Monday
Jan132014

Matthew Mancina, Guelph Storm: NHL Draft Prospect Profile

by Dominic Tiano (@DominicTiano)

Matthew Mancina,Guelph StormThe 6’1 and 170 pound goaltender is a native of Windsor Ontario and is in his first Ontario Hockey League season. He was drafted in the third round, 49th overall in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection.

Mancina played his minor midget hockey with Sun County Panthers during the 2011/12 season. He finished the season with an 11-9 record, 2.45 goals against average and .897 save percentage. He got into one game for the Leamington Flyers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League posting a shutout.

Following his OHL draft selection, he went on to play for the Leamington Flyers of the GOJHL and finished the season with 2.77 goals against average and .904 save percentage. He was chosen to play for Team Ontario at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 where he posted 2.46 goals against average and a .895 save percentage in four games.

Playing Junior B isn’t a reflection on his abilities but rather was beneficial toMancina. He wasn’t going to get much playing time in Guelph with veteran Garret Sparks (Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick) and in Leamington he would get plenty of starts. As a 16 year old in Junior B he shared the Roy Caley Award for lowest team goals-against average and the Roy Brulman Memorial Award as the conference’s top rookie and made the rookie all-star team.

Mancina is the 2nd goaltender (Alex Nedeljkovic of the Plymouth Whalers the other) to graduate from Bandits Goalie School led by Stan Matwijiw, who has helped the likes of Chris Osgood and Jack Campbell. At the time of writing this profile Mancina was coming off a week being named as CHL goaltender of the week.

Mancina wasn’t always a goaltender however. He played as a forward in AA as a ten year old although he played goal the year before. The goaltender got hurt and Mancina got the call to protect the net. He made the Panthers the following season and a goaltending career was born.

At 6’1 Mancina has good size but will need to fill out his frame. He is a hybrid goalie, a cross between a butterfly and stand up style. Mancina can read plays developing and has very good anticipation. He’s also a very good skater with an unbelievably strong work ethic.

I spoke to Bandits Goalie School’s Stan Matwijiw about Mancina.

OHLW: Some of the goaltenders that have been through your goaltending school have said that if you're willing to be worked hard, you're going to become a better goaltender because of Bandits Goaltending School. Matt's work ethic is top notch. How does he compare today from his first day at camp in terms of the work he puts in?

SM: Matt's work ethic has come a long way in the four years that he has been working with me. I believe that this happens for more then one reason, the first reason would be that as players get older they start to see how they reap the benefits of all the hard work they're putting in. The second reason is the environment that you put the player in, at my school we try and put the younger goalies  with players that are playing at higher levels and or guys that have been around our camps the longest. By doing this it allows them to watch and learn the work ethic of his peers.

OHLW: Matt isn't the first goaltender to start off playing a different position other then tending net. I believe he played as a forward in AA. Is it fair to say that it helps with his skating?

SM:  I do think it helps goaltenders with all of their hockey skills (skating, puck handling and understanding the game) being a player first. At a young age/ beginner I feel it is extremely important to master the above skills and in turn they do translate into playing the position of goaltender.

OHLW:  Is it fair to describe Matt's style as a Hybrid style ?

SM: Matt is for sure a Hybrid goalie, I (nor my staff) believe that goaltending fits into a neat little box. We all come in different "shapes and sizes" and all have different strengths and weaknesses. With that being said I try and let them be their own individual because what works for one goalie may not work for another.

OHLW: In 17 games, Matt is first among first time draft eligible goaltenders in goals against average and tied for 2nd with another graduate of yours AlexNedeljkovic in save percentage. He gives his team a chance to win. Can you give us your thoughts on his strongest points of his game?

SM: Matt is "smooth as silk" the way he plays, if you watch him you'll notice that it almost looks like he's not trying! His fundamentals are incredible!

OHLW: Alex is widely considered as a possible first round draft pick and the top goalie available from the OHL for the NHL draft, but Matt is opening some eyes. Can you give us a glimpse of his development curve to date and how you see it going forward and what things he needs to work on?

