With the regular season coming to a close, 16 teams from the Ontario Hockey League have moved on to the playoffs for a chance to capture the J. Ross Robertson Cup and compete in the 2019 Memorial Cup. It promises to be an exciting two months ahead, with the action getting underway Thursday:
(1) Ottawa 67’s (50-12-2-4) vs. (8) Hamilton Bulldogs (29-34-3-2)
Season Series: Ottawa wins 5-0-0-0
Sept. 30: OTT 4 at HAM 3 (OT)
Jan. 19: HAM 3 at OTT 5
Feb. 9: OTT 4 at HAM 3
Feb. 19: HAM 1 at OTT 8
Mar. 1: OTT 5 at HAM 3
67’s – 106 Points (1st in East Division)
Top Scorer: Tye Felhaber (59-50-109)
Top Goaltender: Michael DiPietro (23-12-0-1, 2.40, .911)
Home Record: 29-3-1-1
Road Record: 21-9-3-1
Goals For: 296 (4th)
Goals Against: 183 (1st)
Powerplay: 23.2% (8th)
Penalty Kill: 77.5% (12th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Nikita Okhotyuk (55th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-1 to Hamilton in Quarter-Final
Bulldogs – 63 Points (4th in East Division)
Top Scorer: Arthur Kaliyev (51-51-102)
Top Goaltender: Zachary Roy (20-18-1-2, 3.59, .884)
Home Record: 15-15-2-2
Road Record: 14-19-1-0
Goals For: 241 (11th)
Goals Against: 283 (16th)
Powerplay: 25.2% (4th)
Penalty Kill: 76.7% (16th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Arthur Kaliyev (11th)
2018 Playoffs: Won OHL Championship
After claiming the Hamilton Spectator Trophy, presented to the OHL’s regular season champion, the 67’s hope to add to their accolades this spring in the form of playoff success. As it happens, the opening round of the postseason sees Ottawa matching up with last season’s playoff foe in the Hamilton Bulldogs, who ousted the 67’s in five games. But the tide has turned this year, as the 67’s have become a household team that plays a tight defensive game, as evidenced by their league-leading goals-against figure, while there is no shortage of offense either, led by the likes of Tye Felhaber, who recently inked an entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars, and fellow forward Austen Keating. In Hamilton, despite a hectic deadline that saw the team part with the likes of Brandon Saigeon, Nicolas Mattinen, and MacKenzie Entwistle, the club has continued to find the win column. Forward Arthur Kaliyev, a top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft, is always a danger to the opposition, while midseason addition in Czech-born forward Jan Jenik has had a promising start in North America.
Game 1, Fri., March 22 at Ottawa – 7:00 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 24 at Ottawa – 2:00 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 26 at Hamilton – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 27 at Hamilton – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 5, Fri., March 29 at Ottawa – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at Hamilton – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 7, Tues., April 2 at Ottawa – 7:00 p.m.
(2) Niagara IceDogs (44-17-7-0) vs. (7) North Bay Battalion (30-33-3-2)
Season Series: Niagara wins 4-1-1-0
Sept. 29: NB 1 at NIAG 6
Nov. 9: NB 4 at NIAG 3 (OT)
Nov. 10: NIAG 3 at NB 4
Dec. 8: NB 2 at NIAG 5
Mar. 1: NIAG 6 at NB 4
Mar. 17: NIAG 8 at NB 3
IceDogs – 95 Points (1st in Central Division)
Top Scorer: Jason Robertson (48-69-117)
Top Goaltender: Stephen Dhillon (38-11-7-0, 2.97, .909)
Home Record: 25-6-3-0
Road Record: 19-11-4-0
Goals For: 326 (1st)
Goals Against: 209 (3rd)
Powerplay: 28.1% (2nd)
Penalty Kill: 77.2% (14th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Philip Tomasino (24th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-1 to Hamilton in Semi-Final
Battalion – 65 Points (4th in Central Division)
Top Scorer: Justin Brazeau (61-52-113)
Top Goaltender: Christian Propp (24-24-2-0, 3.98, .893)
Home Record: 17-13-3-1
Road Record: 13-20-0-1
Goals For: 230 (14th)
Goals Against: 281 (15th)
Powerplay: 24.1% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 77.6% (11th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Mason Primeau (142nd)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-1 to Kingston in Quarter-Final
Shutting down the opposition will be key to the series for the Battalion, who will face off against a Niagara squad that has netted the most goals in a single OHL season since the 2010-11 Barrie Colts, who finished with 327 markers. Forward Jason Robertson leads the offensive charge for the IceDogs, as he finished the season with 117 points, the most in the CHL, to go with the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s top point getter. Arriving in Niagara in November following a trade from the Kingston Frontenacs, Robertson caught fire with his new club, as he put up 79 points in just 38 games, and was held off the scoresheet just four times. But Robertson isn’t the only dangerous offensive weapon in the series. There’s also NHL-coveted Justin Brazeau, the hulking North Bay right-wing who led the OHL with 61 goals while coming just four points short of Robertson for the scoring lead. Between the pipes, Niagara’s Stephen Dhillon sees plenty of action, as no OHL netminder faced more pucks this season, coming in at nearly 32 shots a game.
