Sunday CHL preview: 67’s vs. Spitfires

Dante Salituro leads the Ottawa 67's in scoring. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The nation’s capital plays host to the CHL on Sportsnet Sunday afternoon with the Windsor Spitfires continuing their eastern swing with a tilt against the 67’s. Ottawa has won three straight and has exceeded all expectations since trading Travis Konecny to Sarnia. The Spitfires are in a bit of a funk, having lost two straight and going 5-5 in their past 10 games.

Ottawa 67's; Windsor Spitfires; Sunday CHL on Sportsnet; OHL; CHL

Windsor Spitfires

Windsor will be keeping a close eye on the London-Sarnia game Saturday night as the Spits try to remain in the top spot in the West division. Without question, it’s the most important playoff spot in the entire OHL. A division title would ensure a second seed in the Western Conference, allowing for a slightly easier first round playoff match-up. A second place finish in the division would likely mean a fifth seeding and a match-up against a Midwest Division powerhouse in round one.

Individual Stats          
Top Scorers GP G A PTS Note
Christian Fischer 50 24 40 64 12th OHL Pts
Logan Brown 43 10 39 49  
Brendan Lemieux 33 28 17 45  
Aaron Luchuk 52 22 21 43  
Bradley Latour 52 20 23 43
In Goal
Michael DePietro (14-6-1-0, 2.36, .918%)

Windsor is still adjusting to life with Winnipeg prospect Brendan Lemieux, who is a clone of his father, Claude. He plays physically, gets under the opposition's skin and produces, but there are times when his act isn’t always appreciated. Having said that, he’s almost at a goal per game pace including 10 power-play markers and five game-winners in his 22 games wearing a Spits sweater.

Christian Fischer makes things happen, he has speed and size, and his right shot is an added asset. Logan Brown continues to show flashes, but still battles consistency in his game. He’s never going to be a physical player, but once he learns to use his size and strength to take the puck to the net, he’s got awesome finishing skill.

Big bodies Connor Chatam, Hayden McCool and Mads Eller are difficult to play against. All three seem to be comfortable in defined roles laid out clearly by head coach Rocky Thompson. The young guns, including Gabriel Vilardi, Cole Carter and Aaron Luchuk, continue to play well. Windsor needs more out of Cristiano DiGiacinto, whose combination of grit and goal scoring is a rarity in today’s game.

The Spits defence corps is massive and includes likely first rounders Logan Stanley and Mikhail Sergachev. Add in Patrick Sanvido and you have the makings of an NBA front court.

Stanley has plenty of offensive potential to unearth. Sergachev has all-world tools and Sanvido is a Dallas prospect. Jalen Chatfield has slowed offensively, but is second on the squad with a plus-21. Andrew Burns and Tyler Nother will fall victim to the TV timeouts and see limited action. Kingston did a good job of getting pucks deep and forcing Windsor’s defencemen to twist, turn and make plays earlier than they wanted to on Friday. When Windsor’s defencemen face that kind of pressure, they must turn to a more simple game getting pucks out. They are very good and active in the offensive zone.

Windsor boasts one of three rookie goaltending tandems in the CHL, and Michael DiPietro is being pushed hard by Mario Culina who did a masterful job of keeping Windsor in the mix against the Frontenacs. DiPietro will likely start Sunday.

Team Stats     Rank
PP 48/209=23%   4th
PK 39/206=81.1%   13th
GF/gm 3.67   5th
GA/gm 2.85   6th

NHL Drafted/Signed Players
Brendan Lemieux (BUF, 31st 2014)
Christian Fischer (ARI, 32nd 2015)
Cristiano DiGiacinto (TB, 170th 2014)
Markus Soberg (CLB, 165th 2013)
Patrick Sanvido (DAL, 195th 2014)
Christian Fischer (ARI, 32nd 2015)
Cristiano DiGiacinto (TB, 170th 2014)
Markus Soberg (CLB, 165th 2013)

NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings
Mikhail Sergachev, No. 10
Logan Brown, No. 14
Logan Stanley, No. 23

Under The Radar
Bradley Latour has MasterCard Memorial Cup experience, can play in all situations and is a valuable glue guy.

Ottawa 67's

Ottawa has found a way to get younger, add picks and still maintain a winning record, which is hard to do. Credit head coach and GM Jeff Brown for his diligence in making the Konecny deal. He continues to steer the good ship 67’s in a positive direction with contributions up and down the lineup.

Individual Stats          
Top Scorers GP G A PTS Note
Dante Salituro 51 30 37 67 10th OHL Pts
Jeremiah Addison 51 22 18 40  
Artur Tyanulin 52 8 27 35  
Nathan Todd 38 11 23 34  
Travis Barron 45 10 17 27
In Goal
Leo Lazarev (20-13-0-0, 2.77, .904%)

Ottawa’s goaltending duo has played well of late. Leo Lazarev is coming off a shutout and has only had two bumps in the road since the calendar turned to 2016. Liam Herbst recorded his first shutout two starts ago and has only one misstep over his last six games played.

Defensively, the 67’s are a lunch-pail group lead by captain Jacob Middleton who has matured immensely since coming into the league. He was the last pick of the 2014 NHL Draft by Los Angeles and looks every bit like a guy who could fit into the Kings lineup in a couple years with some good AHL seasoning. Evan de Haan and Nevin Guy are both overagers who wear letters and eat minutes. Stepan Falkovsky shows flashes of brilliance and should be a late round NHL pick. Ryan Orban and Hudson Wilson round out the group.

Up front, Dante Salituro is back to his point-producing self. He seemed to be pressing immediately after Konecny was moved, but his game has returned. He’s recorded points in 12 of his past 13 games. Nathan Todd has also regained the touch that saw him put up 19 goals a season ago. Sixteen of his 34 points have come in the last 13 games. Sasha Chmelevski is young and learning to deal with big minutes, but he is extremely gifted. Travis Barron is shooting the puck more and playing physically. Artur Tyanulin is producing in bunches of late.

Getting Drake Rymsha back into the fold can only help and once rookie sensation Austen Keating returns, Ottawa will have a very capable top six. Jeremiah Addison is at his best playing straight line hockey. He flies and can really shoot the puck. Ben Fanjoy battles and takes key draws.

Team Stats     Rank
PP 44/232=19%   10th
PK 34/170=80%   14th
GF/gm 3.47   7th
GA/gm 3.23   11th

NHL Drafted/Signed Players
Jeremiah Addison (MTL, 207th 2015)
Jacob Middleton (LA, 210th 2014)

NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings

Travis Barron, No. 60
Stepan Falkovsky, No. 79
Dane Salituro, No. 106
Drake Rymsha, No. 143

Under The Radar
Travis Barron is a jack-of-all-trades type who’s just starting to come into his own. He comes from a hockey family and is always looking for ways to get better.