The highest scoring forward squad led by Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince has been firing in goals the entire season. Since the group including Cody Lindsay, Ryan Martindale and rookie Sean Monahan have been together, they’ve gelled to become a deep scoring team, one that opponents have to focus on both lines. Dalton Smith can’t be left out either, picked in the 2nd round of the NHL draft last year, he can be physically imposing when he’s on his game while helping out on offense.
The defensive unit has been effective as well. With depth players Julian Luciani and Jake Cardwell joining the team to take some pressure off the younger defensemen, the defense has come together keeping the team in games when goaltender Petr Mrazek isn’t playing up to his capabilities.
The 67’s pace has stalled the past couple weeks allowing their divisional rivals to gain some ground, but once this hiccup has passed, the 67’s veteran forwards will lead the team to the top of the East.
Massive turnover into a young, fast team makes this squad an unpredictable, and potentially scary bunch. The Generals forwards start with two strong forward lines and a couple veterans leading each. Boone Jenner, Lucas Lessio, and Nicklas Jensen are learning on the fly – and fast. All three are expected to go high in the upcoming NHL draft, and a strong playoff run will definitely get the attention of the right people. Christian Thomas and Andy Andreoff have grown into leadership roles on offense helping out the young guys who have shown more and more over the last month.
On defense, the Generals have four players who are 19 or older, captained by Calvin de Haan, who will all prove invaluable for the stretch drive. On top of a veteran back four, the Generals traded for overage goaltender Peter Di Salvo, who last season backed the Barrie Colts right to the OHL final. Di Salvo has been stellar in net, developing more confidence for the rest of the team.
The Frontenacs Nathan Moon has come on strong in his final junior season with 63 points in 48 games, while GM Larry Mavety made a big move early to trade for top scorer Ryan Spooner who now leads the Kingston with 28 goals in 44 games. Several other players including Sean Jones, Conor Stokes and Michael Fine have joined the team in trades making this team one that could turn it on quickly against younger, less experienced teams.
Much like the forwards, the defense is anchored by some stars such as Taylor Doherty (drafted by San Jose) and Erik Gudbranson (drafted by Florida). Both players could be seeing their last season of junior hockey, and both have something to prove to their NHL clubs. Mitch Gaulton and Jeff Brathwaite joined the team this year as well, lending their support and leadership to settle down the rest of the defense.
In goal, the Frontenacs made an off-season trade for Windsor’s Philipp Grubauer who has stolen games in past playoff seasons. While Kingston has fallen a bit as a team, such a veteran group should be able to pull it together with Coach Doug Gilmour keeping their attention and focus on the ice.
After a rough start, the Petes became a very young team upon trading Ryan Spooner. The Petes had to lean heavily on rookie of the year Matt Puempel and newly drafted Austin Watson (Nashville Predators). Both players have the ability to take over a game and are stepping up lately, but playing hard every shift was a learning experience. Alan Quine is playing his best junior hockey yet since he came from Kingston in the Spooner trade, giving Peterborough another potential star for fans to get excited about while captain Jack Walchessen excites fans with his sandpaper style of play.
The Petes defense is getting a jump from Kalle Eklund in his best junior season yet, but his -22 rating is a cause for concern and is reflective of Peterborough’s youth. However , seeing Slater Koekkoek skate on the back end, you would never guess his age given the solid and composed way he performs on defense. A superb skater, Koekkoek is already getting major powerplay time and showing serious poise in becoming a young leader at 16.
Goaltending inexperience has made for some trying games, and teams have exposed young Andrew D’Agostini after the Petes released incumbent starter Jason Missiaen.
A serious contender for a few years consecutively, but currently a team in transition, the Bulls are rebuilding and giving ice time to their youngest players to learn on the fly. Brendan Gaunce , Austen Brassard and Carter Sandlak are going to be forces in the very near future with their size and ability in the offensive zone.
Alex Basso, Stephen Strong and Stephen Silas are full of potential as 17 year olds and will take the reins on defense soon, but this season Bjorn Krupp leads as the big body from the blueline and will likely return next season.
The youth continues in goal with second year goaltenders Tyson Teichmann and Malcolm Subban (P.K. Subban’s younger brother). Both have serious competitiveness and athletic ability and will fight for ice time down the stretch. With the eighth playoff spot open, the winning starter on the Bulls will gain invaluable experience and a chance for the starter’s spot next season.
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Written by Wes Ranger