Game 1, Thurs., March 21 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 23 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 26 at North Bay – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 28 at North Bay – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 5, Fri., March 29 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at North Bay – 2:00 p.m.
*Game 7, Tues., April 2 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.
(3) Oshawa Generals (44-20-4-0) vs. (6) Peterborough Petes (33-31-2-2)
Season Series: Oshawa wins 6-1-1-0
Oct. 12: PBO 2 at OSH 1
Oct. 18: OSH 4 at PBO 1
Oct. 21: PBO 1 at OSH 4
Nov. 1: OSH 2 at PBO 3 (OT)
Jan. 10: OSH 6 at PBO 5 (OT)
Feb. 1: PBO 6 at OSH 12
Feb. 2: OSH 6 at PBO 3
Feb. 13: PBO 3 at OSH 6
Generals – 92 Points (2nd in East Division)
Top Scorer: Brandon Saigeon (37-55-92)
Top Goaltender: Kyle Keyser (32-8-3-0, 2.75, .915)
Home Record: 21-10-3-0
Road Record: 23-10-1-0
Goals For: 288 (7th)
Goals Against: 216 (5th)
Powerplay: 24.5% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 81.9% (5th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Nando Eggenberger (125th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-1 to Niagara in Quarter-Final
Petes – 70 Points (3rd in East Division)
Top Scorer: Ryan Merkley (14-57-71)
Top Goaltender: Hunter Jones (28-24-2-2, 3.31, .902)
Home Record: 19-11-2-2
Road Record: 14-20-0-0
Goals For: 234 (13th)
Goals Against: 256 (11th)
Powerplay: 19.0% (15th)
Penalty Kill: 77.7% (10th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: G Hunter Jones (2nd)
2018 Playoffs: Did Not Qualify
Despite trade deadline deals that saw the Generals move out key players like captain Jack Studnicka, the team still closed out the season on a high note in winning 16 of its final 20 games, including three big wins over their first-round opponent in the Peterborough Petes. The Generals also did some shopping of their own at the deadline, adding forward Brandon Saigeon from the Hamilton Bulldogs, who took little time to catch on with his new club as he netted 12 goals and 17 assists in 28 appearances. The well-balanced squad will prove to be tough competition, though the Petes have a few difference makers of their own in playmaking blue-liner Ryan Merkley, who notched 32 points in 35 games since his December acquisition. In all, he finished the year with 57 assists, tops among all OHL defencemen. There is also goaltender Hunter Jones, who participated in this year’s Top Prospects Game and looks to be an early pick at the NHL draft come June. He’ll go head-to-head with Oshawa goaltender Kyle Keyser, a Boston Bruins prospect coming off a career year.
Game 1, Fri., March 22 at Oshawa – 7:35 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 24 at Oshawa – 6:05 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 26 at Peterborough – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 28 at Peterborough – 7:05 p.m.
*Game 5, Sat., March 30 at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at Peterborough – 7:05 p.m.
*Game 7, Tues., April 2 at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m.
