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).
After a slow start, the Guelph Storm are only playing .500 hockey. Something they haven’t done for a while. They have played the fewest games at 6 and have a record of 3-3 (wins and losses). While Chris Madden has 3 wins and Craig Andersson has all three losses. It’s not that Andersson isn’t playing well, it’s just when he plays the defense thinks that they are defending for Madden, which leads to mistakes.
The other night in Owen Sound, Andersson faced 24 shots alone in the first period. And the Platers had only scored 1 goal. Over all in that game Andersson faced 43 shots turning away 40 of them. It was obvious to see that the Storm need a veteran defenseman with leadership qualities.
Ian Forbes, who has been playing great in the last few games has helped the team out incredibly on the power play as well on the penalty killing line. However, Forbes and Kevin Mitchell are the only 19 year-olds on the team that play defense.
Kevin Dallman also spent a lot of time on the penalty killing line, but he also spent quite a few minutes on the power play line.
When the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were preparing to select a player with the tenth overall selection in the Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection Draft, they knew they had a big hole to fill on their team. They lacked within the organization a young offensive defenseman who would take over the significant ice time logged by returning overager defenseman Daniel Passero. Young Derek Fox, whom the Greyhounds had selected in the first round last year was evolving into a two-way defenseman but he had a tendancy to play a more defensive style and not join the rush a lot. Who to pick? was the question going into the draft.
Enter Trevor Daley, the (just turned) sixteen year old defenseman from Toronto, Ontario. Listed at 5’11 170, the gifted young defenseman had been with the Vaughn Junior A team the season before putting up promising offensive numbers. In forty four games, Daley scored ten goals, had sixteen assists for a total of twenty-six points along with seventy-nine penalty minutes.
He looked small even on skates, which is why he slipped to tenth overall, but is it normal for a kid who’s only fifteen to be 6’2 200? The Greyhounds took a long look at this young player and decided he would be a valuable asset regardless of his size. Now only a handful of games into the season the nine teams that passed on the swift skating defenseman are starting to regret that decision.
After starting the season off on the wrong foot the Knights have made a couple key trades to boost the roster to a competitive team. Disgruntled defenceman Peter Reynolds was dealt to North Bay for Sniper Brett Gibson and big D-Man Brett Angel. Gibson has been nothing less than spectacular. As in the first three games he played he was in all on 7 goals the Knights scored. Brett Angel has also added some height to the Defence in the loss of Alex Henry to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. This trade has also seemed to spark Chris Kelly as he is on fire and is up to 15 points on the season.
Coach Agnew has also tried to spark talented rookie Matthew Albiani by placing him on the 1st line with Kelly and Gibson so far it has worked. In the four games they have tried him on the 1st line he has four points. The Knights then traded Mike Mazzuca to the Kitchener Rangers for a draft pick which will probably turn out to be nothing at the end of the road. A few days after the Mazzuca deal the Knights dealt 17 yr. Old Steven Rawski to the Windsor Spitfires for Over-Ager Max Linnik, In his first game as a Knight Max recorded 2 points. With the trading done for a while the Knights will finally be able to gel as a team and be back up in the standings where they belong.