Sunday, March 6, 2011

Game Report: Wolves and Majors from March 6

The Majors took over this one right after puck drop, sadly enough. Mississauga scored four goals in the first period, chasing Alain Valiquette from the game, and never looked back. The Wolves had some good chances along the way, including a 2 man advantage that could have put them back in the game, but J.P. Anderson was solid in net and didn't give them an inch.

After a bit of a rough spell there, the Majors are back rolling at the right time. With a 10 point cushion on the IceDogs, it would appear that they've all but locked up first in the Eastern Conference. Maybe that means they can start to rest J.P. Anderson before the playoffs. He could definitely use it. Back-up Mickael Audette has been beyond bad so far (with a save percentage nearing the 70's), so once the team clinches, it won't matter if he gets into a few ugly games.

Meanwhile, the Wolves have really come back down to reality of late. I thought that they'd make a run at that 6th spot in the Conference while they were firing on all cylinders. And they still could (three points back of Brampton, but the Battalion have a game in hand). I'm still not sure I'd want to play them in the first round though, with the veteran experience they've got up front (especially once Lomas and McDonald return).

Player reports:

Sudbury Wolves

#3 - Justin Sefton (Draft Eligible in 2011)
Been hearing a lot of good things about Sefton lately. I watched Sudbury on t.v. a few weeks ago and he looked quite good. However, he was not good in the game today. He finished the game at a -3, and would have been a -4, had his goalie not made a nice save on a breakaway. Sometimes the +/- stat doesn't tell the whole story. Unfortunately today it did. The first goal was directly his fault, as Gregg Sutch made a cross ice pass to Shugg, who Sefton failed to tie up and he put it home (even if it was a weak goal that he fanned on). Third goal by the Majors was scored by Shugg again, as he came off the wall, beat Frankie Corrado to the net with a nice move, went around the sliding Sefton and put it home. Fourth Majors goal was scored by Riley Brace as he poked home a loose puck, with Sefton again lying on the ice for some reason. In the second period, he chipped the puck out of his zone, but after a turnover, got caught standing still at the blueline as Jordan Mayer (pretty sure it was Mayer) accepted a pass and went in on a breakaway. Only later in the game was he physical, which was a disappointment. Definitely seems like it was an off game for a defender who has apparently been playing quite well of late.

#4 - Josh McFadden (Draft eligible in 2011, but 1991 born)
The move to Sudbury has definitely allowed McFadden to blossom as an offensive defenseman. He's had a fantastic season. At times he can leave a little bit to be desired defensively and he takes a lot of liberties with the puck, BUT he can play defense and I think he has the potential to reign things in a bit. He actually looked good today. Showed speed and poise when bringing the puck up and was definitely a dangerous player (maybe Sudbury's most dangerous on the day). I'd be surprised if he wasn't drafted this year, quite frankly. Tony DeHart was drafted last year after a breakout season, and McFadden is a better player (and prospect) than him (IMO).

#19 - Alex Racino (Draft Eligible in 2o11)
One of the guys Sudbury got in the John McFarland deal, Racino has emerged as a great find for the Wolves. He's been playing good hockey as of late on a line with Eric O'Dell and I thought he looked pretty good today. He's got some speed and he's definitely a hard worker at both ends of the ice. He made a nice defensive play in the first to save a goal by coming back hard to tie up Riley Brace at the side of the net, preventing him from finishing off a scoring chance. He also got a breakaway in the second, showing some good speed, but was stymied by Anderson. If you pro-rate his stats with Sudbury to a full season, he'd be on pace for a 15-15 year and with his size and tenacity, I think he'd be a guy to watch at the draft. He just has to hope enough scouts have seen Sudbury play lately to make a definitive judgment on him.

#22 - Frankie Corrado (Draft eligible in 2011)
Like Sefton, Corrado had a rough day at a -3. He just did not look very good out there. The second Shugg goal was his fault, as he got caught flatfooted when Shugg exploded off the wall to the net, blowing right by him. He then failed to tie up his man on the Riley Brace goal. Corrado also had several breakout pass attempts foiled by the Majors, as he just couldn't get that puck up ice to his teammates. A couple positives were that he did look strong when he rushed the puck (always the case) with his speed. He was also more physical than I had seen him before. He absolutely crushed Mika Partanen with a hit along the boards, pushing his head hard into the glass.

