by Brandon Sudeyko (@intheoradio)
Every year there are lists and award winners come the end of the season. There are even the same lists for when the playoffs are over. In The O… always likes to do things a bit different. Today is the first of many regular season awards/lists to recognize players throughout the league. And with the playoffs in full swing and a few teams being knocked out. Lets take a second to remember the OHLers who will not be able to come back next season, Here is your 2011/2012 All OA 1st team All-Stars…
Goaltender – Brandon Maxwell (Sarnia Sting/ Mississauga Majors)
When Brandon Maxwell first burst into the OHL back during the 09/10 season. It was a trade with the Windsor Spitfires that brought the goaltender to Kitchener (Maxwell’s rights were held by Windsor while he played for the USNTDP). Since coming into the league Maxwell has been the starter on all of the teams he has played. Entering this season, the Ranger faithful sent their message loud and clear that it was time for a change in goal. Maxwell was traded to the Sarnia sting for left winger Brandon Francisco. Maxwell split the season between Sarnia and Mississauga, posting career like numbers: 16-10-0-1 record, 2.54GAA and a .929SV% with 5 shutouts with Sarnia before being traded to Mississauga posting a 17-12-1-2 record, 3.23GAA and a .899SV% with a single shutout in that span. Despite being faced with a ‘rebuilding’ team in Mississauga, Brandon Maxwell kept his head high and played like the goaltender many expected a few seasons ago. Full of compete and no surrender.
Defence – Cody Sol (Kitchener Rangers) and Beau Schmitz (Plymouth Whalers)
Picking a pair to be on the OA All-Star team was a bit challenging. So many ways to factor into what constitutes an All-Star Defenceman. Plymouth Captain Beau Schmitz is almost a no brainer. For 2 seasons, he has proudly wore the C on his jersey and has lead the Whalers into tough battles each and every night. if they do not win on the scoreboard, they certainly win on the boards. Beau Schmitz was never drafted back in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft but has received some pro tryouts. In his OHL career he has done what many defenceman has not been able to do. Be a physical force, an offensive threat and a plus player during his OHL career. Beau nearly doubled his point total from last year. double digit goals (first time in his career) and really upped his defensive play posting a +37 on the season, tied for 2nd amongst defenceman (T-2nd in league), tied with NIA Dougie Hamilton. With Beau out of the lineup, there is a completely different look to the Plymouth Whalers team, specifically their special teams.
Cody Sol is another defenceman who has grown leaps and bounds in his OA year. Offensively this season has been like no other for Cody. This season alone, the Rangers defenceman doubled his career OHL point total.15 goals, 38 points on the season. Finishes his regular season career with 27 career OHL goals and 76 points. This season hasn’t been all about offence though, defensively the Winnipeg Jets draft pick has grown into a reliable blueliner. Cody Sol played along side Ryan Murphy this season and he has learned to be more defensively responsible, his +35 is an indication of that. His shot, skating, passing, and positioning has all improved and made him into a top defenceman in the OHL.
Forwards - Mike Halmo (Owen Sound Attack), Michael Catenacci (Kitchener Rangers) and Josh Shalla (Saginaw Spirit)
This year’s OA crop of forwards are a very talented group. The trouble when judging how well an OA forward is doing in his final season is remembering that they are a few years older than most of their competition. This years OA forward All Stars were easy to pick out. Michael Halmo’s offensive season is without question the benefit of playing the lions share of the time for a ‘rebuilding’ Attack team. Michael doubled his point totals from last season, and doubled his career totals all in 66 games played this year. The Owen Sound Attack captain did so much more than score a 6th of the teams goals while participating on approximately 36% of the team’s offence. Halmo used his big body to garner more ice time, lead by example, set the physical tone, and control the game. one man did that and it was Michael Halmo.
The Kitchener Rangers always has a stand out OA every single season. Chris MacKinnon, Jason Akeson and now Michael Catenacci. Captain Catenacci, or Captainacci, didn’t have an offensively explosive OA season as some may have expected. His major contributions were away from the puck . Catenacci was huge on the PK for Kitchener, his faceoffs were to be marveled as he never seemed to lose a key faceoff. He was able to find the open man whether it be Reider, Faksa or another offensive weapon many times, setting a new career high with 44 assists. Following a season where Gabriel Landeskog wore the C for the Rangers, many named him the Captain before the season and Michael was everything that was expected from him.
Josh Shalla’s final season in the OHL was put on hold early this season. Josh was handed a 10 game suspension as part of the league cracking down on hits to the head. Coming off a monster 47 goal season the expectations were high for the Spirit forward. Missing the month of October due to the suspension may have halted some but you can not argue the pure skill of shooting that Shalla brings to the Spirit. Josh finished the season with 40 goals this season and finishing with 119 goals and 213 points in a Saginaw uniform. During the lean times this season in Saginaw Josh was one of the bright spots always pulling this team trying to correct the wrongs. Proudly, Josh sported the A on his jersey and was definitely a big leader on this team, helping to guide them from a dreadful start to a respectable 5th place finish.
For some of these players, their OHL careers are over, while a few still have a few more games remaining in what is always called ‘a short career’ in the OHL.