PLYMOUTH, MI-Do you want some more? That’s what the Plymouth Whalers were asking the wounded Windsor Spitfires as they left Compuware Arena in Plymouth in their recent four-games-to-one playoff series victory. It’s not that the Spitfires played poorly or did not compete, it’s just that Plymouth seemed to have more when it mattered.
Take Game Five of the series for instance. The Whalers started off with two big, very deflating goals in the first ten minutes, setting the tone for the rest of the game and putting a dagger in Windsor’s hearts.
It was the Whalers top scorers rising to the occasion when they had to-Damian Surma and Justin Williams, who had the big early goals for Plymouth off of Windsor goaltender Mike Leighton. But, shortly after this point, Windsor had their moment to get back into it and change the direction of the series.
Three straight Plymouth penalties, one of which was a ten minute misconduct assessed to Libor Ustrnul for boarding, and a hooking call to Jared Newman, was just what Windsor needed. And they made it interesting.
Vince Grant worked hard in front of the net to get the power play tally off of Plymouth goalie Rob Zepp and it made the score 2-1 at the end of the first period.
“We had it in the back of our minds that if we worked hard, kept plugging away and got scoring chances, that we could win,” said Zepp, a 1999 fourth round draft choice of the Atlanta Thrashers. “We learned from last year’s mistakes.” Read more»
The 1999-2000 OHL season is over for the Windsor Spitfires after losing their Western Conference semi-final series in five games to the
Plymouth Whalers. But as they get ready to head home for the summer, they should have reason to be proud.
When Mike Kelly and Tom Webster were hired as GM and coach, respectively, last summer, people all over the league realized it wouldn’t be
long before the Spits would be contending. And the team improved its regular season by 21 points over 1988-99. However, the way they
accomplished it was a bit odd. Normally, a team wants to improve gradually over the course of the season, peaking in time for the palyoffs. But the Spits did it in reverse. They
burst out of the starting gate at a terrific pace, even seeing themselves in the CHL Top Ten list a few times.
But a couple of big losses at home just after Christmas led to a terrible second half. It didn’t help that a number of players, including top draft
choice, D Tim Gleason (NHL eligible 2001) and overage C Jeff Martin missed a number of games due to injuries. Martin, in particular, had a
season to forget, with a number of injuries, concluding with a concussion suffered in game four of the Plymouth series.
Also, goalie Michael Leighton (Chicago ’99) needed all season to recover form a groin injury, and only in the playoffs did he play the way people
knew he could. In fact, his play kept the Spits in a number of contests in the post-season. Read more»
Name: Jake Gibson
Team: Soo Greyhounds
Birthdate: July 25, 1980
Hometown: New Liskeard, Ontario
Weight: 208 lbs
Jake Gibson came to the Soo Greyhounds as a 6th round (94th overall) draft pick in the 1997
OHL draft. Since then Gib, as he is known by many of the Greyhounds faithful, has developed into
a very strong defensive defenseman.
Gibson, 19, should be a strong candidate for an overage spot on next years Greyhounds
roster. Gibson will likely be brought back for experience on the blueline. He is the only
Greyhound defenseman eligible for an overage spot, although Dan Passero is the only Greyhounds
defenseman who is not eligible to come back (centre Chad Spurr and goaltender Jason Flick are
also not eligible to come back next season).
Gibson has never been known as a strong offensive defenseman. He does chip in offensively by
pinching in at the right times and he rarely ever gets caught doing so. He also provides the
Greyhounds blueline with a physical presence.
Gibson has spent most of the season as rookie Trevor Daley’s defense partner. Gibson has
been sort of an insurance policy or a policeman as he protects Daley quite often. Also his
defensive style allows Daley to jump into the play a little bit more often. Read more»
The Rangers had a wild and crazy 1999-2000 season, there were plenty of changes,
on the ice and off. After numerous personnel changes and a coaching change, the
Rangers made a run at the Midwestern Division title, only to fizzle down the stretch, finishing 2nd in the division and 6th overall. This 66 point performance was a 14 point improvement from last year, when they finished tied for 8th and lost a one game showdown with Windsor for the right to be pummeled by the Plymouth Whalers.
This season the Rangers faced the Sault Greyhounds and bowed out in five games. Three of the four losses were close, two were decided by one goal, and the other, by two.
The Rangers scored 229 goals, an improvement of 24 goals, but they gave up 256, which was actually one better than last year. This is obviously an area of concern, as the team had trouble breaking out of their zone all year. But, there is a lot to be positive about on this team, as they have 13 players born in 1982 or later. So for the Rangers, 2001-2002 may be their year, but they should be better next year too.
Defenseman Mike Van Ryn of the Sarnia Sting came to the OHL after playing 2
years with the Michigan Wolverines in the CCHA. Van Ryn has made a very
smooth transition from the NCAA to the OHL. I had the opportunity to sit down
with Mike and ask him a few questions.
HF: What were the differences between the OHL and the NCAA?
Van Ryn: “There are a lot of differences. Mostly it’s just how the game is
played. It’s tough to say anything about the talent or anything like that
because the game is played so differently. The college game is a quick game,
it’s more of a speed type or a finesse type game. In the OHL there’s quite a
bit of fighting and in college you don’t have to worry about that. I never
saw a fight in my two years there. Guys tend to play bigger than they are for
the most part. The fact that there is no red line it’s faster and you gotta
be aware of guys sneaking behind you. In the OHL game it’s more of a
pro-style game, with the number of games you play. In college, because I
played in the World Juniors I only played in the high 30′s in terms of games.
I’ve only played about 38 games a season. In two seasons there I played just
over 70 games there. This year alone, with playoffs, I’ll end up playing over
70 games I’m hoping. It’s more of a pro game with the number of games.
There’s always the intimidation factor and just the way the game is played. A Read more»