Team leads OHL Midwest Division as halfway point nears
After struggling through their maiden season with only 8 wins in 68 games, the Brampton
Battalion have emerged in their sophomore season as one of the surprise teams, not only in the OHL but also in the entire
Canadian Hockey League.
Stan Butler’s squad currently stands atop the OHL Midwest Division with a 13-8-5-2 record (33 points) through 28 games. Their closest divisional pursuers are the Erie Otters, who have racked up 26 points in 24 games.
The season started on a positive note with home ice wins over the highly-regarded Barrie Colts and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and a 2-1 road victory over their rivals from Mississauga. Brampton and Erie battled to a scoreless draw on October 3, which gave goaltender David Chant the distinction of being the first Battalion netminder to record a shutout. Read more»
A quick scan of the OHL Western conference shows three teams fighting
for the top spot. The Sault Greyhounds were expected to be there. Brampton was not and their amazing second season rolls on without any overagers and only 2 19 year olds in the lineup. The Windsor Spitfires are also there, much to the surprise of many. Their success has been due to a team effort, they do not have the stars that other teams boast. Yet they are ranked in the CHL top ten, sitting 7th.
Over the last few years this team has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was star players being charged for off ice incidents, stars breaking curfews and being suspended, or the Jeff Kugel disgrace, a dark cloud has hung over this franchise. The hiring of Tom Webster has brought some class, leadership, stability and hope to the Spits. He has them playing tough, disciplined, hard nosed hockey, rolling 4 lines, pounding teams along the boards, and producing victory after victory. They follow through on their hits (if you are at a game, don’t follow the puck or you might miss a Spitfire run over an opponent who was admiring his pass), they forecheck tenaciously, and unlike the Peter Sarno years the forwards can pick their goalie out of a crowd of strangers.
When the Soo Greyhounds opened training camp prior to this season there
were very few question marks in their lineup. The only major question mark
was who was going to be the starting goaltender, Jake McCracken or
Jason Flick. That question has since been answered due to the fact that
McCracken has been unable to play due to injury.
Looking back at the first part of the Greyhounds season the team
looks to be in pretty good shape. They had a ton of veterans coming back
from last year’s team. At the draft they added even more experience with
the addition of winger Brent Theobald from the Mississauga IceDogs.
In the standings the Greyhounds are in great shape as they are
fighting with the surprising Windsor Spitfires for 1st place in the OHL’s
West Division and are among the top teams in the OHL. The Greyhounds Read more»
With CSB’s rankings out a few days early, instead of a forward-looking piece on this year’s OHL draft-prospects, I’m left instead to take a mostly backwards look at the early-season rankings of Central Scouting.
There are six players who look like a cut-above the rest of the pack. The Big Six consist of three forwards and three defencemen. The best of each are d-man Kurtis Foster of Peterborough and forward Raffi Torres of Brampton. Nobody seems to mention Torres when talking about the 2000 draft.
The only knock that could possibly be put on him is his size. He’s a notch below the
benchmark 6’0″, but at 5’11″ he’s a sturdy 193 pounds. Other than that the kid has
above-average skills in every facet, especially skating, and especially especially in
hockey sense. This kid is a player, the real deal. A lead-pipe cinch for the Prospects Game, and really should get
a look at Team Canada’s final evaluation camp prior to the WJC, he’s that good.
You can’t miss Foster, he’s a 6’4″ giant with good skating ability, puck-skills, and he’s
putting up good offensive numbers already. Everything the scouts like about a player, this kid has it. He may be the No. 1 prospect in the OHL. A notch below these two would be the Erie Otters forward tandem of Nikita Alexeev and Brad Boyes, and on the blue-line you have Windsor’s Dan Growden and North Bay’s Chris Eade who’s currently out because of an
Torres is now
quoted 14 pounds heavier than his OHL Media Guide weight of 193 lbs., and at 207 it Read more»
After losing a number of quality players, the Plymouth Whalers were expected to struggle this Ontario
Hockey League season.
And struggle they have. The Whalers sit in fourth place in the OHL’s Western Division at about the
one-third mark of the campaign.
However, there are some encouraging signs.
In goal, 18-year old Rob Zepp has been steady behind a largely inexperienced defense. The Atlanta
Thrashers draftee has a goals against average of 2.42 in 17 appearances.
First round draft pick Stephen Weiss leads the team in scoring with 25 points, and fellow rookie Tomas
Kurka has 18.
Weiss has speed and good puck sense. The puck seems to follow him around, and all things considered,
those 25 points are no fluke.He’s been named to Ontario’s Under-17 team at the World Hockey Challenge.
Kurka, from the Czech Republic, brings with him the reputation of a sniper. His 15 points are fifth on the
In between are second year wingers Justin Williams and Damien Surma, along with overage defenceman
A pleasant surprise has been the play of another Czech import. Defender Libor Urstrnul stands 6’5″ and
weighs 230 lbs., but has a fair amount of mobility, which is surprising for a big man. The soon-to-be
19-year-old also likes to mix it up, and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves.
Indeed, a Urstrnul fight is quite a sight. It starts with the fact that he DOES fight, a trait not often seen in
European players. Read more»