UHS-Coach Nye Talks Junior Hockey

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Two weeks into the playoffs of the CHL across Canada and the US and we already can tell who means business this year.

With the long road ahead for some of these teams it will be the test of time for these ‘Young Guns’  as the grueling schedule of playoffs get going. If you are of a fan of the CHL you will have the best of time for the next month and half with action from coast to coast, so let’s take a look now at what will be the ride of your life!

OHL logo

Just over a week ago the OHL playoffs started and for the next few weeks as each OHL team fights for the right to say the are champions of the John Ross Robertson trophy, who was president of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1901 to 1905.

Here is the playoff bracket of round one

WESTERN CHAMPIONSHIP                         EASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP

LONDON 4 vs   SAGINAW 0                                    BELLEVILLE 2  vs  MISSISSAUGA 2

PLYMOUTH 4 vs  SARNIA 0                                   KINGSTON 0  vs  BARRIE 4

OWEN SOUND 2  vs  SOO HOUNDS  2                OSHAWA 2  vs  NIAGARA 1

KITCHENER  2  vs  GUELPH 1                                BRAMPTON 1  vs  SUDBURY 2

With three of the eight series already wrapped up there is still alot of hockey left in the ‘O’ but just a few comments from the winners of the first series starting off with Barrie Colts.

Barrie Colts vs Kingston Frontenacs

The Barrie Colts headed to Kingston for game 4 of the first round looking to finish off the Frontenacs. With a 3 – 0 series lead, the Colts came ready to play and made it look easy sweeping Kingston with an 8-2 win on Wednesday night.

It did not take long for the Barrie Colts to capitalize as Mitchell Theoret scored just 10 seconds in on the games first shot. Right off the opening face-off Mark Scheifele would break into the Kingston zone before dishing it to Theoret who snapped it upstairs on goaltender, Mike Morrison.

At 4:26 of the first period, Erik Bradford would put his team up 2-0. On a delayed penalty call to Kingston, Bradford would rip home his first of the playoffs from the slot with a nice wrist shot. Jake Dotchin and Mark Scheifele picked up the assists. Late in the frame Barrie would increase their lead to 4 – 0. First Mark Scheifele scored his fourth of the post season on a bullet of a shot from the top of the circle, which chased Mike Morrison from the net. Andreas Athanasiou then added a marker when he ripped home a shot through a screen beating netminder, Colin Furlong blocker side. The Colts dominated the opening period and out-shot Kingston 16-9.

The Colts started the second period right where they left off controlling the play. Midway through the period Andreas Athanasiou would score his second of the game. At 11:10 Athanasiou split the Kingston defense before making a nice move to beat Colin Furlong to put Barrie out in front 5-0. Steven Beyers was credited with the lone assist. Barrie had the edge in shots after two periods, 25-20.

The Kingston Frontenacs came out desperate early in the third period and finally solved Mathias Niederberger. A shot that hit Niederberger in the mask seemed to stun the goaltender before Darcy Greenaway put home the rebound. Just 10 seconds later the Fronts made it a 5-2 hockey game when Greenaway scored his second of the night on a slap shot.

That would be as close as Kingston would come before Barrie tacked on three more goals. Mitchell Theoret scored his second of the game and 5th of the playoffs at 9:16 of the third period. Just 41 seconds later Aaron Ekblad put home his 1st of the series followed by Cody Brown scoring his first ever OHL goal to seal the 8-2 victory and series sweep over the Kingston Frontenacs.

Mitchell Theoret was the games first star with a four-point night scoring twice and registering two assists while Mathias Niederberger made 35 saves for the win.

After defeating the Kingston Frontenacs in round one four games straight, the Barrie Colts will now sit back and wait to see who there second round opponent will be.

Plymouth Whalers vs Sarnia Sting

SARNIA, ON - Mitchell Heard’s power play goal with three seconds left in the second period snapped a 2-2 tie and the Plymouth Whalers went on the defeat the Sarnia Sting, 5-2, on Wednesday to sweep the best-four-of-seven Ontario Hockey League Western Conference quaterfinal series in four games.

2,332 watched the game at RBC Centre in Sarnia.

Plymouth advances to the Western Conference semifinals and awaits the finish of the other Western Conference series.  #1 seed London leads #8 seed Saginaw, three-games-to-none; #3 seed Owen Sound and #6 seed Sault Ste. Marie are tied at two games each; and #4 seed Kitchener leads #5 seed Guelph, two-games-to-one.

While Heard scored a pair (2-3 in the playoffs), Vince Trocheck led the Plymouth attack with a pair of goals (4-5) and two assists, while Garrett Meurs scored his third of the post season.  Connor Carrick and Tom Wilson added two assists each.  In goal, Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 22-of-24 shots to record his fourth straight victory.  Nedeljkovic allowed two goals in each of the four games with Sarnia.

Plymouth outscored Sarnia, 24-8, in the series.

Sarnia got off to a good start as Bryan Moore scored on the Sting’s first shot of the game at 0:18, wristing a rising shot from the left circle over Nedeljkovic’s shoulder.

The Whalers led most of the time in the series and re-established a lead at 2-1 with a pair of goals 0:52 later in the period.  The line of Garrett Meurs, Mitchell Heard and Zach Lorentz went to the forecheck deep in the Sarnia zone and Meurs tied the game at 6:39.

