I caught this one on t.v. tonight, hoping that perhaps a battle between two of the worst teams in the league would be fierce, competitive and entertaining. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It was a pretty sloppy and choppy game that saw little in the way of serious scoring chances, perhaps what you'd expect from two teams who look like contenders for a top 5 pick in the 2010 OHL Priority Draft. Brampton squeaked by by a score of 2-1, despite being largely outplayed in the third period by the Sting. Perhaps more entertaining than the game was the pre-game ceremony where the Sarnia maintenance staff almost killed Santa Claus by not putting the carpet down well enough on the ice, causing poor Santa to slip and nearly break his hip.
Another reason I caught this one is because Ryan Yessie was at the game live tonight and will be providing us with a game report of his own in the coming week. I figured it'd be interesting to not only compare opinion between action seen on t.v. and action seen live, but also compare Ryan and I's thoughts on individual performances.
Here are my thoughts on players from both sides.
Matt Clark (ANA)
I thought Clark had a very solid game. Made one bad play defensively where he got beaten to the outside as he was caught standing still, but generally speaking played a solid defensive game. He was typical Matt Clark in his own zone from what I've seen of him over the past two seasons. Offensively, I thought he had an excellent game too. While Brampton's powerplay is the worst in the league (although they did score twice tonight on the PP), I thought Clark did a good job of running play from the point. Scored a goal from the point on a slap shot that beat Shayne Campbell over the shoulder. Clark did a great job to get the shot through to the net (which may or may not have changed directions on the way). I think he's a solid professional prospect, and there's a reason he went as high as he did in last year's draft despite being primarily a defensive first defenseman.
Cameron Wind (2010)
I think a lot of people were surprised by his inclusion on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary list for the OHL. Truthfully, I was surprised too. But more because I didn't expect him to be on it, not because I believed he had no business being on it. I've tended to come away impressed by Wind every time I've seen him. He's not a flashy player by any means, but he's effective. I'm disappointed by his offensive production thus far, considering he seems to have good offensive instincts. This game was no different. Made a couple of nice pinches to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and did a good job of keeping the puck in at the blueline. He could stand to work on his breakout pass, but he's learning. Defensively, he's solid. Plays a good positional game, although I think he could stand to use his size a little more to add a larger physical element to his game. One play in particular stood out, as Kyle Neuber used his size to get by him in pursuit of the puck, gaining possession for Sarnia in the offensive end. While Neuber is a big boy, Wind is no dwarf himself and he needs to demonstrate a greater ability to use that size to prevent big forwards like Neuber from gaining possession of the puck.
Philip Lane (2010)
Lane has been on fire offensively of late (goals in 4 straight games coming into this one), but struggled in this game. I do really like him as a player and prospect for the 2010 NHL draft, but the more I watch him the more I wonder about his offensive potential, more specifically his ability to convert offensive opportunities. Call it lack of hand eye coordination, lack of hands, bad luck, whatever it be, but Lane does seem to have problems with keeping the puck on his stick at top speed, and with receiving passes while moving. The puck just always seems to be bouncing on him. He's still an aggressive forechecker and a budding physical player, but I'm starting to wonder whether he will develop into a premier offensive power forward or a hard working checker with some offensive ability.
Sam Carrick (2010)
Carrick really struggled to find the score sheet towards the end of October and through November, but it appears he's getting himself back on track this month. From talking to Brampton fans, they say he was struggling because he was spending too much time focusing on trying to be a pugilist instead of the team's offensive catalyst. Tonight he was quite solid though. Generated off the rush (one of the few Brampton forwards doing so), and seems to really keep his feet moving in the offensive zone, which makes him a strong player on the cycle. Scored the eventual game winning goal in the second period by beating defender Nathan Chiarlitti to the net for the tap in off Thomas Stajan's pass. He was named the game's first star.
Domenic Alberga (2010)
I thought Alberga was the best Brampton forward on the ice tonight. Was just a monster on the forecheck. He had at least 5 takeaways himself, and forced even more by putting constant pressure on the Sting puck carriers. He hit a post too, coming with a nice shot off the rush. While the stats haven't necessarily been there this year, he shows promise. If he can start showing greater offensive potential to go with the work ethic he brings to the ice, he could find himself as an NHL draft pick in June. And if not, he should still develop into a very important player for Brampton. Finished with an assist on Matt Clark's goal.
