Bored on a Wednesday night and tired of watching the 4th place Toronto Blue Jays (yes...I know...baseball), I decided to throw on the Owen Sound/Sarnia game on the Action Pack. Nothing like watching two winless teams fight for their first victory!
All joking aside, it was actually a very entertaining game; albeit a sloppy one. Both teams had their share of troubles defensively, with penalties (both teams had 6 powerplays) and with turnovers. Thanks in part to three powerplay goals, the Attack came out on top by a score of 5 to 2. First time I've really seen both of these teams this season. My general thought is that Sarnia will be in for a long season, as expected. They work hard and they've got some young talent, but this year will not be pretty for them in the standings. Owen Sound, despite the win, needs to be A LOT better if they want to finish better than last year. Turnovers in the defensive end and undisciplined penalties could have been the end of the them against a better and more talented team. They'll be playing Kitchener and Windsor on the weekend and if they play like that defensively, it'll be a long weekend (and not the good type of long weekend).
One thing I've really noticed is how much Owen Sound misses David Kolomatis. Obviously it didn't show on the powerplay, but I think it shows a lot 5 on 5. He's such a good skater and generally has little trouble bringing the puck into the offensive zone. I noticed tonight that most of the Owen Sound turnovers occurred as Attack defenseman tried to force the puck up ice on a rush (hello Curtis Crombeen and Paul Bezzo). As such, Attack forwards were generally responsible for bringing the puck up across the red line. Also, Kolomatis is a vastly underrated defensive player, who really solidifies the back-end. He's been out with mono and as such I really expected him to be back in Owen Sound due to circumstances beyond his control. But instead the Kings (who drafted him in 2009) recently sent him to the AHL's Manchester Monarchs training camp. Since he's returning from mono, he's not likely to be ready physically for AHL action anyway, but none the less, his demotion to Manchester and not Owen Sound has to be troubling to Attack management.
Enough with the rant, here's some of my thoughts on Attack and Sting players...
Owen Sound Attack
Keevin Cutting (2011)
Played a quietly effective game tonight. To be honest, I didn't really notice him that much on the ice. He had one bad turnover that I remember, where he tried to get too cute with the puck, but I also remember him bailing out Paul Bezzo on a few occasions defensively. One thing I do feel the need to mention is how small he looks on the ice. He's listed at 6'1, 177lbs, but he doesn't really look 6'1. Perhaps because he's so slim in comparison to his teammates. As one of the younger 1992 birth dates in the OHL, he's got a lot of time to put on weight and size before the NHL comes calling in June of 2011. I'm interested to see how talented he is offensively, once he starts to gain more confidence in doing things with the puck.
Curtis Crombeen (2011)
Curtis Crombeen is going to be a good player in the OHL, but he doesn't look ready yet. Admittedly he did get better as the game went on, but he's still too careless with the puck for my liking. Made a couple bad pinches and turned the puck over trying to cut through the opposition with the puck. He also makes Keevin Cutting look like Paul Bezzo. He is very talented though and you can see that in the few successful rushes he did make. Elite skater with potentially elite puckhandling skills. Just needs to continue to adapt to the speed of the OHL game.
Garrett Wilson (FLA)
The best player on the ice for me tonight. It's obvious as to what Wilson worked in this offseason. His skating looks much better. He's still slow getting going, but because he's got good size, once he hits that top gear, he's hard to handle. He appears to have turned himself into more than the crease crasher and slot target he was last season. His line (with Shipley and Josh Moes) was the most effective for Owen Sound. He really appears confident in his ability to take the puck hard to the net and in so, created several scoring chances. He also made a really nice touch pass to Joey Hishon for the 2nd Attack goal, where he used his body to shield the defender going hard to the net. He's still a physical presence on the ice too. Looks much improved to me. He finished the game with 1 goal and 2 assists and was named the first star.
Joey Hishon (2010)
Hishon played a solid game tonight. His speed and puck control wreck havoc on opposing defenses. I do have one criticism though. I feel like he and his linemmates didn't really connect tonight. They were dangerous, but they did so on accord of their own individual efforts, more so on cycling and working as a cohesive unit. The line (Myles Doan and Bobby Mignardi with Hishon) and it's speed really gave the Sting defense fits. I felt like some of that connection problem came from Hishon himself, who tried to do a little bit too much. He's a great puckhandler, but I felt like he had already made up his mind a few times as to where he was going with the puck. While some teams love to see a guy like that, I think most prefer those types on the wing. As a center, and as a great playmaker, I think Hishon needs to use his linemmates more than he did tonight. But I suppose that is nitpicking on a night where he had a goal and an assist and was one of the game's most dangerous players. His powerplay goal off that nice Wilson feed really showcased Hishon's ability in close to the net where he made a nice move to cut back to the middle and out-waited the Sting goalie for the goal.