Meurs was assessed a penalty for unsportsmanlik conduct after scoring the goal, but the Whalers took their first lead of the game at 7:31 on Trocheck’s first goal of the night.  Trocheck worked into the Sarnia zone with Wilson and snapped home a shot past Sarnia goaltender JP Anderson.

Plymouth’s Danny Vanderwiel was given a five-minute major for checking from behind at 15:07 of the period and the Whalers nearly killed off the entire penalty.  But with 21 seconds left in the period, Sarnia’s Nick Latta tied the game at 2-2 on a re-direct outside the left post from a Reid Boucher pass from the point.

As they have most of the series, Plymouth started to re-assert the forecheck in the second period and outshot Sarnia, 17-5.  The forecheck was directly responsible to Anthony DeAngelo’s slashing penalty at 19:17 of the period.

The Whalers scored on the ensuing power play, on a bit of a broken play.  Carrick pass to Trocheck at the left point and he appeared to break his stick on a shot towards the goal.  but the puck lay outside the blue ice in the middle of traffic and Heard pounced on the puck and snapped it home at 19:57.

Sarnia radio analysts Murray Vosburg called the Heard goal, “a back-breaker.”

Plymouth took the game over for good in the third period, getting goals from Trocheck at 2:04 (low shot from the lower rim of the right circle) and Heard at 12:59 (toe drag, left circle, top shelf).

Plymouth outshot Sarnia, 48-24.

Sarnia honored the team’s veteran players with the Three Star selections.  Whalers Radio Three Stars: 1-Trocheck; 2-Heard; 3-Meurs.  But really, every player who wore the Whalers white contributed to the Plymouth victory and the sweep in the series.

Since Dec. 27, Plymouth’s record is 32-6-0-1.  The Whalers have won 20 of its last 21 games and have won 12 of its last 13 road games.

London Knights vs Saginaw Spirit

From the London Free Press.

SAGINAW, MICH. - Dale Hunter struck gold when he put together a top scoring line of Alex Broadhurst, Chris Tierney and Max Domi right before the playoffs.

Then, the London Knights head coach won the lottery when his supposed fourth line – rookies Remi Elie, Kyle Platzer and tough guy Paxton Leroux – started playing like a first unit.

Elie scored twice and the Knights chased Saginaw’s star goalie Jake Paterson from the crease again on the way to a 6-2 victory and four straight wins to eliminate the eighth-seeded Spirit before 4,034 Thursday night at Wendler Arena.

The defending OHL champs joined Plymouth and Barrie as the three OHL teams to sweep their way into the second round.

The Knights will play either the Kitchener-Guelph winner or the sixth-seeded Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds if they go on to knock out the Owen Sound Attack. That series is tied 2-2 heading back to the Bayshore Friday night.

Games 1 and 2 of the second round are expected to be Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Budweiser Gardens.

The Elie-Platzer-Leroux line scored five goals in the final two games on the road when the Spirit had last line change and the option of stacking veteran stars against them.

None of that line matching mattered.

The Knights got 10 goals from their checking line last spring. They’re halfway there already with these guys.

“If we want to go far, we need a fourth line they can put out there and trust,” Platzer said. “Last couple of games have been pretty good for us and we want to gain that trust moving forward and hopefully, keep it going.

“We showed we can come and play with anybody and that’ll be awesome for us and the team. We’ve got to keep it really simple. Our goal isn’t to score every shift like some of the other guys but we want to keep it out of our net and be safe.”

They ended up downright dangerous.

Once again, the Knights’ depth was too much over a best-of-seven series.

Bo Horvat, one of the Knights expected to score, put London up by three with 15.3 seconds left in the second period, hammering home a juicy rebound to give his team an insurmountable cushion.

The 17-year-old from Rodney also buried the tide-turning goal in Game 2, the buzzer beater with 0.3 seconds left in regulation last Sunday at Budweiser Gardens.

That turned out to be the biggest goal in the series.

If he doesn’t get that one, Chris Tierney wouldn’t have had the chance to put the Knights in control with his double-overtime heroics. Had the Knights surrendered home-ice advantage and the Spirit stole a win early on the road, who knows if the two games in Saginaw would’ve been blowouts?

London scored seven first-period goals in the series, three of them in Game 4. The Spirit scored seven goals in four games against the very steady Anthony Stolarz.

The Knights’ ability to get to Paterson early and often forced the Spirit to change the way they had to play.

The only time London didn’t score in the opening 20 minutes, the Detroit Red Wings prospect ended up stopping 67 shots in that memorable Game 2.

Sniper Seth Griffith, held to a single assist in his first three games since suffering a broken bone in his hand, beat Paterson 1:20 into the contest.

It was the Knights’ sniper’s first goal since Feb. 8. Picking the top corner is proof he has regained his confidence following the longest layoff in his hockey career.

Another week off should do wonders for Griffith’s hand strength. The Knights plowed through the Spirit without Scott Harrington, who should return in the second round.

The Knights captain was stickhandling a roll of tape before Game 4. That’s another positive sign for the club.

Griffith’s early tally started on a nifty feed by unlikely centreman Miles Liberati. The rookie defender replaced Brett Welychka, unable to play after being slammed into the boards by Saginaw forward Terry Trafford early in Game 3 Tuesday night.

Trafford and Matt Rupert dropped the gloves and traded punches less than seven minutes into Thursday’s contest.

Not long after that, the Spirit finally realized they were fighting way above their weight class.

 


 

As the other series continue we will bring you updates. Join us tomorrow as we look at the  WHL and the QMJHL playoffs.

Until next time.

See you after the game,

Coach Nye