(4) Sudbury Wolves (43-20-3-2) vs. (5) Mississauga Steelheads (33-29-5-2)
Season Series: Sudbury wins 4-2-0-0
Nov. 18: SBY 3 at MISS 5
Nov. 24: MISS 2 at SBY 3
Dec. 2: MISS 0 at SBY 7
Dec. 16: SBY 1 at MISS 3
Jan. 11: MISS 0 at SBY 3
Jan. 27: SBY 2 at MISS 1
Wolves – 91 Points (2nd in Central Division)
Top Scorer: Adam Ruzicka (35-43-78)
Top Goaltender: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (38-11-2-2, 2.50, .920)
Home Record: 27-6-1-0
Road Record: 16-14-2-2
Goals For: 254 (9th)
Goals Against: 206 (2nd)
Powerplay: 13.6% (20th)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (2nd)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Blake Murray (111th)
2018 Playoffs: Did Not Qualify
Steelheads – 71 Points (3rd in Central Division)
Top Scorer: Alan Lyszczarczyk (39-43-82)
Top Goaltender: Jacob Ingham (27-25-2-2, 3.41, .890)
Home Record: 21-12-1-0
Road Record: 11-17-4-2
Goals For: 239 (12th)
Goals Against: 250 (10th)
Powerplay: 23.8% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 79.9% (6th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: D Thomas Harley (9th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-2 to Barrie in Quarter-Final
For just the second time in the past five seasons, the Wolves are in the playoff picture, thanks to first-year North American netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who is undoubtedly the team’s most valuable player. A draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, Luukkonen has excelled in his first year in junior, where his six shutouts set a franchise high for the historic Wolves. His ability to keep out pucks, paired with Sudbury’s talent in locking it down on the penalty kill, could prove to be the difference going up against a Steelheads squad led by overage forward Alan Lyszczarczyk as well as 2019 NHL draft-eligible defenceman Thomas Harley, who looks to be the latest high pick to come out of Mississauga. For the Steelheads, deadline deals that saw the team ship out top talents in Florida Panthers prospect Owen Tippett and Edmonton Oilers draft pick Ryan McLeod shifted the scoring duties and created more opportunities for the team’s young players, like right-wing Carter Cole and centre Keean Washkurak, who will now get a shot at experiencing the postseason.
Game 1, Fri., March 22 at Sudbury – 7:05 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 23 at Sudbury – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3, Sun., March 24 at Mississauga – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 27 at Mississauga – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 5, Thurs., March 28 at Sudbury – 7:05 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at Mississauga – 2:00 p.m.
*Game 7, Mon., April 1 at Sudbury – 7:05 p.m.
(1) London Knights (46-15-6-1) vs. (8) Windsor Spitfires (25-33-5-5)
Season Series: London wins 5-1-0-0
Sept. 21: WSR 2 at LDN 5
Oct. 4: LDN 0 at WSR 2
Nov. 25: LDN 4 at WSR 2
Dec. 28: WSR 6 at LDN 8
Jan. 24: LDN 7 at WSR 3
Jan. 25: WSR 0 at LDN 7
Knights – 99 Points (1st in Midwest Division)
Top Scorer: Kevin Hancock (52-55-105)
Top Goaltender: Joseph Raaymakers (30-9-4-1, 2.95, .904)
Home Record: 27-5-2-0
Road Record: 19-10-4-1
Goals For: 299 (3rd)
Goals Against: 211 (4th)
Powerplay: 23.1% (9th)
Penalty Kill: 85.8% (1st)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Connor McMichael (28th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-0 to Owen Sound in Quarter-Final
Spitfires – 60 Points (4th in Midwest Division)
Top Scorer: Cole Purboo (29-26-55)
Top Goaltender: Colton Incze (9-13-3-2, 3.47, .890)
Home Record: 16-14-3-1
Road Record: 9-19-2-4
Goals For: 216 (18th)
Goals Against: 257 (12th)
Powerplay: 18.0% (17th)
Penalty Kill: 79.9% (7th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Tyler Angle (135th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-2 to Sarnia in Quarter-Final
The Knights are once again a force in the OHL’s Western Conference, with a host of draft-eligible talents like Connor McMichael and Matvey Guskov playing key roles. There’s also captain and big-time blue-liner Evan Bouchard, whose busy year included a stint with the Edmonton Oilers and a run with Team Canada at the world juniors before returning to London. Bouchard provides plenty of offensive punch from the back end alongside Chicago Blackhawks prospect Adam Boqvist. In all, the Knights excel at both ends of the ice as one of the OHL’s most offensive teams while also owning a league-best penalty-killing unit. That doesn’t bode well for a Windsor powerplay that ranks near the bottom, meaning the Spitfires will need to find the back of the net at five-on-five. Up front, the Spitfires bring a balanced scoring attack – six forwards sit between 40 and 55 points – including 19-year-old Cole Purboo, 6-foot-9 centre Curtis Douglas, and fellow forward Jean-Luc Foudy, the brother of Knights forward Liam Foudy, a first-round draft pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets a year ago.
