The OHL playoffs are off to a great start, and although the top-seeds have offered no surprises, a few matchups have been heated – including a great battle between the Kitchener Rangers and the Owen Sound Attack.
As a biweekly OHL writer, I don’t blog often enough to give you frequent updates, so instead I’ll be keeping you up-to-date on who is performing well, and who needs a boost. Here are this week’s streaky – and leaky – performers.
The Erie Otters
As of this writing, four of the top five playoff scorers wore Otters sweaters, and Erie leads the playoffs with 20 goals for, six more than the nearest comer. Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Anthony Cirelli, Taylor Raddysh, Kyle Maksimovich and Warren Foegele all have at least four points, and with nine goals against, the team’s defence is holding its own. The first round is often breezy for an OHL top seed, but that doesn’t make it any less notable.
Michael McNiven, G, Owen Sound Attack
Michael McNiven was arguably the best goaltender in the league all year, and he has taken his game to another level against the Kitchener Rangers. He has allowed just three goals during three games in which he has made third-leading OHL scorer Adam Mascherin look awfully human, including a shutout last night. He currently owns a sparkling line of 1.01 and .958.
Boris Katchouk, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Boris Katchouk has been all over the place for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who have had their hands full with the surprising Flint Firebirds. Katchouk has been more efficient in the offensive end than usual, with three goals and five points through three games. A dependable all-around defenceman, the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect has had the chance to play in every situation.
Jeremy Helvig, G, Kingston Frontenacs
With 75 points, the Kingston Frontenacs barely seeded ahead of the Hamilton Bulldogs (74 points). Unfortunately, their playoff matchup hasn’t been quite as tight, and the Bulldogs have jumped out to a quick 2-0 series lead. During those two games, the usually-solid Kingston starter Jeremy Helvig has been uncharacteristically vulnerable, posting a 3.54 goals-against and an .865 save percentage. A few strong outings from Helvig could get the Frontenacs back into their series very quickly.
Jeremy Bracco, RW, Windsor Spitfires
When the Windsor Spitfires sent 19-year-old defenceman Andrew Burns and 18-year-old forward Cole Carter to Kitchener for Jeremy Bracco, they were hoping the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect would help the club form an elite offensive unit to compete for the Memorial Cup. Unfortunately, Bracco has been unable to put much together in the OHL playoffs, with 0 points through two games that the team has split with the London Knights. The Spitfires will host the Memorial Cup regardless, but they’ll need more from Bracco to stand a chance.
Adam Mascherin, C, Kitchener Rangers
The Rangers advanced to the playoffs largely on the success of top-line centre and Florida Panthers draft pick Adam Mascherin, whose 100-point regular season performance put him among the league’s elite producers. Due in part to McNiven’s spectacular play, Mascherin has been somewhat average in the Rangers’ series against the Owen Sound Attack, who jumped out to a 2-1 series lead last night. With just two points through three games and an abysmal minus-6 rating, it’s safe to say that he’s capable of far better.
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