Unfortunately, my Twitter account has been acting up a little, both online and on my Blackberry. Otherwise, I would have been Tweeting all last week about how excited I was for Sunday’s match between the Ottawa 67’s and Rangers in Kitchener, Ont.
Those two clubs have the best offences in the Ontario Hockey League and rank with the Portland Winterhawks, Moncton Wildcats and Lewiston Maineiacss as some of the most potent attacks in junior hockey today.
The Rangers have league-leading scorer Jason Akeson as their top forward. Unbelievably, this talented winger has gone undrafted the past two years, and went unsigned after a free agent tryout with the Anaheim Ducks.
Akeson’s 12 goals and has set up 34 others so far this season are undoubtedly making general managers across the National Hockey League regret not signing him.
Who’s trailing Akeson in the scoring race? Ryan Martindale of, you guessed it, the 67’s. He’s got 17 markers and 23 assists so far this season.
Martindale’s linemate Tyler Toffoli is leading the league in goals scored with 22. Kitchener’s Gabriel Landeskog is right behind him with 19.
In other words, Sunday’s game promised to have some offensive fireworks.
The game definitely did not disappoint, either.
Toffoli and Shane Prince – fourth in OHL scoring – scored in the shootout as the 67’s edged the Rangers 5-4. Toffoli also scored twice in regulation, Martindale had two assists and Prince had one.
Landeskog had a pair of goals and an assist, while Akeson padded his scoring lead with a goal and an assist.
Games like that are what make hockey great.
Friday, November 19th 2010
QMJHL: MOOSEHEADS KEEP STREAKS GOING WITH WIN OVER ROUYN-NORANDA
The Halifax Mooseheads started one streak and kept another alive Friday night.
Konrad Abeltshauser put away the winner 4:09 into the third period as Halifax shaded the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 3-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SMITH-PELLY SCORES TWICE AS MAJORS EDGE ICEDOGS
Devante Smith-Pelly's second goal of the game midway into the third period lifted the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a 2-1 victory over the Niagara IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League Friday night.
The winner came as Smith-Pelly broke in on the right wing, took a pass from centre Casey Cizikas and beat Niagara goaltender Mark Visentin from close range.
WHL: LAMOUREUX'S OT GOAL GIVES GIANTS COMEBACK WIN OVER PATS
Greg Lamoureux's goal 1:58 into overtime gave the Vancouver Giants a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the Regina Pats in Western Hockey League action Friday night.
Brendan Gallagher led the Giants (13-8-3) with two goals and an assist and also drew the penalty that set the stage for Lamoureux's winner. Matt MacKay and Nathan Burns also tallied for Vancouver in a wildly entertaining game before a raucous crowd of 11,476 at the Pacific Coliseum.
Saturday, November 20th 2010
QMJHL: LEWISTON DOWN SHAWINIGAN FOR 10TH STRAIGHT VICTORY
The Lewiston Maineiacs continued to roll through their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League competition Saturday.
Olivier Dame-Malka scored in overtime as the Maineiacs edged the Shawinigan Cataractes 2-1 for their 10th straight win. Lewiston sits fourth overall in the QMJHL.
OHL: AGOZZINO SCORES FOUR TIMES AS NIAGARA DOWNS OTTAWA
Captain Andrew Agozzino led his Niagara IceDogs by example Saturday night.
Agozzino scored four times as Niagara dropped the Ottawa 67's 5-3 in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL: WINTERHAWKS PUT THE FREEZE ON BLAZERS
Nino Niederreiter scored a pair of goals and Taylor Aronson had a goal and two assists to lead the Portland Winterhawks past the Kamloops Blazers 6-4 in Western Hockey League play on Saturday night.
The game turned ugly at the end of the second period with three fights breaking out after the horn had sounded.
Sunday, November 21st 2010
QMJHL: REMPARTS SNAP LEWISTON'S 10 GAME WIN STREAK
The Quebec Remparts knew they needed to beat the Lewiston Maineiacs to hold on to their lead in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's East Division.
Martin Lefebvre opened the scoring for Quebec and added two assists as the Remparts got a crucial 4-2 victory against the rival Maineiacs Sunday afternoon.
OHL: TOFFOLI LEADS 67'S PAST RANGERS
The Ontario Hockey League's most prolific offences were on full display Sunday afternoon.
Shane Prince and Tyler Toffoli scored in the shootout to power the Ottawa 67's past the Kitchener Rangers 5-4 in a game that showcased some of the best forwards in the league.
As everyone in the hockey world has heard, Brian Burke completed two massive trades Sunday with the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks. Dion Phaneuf and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are the biggest acquisitions made by a Leafs team that looks drastically different from the version that took the ice against the New Jersey Devils Saturday night.
Both trades are intriguing, re-arranging Toronto’s salary cap and improving the Maple Leafs on-ice product in three major ways.
1. Dion Phaneuf adds depth to the Leafs’ blue-line.
Phaneuf was the best player involved in the trade with Calgary. I know it’s a saying that’s been repeated a lot in the wake of these deals, but that doesn’t make it untrue. On paper, Toronto has a fantastic defensive corps with Tomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, Luke Schenn, Carl Gunnarson and now Phaneuf.
The 6’3, 214 pound native of Edmonton will be the kind of physical presence that the Leafs are trying to trademark. Phaneuf will also help Toronto flesh out its power play. Best of all, he’s just 24, meaning he’s got at least a decade left in his career. Definitely a win for Burke.
2. Getting rid of Jason Blake’s outrageously bad shot selection.
Most people have focused on dropping Blake’s 4.5 million per season, but coach Ron Wilson must be thrilled to have the phrases “Blake takes a wristshot from the faceoff circle” and “Blake with the wrap-around attempt” removed from Toronto’s television broadcasts.
The statistics are telling: in the past three years he’s taken 804 shots on goal, scoring 50 times. That’s a 6.2% success rate, folks. Put another way, in his time with the Leafs Blake averaged nearly 4 shots a game, but put the puck in the back of the net once every four games. Think of all the turnovers in that other 75% of games where he was off the mark. If that’s not addition by subtraction, I don't know what is.
3. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is a big improvement over Vesa Toskala.
Giguere has been to the Stanley Cup final twice and won the whole thing a couple of years ago. Although he’s struggled of late, reuniting with goalie coach Francois Allaire should put him on the right path again. In any event, Giggy can definitely be a starting goaltender and also mentor Jonas Gustavsson.
And, you know, it’s best to move on from this beauty:
The one drawback of these deals is the departure of Niklas Hagman, who was Toronto’s best two-way forward. He was the team’s most consistent scorer and always showed a lot of grit on the ice.
However, the good far outweighs the bad for the Toronto Maple Leafs on these trades, and Burke has made some serious moves that will improve Toronto next season without giving up any draft picks, prospects or cap space. Sunday was definitely a banner day in Leafs nation.
It's come out today that Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke has shaken up his team, making two big trades.
First, he sent Slovenian heart-throb Matt Stajan, Ian White, Jamal Mayers and Niklas Hagman to the Calgary Flames for Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie.
Then, he sent Vesa Toskala and Jason "Johnny Wristshot" Blake to the Anaheim Ducks for J-S Giguere.
I've got to head off to work shortly, so extensive commentary will have to wait until tomorrow. Right now, it's hard to tell if the Leafs are better or worse, but they are certainly different.