The Ontario Hockey League kicked off its regular season on Thursday and already there is a lot to talk about, including a few surprises, upsets, and even a five-goal performance.
Belleville Bulls (2-0-0-0)
The Bulls got off to a quick start to the season by defeating Sarnia and Plymouth. Predictably it was the play of goaltender Malcolm Subban that stood out. Subban, the front runner for the starting job on Canada’s world junior team this year, made 60 saves on 63 shots on the weekend. His brother, Jordan Subban, chipped in a team-high three assists, while fourth-year player Austen Brassard had a goal in each game, including the game winner against Sarnia.
London Knights (2-0-0-0)
The Knights, who were within one shot of winning the Memorial Cup last year, showed why they’re considered by many to have the greatest depth at forward this season. London scored 16 goals in two games, including five by OHL Player of the Week Seth Griffith. Although they played two of the weaker teams in the league in Erie and Guelph, their impressive fire power this weekend did nothing to dispel the notion that that they will be the team to beat this season in the Western Conference.
Mississauga Steelheads (1-1-0-0)
The Steelheads unveiled their new logo, team name, and uniforms to the hometown faithful for the first time this season. Even Mayor Hazel McCallion was on hand at the Hershey Centre for the opening ceremonies. Unfortunately Mississauga got shutout by Kitchener’s John Gibson in the home opener on Friday, but last season’s team leader in scoring, Riley Brace, broke through with a goal and an assist against Barrie to help bring the Steelheads to an even .500 on the weekend.
Plymouth Whalers (0-0-1-1)
Plymouth walked away with two points this weekend but it wasn’t exactly the start they would have wanted. The Whalers are once again expected to contend for the Western Conference crown but they fell short in overtime to the Greyhounds after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period. Then, a night later, they lost in a shootout to Belleville. Matt Mahalak had some trouble replacing Scott Wedgewood as the Whalers No. 1 netminder in the first two games, allowing eight goals on 62 shots.
Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (1-1-0-0)
It was a hot and cold weekend for the Greyhounds. The Soo scored eight goals over two games, good for fourth in the league, but they also allowed eight. They defeated one of the league’s better teams in Plymouth then lost to one of the weaker teams in Windsor a night later. The offence was in mid-season form but the defence wasn’t. Ryan Sproul, last season’s third highest scoring defencemen had four points and Nick Cousins chipped in three of his own. Despite the loss to Windsor it’s hard to blame goaltender Matt Murray for the defeat as the Greyhounds’ defence allowed the Spitfires to pepper him with 40 shots on net.