Congratulations to Timmins Majors defenceman Cole Ellis, who was taken in the 15th round by Kingston at this weekend's OHL Draft. The Chapleau native was one of 11 players drafted from the Great North U18 league.
The Soo JR Greyhounds had seven players selected, led by Hudson Chitaroni who was selected by the Sudbury Wolves in the third round. Chitaroni's dad, Terry, was also selected by the Wolves in the late 1980s. I remember Terry from his playing days with the New Liskeard Cubs while coaching the Majors. Rounding out the draft were three players selected from Sudbury U16.
Going into the draft I thought Ellis would have some company from Majors teammates, but I obviously thought wrong.
Once again our area hosted massively successful tournaments. This past weekend saw two OHF provincials with Porcupine hosting the U18 A and Timmins hosting the U15 AA.
The Porcupine Gold Kings lost in the semi-final to Centre Wellington. The Woodstock Jr. Navy Vets would avenge a round-robin loss to Wellington by defeating Wellington in the final.
In U15 action the Timmins NorthStars fell just short of the playoff round at 1-3. Barrie claimed the U15 AA title in Sunday's Final.
The Stoney Creek Sabres U18 women's team cruised through their Ontario Women's Hockey Ontario provincial playdowns to claim a spot at the Esso Cup national championship in Prince Albert. The number two ranked Sabres currently sit at 2-0 in the National championship with their third game coming Tuesday.
Timmins native Carley Blomberg is one of three assistant coaches with the club.
Local product Evan Boucher was named game five's second star as his Halifax Mooseheads finished off Moncton to advance to the third round of QMJHL playdowns. Halifax will now face Sherbrooke for a spot in the league final.
Former Major and current Huntsville Havoc coach, Glenn Detulleo, wrapped up his coaching career with the Havoc this past weekend. Glenn will now move into a new job in the team's front office.
The Havoc lost the deciding game against the Birmingham Bulls 5-2 in a hotly contested SPHL semi-final series. More on Glenn in the near future.
Like a lot of local hockey fans, I cringed while watching referee T.J. Luxmore get tangled up and dumped hard by two players colliding in an NHL playoff game. Fortunately, Luxmore returned to the game after being forced to leave for a period of time. T.J. appeared to be showing no lingering effects of the collision while refereeing another playoff game on Sunday.
Speaking of NHL playoffs, a few things have caught my eye. One is how well the L.A. Kings quickly fill and drive hard on the weak side through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. That weak side has quickly become the strong side as the hard-charging Kings drive the play to the net. That weakside attacker is catching the Oilers puck watching or failing to pick up the attacker, leading to a goal or a strong opportunity. They have also been relentless in one-on-one puck battles.
And while some teams have moaned about officiating, they usually have only themselves to blame for a rash of penalties. Instead of addressing their team's foolish and costly penalties, it seems too many teams look to place the blame elsewhere and fail to take action to correct the situation. The stakes and emotions are high in the playoffs, but that is no excuse for dumb penalties by seasoned pros. A lot of games have been determined in overtime on the powerplay after the offending team has taken a foolish penalty.
And last but not least … How important just getting the puck on net with traffic, really is. In two games against Tampa that I thought the Leafs were done in, a couple of wounded duck point shots either tied the game or won it either through a screen, tipped in, or securing a rebound for a marker. A 97 m/hr point shot that misses the net has zero per cent chance of a goal. A 50 m/hr lob to and on the net has at least a chance to provide a goal. Don't believe me?
Just ask Tampa what they think.
Never mind shots or plus/minus. Both those stats taken by all teams can be misleading.
Twenty-four shots in a game may not be a ton but if 12 were high-percentage scoring opportunities then quality trumps quantity. Thirty shots against from the perimeter means little unless your goalie can't handle the distant shots or bad angle shots.
And if your line is constantly challenged with shutting down other team's stars, your plus/minus might not be what you hoped. Players that are on the ice for goals against too much will show up in the coaches head long before he sees the stat sheet. Although both these stats have their place here are two I feel need emphasis.
First and foremost are giveaways. Players who are turning the puck over diminish their team's chance at success. A high turnover rate is indicative of a lack of a few of the following. Effort, lack of commitment, poor physical strength, poor puck skills, lack of intensity and focus, etc. Individual players don't have the puck on their sticks too long during a game. What and how you do with the puck is vital to your team's success.
The other is faceoffs won/lost. Too many teams and players have a laissez-faire attitude about faceoffs. It is a chance to assume possession of the puck to either gain a scoring chance or prevent one. A poor faceoff won/lost ratio requires immediate remediation or you’re not going to be very successful.
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