SM: Matt is a very good student of the game, he's very smart and he understands the game. I'm excited to see what Matt will do in the coming years because he has all the tools to become a pro. If I had to say the one thing that he needs to work on it would be his puckhandling skills, which will come with more playing time and feeling more comfortable within his own game.

OHLW: the OHL hasn't had as many goaltenders drafted into the OHL lately as in other years but there are those that end up signing as free agents and the fact that the NHL draft is only 7 rounds deep plays into it. Is it something you discuss with your goaltenders?

SM: No I never discuss things like that with my students, the best thing any player can do is to NOT worry about things like the NHL draft or scouts in the stands and so forth. We have a saying/ message that we like to past along to all of our students and that is "Worry about what you can control and everything else will take care of itself."

OHLW: How does the OHL's import draft rules on goalies affect both American and Canadian goaltenders now, and do you feel it will helpgoaltenders like Matt in the future?

SM: Well this question is conversation in itself Dom! It's hard for anyone to say if the new rule will help North American born goalies get drafted into the NHL. I do how ever believe that there are more then a sufficient number on North American goalies that are good enough to play at this level and that we really don't need to bring in European goalies.

Monday
Jan132014

Brendan Perlini, Niagara Ice Dogs: Prospect Profile 

by Dominic Tiano (@DominicTiano)

Brendan Perlini, Niagara Ice DogsBorn in Guildford, Great Britain, the 6’3 – 180 pound left wing was the 16th overall selection by the Barrie Colts in the 2012 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. He graduated from Belle Tire Bantam AAA after producing 18 goals and 17 assists in 31 games in 2010-2011 to Belle Tire U16 the following season in Midget, amassing 21 goals and 23 assists in 40 games.

He started off slow for the loaded Colts squad in his rookie season tallying just one goal and one assist in 32 games. But then a trade, along with a 6th round pick to Niagara for Mitchell Theoret provided new life for Perlini. He finished the season with 7 goals and 3 assists in 27 games for the Ice Dogs.

In 2012, Perlini was invited to the Team Ontario selection camp that would take part in the World U17 Hockey Challenge and was one of the final cuts. In the summer of 2013, he was one of 3 players that did not take part in the World U17 to be invited to Team Canada’s U18 selection camp that would go on to win its sixth consecutive gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. Although he failed to make either squad, the experience and knowledge he picked up at both camps will help in his development.

Perlini is a strong skater with very good puck skills and hockey sense and can think the game at high speed. He has excellent size but really needs to work on adding some muscle and bulk to his frame. Perlini has excellent offensive abilities while always remaining cautious of the defensive side of his game. He scores goals in multiple ways – with his shot, driving to the net or standing in the dirty areas for second chances.

He started off the season strongly scoring 9 goals and 15 assists in his first 15 games this season – including an 11 game point streak – which opened a lot of eyes and thus began his climb up the draft rankings. Perlini cooled off a bit in November scoring 3 goals and 11 assists in 14 games. But he has picked it back up since the calendar flipped to December having scored 12 goals and 7 assists in 13 games. 

Sunday
Jan122014

ITO Takes a Glance at the OHL Trade Deadline

by Brandon Sudeyko (@intheoradio)

I am told it isn’t a conversation until ITO gives its two cents. Well maybe that is what I just hear in my head, but nevertheless, the OHL Trade deadline has come and gone and there is a lot of discussion about winners and losers. Which of course. For most of these deals, you can’t declare a winner and a loser until a couple years from now.

Don’t believe me? Let’s just look at last year… The deal everyone loves to hate. The one involving Sudbury and Kitchener. All those players and picks swapping sides. Did Palazzese, Genovese and Schmalz help the Wolves win a title last year? No. Did Corrado, Leivo and Vinneau get the Rangers a title? No. but they did help. And now this year, Palazzese in Sudbury is paying massive dividends, they Wolves shipped Genovese to Erie for Connor Crisp who is playing to his strengths and the Wolves are sitting 1st in the division and 2nd in the Conference. Not bad. Need more examples there are lots of ‘future trades’ where they do pan out a year or two down the line. Greg McKegg being traded to London. Makes Erie look like a bunch of smart guys now don’t it?

That is a topic that ITO has already discussed before and how a ‘loser’ now, is a ‘winner’ in a year.

