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  • OHL Eastern Conference Preview

    2012-13 OHL Preview (EAST)

    The hockey season is nearly upon us and it should be another banner year for the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

    Not only is the league chalked full of it’s normal contingent of future stars and standout hockey players, but after a very deep and strong OHL Draft and the current NHL Lockout there is even more talent in the league making every team that much stronger than it normally is.

    While there are a few teams which look like they should be battling it out for the OHL championship this year and a birth in the 2013 Memorial Cup, there’s also a number of developing programs ready to make their stride and spoil the top contenders party.

    The weakest teams in the league are getting stronger and stronger and there shouldn’t be as much parody this year as every single game throughout the season will be a dogfight.

    Without further adieu here’s our 2012-13 OHL Eastern Conference preview.

    1. Barrie Colts

    Head Coach – Dale Hawerchuk

    Top 5 players
    C – Mark Scheifele (CAN) 6’3” 184 lbs (93) Winnipeg Jets
    C/LW – Zach Hall (CAN) 5’11” 170 lbs. (93)
    LW – Tanner Pearson (CAN) 6’0” 192 lbs. (OA) Los Angeles Kings
    D – Aaron Ekblad (CAN) 6’3” 207 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    RW – Andreas Athanasiou (CAN) 6’1” 174 lbs. (94) Detroit Red Wings

    Mathias Niederberger (GER) 5’11” 170 lbs (OA)

    Rookies of note
    LW – Brendan Perlini (USA) 6’3” 170 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    D – C.J. Garcia (CAN) 6’0” 170 lbs (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible

    With the NHL Lockout in full effect the Barrie Colts should be the cream of the crop of the Eastern Conference.The team will be able to rely on it’s top end talent including star centre Mark Scheifele to put points on the board, while future stud blueliner Aaron Ekblad will be the man on defence as he proves he was worthy of exceptional status a season back. Hawerchuk has proven to be one of the best coaches in the league at finding new talent and developing players and if he can get another good season out of Niederberger then the sky is the limit in Barrie.

    2. Niagara Ice Dogs

    Head Coach – Marty Williamson

    Top 5 players
    D – Dougie Hamilton (CAN) 6’4” 193 lbs. (93) Boston Bruins
    C – Ryan Strome (CAN) 6’1” 183 lbs. (93) New York Islanders
    RW – Brett Ritchie (CAN) 6’3” 190 lbs. (93) Dallas Stars
    D – Brock Beukeboom (CAN) 6’3” 197 lbs. (OA) Tampa Bay Lightning
    C – Steven Shipley (CAN) 6’3” 212 lbs. (OA) Buffalo Sabres

    Christopher Festarini (CAN) 6’1” 170 (93)

    Rookies of note
    D – Aaron Haydon (USA) 6’2” 178 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    C – Brook Hiddink (CAN) 6’0” 178 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    G – Brent Moran (CAN) 6’2” 170 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible

    Without the NHL Lockout in effect, this Ice Dogs team would be in a complete rebuilding mode as there was little hope Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Strome would be coming back to the OHL. But with Strome and Hamilton back in the line-up along with Brett Ritchie, Steven Shipley and Brock Beukeboom this team should be battling for top spot in the conference. Chris Festarini is a solid, yet unspectacular netminder and could be the weak link on this team unless rookie keeper Brent Moran steps up and takes over some of the duties

    3. Belleville Bulls

    HC – George Burnett

    Top 5 players
    LW – Daniil Zharkov (RUS) 6’4” 212 (94) Edmonton Oilers
    C - Brendan Gaunce (CAN) 6’2” 215 (94) Vancouver Canucks
    D – Jordan Subban (CAN) 5’10” 177 lbs (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    RW – Austen Brassard (CAN) 6’2” 207 lbs. (93) Winnipeg Jets
    D – Stephen Silas (CAN) 6’1” 206 lbs (OA)

    Malcolm Subban (CAN) 6’2” 201 lbs (93) Boston Bruins

    Rookies of note
    C – Niki Petti (CAN) 6’0” 175 lbs (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    C – Michael Cramarossa (CAN) 6’0” 190 lbs (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    D – Daniel DeSousa (CAN) 5’11” 175 lbs (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible

    The Belleville Bulls should have a very strong team this year, led by their stud goaltender Malcolm Subban. The Bulls use the Yardman Arena’s large ice surface to their advantage with good skating skills, while also adding a new element the past couple years of good size at every position. Gaunce is back to be the unquestioned leader of this team and there’s also a very deep supporting cast to score by committee if the top guys get shut down. Jordan Subban is poised for a breakout season to prove why he is considered the best of his three brothers.

