Many surprises have taken place a little over a month into the 1999-2000 OHL season.
There are the usual surprise teams that have made early surges into the top of their division
and there have been the teams that were predicted to be strong contenders that slipped to the
basement. But the biggest surprise that has taken place that has fans around the province taking
note is the production of the league’s rookies early in the season.
Usually, teams this early in the season tend to lean on their older, more experienced
players to get the team on the right track and to help the younger players adjust to the league.
This OHL season has been somewhat of an exception as the rookies have stepped up and have become
the players that team relies on in the late stages of a close game. In most cases, these players
have delivered. Derek Roy, the 16 year old rookie for the Kitchener Rangers, is currently leading
the league in rookie scoring and is also leading his team. This is common in the league, where
the leading scorer for the team is a rookie. It represents a strong future for the league and
many great players on the horizon.
General Manager Jamie MacDonald of the Kitchener Rangers has been a busy man in 1999, recently making a number of trades, and before that, striking gold at the draft table. This years edition of the Rangers has seen 13 rookies lace up the skates, 9 from the 1999 Priority Draft and 2 from the European Import Draft.
Despite the large number of rookies on the roster, the Rangers are playing 500 hockey, averaging about 4 goals a game, and are right in the thick of things in the competitive and tight Western Conference. This bodes well for the future as many of these rookies are getting tons of ice time and will surely benefit from it.
Steve Emiger was their first round pick, 4th overall. This 185 pound defenceman stands 6 feet and 2 inches and has played a regular shift, first line power play, and killed penalties. He just turned 16 on Halloween, and the only thing scary about him is how good he could be. Due to his late birthday, he will not be drafted until the 2002 NHL entry draft, and from what I’ve seen of him so far he is first round material. He has great offensive instincts and reminds me a little of Phil Housley.
Player: Malcolm MacMillan
Born: February 8, 1982
Hometown: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Weight: 180 lbs
Pretty much every sports team has one player that the fans truly love. Some of these players include Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings, former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders and former Detroit Tiger great Lou Whitaker.
In junior hockey there is usually not one clear cut fan favorite, but there are many of them on each team. Every so often though, a player comes out of midget and really wins over the fans more than any other player. Soo Greyhound rookie centre Malcolm MacMillan is a fan favorite in every sense of the phrase.
MacMillan was the Greyhounds 1999 second round pick (31st overall). He came into camp and won over Greyhound management with his tireless work ethic and his combination of physical play and skill.
In the 15 games that MacMillan has played this season so far he has scored 2 goals and 9 points to complement his 56 penalty minutes. His 56 penalty minutes are the 5th highest total in the league thus far.
At 5’11” MacMillan is not the most physically intimidating player in the league. It’s surprising how tough he really is though. You wouldn’t expect a lot of toughness out of a player that is 5’11”. He has already gotten into a few really good fights this season.
The start of the 1999-2000 Ontario Hockey League season has to be considered a major disappointment for the London Knights as the team for The Forest City is currently mired in last place in the competitive Western Division with an unimpressive 2-6-4 record.
But fret not, Knights faithful. Head coach and general manager, for one, is not about to push the panic button, especially in light of last season’s magical ride to the OHL championship series, a titanic struggle the Knights lost in 7 games to the Belleville Bulls.
“The regular season was not exactly a great season for us last season. We started off slow, had a better second half and then enjoyed a great playoff run,” Agnew claimed. “It is better to do it that way because everyone remembers what happened in the playoffs.
“It was a great experience for the entire organization,” Agnew continued. “We had a great group of kids, and they achieved what they did because they worked hard.”
After getting by the Sarnia Sting in the opening round of the post season last spring, the Knights shocked the junior hockey world by eliminating the mighty Plymouth Whalers in seven games.
In fact, the Knights did more than just eliminate the Whalers – they destroyed the boys from Plymouth 10-3 in their own back yard.
“That was a very exciting game, the boys were very tight in the dressing room before the first period, yet they were also very loose and confident,” Agnew recalled. “We felt that if we could get the puck to the net, that we would be just fine.”
What is going on in Kingston? A municipal strike has caused the postponement of 4 games this season. The union allowed the Frontenacs to play four games in the month of October as a concession in contract talks with the union. On Friday night, the fourth of those games, the Memorial Center received a bomb threat during the second intermission of the game that saw the visiting Erie Otters in town. The police cleared out the building and conducted a search for the bomb. The search lasted 45 minutes and then they allowed play to continue and allowed the fans to re-enter the building. The Otters, however, decided not to take the chance and forfeited the game after a discussion with the league office. My only question is why would the visiting team have to forfeit? Returning risked the well being of the players. The league should be looking into the problem with the Frontenacs much more closely.
Surprise, surprise. Who would have thought that after a dozen games and one month into the season that Windsor and Brampton would be leading their respective divisions? Props go out to both teams for providing the OHL with a little bit of added excitement. It just goes to show that junior hockey is “predictably unpredictable.” The Battalion are being lead by the outstanding play of goalie David Chant. He currently leads the league with a miniscule 1.79 goals against average. Windsor is being lead offensively by their three outstanding rookies, Steve Ott(17points), player of the week in week three Shawn Mather(15 points), and Craig Kennedy (11 points).