The OHL season begins this Thursday and my team the Mississauga Steelheads face a road game against arch rivals the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Like many teams in junior hockey, Mississauga are rebuilding after going through a successful period and losing the majority of it’s veterans and better players.
In the 2010/11 season the then Mississauga Majors were the top team at the end of the regular season before losing the final of the playoffs 4-3 to the Owen Sound Attack. Hosting the Memorial Cup they would reach the final before again losing out, this time to the Saint John Sea Dogs.
The last four players from that campaign are now gone. Toronto Maple Leaf 1st round pick Stuart Percy, fellow defenseman Dylan DeMelo drafted by San Jose, Alex Cord and Riley Brace. The latter two being over-agers.
With a young looking roster last season, the Steelheads good start to the campaign fell away rapidly and they only just scrambled into the post season, where they weren’t disgraced in giving the Belleville Bulls a run for their money in six games.
Offence was the biggest issue of last year with Mississauga as the team finished stone last in that department. They will rely heavily on returning overage Dylan Smoskowitz who tallied 33 goals but will need more offense from last years rookies.
Mississauga have tried to bolster their forward by trading for Bryson Cianfrone of the North Bay Battallion.
On the backend they’ll still be able to count on Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Trevor Carrick. His experience will doubtless be invaluable as will Spencer Martin’s as he takes the net this season with Tyson Teichmann traded to the Kitchener Rangers.
Backing up Spencer will be Dawson Carty, the Steelheads 6th round pick from 2012.
He’s already spent some team with the team as injury cover for Teichmann last season.
The most interesting story to watch will be that of 15 year old Sean Day.
Selected fourth overall in the 2013 draft, he’s just the fourth player in the history of the league to be granted “Exceptional Player” status at the age of 15.
Fellow 2013 draft picks Jesse Barwell and Austin Gerhart will be joining Sean Day this season. Both are forwards and were drafted in the second round.
I’ll have the pleasure of seeing Sean Day in the flesh, facing the last player to be granted exceptional status. His name? Some kid called Connor McDavid.
Nothing better than watching young touted players ply their trade on the way to the NHL.
Can’t wait for October……