World Junior Presence
Eighteen players from the Ontario Hockey League participating in the World Junior Championships that is currently taking place in Buffalo — seven of whom are representing Team Canada in the event.
Windsor Spitfires defenseman Ryan Ellis has led by example as Canada’s captain, with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in five games thus far. With one assist against the Swiss, he ties the record for the most assists by a Canadian defender at the WJC. He is also the highest scoring defenseman in the history of the tournament.
Kingston Frotenanc’ blueliner Erik Gudbranson (Drafted third overall by the Panthers in the 2010 Draft) is second among defensive scoring with five points (three goals, two assists) in five games. New York Islanders prospect and Oshawa Generals defender Calvin De Haan has also been a stable presence on the backend, with two points in four games.
Zack Kassian (two points in four games), Casey Cizikas (four points in five games) and Marcus Foligno (three points in five games) have provided secondary scoring and excellent physical play to lead Team Canada.
Niagara IceDogs goaltender Mark Visentin started the tournament as the backup to Olivier Roy, but played in one preliminary game against the Czech Republic and was elected to play in the quarter-final matchup against Switzerland, in which he only led in one weak goal in a 4-1 victory.
The tournament concludes on January 5th and players will return to their club teams the next day. Canada’s head coach Dave Cameron will return to his familiar spot behind the bench of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. Assistant coach James Boyd took over in his absent.
Under 17 Tournament
The annual world under-17 hockey challenge got underway on December 29th in Winnipeg and Portage La Prairie. The tournament consists of 10 teams, including five from different parts of Canada (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Pacific and West). The remaining teams are from the United States, Germany, Finland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Quebec is tied atop the standings with the US, Ontario and Pacific. All four teams have nine points in four games played.
US forward Henrik Samuelsson — son of two-time Stanley Cup Champion Ulf — leads the tournament scoring with six goals and two assists in eight games. The top scoring Canadian player is Chris Marchese — a member of the Erie Otters — who has four points in two games for Team Quebec.
The semi-final matchups are set for tomorrow, while the gold and bronze medals games are scheduled for Tuesday evening.
Back in Action
OHL teams returned to action on Tuesday after a week-long Christmas break. For the players who aren’t involved in the World Juniors, it was a chance to visit with family, especially for the import players who have been billeting with local families since late-September.
Ottawa 67’s forward and Los Angeles Kings 2009 second round draft pick continued his excellent season with a five-goal performance against the Kingston Frontenacs this past Wednesday.
Toffoli currently sits first in OHL scoring with 34 goals and 66 points in 38 games. He has a one point lead on fellow 67’s teammate Shane Prince, who has 20 goals and 65 points.
Maple Leafs prospect Greg McKegg sits fourth in scoring with 54 points, while 2011 draft eligible prospects Ryan Strome (Niagara IceDogs) and Nail Yakupov (Sarnia Sting) sit fifth and eighth, respectively, in point getting.
Between the Pipes
Team Canada goaltender, Phoenix Coyotes first round pick and current Niagara IceDog Mark Visentin is the top goalie in the OHL.
In 21 games this year, Visentin has compiled a 13-4-4 record to go along with a 2.30 goals against average and a .921 save percentage in 21 games this season.
The tandem of Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors goalies, Anthony Peters and JP Anderson, sit second and third in goaltending statistics.
Another notable goaltender is Malcolm Subban, who is a rookie with the Belleville Bulls and younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. The Belleville netminder has posted a 5-6-0 record with a 2.65 goals against average in 14 starts for the struggling bulls.
Top Prospects Game
The Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects game takes place on Wednesday, January 19, with the skills competition happening the night before. The top 40 players from across Canada (OHL, WHL, QMJHL) will participate in the event, with 18 coming from the OHL.
For more information on the event and full team rosters, visit http://www.homehardwaretopprospectsgame.com/