RW Jason Ward (26-36-62). POSSIBLE OVERAGES: D
Kevin Hansen (11-34-45), C Craig Jalbert (13-21-34). KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:
G Jason Flick (4.96 in 15 games); G Ron Vogel (4.88 in 44 games); C Jeff
Martin (40-54-94); F Jason Polera (32-38-70); RW Robin Boucher (8-12-20); RW
Curtis Watson (4-11-15); C/LW Blair Stayzer (4-8-12, 132 PIM); RW Andy
Burnham 2-4-6); LW Tim Sinasac (2-2-4, 194 PIM); LW Jeff Kugel (1-1-2, 63
PIM); D Craig Mahon (0-5-5); D Luc Rioux (2-14-16); D Mark Ridout (0-3-3, 116
PIM); D Derek McNamara (2-8-10); D Brent L’Heureux (5-11-16). TOP FIVE
DRAFTS: 1st (5) LD Dan Growden, Peterborough Bantam; 2nd (25) RW Joel Sewell,
Chatham Jr.B; 2nd (28) LC Ryan Courtney, Peterborough Bantam; 3rd (47) RD
John Cilladi, Aurora Jr.A; 3rd (51) LW T.J. Warkus, Valley East Midget.
TWO QUESTIONS: Will the impatient Spitfire fans tolerate another
rebuilding effort? Will GM Tony Curtale continue on the steady but painful
and necessary path of rebuilding?
SPITFIRE OUTLOOK: Curtale has a massive rebuilding effort under way.
Unless the second-year-players and rookies grow up quickly, it could be
another long year at McDougall and Wyandotte Street. But there appears to be
some light at the end of the tunnel.