JANUARY 3 – Happy New Year Hockey Fans and welcome to the first edition of the 2012 GOJHL Preview and the 34th preview of the 2011-2012 season!
We hope that you had a great holiday and you’re all well rested and ready to get back into the swing of things. Although you may have shut down over the last week, the GOJHL has been up in full swing. Four games took place last week; we’ll highlight two of the results of those meetings. With nine games in store for us this week, we’ve got plenty to talk about.
Last Friday and interlock game took place between the Western Conference St. Marys Lincolns and the Midwestern Conference Stratford Cullitons. The Cullitons managed to defend their home ice, winning 5-4 in overtime in an action packed affair. The win gave the Cullitons 58 points and puts them four points in front of the Midwestern Conference second place Brantford Golden Eagles. The hard fought overtime loss gave the Lincolns a point and helped improve their overall point total to 37 this season, slotting them comfortably in fifth place in the Western Conference. This week the Cullitons retain the top spot in the Midwestern Conference with 58 points, the Golden Eagles hold second place with 54 points and rounding out the top three are the Elmira Sugar Kings with 53 points. In the Western Conference the Sarnia Legionnaires still hold the top spot with 46 points, the London Nationals and their 44 points sit in second place while the Leamington Flyers round out the top three spot with 39 points.
The Port Colborne Pirates fans were able to witness a big win on Friday night when the Thorold Blackhawks rolled into town. The Pirates and played a hard game and were able to fend off the third ranked Blackhawks, winning the battle by the eventual score of 6-2. The two points were big for the Pirates who now improve to a record of 20-11-1; with 41 points they are just a single point out of third place in the Golden Horseshoe Conference. Heading into this week the St. Catharines Falcons retain the top spot in the conference as well as the entire GOJHL with 61 points. The Niagara Falls Canucks still hold down the second place spot with 50 points and rounding out the top three are the Thorold Blackhawks, hanging in there with 42 points.
Now that you’re all caught up to speed on what happened in the three conferences last week, let’s take a look at the nine games we have in store for us this week in the GOJHL. You can bet that the next few weeks are going to produce some pretty intense results with all the teams ready to kick off 2012 on the right skate!
GAME 1 – Tuesday, January 3 – 7:00pm
WELLAND vs. BUFFALO
THIS SEASON: Welland (16-19-0), Buffalo (7-24-2)
NOTE: Welland leads season series 2-0
LOCATION: Buffalo State Arena
The Buffalo Blades kick start their New Year when they play host to the Welland Canadians tonight in what promises to be a good game for any hockey fan to watch. With the Canadians having won the previous two games against the Blades this season you can bet that the Buffalo boys will want to add a “W” to their column tonight. Make sure you keep a close watch on Canadians leading scorer Mike Marquis (25 goals, 17 assists) as he looks to improve his clubs record early on in 2012. Blades leading scorer Andy Sturtz (18 goals, 24 assists) will be a key factor if the Blades are going to pull off an upset win tonight. One of the two first games in the 2012 GOJHL schedule gets underway this evening at 7:00pm in the Buffalo State Arena.
GAME 2 – Tuesday, January 3 – 7:00pm
STRATFORD vs. KITCHENER
THIS SEASON: Stratford (29-4-0), Kitchener (7-23-4)
NOTE: Stratford leads season series 4-0
LOCATION: Kinsmen Arena
The Kitchener Dutchmen had better be ready for the first game of their 2012 schedule when they play host to the Midwestern Conference first ranked Stratford Cullitons tonight. The Cullitons and their impressive 29-4-0 record are no joke this season; they’ve got their eye’s set on a first place finish heading into the post season. In the four games that these two clubs have played this season, the Cullitons have managed to skate away winners of each battle. Dutchmen leading scorer Tyler Hoffman (7 goals, 13 assists) and teammates Philip Moser (9 goals, 9 assists) and Aaron Duggan (5 goals, 13 assists) will need to play their best hockey to date if their team is going to upset the first ranked Cullitons. Keep a close watch on Brad McClure (33 goals, 21 assists) as he leads his Cullitons in to what could be their 30th win of the season. This second game of the GOJHL 2012 schedule gets underway tonight at 7:00pm in the Kinsmen Arena.
GAME 3 – Wednesday, January 4 – 7:00pm
LAMBTON SHORES vs. LASALLE
THIS SEASON: Lambton Shores (12-21-1), LaSalle (15-16-1)
NOTE: LaSalle leads season series 2-1
LOCATION: Vollmer Arena
Things heat up in the Western Conference on Wednesday night when the Lambton Shores Predators roll into LaSalle to take on the Vipers. With seven points separating the two clubs, tomorrow night’s game is going to be a battle you won’t want to miss. In the previous three games between the two clubs this season the Vipers have won two games while the Pred’s have managed to win one. Kyle Brothers (16 goals, 31 assists) from the Predators is going to be a tough player to stop when he gets the puck on his stick while Vipers leading scorer Matt Beaudoin (20 goals, 30 assists) will no doubt be a marked man when his skates hit the ice. Game time for this battle in the Vollmer Arena is set for tomorrow night at 7:00pm.
