Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016-17 A Very Barrie Colts Season Preview. #OHL


2015-16 Season Notes:
  • Finished 1st in the Central Division and 2nd in the Eastern Conference.
  • Ended season with a 43-22-0-3 record.
  • Swept by Niagara IceDogs in Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Kevin Labanc led team and the league in points with 127. His 88 assists was the most by any player in the OHL.
  • Andrew Mangiapane's 51 goals was 2nd most in the OHL.
  • Mackenzie Blackwood's .921 Save Percentage was the best in the OHL, tied with London goalie Tyler Parsons.
  • Barrie (again) led the league in penalty minutes with 1051.

Coach:
Head Coach Dale Hawerchuk returns for his 7th season with the team. He has led the team to the playoffs under him every season, with the exception of his first season as coach. With many changes to the roster headed into the 2016-17 season, he is hopeful to extend his streak to 6 consecutive seasons with a playoff appearance.

Forwards:
Notable loses: Andrew Mangiapane, Justin Scott, Kevin Labanc, Dylan Sadowy.
Notable additions: Kirill Nizhnikov, Jason Willms, Jaden Peca, Curtis Douglas, Kyle Heitzner.

The Colts lose a lot of their top point producers from last season. Mangiapane, Scott, Labanc and Sadowy  (34 of his pts with Saginaw) put up a combined 368 points last season which is a big chunk of the teams production.

The team is very excited about recently acquired winger Kirill Nizhnikov. Kirill was drafted 7th overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft by the Mississauga Steelheads. The trout sent Kirill to the Colts for a handful of picks. The native of Moscow, Russia played his last season with the Toronto Jr. Canadians minor-midget team where he put up 37 points in 27 games.

Cordell James returns as an OA looking to have a big season. His 19 goals and 25 assists last season showed that he was able to really step up his game. Putting up more points than he totaled in his first two seasons is a good reason to assume that more minutes for him this year will translate in higher point production.

Anthony Stefano will play a huge role on the team this season returning in his OA year. No doubt the team will look for him to put up a large chunk of points after leading all returning players in points last season with 21 goals and 23 assists for a total of 44 points.

Forwards to watch: Nizhnikov, Radke and Hawerchuk. Nizhnikov is a new and exciting face. So much potential and it is safe to think that he will end up with a big role on this team. Radke will likely see lots of ice time this season early in the year and will need to step up to fill in a top role spot this year. He had a good season last year putting up 39 points in the regular season but disappeared in the playoffs putting up no points in 15 games. I feel there is a big role for him on this team but he will really need to work hard to take it. Hawerchuk has been incredible in the preseason and seems very ready for the year to start. He played a lot of minutes, managed to keep an aggressive edge, while using that same energy to be a threat physically and on the scoresheet. His skating/conditioning look incredible and he really has a lot of jump to his game so far. I expect him to really have an outstanding season.

Defence:
Notable loses: Michael Webster, Rasmus Andersson, Josh Carrick, Greg DiTomaso.
Notable additions: Tom Hedberg, Tyler Tucker, Kyle Auger, Christopher Cameron, Kade Landry.

Captain Michael Webster finished his final OHL season with the Colts and landed a deal with Wilkes Barre Scranton of the AHL. Andersson seems to have landed a spot with the Flames organization though it hasn't been confirmed if it will be with Calgary or the AHL team in Stockton. There is no doubt that these are huge losses for the teams blue line. Carrick and DiTomaso were both released by the team due to the OA rule.

Hedberg has shown potential in the preseason. In 4 games he managed to put up 1 goal and 3 assists. He has shown pretty good puck moving skills and a willingness to put pucks towards the net which has been an area the team has needed improvement over the past couple seasons.

Christopher Cameron adds some size to the blue line at 6'4" and 231 pounds. Also has shown a pretty solid effort this preseason posting 2 assists in 5 games. Kade Landry also has had a good showing in the preseason posting 2 goals and 1 assist in 6 games played. One of his goals was a game winner. Maybe a clutch blue liner is something Colts fans can look forward to this season in this guy?

Defencemen to watch: Justin Murray and Cameron Lizotte. Lizzotte will bring a much needed edge to a team who has many new faces. The team will need him to not only play his aggressive game, but also play more minutes to fill in spots of  graduated players. Murray will likely become a top guy on the Colts blue line. He put up 3 goals and 10 assists last season and with more minutes this season should translate in higher point totals. I would look for him to post 20-25 points this season.

Goaltending:
So it appears that Blackwood is likely to joining the Devils, weather with the Devils or their "baby" team. Top spot in the Colts crease this season will go to David Ovsjannikov. He backed Blackwood last season and had to fill in the top spot when Blackwood was suspended. He looked really good when he was needed winning 12 of 21 games in the regular season and forcing a shootout in 3 of those losses. He even had a 2-1-1 record in 4 playoff games.

A positive note for the Colts has been the play of rookie goalie Christian Propp. He has played in 3 games this preseason, putting up a 1.93 GAA and a .938 Save Percentage. In his appearances he has made 61 saves on 65 shots faced and has a shutout. At times he has really had to stand on his head when the Colts have faced penalty problems and has made many huge saves. Backing David this season could really be a great spot for him to work on his game to possibly start for the Colts next season, if not sooner.



The Colts regular season starts Friday, September, 23rd in Kingston. Sunday, September, 25th they head to Ottawa and on Friday, September, 30th they head to Sudbury. The Colts home opener is the following day, Saturday, October, 1st against London.





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