Patrick Killeen (PIT)
While Brampton's defense has been outstanding this year (in keeping shot totals down), I don't think Killeen has gotten enough credit for the way he's played this year. With no more Thomas McCollum, Killeen knew that he was going to have to step up big this year and play a large number of games. At this point, he's definitely playing for a contract from Pittsburgh. In the third period he was especially huge, making some big saves to keep Brampton ahead despite Sarnia's dominance. On one occasion, Killeen made 3 saves in succession in a mad flurry of goal mouth action, finally knocking away the puck to the corner with his blocker on the third. It'll be interesting to see what Brampton does with Killeen, considering they don't really need his services as a rebuilding team. He could be an attractive option to a team like Windsor or Guelph.
Killeen made 21 of 22 saves and got the win.
Nathan Chiarlitti (2010)
Chiarlitti did not have his best game tonight. He had a couple of very poor defensive plays. In the first period, he got blown by, by a Brampton forward on the rush, creating a scoring chance in on Shayne Campbell. Later in the 2nd period, he was soft on Sam Carrick and got beaten to the front of the net as Carrick deposited the eventual game winner. Offensively, he didn't do a whole heck of a lot either and (like the entire Sarnia defense) had trouble moving the puck out of the defensive zone tonight. At this point, he seems to be one of those guys right on the cusp of being worthy of attention for the 2010 draft.
J.C. Campagna (2011)
I didn't really notice Campagna much. In a game I saw earlier this year I came away impressed by him, but tonight he was pretty invisible. At this point, I think we're looking at a player with a lot of skill, but who's lacking the strength to be able to contribute as a 16 year old in the OHL.
Brandon Francisco (2011)
Same thing applies to Francisco that I said about Campagna. I did notice Francisco for the bad though on a few occasions, where he handled the puck too long and ended up turning it over. I've heard other people say that they think he needs to use his teammates better and that appears to be a fair assessment. Like Campagna, he just needs to get bigger and stronger in order to be able to produce offensively.
Brandon Alderson (2010)
I thought Alderson was an interesting player tonight. Funny enough, during the intermission there was a segment asking all the players what they were asking for, for Christmas. Alderson claimed he was asking for the ability to raise the puck up off the ice. For a guy who has doubts about his finishing ability, he seems to be doing OK. With a goal tonight, he has 10 on the year which is good for 2nd on the team. On his goal, he beat his defender to the net, kept his stick on the ice and converted a cross ice feed from Kale Kerbashian (ironically the puck never left the ice). But he did fail to capitalize on a few other opportunities in close. An intriguing player though who has very good size, decent skating ability for that size, and a willingness to go hard to the net for goals. He finds himself in a group with guys like Phil Lane, and Kingston's Corey Durocher who should generate NHL draft interest due to their size and potential goal scoring ability.
Kyle Neuber (CBJ)
To his credit, Neuber played a good game tonight. He saw some powerplay time where he was used as the tree blocking the goaltender in the crease. He did a good job in the corners and along the boards. His line had one very good shift where they kept possession for a good minute and ended up with a really good scoring chance. He also had a fight tonight, completely beating up Brampton forward Alex O'Neil. I still don't see the reason to spend an NHL draft pick on him, but I give credit where credit is due and he played well tonight in a losing cause.
Joe Rogalski (2010)
Rogalski played an excellent game defensively tonight. I was very impressed by his positioning at the defensive end. No Brampton player was able to get by him, and he kept the Battalion forwards to the perimeter when he was on the ice. If he can continue to use his size defensively, he'll have an NHL future. However, I continue to be unimpressed by his ability to move the puck out of his own zone. Clean passes and smart reads tend to be few and far between. Near the end of the third period, he gave the puck up in his own zone, which lead to him taking a penalty that could have really cost the Sting a chance to get back into the game. When he carries the puck up ice and joins in on the rush, he's effective as an offensive player, but he definitely needs to work on his first pass out of the zone and his ability to work through the forecheck.
I'll be curious to hear what Ryan has to say about this one! Anyone else have thoughts?