#91 - Eric O'Dell (NHL rights owned by Atlanta)
It's definitely been a good year for O'Dell, coming back from offseason heart surgery. He's been absolutely outstanding for the Wolves in the second half of the OHL season. That being said, I think he still has a ways to go before he gets back on the NHL track. O'Dell has never been a barn burner as a skater, but that offseason off really hurt his development in that area I think. He looked slower today than he did last year and just couldn't get the legs moving fast enough to be fully engaged off the rush. O'Dell is a very smart player and the type of strong two way forward who can have success at the next level. But I think he'll take some time in finding his niche and improving that speed and acceleration before he makes a big impact.

#92 - Michael Sgarbossa (Signed by the San Jose Sharks)
I saw Sgarbossa play on tv a couple of weeks ago and he had an absolutely dynamite game. Was all over the ice. Today, that wasn't the case. He was visibly frustrated too, as several times he came back to the bench, slamming his stick in disgust. He's had a great season though and was an astute signing by the Sharks. He's a hard worker and a skilled energy guy who could find himself a job in the NHL in time.

Mississauga Majors

#4 - Justin Shugg (Drafted by Carolina)
This might have been the best game I've seen Shugg play this year (as a Major). He was fantastic. That second goal (third of the game) was a thing of beauty and will no doubt end up on the Mazda plays of the week. He grabbed the puck along the wall, exploded past Frankie Corrado, cut to the net, dipsy doodled around a falling Sefton, and waited out Valiquette before putting it off the far post and in. He had a few other great chances for the hat trick, but just couldn't bury one. I'd actually be surprised if the Canes didn't give him a contract this offseason, with the chance to play in the AHL next year.

#5 - Stuart Percy (Draft eligible in 2011)
Percy has become one of my favourite players eligible from the OHL. Just call him steady Eddie. I've gone on at length about Percy's strengths as a defender. But maybe the most impressive thing from today's game was when he took on Marcus Foligno one on one, and as Foligno tried to beat Percy to the outside with strength and speed, Percy matched him every step of the way and actually pushed him off the puck and into the boards. Many defenseman in this league will tell you that Foligno is one of the toughest to contain, and Percy made him look like Lino Martschini. Impressive.

#13 - Maxim Kitsyn (Drafted by Los Angeles)
While he didn't get on the scoresheet, I thought Kitsyn was the best player on the ice today. Just a fantastic game. I've seen him play a few times now (both in the WJC's and in Mississauga), but this was the first time I've seen him live. I really had no idea he was such a physical player, a power forward even. He CRUSHED Josh McFadden behind the net, just after he chipped the puck out. It rattled the boards...and the building. He had a couple other nice hits during the game and was engaged physically in other areas, whether it be trading slashes after the whistle, or shoving for space in front of the net. He had a few really nice rushes with the puck into the zone and looked tough to stop once he got going. Looks like he could stand to improve those first few steps though. I was very impressed.

#16 - Joseph Cramarossa (Draft eligible in 2011)
Every time I see this guy play, he impresses me even more. He will be an NHL player, of that I am confident. I am also confident that a team is going to take this guy in the first three rounds. Just a complete player who never gives up on a play and is always around the puck. Most underrated about him is his skill set and his skating ability. He's an elite skater and it helps him be everywhere on the ice. But about the skill, every time I've seen him, he's made a play offensively that made me say "wow, OK this guy is actually skilled." Sure his linemates Jamie Wise and Corey Bureau work hard, but it's Cramarossa that makes this 4th line one of the best in the league at keeping the puck in the offensive zone. The second Majors goal by Corey Bureau was a thing of beauty created by Cramarossa. He outworked an opponent behind the net, took the puck, cut to the front of the net, made a move around a defender and slid a pass to Corey Bureau for the goal. One of the most underrated players available for this draft.

#27 - Mika Partanen (Draft eligible in 2011)
Playing with Maxim Kitsyn has really re-energized Partanen it would seem. He might not be hitting the scoresheet, but he's way more noticeable on the ice without the puck than he was at the beginning of the season. Now he's throwing his weight around, is active on the forecheck and in the corners. I've talked to a few Majors season ticket holders and they think Cameron has really misused Partanen this year. Considering the lackluster stats he's put up and the hype he had, that might not be far off base. Hopefully he sticks around next year when holes in the line up will need to be plugged by those graduating to the pros.

#34 - J.P. Anderson (Signed by the San Jose Sharks)
After a rough February (where Anderson seemed visibly tired), he's been much better so far this month and seems to be getting hot again at the right time. He was excellent in today's game. The Wolves had a few chances, including two breakaways (Kontos and Racino), but he stopped both. He really made it look easy and wasn't giving up any rebounds (crucial to Anderson's success). Anderson stopped all 29 shots for the shutout, his league leading 6th of the season.

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