Game 1, Fri., March 22 at London – 7:30 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 24 at London – 2:00 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 26 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 28 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
*Game 5, Fri., March 29 at London – 7:30 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at Windsor – 2:05 p.m.
*Game 7, Tues., April 2 at London – 7:00 p.m.
(2) Saginaw Spirit (45-17-3-3) vs. (7) Sarnia Sting (28-33-5-2)
Season Series: Saginaw wins 3-2-0-1
Sept. 22: SAR 6 at SAG 2
Oct. 28: SAG 3 at SAR 5
Nov. 29: SAR 1 at SAG 2
Dec. 15: SAR 3 at SAG 7
Feb. 18: SAG 6 at SAR 7 (SO)
Mar. 12: SAG 6 at SAR 2
Spirit – 96 Points (1st in West Division)
Top Scorer: Cole Perfetti (37-37-74)
Top Goaltender: Ivan Prosvetov (36-11-2-1, 2.94, .910)
Home Record: 24-7-2-1
Road Record: 21-10-1-2
Goals For: 294 (5th)
Goals Against: 218 (6th)
Powerplay: 22.5% (10th)
Penalty Kill: 82.9% (3rd)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Nicholas Porco (101st)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-0 to Sault Ste. Marie in Quarter-Final
Sting – 63 Points (3rd in West Division)
Top Scorer: Hugo Leufvenius (37-44-81)
Top Goaltender: Ethan Langevin (18-15-3-0, 3.76, .878)
Home Record: 18-13-2-1
Road Record: 10-20-3-1
Goals For: 271 (8th)
Goals Against: 300 (17th)
Powerplay: 20.1% (13th)
Penalty Kill: 77.9% (9th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Jamieson Rees (23rd)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-2 to Kitchener in Semi-Final
Special teams could prove to be a factor in this series – when there are opportunities. With just 592 penalty minutes during the regular season, the Spirit are the league’s least penalized team. And when they are charged with an infraction, the team’s penalty-killing unit is getting it done at a third-best efficiency rating. Meanwhile, only four teams spent more time in the penalty box than Sarnia this season, though the Sting were able to make up for it with a league-leading 22 short-handed goals. At the deadline, the Spirit loaded up, making separate deals with the Steelheads to bring in future NHLers Owen Tippett and Ryan McLeod to provide additional scoring alongside rookie sensation Cole Perfetti, whose 74 points led all OHL freshmen. The Sting have a promising youngster of their own in forward Jamieson Rees, who finished his second junior season with 32 points in 37 games and is eligible for this summer’s NHL draft. Rees and the Sting will have their work cut out for them facing Saginaw’s exuberant Ivan Prosvetov, while also managing to keep pucks out of their own net – no playoff-bound team allowed more goals than the Sting.
Game 1, Thurs., March 21 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 23 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 26 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 28 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
*Game 5, Sat., March 30 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at Sarnia – 4:05 p.m.
*Game 7, Tues., April 2 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
(3) Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (44-16-7-1) vs. (6) Owen Sound Attack (31-31-4-2)
Season Series: Sault Ste. Marie wins 2-0-0-0
Nov. 24: SSM 7 at OS 4
Mar. 3: OS 3 at SSM 4
Greyhounds – 96 Points (2nd in West Division)
Top Scorer: Morgan Frost (37-72-109)
Top Goaltender: Matthew Villalta (33-12-5-0, 3.03, .903)
Home Record: 24-6-3-1
Road Record: 20-10-4-0
Goals For: 292 (6th)
Goals Against: 224 (7th)
Powerplay: 22.3% (11th)
Penalty Kill: 82.2% (4th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Joseph Carroll (51st)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-2 to Hamilton in OHL Final
Attack – 68 Points (4th in Midwest Division)
Top Scorer: Aidan Dudas (26-36-52)
Top Goaltender: Mack Guzda (20-19-4-1, 3.63, .878)
Home Record: 22-9-1-2
Road Record: 9-22-3-0
Goals For: 224 (16th)
Goals Against: 274 (14th)
Powerplay: 19.8% (14th)
Penalty Kill: 76.2% (17th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: G Mack Guzda (15th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-3 to Sault Ste. Marie in Semi-Final
Meeting only twice in the regular season, there is little rivalry built up between these two squads, but that is sure to change after a few high stakes playoff contests. The Greyhounds are led by the dynamic duo of Morgan Frost, a Philadelphia Flyers prospect who finished fourth in league scoring with 109 points, as well as Barrett Hayton of the Arizona Coyotes. Injuries and a stint with Team Canada limited Hayton to just 39 appearances on the season, though he made the most of them as he put up 66 points, and a 1.69 points-per-game rate of production that ranked third league-wide. Sault Ste. Marie will be out to avenge last year’s playoff disappointment, but will first need to take care of an Owen Sound squad that owns one of the league’s best home records. Deadline departures of Kevin Hancock, who was shipped to London, and Nick Suzuki, sent to Guelph, opened up new ice time for other Owen Sound skaters, including leading scorer Aidan Dudas, a 2018 draft pick by the Los Angeles Kings, as well as veteran forward Maksim Sushko and 19-year-old defenceman Brady Lyle.
