Last week was a busy week on the road for me as I was able to take in four OHL live games in Peterborough and Kingston, seeing the Windsor Spitfires, Peterborough Petes, Kingston Frontenacs twice each as well as the Oshawa Generals and Sarin Sting. Here are some notes and observations.
The Eastern Conference leading Oshawa Generals are having an impressive bounce back season after bottoming out last year following their Memorial Cup Championship and re-tool season. 2017 NHL draft prospect Jack Studnicka is a player I watched close and he did not disappoint. He struck me as a hockey player, showed good goal scoring instincts on a play where he drove to the net and fired off a good hard low shot and what was impressive was how he followed it up to the goal rather than do a fly by and it resulted in a secondary scoring chance. He was a strong net front presence and was always looking to screen the goalie, fishing for tips, rebounds and greasy goals. Studnicka also showed a strong physical side as he almost destroyed Jonathan Ang with a huge open ice hit. Ang bailed out at the last second to avoid certain death, but Studnicka was still successful at separating the man from the puck and caused a turnover. I also liked his compete level. This can be difficult to judge sometimes but one example that I appreciated was how he always hustled to get off the ice on an on-the-fly line change, rather than doing and Alexi Kovalev impression.
New York Islanders prospect Mitch Vande Sompel has a reputation for being an aggressive player, I would go so far as to call him a dirty player. As an undersized offensive defenceman, it is a component of his game I really like. However, I think that if he is going to continue to deliver dirty hits, and use his stick like a weapon at the higher levels such as the AHL and the NHL; someone is going to feed him his lunch! After his offensive output suffered a drop off last year as the entire team struggled, this year he has rebounded nicely and has seven goals and 20 points in 23 games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect cupboard is very well stocked, and Anthony Cirelli is one that should become more of a household name in the near future. Best known for scoring the overtime Memorial Cup winning goal for the Generals was a 2015 third round pick by the Lightning. Cirelli is leading the Generals in scoring this year with an impressive 13 goals and 30 points in 22 games. His performance could even garner him consideration for an invite to the Canadian World Junior selection camp as he also scored a goal in his appearance in the Canada Russia series. He is a versatile player who can play the game on both sides of the puck, and has shown a penchant for scoring clutch goals.
Two more Tampa prospects playing for the Petes are Jonne Tammela and Matt Spencer. Tammela is injured and has yet to play but Spencer is in his final season of junior and with two goals and nine points in 17 games his offensive numbers could be better. Spencer also played in one game of the Canada Russia series but was held pointless despite playing a solid game overall. I don`t think he stands much of a chance of cracking the World Junior team for Canada and his fantasy upside is limited. That said, I do think he plays a game that will translate well in higher levels as he makes very quick and sound decisions and can slow the play down when the other team is pressing on the attack.
The Windsor Spitfires passed through both Peterborough and Kingston and I was able to catch the Western division leaders on both occasions, unfortunately