Steven Shipley (2010)
Shipley is a bit of an enigma. At times he was a dominant force on the ice and other times he appeared content to play a background role. I think it may be a confidence thing that will slowly allow him to become an impact player. He skates very well for a big man, accelerating to top speed in only a few strides. He used this skating ability on a few occasions to blow past a Sting defenseman on his way to the net. I also think he uses his size really well when he doesn't have the puck, making room for his linemmates. Truthfully, I'd love to see him on the wing where he'd be more fit to use his size and speed coming down the wing. One thing I don't want to see him doing is quarterbacking the powerplay like he did tonight. In my opinion, it's a total waste of his size and hands. Shipley finished the game with 2 assists.
Geoffrey Schemitsch (2010)
Liked what I saw of this OHL rookie tonight. He was probably the most effective Owen Sound defender at rushing the puck up the ice and he appears to have the confidence of the coaching staff as he played in all situations. He did have one very bad turnover where he panicked and tried to force a pass to the wing and it led to a near goal (if not for a post and his effort to come back and clear the puck from the goal line). But he was generally very solid and smart with the puck. Decent size, if he can have a good year, he might get NHL draft attention. He finished the game with 2 assists.
Scott Stajcer (NYR)
Stajcer was very shaky in the first period, but really settled down as the game went on. The two goals he gave up in the first were a direct result of very poor rebound control. That being said, the rebounds would have been a non issue had Owen Sound defenders tied up their man. He does have a tendency to give up bad rebounds on low shots to his pads. Stajcer needs to learn how to direct his rebounds to the corner and away from the slot. On high shots, he's excellent though and does a very good job of controlling shots to his chest. Another thing I'd like to see from Stajcer is for him to be more aggressive in challenging shooters. He rarely leaves the blue ice of his crease and got caught deep in his net a few times. He got lucky with a couple posts too. But you have to give him credit for shutting the door in the second and the third. He finished the game with 32 saves on 34 shots, got the win and was named the game's 2nd star.
Nathan Chiarlitti (2010)
He's already matched his goal scoring total (and point total for that matter) from last season. Chiarlitti is also wearing an A this year, which proves that Dave McQueen and the coaching staff have a lot of confidence in him. He finished the game -2, but I'm not necessarily sure he deserved that fate. He looks pretty poised with the puck and did a good job at keeping the puck in the zone. He also was smart in his pinches. Defensively, he looked pretty solid. Did a good job with the rush and was hard to beat one on one. On the negative side, and perhaps part of the reason he was -2, he needs to work on his zone coverage. But he appears to have a pretty good head on his shoulders and has the makings of a steady two-way defender.
J.C. Campagna (2011)
One of those highly touted draft picks that the Sting managed to sign, Campagna had a solid game. He's got really great wheels and seems to have a nose for the net. His goal was scored as he jumped on a juicy rebound and put it top shelf. I really liked the energy he brought and he even got involved physically. Seems like a really talented 1993.
Brandon Francisco (2011)
Another of the highly touted draft picks from the 2009 priority draft, Francisco was supposed to be one of the most talented players available and a surefire top 10 selection. However, due to the same old NCAA connections, he slipped to the third round. You can see why he was so highly touted. Similar to Campagna, he brings a lot of speed and energy to the ice. He's got great hands and nearly scored off a nice rush. However, he appears a lot more physically immature than Campagna. At only 5'10, 155lbs, he was getting pushed around out there and got leveled twice with hits. He was really only noticeable on a couple occasions, as his body just isn't ready for a big role in the OHL. He'll be a good player though once he gets bigger and stronger.
Joe Rogalski (2010)
I thought Rogalski was less impressive than his defense partner, Nathan Chiarlitti. He got exposed a few times defensively, especially off the rush. He appears to be mobile and a solid skater, but he needs to keep his feet moving. He also had some trouble in the defensive zone with coverage. Offensively, he looked poised with the puck and did a good job rushing it and moving it up ice. But he's got to be better defensively. With his size and potential offensively, he'll definitely get a look from the NHL. Rogalski also finished -2.
That's all folks. I know there are quite a few Owen Sound fans who read the blog and obviously some Sarnia ones (Ryan Yessie I'm looking at you!), so I'd love to hear what you guys thought on the game too.