Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Josh Leivo haunted his former team with the overtime winner in Sudbury on Sunday.
It was the performance Leivo may have needed as the offensive forward enjoyed his breakout with the Kitchener Rangers in the victory. Steve Spott’s squad will need performances like these to keep pace with the London Knights and Owen Sound Attack while keeping the Guelph Storm at bay in the OHL’s Midwest Division. His team will host Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters this week on Friday Night Hockey.
Hot team:: Guelph Storm
The Storm aren’t going away quietly in a Midwest Division loaded with contenders. Guelph was relatively quiet compared to division rivals London, Kitchener and Owen Sound at the trade deadline, but the results are even better than their rivals. The Storm won all five games since the deadline and are just a single point behind Kitchener for third in the Midwest and fourth in the Western Conference standings.
Cold team:: Mississauga Steelheads
The Steelheads’ offence went cold in a losing streak where they mustered two goals or less in five straight games. Although many of their losses were by a goal or two, they will need to reignite the offence if the Steelheads are going to be able to keep pace for a home playoff date. Mississauga sits seventh in the Eastern Conference with 44 points, six back of fourth-place Sudbury.
Game of the week: Owen Sound Attack vs. Guelph Storm, Friday
The Attack are picking up steam while the London Knights are beginning to lose theirs in the month of January. Owen Sound trails London by 11 points for first place in the Western Conference and overall standings. This game will present a tough test for the Attack, with a gamely Guelph squad looking to surpass Kitchener and climb forward in the Midwest Division standings. These two teams will square off again on Saturday on the back end of a home and home.
Canadian NHL teams’ OHL prospects:
Matt Puempel, Kitchener (Ottawa Senators) — drafted 24th overall in 2011
Puempel’s shoulder injury appears to be in the rearview mirror as the Rangers’ top goal scorer returned to action and made an immediate impact. In three games last week, Puempel scored once and added one assist.
Josh Leivo, Kitchener (Toronto Maple Leafs) — drafted 86th overall in 2011
Leivo appears to be adjusting well to his new surroundings since being traded from Sudbury. His biggest performance in a Ranger uniform came on Sunday against his former team in his former home building when he scored his first goal with his new team and added two assists against the Wolves. He had a goal and four helpers in three games last week.
Tobias Rieder, Kitchener (Edmonton Oilers) — drafted 114th overall in 2011
Although way behind the pace he set last season, Rieder is hitting his stride since the Rangers’ trade deadline acquisitions bolstered the offence. He scored in each of his three games last week and had one assist on Leivo’s overtime winner in Sudbury.
Cody Ceci, Owen Sound (Senators) — drafted 15th overall in 2012
Ceci has yet to wear an Attack uniform in Owen Sound but continues to make his presence felt on the road since being acquired from his hometown Ottawa 67′s a few weeks ago. Ceci had a point in each game last week, posting a goal and two assists in three games.
Brendan Gaunce, Belleville (Vancouver Canucks) — drafted 26th overall in 2012
Gaunce did all of his damage on Friday Night Hockey, leading the Bulls to an impressive 7-2 win over the IceDogs in Niagara with a goal and three assists. He was held off the score sheet in his only other game, a 4-0 loss to Owen Sound on Saturday.
Scott Kosmachuk, Guelph (Winnipeg Jets) — drafted 70th overall in 2012
Kosmachuk is beginning to regain his scoring touch in the month of January after a slow December. The Jets’ third-rounder scored twice and added two assists in three games with a plus-2 rating. He’s averaging a point per game with 45 in 45.
Hot team:: Kelowna Rockets
The Rockets are taking off in the second half this season. After spending much of the first half chasing the Kamloops Blazers for top spot in the B.C. Division standings, the Rockets now sit in first place and have their sights set on the Portland Winterhawks and first overall. Kelowna won its last three straight and is unbeaten in regulation in 12 games, just five points back of first-place Portland.
Cold team:: Moose Jaw Warriors
The Warriors received some good news in the form of Morgan Rielly’s return to junior from Toronto Maple Leafs camp, but Rielly’s addition wasn’t enough to get them back in the win column. The young Warriors’ last win came on Dec. 28 as their losing streak reached nine games. There are positive signs, however, as the Warriors brought Swift Current and Kootenay to a shootout in two of their last three contests.