Game 1, Thurs., March 21 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 23 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
Game 3, Mon., March 25 at Owen Sound – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 27 at Owen Sound – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 5, Fri., March 29 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at Owen Sound – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 7, Tues., April 2 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
(4) Guelph Storm (40-18-6-4) vs. (5) Kitchener Rangers (34-30-3-1)
Season Series: Guelph wins 4-3-1-0
Oct. 19: GUE 0 at KIT 5
Oct. 21: KIT 2 at GUE 5
Oct. 30: GUE 6 at KIT 2
Dec. 2: KIT 1 at GUE 8
Jan. 11: GUE 3 at KIT 4 (OT)
Feb. 15: KIT 5 at GUE 2
Mar. 3: GUE 8 at KIT 4
Mar. 10: KIT 5 at GUE 2
Storm – 90 Points (2nd in Midwest Division)
Top Scorer: Nate Schnarr (34-68-102)
Top Goaltender: Anthony Popovich (30-13-5-2, 3.29, .899)
Home Record: 23-9-1-1
Road Record: 17-9-5-3
Goals For: 308 (2nd)
Goals Against: 230 (8th)
Powerplay: 25.8% (3rd)
Penalty Kill: 79.1% (8th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: F Keegan Stevenson (148th)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-2 to Kitchener in Quarter-Final
Rangers – 72 Points (3rd in Midwest Division)
Top Scorer: Greg Meireles (36-61-97)
Top Goaltender: Luke Richardson (28-19-2-1, 3.52, .890)
Home Record: 17-13-3-1
Road Record: 17-17-0-0
Goals For: 251 (10th)
Goals Against: 267 (13th)
Powerplay: 29.0% (1st)
Penalty Kill: 76.9% (15th)
Top Draft-Eligible Player: D Michael Vukojevic (61st)
2018 Playoffs: Lost 4-3 to Sault Ste. Marie in Conference Final
In what could be the most evenly matched series of the opening round, the two Highway 7 rivals virtually split their season series, and could be raring for a quarter-final matchup set to go the distance. The Storm will need to be on their best behaviour against the Rangers, who own a league-best powerplay that is finding the back of the net in nearly one-third of its opportunities. That group is headlined by right-wing Jonathan Yantsis, who has scored a league-leading 24 power-play goals. The Rangers take chances on the man advantage, which has also seen the team give up plenty of short-handed goals too. In Guelph, a breakthrough season for Arizona Coyotes prospect Nate Schnarr has seen the budding forward emerge as the Storm’s top scorer, as his 102 points ranked among the OHL’s top 10 scorers. Meanwhile, the team also brought in offensive reinforcements at the deadline, including Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, who was added from the Owen Sound Attack. Suzuki hasn’t missed a beat since arriving in Guelph, and in fact upped his production as he recorded 12 goals and 37 assists in 29 outings.
Game 1, Fri., March 22 at Guelph – 7:30 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 24 at Guelph – 2:00 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 26 at Kitchener – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 28 at Kitchener – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 5, Fri., March 29 at Guelph – 7:30 p.m.
*Game 6, Sun., March 31 at Kitchener – 6:00 p.m.
*Game 7, Tues., April 2 at Guelph – 7:00 p.m.