Despite some penalty trouble and stupidity throughout the series the Belleville Bulls defeated the Oshawa Generals 4 games to 1 to move on to the 2nd round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
The Generals didn’t go easily however. They won the first game in Oshawa 4-3 and then dropped the first game in Belleville 3-0, but after that the Bulls had to hang on until the last minute of each game to pull off the next 3 wins; all 3 games were won by 1 goal including an overtime victory in Oshawa. The Generals showed throughout the series that they are a team to watch next year.
The Bulls were shooting themselves in the foot quite a bit in this series. Mike Renzi started off the series on a bad note receiving a 5-minute elbowing penalty for dropping Dustin VanBallegooie and subsequently was slapped with a 3-game suspension, which put him out of action until the final game of the series. In game 4 in Oshawa the Bulls were testing their 5 on 3 penalty killing but were fortunate to win the game in overtime to send the series back to Belleville to try to win it.
The 5th game belonged to the Bulls until about 2-minutes left in the 3rd period. Belleville had been leading 3-0 for the majority of the game until penalty put the Bulls down a man giving the Gen’s a powerplay. Then, for the 2nd time in the game the Generals called for a measurement of Jason Spezza’s stick and for the 2nd time Spezza turned from the ref and broke the blade of his stick with his hand preventing them from checking his stick. The Generals then asked for a measurement of Cody McCormick’s stick, which they found to be illegal and the Bulls were therefore penalized. The Generals scored 2 goals on the powerplay and were now in the game with about 50 seconds left in the 3rd. The Bulls held on in their own end with Oshawa’s goalie Chris Beckford-Tseu on the bench for the extra attacker to win the game and the series.
It is no secret that coaches will use the illegal stick rule on a player that is suspected to have an illegal stick, especially in the playoffs where a powerplay can mean the difference between moving to the next round or going home. It is therefore curious that the Belleville coaching staff would not have warned the players about using illegal sticks and if they did then it was an extremely stupid move by the players to jeopardize the series that way.
Nate Robinson has always had a hot temper but he is an integral part of the Bulls team and must stay on the ice as much as possible. So far he has allowed the other team to get under his skin and he has taken pointless penalties as he did at the end of the 4th game against the Generals. Nathan Horton got Robinson to come after him, which ended in Robinson taking a 10-minute misconduct. Horton will be a good player in the future but right now he is not worth a guy like Robinson being taken off the ice. Horton did a lot of talking but was pretty much useless when it came to playing hockey as he was to busy trying to be the toughest guy on the ice.
The Bulls will now move on to play the Barrie Colts in the conference semi-final who defeated the Sudbury Wolves. The Bulls and Colts play a similar style game that relies on speed rather than size. With Michael Mole playing well as he has since arriving in Belleville, the Bulls are poised to make a run at the OHL championship. The return of Andrew Brown to the line-up will increase the Bulls size and aggressiveness and may be the answer to the Bulls powerplay woes as he disrupts things in front of the net. He recorded his first playoff goal with a tip-in of a point shot on the powerplay. Malcolm Hutt has been solid defensively and will shoulder more ice time as fellow d-man Dan Growden heals in the press box.
Here’s a look at how last years overage graduates are doing this year:
Springfield Falcons AHL 62 18 21 39 64
Phoenix Coyotes NHL 11 2 2 4 4
Peoria Rivermen ECHL 57 13 17 30 20
Quebec Citadelles AHL 15 0 4 4 6
New-Mexico Scorpions CHL 38 6 12 18 62
Mississippi Sea Wolves ECHL 5 0 0 0 9