Allow me to introduce myself. My name's Iain Colpitts and being a "Good ol' Canadian boy," I've been a lifelong fan of the frozen game, I'm honoured to be writing for Hockey Now Magazine.
I started playing hockey at a young age and it quickly became evident that I wasn't going to make a career out of playing hockey, so I thought why not make a career writing about it instead.
I've been doing that since 2010 as sports writer for the Mississauga News and have been focusing on the OHL along with minor hockey and other endeavours since then.
Some other things to know about me: I still play hockey today, I dance and sing terribly and I own a Ninja Turtles onesie.
Enjoy my blog and feel free to come say hi if you spot me at the rink.
There’s some hesitancy to read too much into the standings early on in the OHL season, and understandably so. It’s a long season and there’s a lot of good teams that don’t truly get up to speed until sometime in November, maybe even later.
For now, Hockey Canada and the North York Hockey League (NYHL) have reached a compromise when it comes to ushering in the cross-ice/half-ice mandate.
It’s hard to build a sustainable contender in the OHL, but we’ve seen it done before. The London Knights have maintained that status for years thanks to shrewd asset management and drafting, often going against the grain to take a chance on talented prospects that may have slipped under the radar.
Nick Suzuki could have a big season in store. The Owen Sound Attack forward was a top-five scorer in the OHL last year leading up to the NHL Draft, where he was selected 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights.
The OHL preseason is now in full swing and many of the top players in the league are off to their respective NHL rookie camps. A successful run there will lead to a main camp invite, and perhaps beyond.
Another summer is drawing to a close. That means it’s time to put away the baseball gloves, soccer cleats and lacrosse sticks and bring out the hockey bags. Let’s face it, everyone loves what the summer brings: the heat, longer days and of course, summer break.
Ryan Merkley made a seamless transition into the OHL last season. With 55 points (12 goals and 43 assists), he led all OHL rookies in scoring, becoming the first defenceman to do so in nearly 30 years.
Team Canada is heading to its ninth Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament final since 2008. Thanks in part to a goal and an assist from Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Halifax Mooseheads), as well as a 24-save effort from Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs), the Canadians were able to defeat the previously unbeaten Swedes 4-1 in Friday’s semifinal.
Team Canada’s outlook is a lot brighter after day two of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Thanks in large part to a 3-for-7 effort on the power play, the Canadians defeated Finland 5-1 Tuesday in their second round-robin game.
Team Canada’s hopes of redemption will begin Aug. 7 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. After a disappointing fifth-place finish that ended a eight-year championship run at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, the Canadians will return to the annual under-18 summer tournament.
It’s been a revolving door for OHL coaches and general managers this off-season. Nearly half of the 20 teams in the league will begin the 2017-18 season with a new head coach as many successful ones from last season have moved on to coach in the professional ranks.
Consider Andrei Svechnikov signed, sealed and delivered. It’s not yet official, but we can take that much away from the CHL Import Draft after seeing him in a Barrie Colts jersey and hat while expressing his excitement during a conference call after he was selected first overall on Wednesday.
It’s time for this year’s class to get ready for the spotlight. Players like Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier have spent most of their lives honing their hockey skills in pursuit of their dream of making it to the NHL. Now they’re closing in on that reality as we get closer to the 2017 NHL Draft.
Gabriel Vilardi checks off nearly every box of what a team would want from an NHL prospect. His 6-foot-2, 193-pound frame gives him a great foundation to work with when it comes to moulding an NHL body and then there’s all the tangibles he possesses that have made him an elite two-way forward with the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires.
The best was saved for last at this year’s Mastercard Memorial Cup. A tournament that featured three blowout decisions through six round robin games ended with the closest and wildest affair on Sunday with the host Windsor Spitfires defeating the OHL champion Erie Otters 4-3.
Now an NHL star with the New Jersey Devils, he was fortunate enough to be a Windsor Spitfire for three seasons and was their best player in their back-to-back Memorial Cup runs in 2009 and 2010. On Saturday, he returned to Windsor for a homecoming of sorts during the CHL Alumni Game, held in advance of Sunday’s Memorial Cup.
Taylor Raddysh hopes he has one more big game left in him on Sunday. But if he doesn’t, he’ll be perfectly fine with one of his Erie Otters teammates having a moment of their own too. “None of the guys care who scores, so long as we come out with the win in the end,” said Raddysh, the leading scorer at the Mastercard Memorial Cup with 11 points as the Otters get set to face the host Windsor Spitfires in Sunday’s final.
One thing everyone can count on is a different Saint John Sea Dogs team showing up Friday night in the Mastercard Memorial Cup semifinal. Armed with a second wind, the QMJHL champs will face off against the OHL champion Erie Otters, a team that ran away with a 12-5 thrashing the last time the teams met on Monday.
The Windsor Spitfires are one win away from a storybook ending at the Mastercard Memorial Cup. While the junior hockey world questioned what they’d be able to do coming out of a six-week layoff after they were eliminated in the first round of the OHL playoffs, the Memorial Cup hosts have defied most expectations by defeating all three league champions in the round-robin.
Michael DiPietro is more of the extrovert while his Windsor Spitfires teammate Gabe Vilardi seems more subdued. But they’re both all business during the Mastercard Memorial Cup as the Spitfires aim to book their ticket to the final with a win over the Erie Otters in a battle of two undefeated teams to conclude the round-robin.
Dylan Strome couldn’t help but interrupt a reporter’s question after he was notified of the OHL’s recent dominance at the Mastercard Memorial Cup.
