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  • Minnesota Wild selection Tyler Graovac (OHL Images)Tyler Graovac has already suited up in the Subway Super Series once — there's just a little added incentive this time.

    Many of the OHL's best and brightest Canadian players who will perform in the middle leg of the six-game series with the Russian selects are already under contract with their NHL organization, already have a vague idea about what awaits them beyond the junior level. Graovac, as a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Wild, is unsigned amid the ongoing lockout. Yet the 19-year-old is producing well with the Ottawa 67's; his OHL-leading 18 goals in 17 games — gives him only two fewer than he produced his first three seasons in Canada's capital.

    A strong showing among the top-flight talent in Guelph on Thursday and Sarnia on Monday would improve his darkhorse chances at Team Canada and help him land that pro deal.

    Read More »from Ottawa 67′s Tyler Graovac delivering in a critical season
  • Spencer Watson is the second-leading scorer among the OHL's incoming draft class (OHL Images)

    Rookie Spencer Watson traces his fast start to the power of two.

    It might be too-too much to construct a story this way, but attention should be paid when a second-round pick — the second of the Kingston Frontenacs' second-rounders in April — is tied for second in points among players drafted into the Ontario Hockey League last spring. The Frontenacs nabbed Watson with the No. 24 overall pick after he received glowing notices as one of the best pure goal scorers in Ontario minor hockey while playing for the London Jr. Knights. Few expected that at the quarter-pole, he would be playing on a top line.

    Like the Erie Otters' Connor McDavid, Watson represents his birth year on his jersey. In his case, wearing No. 96 symbolizes the birthdate for both he and his twin brother Matthew Watson, a defenceman also drafted by Kingston. The pair who were born two minutes apart 16 years ago are separated this season, but Spencer Watson is drawing on their bond regularly.

    "It's a great way to develop everything," says Watson, who's slight at 5-foot-10 and 157 pounds but seems to have the goal scorer's gift for finding the sliver of space to get a shot away. "We both push each other so we get that competitive edge to push each other and make each other that much better ... You always want to one-up the other one."

    Read More »from Kingston Frontenacs’ Spencer Watson finds sibling rivalry pays off
  • Brock Beukeboom was acquired last week by Guelph (OHL Images)Dwelling on the past will not get Brock Beukeboom anywhere.

    Two years ago, the odds that the 6-foot-2, 215-pound defenceman would end up playing an overage season in junior would have been remote. The Uxbridge, Ont., native was a relatively high NHL pick, 63rd overall, attended Hockey Canada's under-20 summer development camp and was named captain of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds early in his third season. Of course, a concussion sustained that season set him back; he missed 46 games due to injuries across the last two years with the Soo and Niagara IceDogs.

    Now the veteran defenceman, determined not to be discouraged, is hoping for a bounce-back year with the Guelph Storm. Beukeboom was the first big-name blueliner to move to a contender when the Storm picked him up last week from the IceDogs for three priority selection draft picks, including a 2014 second-rounder. It's another lifeline and shot at a pro contract for Beukeboom, whom the St. Louis Blues declined to sign last spring.

    Read More »from Guelph Storm’s Brock Beukeboom eager to make up for lost time, earn pro shot
  • Mississauga Steelheads owner Elliott Kerr (centre) has a 3-year commitment (OHL Images)

    The long-running line about the Brampton Battalion and Mississauga IceDogs, Majors and now Steelheads was that they had enough fans between them to perhaps sustain one Ontario Hockey League franchise.

    Now that is set to become a reality with the Battalion bowing to market reality and decamping for North Bay, the focus switches to the rechristened Steelheads. Well-connected owner Elliott Kerr has talked a big game about being the saviour of major junior hockey in the Greater Toronto Area against daunting odds and very reasonable doubts. It's worth noting, though, that Kerr, told the Toronto Star the Steelheads' attendance figures "aren't sustainable." However, there might be reason for some cautious optimism, although it's open to question how many of the few, the proud, the about to be disenfranchised Battalion fans will convert to the last GTA team standing.

    Read More »from Mississauga Steelheads have seen ‘the needle move’ on low attendance, but Battalion move alone isn’t a saviour
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    The Edmonton Oil Kings' trade for David Musil means Curtis Lazar is trading billet houses. The 17-year-old standout was billeting with the family of Mason Geertsen, the defenceman who went to Vancouver in the deal. (Vancouver Province)

    Team Canada hopeful Laurent Brossoit revived his spring 2012 form to help Edmonton hand league-leading Kamloops its first regulation loss at home. (Kamloops Daily News)

    Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Curtis Honey got the W over his twin, Connor Honey, and the Seattle Thunderbirds. (Luber's LoungeBrandon Sun)

    Rookie goalie Garret Hughson helped injury-riddled Spokane blank Everett. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    The Kootenay Ice's 14-year streak of playoff appearances will likely end, but a bumper bantam draft crop awaits. (Ice Chips)

    Coach Dave Lowry's Victoria Royals are struggling to win lately once they leave Vancouver Island. (Victoria Times-Colonist)


    The transplanted Troops, the soon to be North Bay Battalion, are likely to remain in the Central Division next season, reports Ryan Pyette. That does not mean no one can have fun pitching realignment. Does Battalion coach-GM Stan Butler also head north? (London Free Press)

    In the words of GM Kyle Dubas, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are hoping they "might play a couple extra games" against North Bay. That would not mean changing divisions. (Sault This Week)

    Read More »from Anthony Duclair has setback with wonky ankle: Wednesday’s coast-to-coast
  • Ottawa Senators first-round pick Cody Ceci (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    Cody Ceci and Sean Monahan, whose OHL team hasn't placed a player on Team Canada in a decade, hope they each have a leg up in experience.