But to the task at hand, with the trade deadline passed you can now all relax as it is the end of all those insider accounts. Comical at best and vague at the best of times. Remember, think critically and look at everything they write. Best examples are the tweets that don’t say anything. ‘Team X is looking to add a veteran D, talks are on going, but may not get done” that isn’t insider info. That is looking at a roster, noticing where they need to improve and making a general statement that the GM of the team is doing his due diligence to make his team better. Great inside knowledge. But again… for another day.

Looking back to the beginning of the year, here are some quick hits and thoughts on the trades that happened from January 1st to the deadline this past Friday.

Smoskowitz to Oshawa – 21 goals as a rookie with Barrie when they needed players to play. He got pigeonholed into a role where he couldn’t play as much in his sophomore season and then the trade to Mississauga reminded everyone that he an score. Oshawa needed more scoring out of their OA position and this move will keep them atop the East division.

Hunter Garlent, Peterborough PetesPeterborough selling the farm for Hunter Garlent – I think the hockey media world is still reeling over this move. No disrespect to Garlent or his abilities. But it is just so odd that Peterborough would give up so much for this player. Yes, the Petes had to make a move to show they will contend. You see it all the time and ITO has written the same exact article about 5 times now. But Guelph unloads 5 2nd round picks to Windsor for Rychel and Ebert, then get 4 2nd’s back that will be higher than the one’s they traded away. Great move by Guelph, puzzling by Peterborough 

Spinozzi heads South – I have liked Spinozzi for a few years now and you can notice the tools that he possesses. Every day player who has earned the chance to be a top 4 guy. Just not enough room in the Soo at the moment. Sarnia will benefit as part of the rebuild while the Soo pick up a pair of players that can compliment their ever growing system.

Liam Herbst gets his chance – Ottawa makes a bold move for a goalie they desperately needed, the team has not been able to lure away Ben Blacker from his school commit, Jacob Blair not being able to take the ball and roll with it and Phillippe Trudeau just a stop gap. They get a rookie tender coming off of rehab assignments who still possesses a lot of potential. Ottawa is carrying many 95 and 96 birth years and starting next year, should be able to shoot up the standings with the emergence of their 97’s and a few 98’s added to the lineup too. 

Sudbury wins the Carrick sweeps – the watch was on for a while and it cost the Wolves an up and coming blueline star and picks. What did they get? A Stud to bolster their current D corps and it allows more offence from the back end and to keep pace with the Generals as it will be Sudbury and Oshawa fighting for the Eastern Conference title, and if London doesn’t make it to the OHL finals… then Carrick could be the difference maker to win the OHL Championship and be the OHL representatives in the Memorial Cup. 

Import Swap – Sudbury picks up a more established import scorer who has a lot more options to play with in Sudbury than Kitchener. Kubalik to the Rangers gives them another year with a known import commodity to help build with. While Faksa adds the scoring touch on the front lines who will fit in with the current Sudbury style of play.

Hayden Lavigne, Wellington DukesRangers make goalies de-commit – Now he hasn’t done so yet, and maybe he wont. But to trade for the rights to Hayden Lavigne is a big move. The 1996 born goalie is playing in the USHL right now and is arguably 1-2 as far as goalies from the 2012 OHL Draft. Lavigne committed to University of Michigan last year as a member of the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL Lavigne had a 2.48GAA and a .922SV% as a rookie, which was T-6th best in both categories. Think about who he played against in Minor Midget that year: McDavid, Fabbri, Ho-Sang, Dal Colle, Bourne, Bennett, Salituro, McKeown, Hargrave, Addison… all 1st rounders, and was able to stop them all. If he comes to Kitchener, this could be huge. Do they know something we don’t know?

That a quick glance at a few of the trades and although it wasn’t a busy trade deadline, it sure was impactful for several teams and that makes it all that enjoyable as we enter the final third of the season. 