    4. Brampton Battalion

    Head Coach – Stan Butler

    Top 5 players
    C – Patric Machac (CZE) 5’9” 168 lbs. (94)
    D – Marcus McIvor (CAN) 6’1” 203 llbs. (94)
    RW – Barclay Goodrow (CAN) 6’2” 209 lbs (93)
    D – Dylan Blujus (USA) 6’3” 193 lbs. (94) Tampa Bay Lightning
    LW – Brandon Robinson (CAN) 6’3” 195 lbs. (93)

    Matej Machovsky (CZE) 6’2” 195 lbs. (93)

    Rookies of note
    LW – Blake Clarke (USA) 6’2” 197 lbs. (96)

    The Battalion are always coached well under Stan Butler, but lack a little of their typical firepower up front this season. That being said diminutive Czech pivot Patric Machac is a good scoring option for the team and should have plenty of room to operate with the team’s glut of big strong wingers. The team’s defence again is not full of headliners, but are big, strong and good defence. Goaltender Matej Machovsky has looked like one of the best goaltenders in the league on more than a few occasions. This team should surprise and compete to be among the conferences elite teams.

    5. Ottawa 67’s

    Head Coach – Chris Byrne

    Top 5 players
    D – Cody Ceci (CAN) 6’3” 226 lbs. (93) Ottawa Senators
    C – Sean Monahan (CAN) 6’3” 193 lbs. (94) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    C – Tyler Graovac (CAN) 6’4” 194 lbs. (93) Minnesota Wild
    D – Jake Cardwell (CAN) 6’2” 206 lbs. (OA)
    LW – Steven Janes (CAN) 6’4” 198 lbs. (93)

    Keegan Wilson (CAN) 6’1” 197 lbs. (OA)

    Rookies of note
    D – Jonathan Duchesne (CAN) 6’2” 195 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    C – Dante Salituro (CAN) 5’9” 181 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    C – Andrew Abou-Assaly (CAN) 6’0” 165 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible

    The 67’s lose a lot of top end talent, but aren’t quite in rebuilding mode either as two of their big guns in defenceman Cody Ceci and potential top 5 draft pick next summer Sean Monahan will be counted on to take the team on their back. Ottawa always finds a great cast of unsung players to step up and play key roles for the team. Coach Byrne likes a big blue line and the 67’s have that this year to go along with his preference of a quick-handed offensive talent to allow to spring in the neutral zone, which also shouldn’t be a problem. Rookies Dante Salituro and Andrew Abou-Assaly should be excellent additions and potential future league scoring champs.

    6. Oshawa Genarals

    Head Coach – D.J. Smith

    Top 5 players
    C – Boone Jenner (CAN) 6’2” 199 lbs. (93) Columbus Blue Jackets
    LW – Lucas Lessio (CAN) 6’2’ 206 lbs. (93) Phoenix Coyotes
    C – Scott Laughton (CAN) 6’1” 178 lbs. (94) Philadelphia Flyers
    D – Matt Petgrave (CAN) 6’2” 189 lbs. (OA)
    C – Cole Cassels (USA) 6’0” 165 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible

    Daniel Altshuller (CAN) 6’3” 190 lbs. (94) Carolina Hurricanes

    Rookies of note
    C – Michael Dal Colle (CAN) 6’2” 178 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible

    New coach D.J. Smith comes over from Windsor and looks to bring a culture of winning to the Generals. He boasts a squad that boasts a lot of talent and size up front, but may have some issues in his own end after Petgrave and Sullentrop. Jenner, Lessio, Laughton, Cassels and rookie Michael Dal Colle should all be impact guys for Oshawa, as should goaltender Daniel Altshuller, who had a slow learning curve in his first OHL season. If the Generals are able to add to their defensive corps this teams could be in the mix to steal their division title.

    7. Sudbury Wolves

    Head Coach – Trent Cull

    Top 5 Players
    D – Justin Sefton (CAN) 6’3” 226 lbs. (93) San Jose Sharks
    LW – Josh Leivo (CAN) 6’1” 185 lbs. (93) Toronto Maple Leafs
    RW – Nicholas Baptiste (CAN) 6’2” 200 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    LW – Dominik Kubalik (CZE) 6’1” 175 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    C – Matt Campagna (CAN) 6’0” 181 lbs. (94)

    Joel Vienneau (CAN) 6’3” 188 lbs. (OA)
    John Chartrand (CAN) 6’1” 180 lbs. (93)

    Rookies of note
    D – Connor Cummins (CAN) 6’3” 192 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    D – Evan DeHaan (CAN) 6’0” 160 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    LW – Connor Burgess (CAN) 6’0” 170 lbs. (96) 2104 NHL Draft eligible

    Sudbury is in a good place coming off an exhibition tournament title, where it beat teams from the U.S.A., Russia and Europe to bring home the trophy. There is some talent on this Wolves squad with Matt Campagna, Josh Leivo, Dominik Kubalik and Nicholas Baptiste up front and a feared hard-hitting shutdown man like Justin Sefton in his own end. If rookie Evan DeHaan (brother of Isles prospect Calvin DeHaan) or another young blueliner can step up and be the team’s powerplay QB, this team could be a feared one to play against, especially come playoff time. The goaltending tandem of, Chartrand and Vienneau are solid, but aren’t going to steal you any games.

