Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thoughts on Guelph from October 30 vs. Niagara

Tonight the Storm took on the Ice Dogs in St. Catharines. It was a relatively uneventful game that ended in a 3-1 victory for Niagara.

Here's some thoughts on the Storm...

Thomas McCollum (Drafted 2008 by Detroit/30th)

McCollum is widely considered one of the better goaltenders in the OHL. And there are a lot of reasons why. For one, he's a big goalie who takes up a lot of the net and loves to challenge shooters. He's also very athletic and moves well in his crease. Because he's a big body, he manages to get a piece of pretty much everything that comes his way. However, this can be a downside as well. McCollum still gives up a ton of rebounds. In the times I saw him play last year, this was the one problem I had with his game. And in tonight's game, rebound control was definitely a concern. He rarely was able to cover the puck and hold on to the initial shot and was giving up a lot of juicy rebounds in front of the net. One instance in particular on a very weak shot lead to an Ice Dog goal. But then again, maybe he was just fighting the puck a little bit tonight because I've seen him better. On the plus though, like I've stated, he's big, he's agile and he gets in front of a lot of rubber. He's just going to need a little bit of goaltending coaching to improve that rebound control.

Peter Holland (2009 Draft Eligible)

Holland has emerged as one of the top 1991's in the OHL. He skates very well and he moves the puck into the offensive zone with ease. Once he's in the offensive zone, he shows a lot of hockey sense. Made a few really nice passes tonight and was involved offensively despite failing to hit the scoresheet. Defensively he did make one mistake in coverage that directly lead to an Ice Dog goal. He was floating up near the blueline, while his man was free to bang home a rebound before he could get back to him. A mistake by a young player who did show some effort in getting back defensively the rest of the night. He reminds me a lot of Cody Hodgson and I think projects similarily. I'd like to see him again this season for sure.

Taylor Beck (2009 Draft Eligible)

Beck was fairly invisible tonight. I was looking forward to seing him for the first time this season and was hoping to see some of these improvements I'd heard about. But he really didn't do anything for me tonight. He did forecheck well and showed some speed in attacking the puck carrier. He also fought hard for a few loose pucks, in one instance creating a scoring chance by throwing it out front. He was instrumental in forcing a turnover which lead to the Storm goal. But other than some solid forechecking and some hustle, he didn't show me much individual offensive ability. Maybe an off game...

Luke Pither (Undrafted 1989)

Pither has always been a guy I've felt could have been drafted already. Despite being fairly invisible in the first period, Pither was definitely the Storm's most impressive forward the rest of the night. He looked especially great at the faceoff circle, where he won nearly all his draws. He got himself into scoring lanes and nearly buried a few scoring opportunities, ringing one off the post once. He's got great puck skills too, although after pulling off one sweet move with his head down, he got drilled by Niagara's Alex Friesen. If he continues to have a strong season, I'm pretty confident he'll at least get a look from someone, if not this year, than after his overage season.

Anthony Nigro (Drafted 2008 by St. Louis/155th)

Nigro was really solid tonight. He's by no means a flashy player, but he works hard out there every shift. Looked great on the penalty kill and is not afraid to sacrifice his body to block a shot. He showed good work along the boards and worked the cycle well with his linemmates, creating a few scoring chances, particularly on the powerplay. He's a great skater too, which will help him moving on to the next level in a checking line role. And I say checking line role because I'm not sure he's offensively talented enough to play a large role at the next level. But I do think he's going to have at least some role at the NHL level. Reminds me a lot of Manny Malhotra from his OHL days.

Corey Syvret (Drafted 2007 by Florida/181st)

Syvret is a guy who's never really impressed me. He makes a pretty good first pass and does a decent job with defensive zone coverage and one on one play. He made one poor play near the beginning of the game, where he turned the puck over after being pressured by a forechecker. For me though, he just lacks a lot of the natural physical tools to move on to the next level. He's a good OHL defenceman, but he's not a good enough puck mover to play that role in the NHL, nor is he big enough, or good enough defensively to play a stay at home role. He's a bit of a tweener. He's not nearly as good of an OHL defenseman as his brother Danny, and his brother Danny is entering his 4th professional season and still hasn't nailed down an NHL job. I'd be surprised if Florida signed him after this season.

That's it for tonight's game.

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