Whitby - October 12, 2012 - With a perfect 4-0 winning record in their own barn and registering 12 points out of a possible 14 over their first seven games to begin the 2012-13 Ontario Hockey League season, the Oshawa Generals are the fourth best Canadian Hockey League (CHL) team in week 4 behind only the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL), Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL) and the Kamloops Blazers (WHL) according to the Bank of Montreal (BMO) CHL Mastercard top 10 rankings.
The Generals have been ranked in the top 10 rankings for three of the past four weeks.
The weekend in review
The Oshawa Generals hosted two of their East Division rivals over the Thanksgiving weekend. On Friday night, the Generals renewed hostilities with the Kingston Frontenacs and emerged with a 6-4 win. On Thanksgiving Monday, the Generals welcomed the Belleville Bulls to the General Motors Centre. The Gennies did not play a complete game against a more determined and aggressive club, but still managed to squeak out a 4-3 overtime victory, as the team was led by their team captain and current OHL point leader, Boone Jenner in the third period. Teammate Scott Laughton capped the overtime win with a beautiful slap shot from just inside the Bulls’ blue line that was re-directed by Bulls’ defenseman Jordan Subban past older brother and netminder, Malcolm Subban.
Let us take a moment to focus on some of the Generals that do not usually get to share in the spotlight on a regular basis but deserve that right as much as the next guy.
FRONTENACS 4 - GENERALS 6
You gotta love Oshawa Generals’ head coach D.J. Smith for his creativity on building a unique five-man attack on the Oshawa Generals power play. Gennies’ fans were treated to full-on offense Friday night as coach Smith iced Scott Laughton, Boone Jenner and Tyler Biggs up front for the team’s first two-man advantage of the evening. He also put sophomore sensation Cole Cassels and sniper Lucas Lessio on the blue line. While the fivesome couldn’t score, that didn’t stop D.J. Smith from trying that experiment later on in the contest.
Every one of Oshawa’s home games have begun identical to the game before for this energetic club. Generals’ overage winger Scott Sabourin has delivered some bone-crushing hits during the first shift of the game which seems to get his club pumping–not to mention the fan-base. Then midway through the first period, the team seems to fall into a lull and the visiting squad is allowed to show some signs of life. Thankfully, the final two frames often sees our Generals return to their offensive and aggressive ways, resulting in a victory for the good guys.
I am pleasantly surprised by Sabourin’s development during his tenure with Oshawa. Sabourin, a role player for the Generals, has become a leader for his club, sporting a workman-like attitude and a willingness to do what it takes to get the job done. The 20-year-old Sabourin is currently a free agent when it comes to his NHL status, but if this trend of his continues throughout the season, one can reasonably expect to see him get a very close look from some NHL organizations looking for size, speed and strength.
Newcomer #14 Bradley Latour has really caught my eye. Latour has not looked out-of-place playing on the Generals’ second line alongside Laughton and Sabourin. He has shown some good pep and jump in his stride. I first noticed the play of Latour in the Generals’ red and white intra-squad game during training camp. Latour gives 100% on every shift. He keeps his feet moving and you know what the pundits say, ‘keep your feet moving and good things will happen’.
Bulls 3 - Generals 4 (O/T)
The line of Scott Sabourin, Scott Laughton and Lucas Lessio started the game up front for the Oshawa Generals on Thanksgiving Monday and the trio came out banging their opponents. That was the extent of the excitement for the Oshawa Generals on this afternoon as the Belleville Bulls would not let the Generals mount an attack. All of Oshawa’s top forward lines were contained for pretty much the entire first two periods. If I had a dollar for every time a fan yells ‘SHOOT!’ when the Generals are on the power play, I could easily afford to buy some snacks at the concession. A little too much, a little too late was the motto during this contest when it came to the power play performance of Oshawa. Often, the team seems to be looking to make the perfect shot or the perfect pass. The Gennies are blessed with much offensive talent–the fans cannot be too far off when they say, ‘SHOOT!’.
Fresh from returning from a hand injury he suffered in a fight causing him to miss three games, Oshawa Generals’ sophomore right winger Sebastian Uvira has not been able to get his name on the score sheet very often thus far this season. Uvira is a player who likes to get involved physically. However, the Generals could better use his skills in putting the puck in the net versus sitting in the penalty box or on the disabled list. Generals’ head coach D.J. Smith has placed Uvira on the team’s third line of Cole Cassels and Lucas Lessio to start the season. Playing alongside the sniper Lessio and a much improved Cassels, Gennies fans should see Uvira boosting his point production from last season (13 goals, 9 assists for 22 points).
I may have said it before and I will say it again. Generals’ rookie defenseman Will Petschenig will be a standout on the Gennies blue line for years to come. Coming out of the Tier II Junior A Cornwall Colts organization of the Canadian Junior Hockey League last season, Petschenig has fit in quite well on the third line defense pairing with teammate Josh Brown. He bided his time as a healthy scratch to start the 2012 – 13 OHL season for the Generals, but has played nicely when called upon by the Oshawa coaching staff. On Monday afternoon, Petschenig simply annihilated a Bulls’ forward behind the Oshawa goal. The hit tipped off a good old fashion line brawl, although with more dancing than punching.
It is good to see some fire in Generals’ starting goaltender Daniel Altshuller’s eyes this season. When the line brawl began, Altshuller and opposing netminder Subban stared one another down from the top of their respective creases, indicating they were both prepared to engage in Thanksgiving pleasantries, but cooler heads did prevail.
Heroes among us
We all have our heroes in life.
Many young fans of the Canadian Hockey League have their own hockey heroes who they hope to one day emulate. My oldest three-year-old son Eric, loves to watch Boone Jenner because Jenner is his favourite player. During the ceremonial puck drop on Monday afternoon, I was moved by a young man’s courageous story of innocence, determination and survival.
On June 2, 2012, 13-year-old Connor Stevenson and his family travelled to Toronto see the musical Bring it On and stopped for dinner in the Eaton Centre food court. When the shooting began, Connor didn’t even realize he had been shot by a stray bullet. When he felt his head grow warm and felt the blood, his mother and his 15-year-old sister Taylor, sprang into action. Connor’s mother wrapped her shirt around his head to stop the bleeding while Taylor asked him math questions to keep him awake. Taylor bravely shielded her younger brother until police and EMS could arrive.
Connor has undergone complicated neurosurgery and many months of rehabilitation. Unfortunately the battle continues to rage on for this incredible young man and his family as he faces yet another surgery (story credit given to Durham Regional Police Service and the Toronto Star).
Stories like this really make us stop to think who the real heroes are. Heroes come in many shapes, sizes and age. Connor Stevenson is one strong and determined young man, ever refusing to let a terrible life-changing experience get the better of him. We all wish Connor a speedy recovery.
I know for one, I paused, gave thanks and hugged Eric a little tighter during the ceremonial puck drop on Monday afternoon.
The weekend ahead
The Generals host the 6-2-0-0 Barrie Colts on Friday evening at the GM Centre for a 7:35 p.m. EDT start, then travel the 401-corridor on Saturday night to face the Belleville Bulls and return home on Sunday to face the reigning OHL Champions, the London Knights. Generals alumni Michael Del Zotto will be dropping the puck at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday evening.
For the love of the game, I remain, Dean Eastman.