London jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but bad penalties set the Knights back and the Sting made it close (4-3). If not for a goal post in the final minute, this game would have needed overtime. London showed how dominant they can be, and Sarnia showed their rookies have heart.
Nazem Kadri - #91 - LC - YOB: 1991 - 6’0” - 177lbs.
NHL: 1st Round - 7th Overall pick by Toronto in 2009
Kadri showed two things tonight in his return to the OHL. How much he’s improved over the summer and training camp. But also he showed why he was returned to the OHL for another season. The things he’s been known for before; skating, speed, puck skills and agility all look better than ever. He showed his end to end rush ability shaking off 3 sting players in his first shift of the night before being absolutely drilled by Joe Rogalski. However Kadri ended up scoring with a wrist shot off the wing, which was more of a soft goal than a tribute to Kadri’s great shot. There were many positives about Kadri tonight, but there are still some old habits he needs to break. He needs to utilize his linemates better, as he carried and had a few plays blown where tried to do everything himself. This was despite having some open linemates that would have likely created a scoring chance, instead the puck went the other way. He got hammered a few times with some big hits, especially in the first period and he eventually let Neuber get under his skin and took an undisciplined roughing penalty. If Kadri can become more of a team player than an individual over the course of this season, I don’t see anything keeping him out of the NHL next season.
(Kadri had 1G, 2PIM, +1)
Leigh Salters - #55 - LW - YOB: 1989 - 6’4” - 225lbs.
NHL: Free Agent
You heard it here first. This is the year Leigh Salters establishes himself as potential NHL prospect in the role of an agitator, energy line, fighter type player. Salters got full-time duty on a line with Kadri, and seems to be developing his skills very well. He seems to be taking on the kind of role that rejuvenated Anthony Peluso as a NHL prospect last year when he played on the top line with Cody Hodgson in Brampton. Salters threw some good hits including an absolutely massive open ice hit that resulted in a penalty. But make no mistake this was a clean, textbook hit that you love to see out of your big physical players.
(Salters had 1G, 2PIM)
Zac Rinaldo - #77 - LW - YOB: 1990 - 5’11” - 180lbs.
NHL: 6th Round - 178th Overall by Philadelphia in 2008
Rinaldo with Varone were very important on numerous short handed situations tonight. At one point he read the Sting defence well, and got behind both of them for a breakaway short handed goal. Rinaldo continued to make an impact throwing a very late hit knocking 15 year old rookie Brandon Fransisco unconscious. In person I didn’t see much of it, but watching the replay afterwards a few times, he did come in late, and his skates did come off the ice before contact. I would say eye for an eye because Salters hit was clean and he received a penalty, but it’s unfortunate to see a rookie get hurt this early.
(Rinaldo had 1G, 1A, +1)
Phil Varone - #71 - LC - YOB: 1991 - 5’10” - 187lbs.
NHL: 5th Round - 147th Overall by San Jose in 2009
Varone contributed big with Zac Rinaldo on the penalty kill. Varone played every shift with energy, and looks like a smaller version of Justin Abdelkader out there a lot of the time. I can see this guy already making some NHL team’s 3rd line 4 or 5 years from now. Good natural ability, and has a motor that never seems to quit. A little undersized for the role he’d take as a pro player, but is one of those guys who I doubt would be affected by it.
Michael Houser - #29 - G - YOB: 1992 - 6’2” - 180lbs.
NHL: Eligible in 2010
Houser Utilizes his great size, positioning, and awareness to stock pucks. His reflexes are not that great, neither is his reaction time. Houser seems to know where he needs to be and covers angles very intelligently. Overall he does have an awkward/sloppy presentation when the shot comes in. Rebound control is hit or miss, at times he was great, others he could have probably covered up. Is no Steve Mason when it comes to handling the puck.
(Houser stopped 28 of 31 shots)
Jesse Raymond - #35 - G - YOB: 1991 - 6’1” - 170lbs.
NHL: Eligible in 2010
Campbell and Raymond may be very similar in size, but are completely opposite in terms of skill set. Raymond has a smooth lateral movement, and has a great rebound control. However seems to struggle in terms of quick reflexes, and reading plays. Raymond tends to play his best only after giving up 3-4 goals in a game so far.
(Raymond stopped 25 of 29 shots)
Ben O’Quinn - #22 - RC - YOB: 1991 - 6’1” - 185lbs.
NHL: Eligible in 2010
O’Quinn continues to be a critical part of the Sting offense. Has good positioning in all 3 zones, great speed, and has the ability to finish and set up his linemates. Seems to be improving every game.
(O’Quinn had 1G, 2PIM)
Joe Rogalski - #74 - RD - YOB: 1991 - 6’2” - 185lbs.
NHL: Eligible in 2010
Rogalski continues to struggle. He threw a few good hits tonight, and made some good plays, but also made several costly mental errors. Rogalski is one of those guys, you know has more in him, but just can’t seem to put it all together.
(Rogalski had 2A, -1)
J.C. Campagna - #8 - LW - YOB: 1993 - 6’1” - 170lbs.
NHL: Eligible in 2011
Very impressed with his play so far. He has good size and is willing to engage physically. He has good speed, and seems to know when to pass the puck and when to carry it. Already has the agility and puck skills to shake a defender or two. Someone to keep a close eye on the rest of the year, as he is getting top 6 minutes already.
Kyle Neuber - #24 - RW - YOB: 1989 - 6’2” - 215lbs.
NHL: 7th Round - 197th Overall by Columbus in 2009
Neuber needs to realize his role within the team. Threw some good hits and got Kadri more focused on him than the game for most of the first half in this one. However tried to carry the puck way too much despite more talented linemates looking for a pass. Skating is currently unbecoming of an OHLer and took a very bad unsportsmanlike penalty from taunting/mouthing off to the London bench with 5 minutes left in a 1 goal game. Also refused to fight or stand up for his team when the Knights appeared to be targeting Sting players for big hits. Reminds me of the situation in Toronto with Belak where he could fight but would only do so if it was convenient for him, and not whether the team needed it or not. Neuber does appear that he’d do well if he plays his part and focuses on agitating the opposing team, fighting, not taking bad penalties like tonight and making the smart plays with the puck. If he can do these things he should be able to succeed this year.