GAME 4 – Wednesday, January 4 – 7:30pm
NIAGARA FALLS vs. ST. CATHARINES
THIS SEASON: Niagara Falls (23-7-4), St. Catharines (30-2-1)
NOTE: Niagara Falls leads season series 2-0
LOCATION: Jack Gatecliff Arena
The Golden Horseshoe Conference first and second ranked clubs butt heads tomorrow night in what promises to be a solid match-up between two heavy weight teams. In the first two meetings in the season long series between these clubs, it’s been the Canucks who have managed to win each time. In the last game the Canucks won a very exciting shoot-out game and with momentum in their favor, will look to add a third win tomorrow night. Watch for scoring to come from Falcons forwards Riley Jakobschuk (22 goals, 20 assists) and Curtis Longland (20 goals, 22 assists). Canucks Captain Cam McLean (20 goals, 47 assists) and teammate Ben O’Quinn (28 goals, 30 assists) will no doubt be tough to stop when they get the puck in the offensive end. Puck drops on this battle tomorrow night at 7:30pm in the Jack Gatecliff Arena.
GAME 5 – Wednesday, January 4 – 7:30pm
LEAMINGTON vs. LONDON
THIS SEASON: Leamington (18-11-3), London (21-11-2)
NOTE: Leamington leads season series 2-1
LOCATION: Western Fair Arena
Hockey Fans get ready for a battle on Wednesday night in the Western Conference when the second ranked London Nationals play host to third ranked Leamington Flyers. In the three previous games between the two clubs, the Flyers have managed to skate away the victors twice while the Nationals have one just a single game. Can the Nationals tie up the season long series between the two teams? Only time will tell. Watch for a big game from Flyers leading scorer Alex Seguin (22 goals, 23 assists) as he hits the ice with a “W” for his team on his mind. Leading the way in points for the Nationals continues to be Noah Schwartz (18 goals, 34 assists). The puck drops on this game on Wednesday night at 7:30pm in the Western Fair Arena.
GAME 6 – Thursday, January 5 – 7:00pm
CHATHAM vs. ST. THOMAS
THIS SEASON: Chatham (14-18-4), St. Thomas (18-14-2)
NOTE: St. Thomas leads season series 5-0
LOCATION: St. Thomas Civic Centre
The St. Thomas Stars will look to score their sixth win in the season long series against the Chatham Maroons on Thursday night when they play the role of host team. Just six points separate the two clubs and you can guarantee that they both want points badly. Currently the Maroons are tied with LaSalle for the seventh spot; a win would certainly help them in the standings. A win for the Stars could possibly leapfrog them over the Flyers for third in the conference (assuming the Flyers lost Wednesday night to the Nationals). Make sure to keep a close watch on Stars leading scorer Drew Collinson (26 goals, 34 assists) as he looks to improve his impressive point totals. Maroons Captain Sean Myers (21 goals, 29 assists) will be a force when his skates touch the ice on Thursday night. This game in the St. Thomas Civic Centre gets underway at 7:00pm.
GAME 7 – Thursday, January 5 – 7:07pm
PORT COLBORNE vs. THOROLD
THIS SEASON: Port Colborne (20-11-1), Thorold (20-13-2)
NOTE: Port Colborne leads season series 3-1
LOCATION: Thorold Arena
The Thorold Blackhawks will look for revenge on Thursday night against the Port Colborne Pirates. Last Friday, the Pirates managed to net six goals on route to a big 6-2 win over the Blackhawks. On Thursday, with the Blackhawks in their home rink, things could be very different when the puck drops. Currently the Pirates have three out of four wins in their season long series against the Golden Horseshoe’s third ranked Blackhawks. A Pirates win would leapfrog them over the Blackhawks for third place in the conference. Make sure you watch for scoring from Pirates forwards Pat Clifford (5 goals, 40 assists) and Zach DeConcilys (20 goals, 22 assists). Leading the charge for the Blackhawks is forward Greg Cerilli (16 goals, 20 assists) and teammate Colt Kennedy (15 goals, 18 assists). Make sure you watch this game when it gets underway on Thursday night at 7:07pm in the Thorold Arena.
GAME 8 – Thursday, January 5 – 7:10pm
STRATHROY vs. LEAMINGTON
THIS SEASON: Strathroy (16-15-3), Leamington (18-11-3)
NOTE: Strathroy leads season series 2-1
LOCATION: Leamington Arena
The Leamington Flyers, playing in their second game in as many nights, hit the ice at home against the Strathroy Rockets on Thursday evening. This battle between two teams who are separated by just four points is sure to bring interest from around the Western Conference. The Rockets currently hold a 2-1 season series lead over the Flyers and will look to make it 3-1 when the puck drops on Thursday night. Davis Brown (27 goals, 21 assists) leads the charge for the Rockets and will without a doubt be a marked man when his stick touches the puck. This game takes place at 7:10pm on Thursday night in the Leamington Arena.
GAME 9 – Thursday, January 5 – 7:10pm
LONDON vs. SARNIA
THIS SEASON: London (21-11-2), Sarnia (22-9-2)
NOTE: Season series tied 2-2
LOCATION: Sarnia Arena
The Western Conference first ranked Sarnia Legionnaires and the second ranked London Nationals square off in the final game of the week on Thursday evening. With just two points separating the two clubs (at the time of this article) you can bet that this is going to be one of the best games of the week. In the season long series between the two clubs both teams have skated away with two wins. With the Nationals having played a game on Wednesday night they could be a little fatigued and this could work in favor of the Legionnaires who will have had plenty of time to practice. Watch for scoring from Legionnaires forward Jesse Drydak (24 goals, 25 assists) as he looks to produce yet another win for his team. The final game of the week gets going in the Sarnia Arena on Thursday night at 7:10pm.
Hockey Fans get ready; it’s going to be a great week for GOJHL action! The nine games taking place promise to excite and entertain all those who manage to make their way to the arenas. Until the weekend Hockey Fans, have fun, stay safe, aim high and light always, keep your stick on the ice! Cheers!