Monday
Jan062014

OJHL: Thoughts for the New Year

by Brandon Sudeyko (@intheoradio)

With the turn of the calendar, we all close the chapter on 2013 and wait to see what 2014 holds. With every year there are numerous questions that will be asked and we will have to wait for the answers. But that isn’t exactly ITO’s style and what we have here is an attempt to answer some of those questions and point out some odd predictions about the remainder of the OJHL season. With the upcoming trade deadline and the season winding down there are several ‘events’ that could happen in the new year. Let’s take a look at a few now


Will they up themselves?
Nathan Perry, Cobourg CougarsNathan Perry – Coubourg Cougars
The goaltender is doing exactly what you expect from an overage player, helping his team out in any way possible. Last year the Cougars goaltender put up 22 wins and helped Cobourg upset Trenton in the playoffs. As of right now Perry is one of four goaltenders who could put up back to back 20 win seasons. At the end of this past weekend Perry is sitting on 16 wins with a possible 12 starts (minimum) remaining for him. But if you have to ask, the question is yes, expect back to back 20+ win seasons.

Evan Buitenhuis – Toronto Lakeshore Patriots
Before being traded from Oakville I would have told you there was no chance, but now that he has the defence of the Patriots in front of him to minimize the total number of shots, and clear away potential 2nd and 3rd opportunities. Sitting on 13 wins before being traded, it was going to be tough to hit the 20 mark or even match his 26 from the season prior. 20, no problem. 26, if the Patriots want to make a statement, then let him carry 15 of the remaining 20 games and let him win.


1997 Goalie Milestones
This could be a year where you see three, true rookie goaltenders hit 15 win seasons. But not just that, all can finish in the top 10 for SV% and two of the three could end up in the top 10 for GAA as well. An amazing feat when you think about it. Jeremy Helvig, Michael McNiven and Ben Blacker are all 1997 born goalies on the verge of hitting 15 wins. 14, 13 and 11 wins respectively. All three are sitting in the top 14 for SV% as well. Not bad for 16 year old kids. And their GAA… well take a look as only one is sitting outside the top 20. Given that two of the three are helping their team fight for playoff positioning and will be relied upon to come up big. Expect it out of these kids.


100-point club
Taylor Best, Whitby FuryWe are only removed by a season since the OJHL had their last 100 point player with Tyler Gjurich and Nathan Renouf coming close last season with 97 and 94 points respectively. Taylor Best of the Whitby Fury is the most likely candidate to reach this milestone but with 12 games remaining it is going to be tough. Only 3 games this year Best has been held pointless. 34 points are needed to hit 100, and Best has the… well, best chance.


Aurora and Buffalo repeat as division winners
This is an easy one as one of these teams, almost has it in the bag already. Aurora currently holds a 13 point lead over the rest of the North division while the Jr. Sabres have a tougher task, 3 points ahead of Milton and 6 ahead of Georgetown. It is ways away but Buffalo’s “magic number” is 28. If you are wondering what that means, it is a fancy way of saying that they need 28 points to lock up the division. This number of course decreases with every win Buffalo gets and every loss their opposition chasing them has. Aurora is in a much better position but their magic number is 23 as play begins on Monday, January the 6th. Look for both to repeat as division winners. I should also mention, Pickering will basically have to win out right to make up a 13 point deficit with 18 games remaining. But it is the OJHL and stranger things have happened.


#AllHeDoesIsScore
Milton’s Shane Bennett is just a goal scoring machine. Every season increasing his goal production to the point where he notched 45 last season. Currently Bennett is sitting on 29 with 14 games left to play.  The IceHawks forward now has some help up front so he doesn’t always have to shoot and score, but will this be the year he doesn’t add to the previous total? He did score 15 in the month of November and he has gone three games without scoring a goal. If anyone could score 16 goals in 14 games, my money is on Bennett. After all… #AllHeDoesIsScore


Mississauga upsets first round opponent
I am fairly confident that you can plot a playoff berth for the Chargers already. And they way they have been firing they could potentially catch Toronto or Oakville in the division standings and move up the conference standings. I see them slotting in for 7th and thus facing the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. If there is one team that would fuel the fire enough to leave it all on the ice it would be the Mississauga/Buffalo matchup. As a 7th seed, being able to eliminate a division leader is huge, and would give the Chargers a huge boost of confidence in recruiting for next season.