    The game changes for a teenaged junior when he goes from playing for his regular team to representing his country. Neither of the Ottawa 67's two brightest prospects wore the Maple Leaf last season in Alberta. Ceci was a final-day cut whereas Monahan was then 17 and was also recovering from a head injury suffered earlier in the fall. But they did garner valuable experience by playing in the inaugural Canada-Russia Challenge, the four-game, two-country August series that replaced the standard summer development camp.

    That could help both when they join Team OHL on Thursday in Guelph for Game 3 of the Subway Super Series against the Russian Selects.

    Read More »from Cody Ceci, Sean Monahan tap into experience in Russia prior to Super Series
  • Kamloops Blazers veteran Dylan Willick is out 4-6 weeks with a broken ankle (The Canadian Press)

    The Kamloops Blazers likely should have lost the first time they faced the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

    On Oct. 17, it took a JC Lipon and Colin Smith collaboration for short-handed goal in the penultimate minute to allow the Blazers to get out of town with a shootout victory over Edmonton. It is rare for a team that is on the power play, up a goal in the final two minutes, to contrive to lose. Now the two teams many believe will meet in the league final in about six months' time have a rematch this week. Edmonton did not crack this week's Dynamic Dozen, but Derek Laxdal's charges did make a big move into into the next-highest level on the pantheon of junior puck.

    Coach Guy Charron's Blazers have had their lead whittled down by the Kelowna Rockets and Portland Winterhawks, along with one team that's actually from east of the Rocky Mountains, the Halifax Mooseheads.

    Read More »from BTN Dynamic Dozen: Kelowna Rockets give Kamloops Blazers some company
  • Northern rivals Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury are not in the same conference (OHL Images)

    Convincing people to buy in to change is often 10 times more than the change that's been suggested.

    Chances are, once the Brampton Battalion complete their march to North Bay, the status quo might prevail in the Ontario Hockey League. The easy way out is for the Troops to stay in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference. They'll have a natural rival with the Sudbury Wolves, but there would still be a division that runs from Northern Ontario all the way to the Canada-U.S. border. That is not ideal competitively in a league with teenage athletes, many of whom are attending school. The Wolves and Western Conference's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds already deal with unique challenges due to geography, so maybe there is a way to avoid subjecting a third team to it.

    So when Terry Doyle posed the question of whether the OHL should realign or leave the North Bays be, a fan named Graham Kemble (@CKhabsfan) stepped up with an intriguing suggestion.

    That would involve six franchises changing conferences in order to create a North Division. It is tough to imagine how OHL commissioner David Branch would finesse and arm-twist the league's board of governors into going for such a plan. The Kitchener Rangers and London Knights in opposite conferences?! But it should not get shot down on general principle.

    Read More »from North Bay’s return sparks case for OHL to create a North Division; here’s how to sell it
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    Rehabbing after knee surgery last season also firmed up Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder Morgan Rielly's resolve. (National Post)

    Reigning junior hockey authority Damien Cox has concluded Team Canada will need sound goaltending at the world junior championship next month. (Toronto Star)

    The Kelowna Rockets' grinders have pushed them up the Western Conference pecking order. (Kelowna Daily Courier)

    Winnipeg Jets prospect Adam Lowry is thriving as the team leader in Swift Current, writes Ken Wiebe. (Winnipeg Sun)

    The Brandon Wheat Kings  could have D-man Rene Hunter and forward Jason Swyripa back from injuries for Tuesday's tilt vs. Seattle. (Brandon Sun, paywall)

    Moving out Nathan Burns, David Musil and disgruntled Austin Vetterl (the first two were presumably gruntled) shows the Vancouver Giants are in full rebuild, likely with an eye toward bidding to host the 2016 Memorial Cup. (Everett Herald)

    A 'crash course' in staying healthy has done wonders for Kamloops' Cole Cheveldave, the league's stingiest netminder. Tonight Chevelave and the Blazers get a visit from defending champion Edmonton. (Calgary Herald)


    Brampton Battalion alumnus and North Bay, Ont., native Ken Peroff on his old team moving to his hometown: "As a former Battalion it's very sad to hear about the team's decision ... On the other side, I know North Bay's love for hockey and have no doubt in my mind they will be supported." (Bay Today, North Bay Nugget)

    Reports suggest 16-year-old forward Brendan Lemieux (former NHLer Claude Lemieux's son)  is set to join the Barrie Colts after starting the season with Green Bay in the USHL. (Green Bay Press-Gazette)

    Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenceman Darnell Nurse is showing he can do more than just be a shutdown guy. (Toronto Star)

    Read More »from Battalion ship out for The Bay: Tuesday’s coast-to-coast
  • Team Russia's Nail Yakupov

    Team Russia won their first game of the Subway Super Series in a 6-2 blowout over the QMJHL in Game 1 on Monday night. While it's still way too early in the series, some points can be made about Russia's performance. Here are a few thoughts:

    • After years of butchering Russian national anthem, it was nice to hear a proper version of the song performed by a native speaker and a good singer. It's a rare combo really.
    • Last season Nail Yakupov played on the same line with Alex Khokhlachev and Ivan Telegin at both the Subway Super Series and the world junior championship. Telegin is not eligible anymore, so he was replaced in August at the Canada-Russia Challenge by Anton Zlobin on the left wing. This time around, though, Zlobin was put on the fourth line with other QMJHLers — Mikhail Grigorenko and Valentin Zykov — while Kirill Kapustin was moved to the first line.
    • What do you remember about Nail Yakupov's goal? The shot, right? That's good. Rewind the play, though. Who battles against the
    Read More »from Russia takes control in Game 1 of Super Series


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