Now that the OHL season has opened, it is time to take a look at the teams and how they should fare in the upcoming season.
1> Sault Ste. Marie
The Sault should come out on top in the West this year. They will be led by Cory Pecker and Ryan Jardine up front and Daniel Passero on the blueline. With those combinations they will definitely be able to score some goals. Rookies Trevor Daley and Jeff Richards have impressed in the early going. They will be looked upon to add some depth. The only real question mark for Sault this season will be in net where Jason Flick will carry the load. Look for a trade for Ottawa goalie Seamus Kotyk at the trade deadline. If that happens, they will be a force to be reckoned with, leading up to the play-offs.
2> London Knights Read more»
Name: Ryan Jardine
Born: March 15, 1980
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 170 lbs
So far this season in the OHL there have been a lot of players that have been tearing up OHL goaltenders. Bryan Kazarian lit up the Soo Greyhounds for 5 assists en route to 9 points in the first week of the season. Rookie defenceman Trevor Daley of the Soo Greyhounds has 9 points in 6 games so far this year.
Third year winger Ryan Jardine of the Soo Greyhounds is another player that has been tearing up the OHL early this season. In his first 6 games this season Jardine has 10 points, including 7 goals. In the first two games of the season Jardine potted 4 goals and, although he has cooled off a bit, he is remaining consistent.
In his rookie season Jardine scored 28 goals which is very good, especially for a rookie. Also in his rookie year he was named to the OHL’s all-rookie team. In his second year he scored 27 goals. This year he is on pace to score 74 goals if he continues his torrid pace. It’s highly unlikely that he will get 74 goals this year but, with the way that he has played so far this season, 50 is definitely not out of the question. If he does get 50 he would be the first Greyhound player to score 50 since Joe Seroski scored 54 in 1996-97. Remember though, Seroski was on a line with former 1st overall NHL draft pick Joe Thornton.
Jason Spezza is a name you are going to hear an awful lot of over the next two years. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he a 6′ 3″, 200 lb centre with the Mississauga Ice Dogs. He was born on June 13, 1983 and this right handed shot is the early favorite to go first overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
Spezza spent last year playing for the Brampton Battalion, as a 15 year old, under an OHL rule which allows underage players to play for their home town. All he did was lead the team in scoring; In 67 games he scored 22 times, added 49 assists for 71 points. He was then picked first overall by the Ice Dogs in the OHL draft.
The thing that hits you right away when you watch Spezza is his poise with the puck. He has the puck on his stick more times in one game than most other 16 year olds have in a month. He is most definitely the heart of the Ice Dog offence. The player most likely to benefit the most from Spezza’s passes this year is Chad Wiseman, who has lined up on left wing beside Spezza in the early going, and he should vastly improve on his 11 goal performance of last year.
Name: Jeff Kugel
Born: February 7, 1980
Hometown: Roseville, Michigan
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 246 lbs
When Jeff Kugel was slapped with a lifetime ban by OHL commissioner David Branch last winter there were a lot of people that thought that he would never play hockey again. He jumped off the bench, sucker punched one player and chased another. When you look at the situation you must say that it was very serious.
Some people thought that a 25 game suspension was long enough and others thought that a lifetime ban was the perfect punishment. OHL Commissioner David Branch, who is also the CHL president, handed Kugel a lifetime ban as many of you know. Last summer Branch decided that Kugel had learned his lesson and re-instated him into the league.
A couple of weeks ago Kugel was attending the New York Rangers training camp. He apparently got into a couple of dandy fights. When Kugel joined his teammates at the Windsor Spitfires training camp he received word that he had been put on waivers by the team. It didn’t take long for him to create interest from other teams as there were a few teams that wanted him in their lineup.
Team opens sophomore season 3-0
September 24, 1999 – vs. Barrie Colts
The Battalion got their sophomore season off to a winning start with a 4-2 win over the highly regarded Barrie Colts at the Bunker.
While the Colts had several top players such as goaltender Brian Finley, defenceman Martin Skoula and forward Denis Shvidki, still at NHL training camps, they were still a formidable squad considered by many to be one of the top teams in the country.
The Battalion had certainly drawn a tough foe for their second season opener, but they seemed to pay little attention to that as they came out flying in the first period.
Kurt MacSweyn opened the scoring at 2:18 of the frame after rookie Chris Rowan fought off several defenders to get him the puck. Raffi Torres followed at 3:13 from Jeff Bateman and Scott Thompson and suddenly Brampton was up 2-0.
New Colts coach Bill Stewart called a timeout in an effort to regroup his troops and they seemed to respond, with Mike Christian notching their first marker at 6:29.