Saginaw surge: The Spirit have played 17 games since making a coaching change in late November. Since Chris Lazary has taken over, the team is 13-2-1-1 and has won six straight games. At one point in November, Saginaw was ten points back of Sault Ste. Marie for the West Division lead. Now they sit just a single point back. They are searching for the franchise’s second division title, and first since the 2010-11 season.
Spirit of love: There’s plenty of love going around in Saginaw lately, and that’s not just because the Spirit are one of the hottest teams in the CHL. Blade Jenkins and Caleb Everett are much more than just teammates. They both grew up together in Jackson, Michigan and also have another connection. During Saginaw’s game against Erie on December 29th, Caleb’s brother Logan Everett proposed to his longtime girlfriend Savannah Jenkins, who just happens to be Blade’s sister.
Felhaber on fire: Ottawa 67’s forward Tye Felhaber is having a season for the ages. With 44 goals in 40 games, the overager is on pace to score a whopping 74 goals. Only seven players in league history have managed to score 70, and nobody has reached the mark since John Tavares scored 72 with Oshawa in 2006-07. He’s also on pace to break Ottawa’s franchise record of 68 goals, set by Maurice Lemay in 1981-82.
Speaking of goals, looking at some of the highest single season goal scorers in league history, three of the four highest goal totals came during the 1980-81 season, with Ernie Godden (87), Tony Tanti (81) and Steve Gatzos (78) all having tremendous years.
Sudbury and Ottawa: It wasn’t the result Canadian hockey fans wanted as Canada fell to Finland in the Quarterfinals of the World Junior Hockey Championship, but it was certainly one heck of a goaltending match up, with Michael DiPietro and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen squaring off. That got me thinking, wouldn’t it be awesome to see the Ottawa 67’s and Sudbury Wolves meet in the playoffs so we could see the league’s two top goalies go head-to-head once again.
Niagara power play: Jason Robertson and Karill Maksimov are one-two in powerplay goals with 13 and 11 respectively. The IceDogs’ have the fourth best power play percentage (25.0%) and have scored 43 goals with the man advantage, second most in the OHL
Feeling right at home in Niagara: I’m interested to see if Robertson can keep up his torrid pace in Niagara. HE has eight goals and 22 points in eight games since joining the IceDogs’ in a trade from Kingston. This got me thinking back to last season, when Sam Miletic put up ridiculous numbers after joining Niagara. He had 12 goals and 22 points in his first 14 games after joining the IceDogs’. There’s a lot to be said about making a new player comfortable, both in the dressing room and away from the rink, and it looks like Niagara has done another good job at exactly that.
Plus and minus: the top 15 players play for either Ottawa, Niagara or London. The top player not playing for one of those teams? Sault Ste. Marie’s Jordan Sambrook at plus-19.
Shootout shutout: Guelph is 0-4 in shootouts this season, allowing 9 goals on 24 shots against, while scoring just four times in 24 opportunities. Barrie, Kingston and Flint have yet to play in a shootout.
Going streaking: Jason Robertson (16), Tye Felhaber (14) and Barrett Hayton (13) all have lengthy point scoring streak. Robertson has scored a whopping 40 points in those 16 games, while Felhaber has 20 goals and 29 points in 14 games, and Hayton has 22 points during his 13 game streak.
Battling in the Bay: Don’t count the North Bay Battalion out quite yet, after they’ve played themselves back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. They have points in nine straight, with eight of those victories, and have propelled themselves into sixth in the East.
Dates to watch: The deadline to move overage players is Wednesday, January 9th, while the deadline for all others is the day after on Thursday, January 10th.