Friday, September 18, 2009

Thoughts on Kingston from September 17

The OHL season officially kicked off last night. Eight teams were in action, including the Kingston Frontenacs who took on the Niagara IceDogs in St. Catharines. Since most of my reports will come as teams take on the IceDogs and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, I'll hold off on my thoughts of those two teams until a later date.

It was a solid first game in the Garden City last night; a lot of energy and a competitive game. Kingston looked considerably better than last year, even without the services of Ethan Werek (who was only cut from the Rangers today). The Fronts are more physical and faster than last year. With Beskorowany in net and Lashoff, Gudbranson, and Doherty on defense, I just can't see Kingston missing the playoffs again this year.

For the record, Kingston won this one 3-2. They were originally down 2-0, however half way through the second period they turned it on. The Fronts scored three straight goals to finish out the 2nd, and held on in the third to preserve the victory. Recent free agent acquisition Mike Farrell scored the game winner for Kingston.

Here are my thoughts on some Kingston players...

Taylor Doherty (SJ)
Doherty was the best player on the ice tonight. He looks way more comfortable out there. He was rushing the puck and involved offensively in ways we haven't seen since his promising rookie season two years ago. That confidence with the puck was what he was missing last season and it was a major reason for his struggles. Defensively, he was great too. The biggest positive was that he was able to be physical without taking any stupid penalties. The IceDogs had a very tough time getting passed him all night. His backwards and lateral mobility also looked improved from last season. It's obvious he's been working hard. The only thing I want to see him really improve on is his board play. For such a big guy, he often has trouble winning battles when the puck goes to the corner. Instead of using his size and reach, he can be eluded as he failed to engage a few IceDogs tonight. I think that just comes with having the confidence to engage hard physically and win battles without taking a penalty.

Erik Gudbranson (2010)
Had a pretty solid game. Was involved at both ends of the ice and appears to be really growing into his size. He led the Kingston rush on a few occasions and looks comfortable on the point on the powerplay. For such a big guy, his forewards and lateral mobility are excellent. At one point Alex Friesen (possibly the Dogs best skater) was trying to lose him in the corner by skating back and around with the puck. Gudbranson stayed with him the whole way and sealed off his opportunity to get by him and to the slot. Backwards, he still needs some work. He got blown by for a two on one as he couldn't get back fast enough. He played with a lot more physicality than I saw last year and showed a mean streak, of which I fully expected him to develop this season. As the year goes along, I'm hoping he becomes more dominant. Gudbranson registered one assist tonight.

Brian Lashoff (DET)
Just recently returning from Detroit, Lashoff looked sluggish and sloppy in the first half of the game. He was tentative in rushing the puck, was careless in his passing and was soft on his man. The second IceDog goal by Andrew Agozzino was a direct result of his inability to clear the puck. The Dogs turned the puck over to him in the slot, but he bobbled it and then forced a pass, to which Agozzino picked off and fired it home. But the second half of the game was a different story. It was almost as if he woke up. He began to rush the puck with confidence and every time he had the puck, he made something happen. He's such an effortless skater and has tremendous acceleration. Defensively, he was a rock the second half. He used his solid mobility to play tremendous one on one defense and to beat players to pucks in the corner. If you've read my blog before, you'd know I expect big things from Lashoff this year. Lashoff registered one assist in the game.

Alan Quine (2011)
I didn't notice Quine all that much to be honest. The 2nd overall pick in the 2009 Priority Draft was pretty invisible save his 2nd period goal that really got things started for the Frontenacs. Off a Shayne Rover turnover, Quine picked up the puck and roofed it top shelf on Mark Visentin. The shot was very impressive and I think it caught Visentin off guard too.

Clark Seymour (2011)
The Frontenacs 3rd rounder from 2009 is a big hulking defenseman who really looked impressive in taking the body tonight. His puck skills and skating look like they could use some improvement, but when I see a big (6'3) defenseman at 16 taking the body the way he did this game, I find it impressive.

Nathan Moon (PIT)
If Nathan Moon would have played the whole game on the penalty kill, he would have had one heck of a game. Moon was sensational in killing off all four of Niagara's powerplay's, including one in the last 5 minutes of the game. He can be a tenacious forechecker and plays the puck possession game very well. While penalty killing, he was relentless in attacking the puck carrier and at one point kept the puck behind Niagara's net for a good 20-30 seconds. The rest of the game, he wasn't as visible. Had a couple nice moments in puck control, and created a few scoring chances, but he needs to be a more consistent scoring threat on the ice. Moon finished with an assist.

Charles Sarault (2010)
Slightly undersized forward, Sarault was all over the ice tonight creating scoring chances. He has good speed and was active on the forecheck. He's very elusive on the ice and at times I felt like he surprised the Niagara puck carriers with his closing speed. He attacked the net and was constantly buzzing. On the negative side, he needs to be more careful with the puck and his passes. He had a couple really bad giveaways that led to scoring chances, this was in part of him trying to do too much. But he did impress me with his effort tonight.

Michael Farrell (2010, 1990 born)
Farrell, a former Owen Sound Attack forward, was signed as a free agent this offseason. He played last year with Kingston's tremendous OPJHL team and was an impact player. He was probably the best Kingston forward tonight. He was all over the ice, crashing the net, getting in the Dogs faces. He showed great puck control on a few instances where his moves created scoring chances for Kingston. And he scored the game winner at the end of the 2nd period. If he can make an impact every night for Kingston, whether it be physically or on the scoresheet, he'll have a place in this league for the next two seasons.

Tyler Beskorowany (DAL)
Was very solid between the pipes for Kingston tonight. Made some huge saves at the end of the game, including a knob of the stick save on an Andrew Agozzino wrist shot from the slot. He challenges shooters, using his size to his advantage and I think he's vastly improved his reflexes and lateral mobility. His biggest strength is the way he takes away the bottom of the net with his pads. He still needs to work on his five hole and his rebound control, but the skill level is there. He completely shut the door in the third period, when it mattered most, and proved that his acquisition was an intelligent one by Kingston.

That's all folks. Be sure to check back all season for similar reports, as well as the player archives found on the right side of the page, which will link you to previous reports on players.

Anyone else catch Kingston in action last night and have thoughts?

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