No Wellington or Kingston in the Finals
With the East Division being the toughest of them all, with all 5 teams making the playoffs out of the Conference you could set up any scenario where it is East v East. As of Monday the 6th, the seeds are Kingston as number 1, then Whitby, Wellington, Cobourg and Trenton as 3 through 6. Two east teams are defeated out of the first round where I can see Cobourg pulling another fast one and taking out the Dukes. With Kingston, Aurora, Whitby and Cobourg going through, I can see the Cougars besting the Vees before dropping the conference finals to Aurora or Whitby. Then again, after next week, Kingston could be 2nd with Wellington as 1st and Trenton as 3rd messing up this whole paragraph as the east division does every week. But it is a possibility.


Orangeville passes Burlington in the standings
This one hurts as you really do not like seeing any franchise suffer as bad as both of these teams are at the moment. The Cougars and Flyers have sold off their assets and looking at rebuilding. The Cougars are 9 points ahead with 17 games left to play while the Flyers have 15 remaining. This is a bold prediction considering that Burlington has picked up one point in their last 11 games while scoring 12 goals in those 11… being shut out 4 times as well. But on the flip side, Orangeville has not one a single game on the road this season… but earned one point in an OT loss, in their first road game of the year.


What predictions do you have for the remaining portion of the 2013/2014 season now that the calendar has turned and we are in the home stretch. I am sure there is a wacky prediction I surely missed. But for now, that is all I will share. Be on the lookout for all sorts of crazy as we wind down this great OJHL season.

Friday
Jan032014

Coach's Thoughts - Canada v Switzerland Jan 2nd

by Brad MacArthur (@BradMacArthur)

What a difference a positional change can make for a team. That type of decision can make or break a team.

Enter Zach Fucale. After playing Germany and the Czech Republic, Team Canada Head Coach Brent Sutter gave Fucale the chance to start against Slovakia in a must win situation. Although Canada was behind early, Fucale made some excellent saves down the stretch, enabling Team Canada to erase a 3-1 lead to take the game.

Media questions started to emerge about Fucale's swagger, and confidence. I'm not so sure I'd call it swagger, but I would call it poise. He's got that. For a young goalie, his handle on "poise" is as good as it gets.

Fast forward...

After an emotional New Years eve win versus the USA, Fucale has cemented his position as Team Canada's starter.

Canada faces a Swiss team that can be dangerous, as you don't know what you may get, the Swiss that beat the Fins, or the Swiss who narrowly beat a poor Norway side.

Pre-game

Brent Sutter locked down the troops in practice the day before. Barking orders, demanding effort, ensuring the details he so widely spoke of were looked after.

As has been the case all tournament, Team Canada came out to a charged crowd. The energy didn't translate however, as the period was a game of cat and mouse. The Swiss would come at Canada with many different looks, looking to stymie any Canadian momentum, and speed through the neutral zone.  After a scramble in front of the Swiss net, Griffin Reinhart was able to bang home a rebound late for a 1-0 lead at the break. To give you an indication of the game play shots were 6-4 in favour of the Canadian side.

The depth, and speed of Canada seemed to take over in the second period. If not for the work of Swiss goalie Melvin Nyffeler, the game would've been 3-0 early in the period. He was able to hold Canada at bay. Anthony Mantha was able to break through the Swiss defence just over nine minutes in resulting in the Canadians first penalty shot of the tournament. Mantha, with a nifty leg kick was able to fool Nyfeller, coming back with a short side deke to up the lead 2-0. All was well until late in the frame. With a faceoff deep in the Canadian zone Nico Dunner was able to get a stick on a point shot that fooled Fucale with one second remaining in the period. Shots in the second period were 12-7 Canada.

Curtis Lazar and Derrick Pouliot were able to bury chances ending any hope of a Swiss comeback. Peanlty trouble in the third plagued Team Canada as four penalties resulted in the Swiss outshooting Team Canada 9-5.

Canada now advances to play Finland in the semi-finals at Malmo Arena. Game time is 1pm EST.  The other semi sees the host Swedes facing off against the Russians. The Swedish side dispatched of the Slovaks 6-0, while the Russians got consecutive powerplay goals from London Knights rear guard Nakita Zadorov to drop the USA 5-3.