Game of the week: Prince Albert Raiders vs. Kelowna Rockets, Saturday
The Raiders are in for a difficult task with a trip through the B.C. Division this week. The trip starts in Prince George on Wednesday and Kamloops on Friday before facing the hottest team in the league. The Raiders, owners of first place in the East Division, will get a good test with the Blazers and Rockets on back-to-back nights. The Rockets may be just as tired with a game in Seattle on Friday.
Canadian NHL teams’ WHL prospects:
Michael Ferland, Saskatoon (Calgary Flames) — drafted 133rd overall in 2010
The overage forward is getting acclimatized to his new surroundings in Saskatoon. In three games last week, Ferland scored his first goal in a Blades uniform and picked up two assists in three games. He now has five points in nine games this season.
David Musil, Edmonton (Edmonton Oilers) — drafted 31st overall in2011
Musil’s offensive game is coming around in Edmonton. The Oilers prospect had two assists in three games last week along with a plus-1 rating. Musil now has 10 points in 23 games since joining the Oil Kings in late October.
Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland (Flames) — drafted 57th overall in 2011
Wotherspoon scored his sixth goal of the season in a shootout loss to Lethbridge on the weekend but finished the week a surprising minus-3 in two games. Wotherspoon’s season total of plus-39 is still second-best in the league behind teammate Nicolas Petan’s plus-47.
Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw (Maple Leafs) — drafted fifth overall in 2012
Rielly returned to the Warriors after receiving a long look at Toronto’s camp. The Maple Leafs’ top prospect picked up one assist in two games, finishing a minus-3. With the assist, Rielly now has 29 points this season, a new personal best.
Ryan Olsen, Kelowna (Jets) — drafted 160th overall in 2012
Olsen’s game is reaching new heights this season. The product of Tsawwassen, B.C. scored three times in three games, including the game-winner over the Spokane Chiefs on Friday. He has 42 points this season, 10 more than he had a year ago.
Hot team:: Baie-Comeau Drakkar
The Drakkar made good use of home ice last week to bring their winning streak to three and their regulation unbeaten streak to 11. Baie-Comeau defeated PEI and Shawinigan with back-to-back one-goal victories. The Drakkar are still chasing the Halifax Mooseheads, winners of six straight, for first overall while maintaining their one point lead on Telus East Division rival Rimouski.
Cold team:: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
The Screaming Eagles’ losing streak continues despite two tough efforts against Maritimes Division opposition. After losing 6-3 in Moncton on Friday, the Screaming Eagles scored first but couldn’t hold onto the lead in the third period in a 2-1 shootout loss in Saint John. It was the first point obtained by the Screaming Eagles in 2013 as they lead Shawinigan for second-last overall by a point.
Game of the week: PEI Rocket vs. Moncton Wildcats, Wednesday
The Rocket have been a thorn in the Wildcats’ side all season, starting with a convincing 6-2 victory in each team’s season opener. PEI leads the season series 3-1 and for a long time led the Wildcats for the second spot in the highly-competitive Maritimes Division. The Wildcats are peaking lately, winners of four straight and six of their last 10 while the Rocket dropped their last two games. Moncton leads PEI by five points in the standings which should make for an entertaining tilt.
Canadian NHL teams’ QMJHL prospects:
David Honzik, Cape Breton (Canucks) — drafted 71st overall in 2011
Honzik did everything in his breakout week except lead his team to victory. The Czech goaltender stopped 47-of-49 shots through parts of two games against Moncton and Saint John, both losses. His weekly .959 save percentage increased his season percentage to .874.
Olivier Archambault, Drummondville (Canadiens) — drafted 108th overall in 2011
The gifted playmaker scored twice and added one assist in two games last week. Archambault’s 20 goals this season are tied for his personal best in a season, while his 43 points are 10 fewer than his best season two years ago in Val-d’Or.
Charles Hudon, Chicoutimi (Canadiens) — drafted 122nd overall in 2012
It was a quieter week offensively for Hudon, who picked up just a single assist and a plus-2 in two outings. Hudon is three goals shy of the 25 he posted last season, and 21 points behind last year’s 66.