Entering the Mastercard Memorial Cup, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ No. 1 goalie spot was Carl Stankowski’s to lose. That in itself is pretty remarkable since he started this season as a true 16-year-old rookie and was thrown into the fire through the entire WHL playoffs as he replaced injured starter Rylan Toth and backed the Thunderbirds to their first ever WHL championship.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that Dylan Strome, Mathew Barzal and Thomas Chabot are all at the Mastercard Memorial Cup playing prominent roles for their teams.
Sean Day has truly benefited from a change of scenery with the Mastercard Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires. In three seasons with the Mississauga Steelheads, it was clear that he had a lot of talent, but he struggled to find his identity as a defenceman and faced a lot of scrutiny from many who didn’t feel he lived up to the “exceptional status” label he was given in 2013.
After 68 games (72 in the WHL), four playoff rounds, countless hours spent at practices and on the bus, it all comes down to this. The Erie Otters, Saint John Sea Dogs and Seattle Thunderbirds all captured championships in their respective leagues and will push a little further through four to six games in an effort to claim junior hockey supremacy at the Memorial Cup.
The Erie Otters have finally found that winning formula. Captain Dylan Strome and OHL defenceman/overage player of the year Darren Raddysh have both been part of the Otters since 2013 and leading into this year, they were part of some very strong teams.
Major junior coaches demand a lot of their players and three teams delivered in a big way with championship seasons. They’ll now join the host Windsor Spitfires at this year’s Memorial Cup, where it’s up to the coaches to guide the way as everyone gives an extra push towards national glory.
The OHL final is set now that the Erie Otters defeated the Owen Sound Attack in their six-game Western Conference final to set up a series against the East champion Mississauga Steelheads.
If Ryan Suzuki has as good of a junior hockey career as his older brother is currently enjoying, the Barrie Colts will be ecstatic. The Colts selected the younger brother of Owen Sound Attack star Nick Suzuki with the first overall pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft on April 8.
There are four teams remaining in the OHL playoffs as the Peterborough Petes, Mississauga Steelheads, Owen Sound Attack and Erie Otters have all earned their spot.
Time will tell if the Mississauga Steelheads’ gamble in the OHL Draft will eventually pay off. With the eighth overall pick, they chose Jack Hughes, who would have easily been selected with the first overall pick had he not declared his intentions of playing with the US National Team Development Program next year.
The Kingston Frontenacs went the distance – and then some – with the Hamilton Bulldogs to move on to the second round of the OHL playoffs Tuesday night.
As always, there’s a star-studded cast up for consideration for this season’s Red Tilson Trophy, presented each year to the OHL’s most outstanding player.
It took until the final game of the OHL season to solidify the playoff picture. While the regular season was supposed to conclude on March 19, there was a rescheduled game that still had to be played between the Mississauga Steelheads and Sudbury Wolves two days later.
The Erie Otters receive tons of kudos in the OHL, and deservingly so. Since Connor McDavid came along in 2012, they’ve built a solid foundation and they continue to produce some of junior hockey’s biggest stars two years after McDavid moved on to the Edmonton Oilers.
As far as the Eastern Conference, there’s a pretty good idea of how the top half of the standings are going to shape up. The Peterborough Petes have a comfortable lead atop the conference, the Mississauga Steelheads have already clinched the Central Division and the number two spot at least with two weeks left in the regular season.
The Peterborough Petes will go into the OHL playoffs with a sense of relief, and not just because they’ll be in good standing in the Eastern Conference
Even with a 15-game winning streak through December and January, a stretch that makes up for almost a quarter of the OHL regular season, the best the Owen Sound Attack have been able to do is climb up to fourth in the Western Conference.
The Oshawa Generals could very well have their cake and eat it too. Approaching the trade deadline, general manager Roger Hunt faced the dilemma of whether to sacrifice some of its young players and draft picks for star power – knowing they were atop the Eastern Conference – in order to contend for a spot in the 2017 Memorial Cup, or sell off some veterans in the hopes of spicing up their line up for next year, when they’re bidding to host the Memorial Cup.
Dylan Strome has had a remarkable OHL career. For those who follow junior hockey, that’s already well known, but it’s worth stating again after he set an Erie Otters franchise record in all-time points.
Captains are expected to make an impact, and Garrett McFadden is trying to do so in more ways than one. The Guelph Storm captain and last player remaining from Guelph’s 2014 OHL championship team has taken mental health seriously ever since his friend, Wes Cameron, died by suicide five years ago.
The recent announcement of a new OHL major midget draft has been met with mixed emotions and time will tell how beneficial it will be. In an effort to bring more prominence to midget hockey, the OHL has instituted an under-18 draft that’s separate from its annual Priority Selection Draft for players who have just graduated minor midget.
It’s only a matter of time before the big four stars acquired right before the OHL trade deadline start making an impact with the Western Conference heavyweights.
The disparity between the OHL’s Western and Eastern conferences is even greater now that the London Knights and other powerhouses in the west loaded up around this year’s trade deadline.
The power in the OHL may be in the West, but the hottest team entering the Christmas break is in the East. With eight straight wins, the Peterborough Petes have soared up the Eastern Conference standings and must be in a buying mentality come the trade deadline in January as they look to contend in the East.
The Canadians appeared unstoppable at the World Juniors. That was until the Americans put on a shot-blocking clinic to claim first place in Group B with a 3-1 win Saturday in their final preliminary-round game at the Air Canada Centre.
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