    8. Peterborough Petes

    Head Coach – Mike Pelino

    Top 5 players
    C – Alan Quine (CAN) 6’0” 189 lbs. (93) Detroit Red Wings
    LW – Nick Ritchie (CAN) 6’3” 218 lbs. (95) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    D – Slater Koekkoek (CAN) 6’3” 186 lbs. (94) Tampa Bay Lightning
    RW – Stephen Nosad (CAN) 5’11” 188 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    C – Francis Menard (CAN) 6’0” 192 lbs. (OA)

    Andrew D’Agostini (CAN) 5’10” 173 lbs. (93)

    Rookies of note
    C – Eric Cornel (CAN) 6’2” 173 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    LW – Josh Maguire (CAN) 5’10” 189 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    D – Alex Robinson (CAN) 6’2” 192 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible

    The Petes are quietly building themselves back up to a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference. Right now the pieces may be a little young to make the big jump the club has been looking for, but the future is bright with Nick Ritchie and rookie Eric Cornel expected to be a great one-two punch up front, while other forwards such as Alan Quine, Stephen Nosad and the newly acquired Francis Menard hold down the team’s top line this season. A healthy Slater Koekkoek, with a strong crop of young defenders should be much improved and force to be reckoned with. Again goaltending isn’t a strength, but D’Agostini should be solid in the role.

    9. Mississauga Steelheads

    Head Coach – James Boyd

    Top 5 players
    D – Stuart Percy (CAN) 6’1” 195 lbs. (93) Toronto Maple Leafs
    LW – Riley Brace (CAN) 5’11” 180 lbs. (OA)
    C – Kristoff Kontos (CAN) 6’2” 197 lbs. (93)
    D – Dylan DeMelo (CAN) 6’0” 196 lbs. (93) San Jose Sharks
    D – Trevor Carrick (CAN) 6’2” 175 lbs. (94)

    Spencer Martin (CAN) 6’2” 186 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    Tyson Teichmann (CAN) 6’0” 150 lbs. (93)

    Rookies of note
    C – Damian Bourne (CAN) 6’4” 185 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible

    You have to like what the Steelheads are trying to do, after all the chaos of cutting the ties to St. Michael’s and finally selling the team were completed. There are a lot of good players in the mix on this team, but they are still very young and need to develop physically and mature to compete in this veteran laden team. The blueline is strong with DeMelo, Percy and Carrick leading the charge, while up front Brett Foy, Kontos and Brace will be counted on to carry the load. Youngsters such as Damian Bourne and a glut of other guys should show glimpses of their talent this year, but will need the full year to get acclimated to the league.

    10. Kingston Frontenacs

    Head Coach – Todd Gill

    Top 5 players
    LW – Billy Jenkins (CAN) 5’10” 170 lbs. (94)
    RW – Trevor Morbeck (USA) 6’2” 193 lbs. (93)
    C – Ryan Kujawinski (CAN) 6’2” 205 lbs. (95) 2013 NHL Draft eligible
    LW – Cody Alcock (CAN) 6’1” 190 lbs. (OA)
    D – Mikko Vainonen (FIN) 6’3” 205 lbs. (94) Nashville Predators

    Mike Morrison (CAN) 6’0” 180 lbs. (OA)

    Rookies of note
    LW – Spencer Watson (CAN) 5’10” 157 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    D – Roland McKeown (CAN) 6’2” 186 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    D – Dylan DiPerna (CAN) 6’1” 187 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible
    LW/C – Sam Bennett (CAN) 6’1” 168 lbs. (96) 2014 NHL Draft eligible

    While they may finish at the bottom of the conference there’s not doubt Kingston will be much improved as their blueprint to building a perennial winner is well underway. The Fronts are a very young team, but are much more skilled than in past years. All that’s needed is some time to develop and learn under coach Todd Gill to get this team to the top of the conference. Ryan Kujawinski, Trevor Morbeck and Billy Jenkins will be counted on up front to put the puck in the net while newcomer Mikko Vainonen should be a calming and steady influence on rookie studs Roland McKeown and Dylan DiPerna who should be among the team’s best players by the end of the year. Goaltending is a weak spot for the Fronts. This team is a year away from escaping their perennial spot in the basement.
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