OHL Roundup: Majors playing with a purpose
By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor
Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - Not that the Ontario Hockey League-leading Mississauga Majors were ever in trouble of falling apart entirely - they simply have too much talent - but a 3-0 week punctuated by two shutouts from J.P. Anderson will silence any doubts about them following a mediocre stretch of games in February.
Coming into last week, the Majors were only 5-5-0 in their past 10 games, which included a season-high three-game losing streak and led to some critical words from coach Dave Cameron about his team's work ethic.
But it appears the Majors have fought through their bout with pre-playoff complacency. They held the London Knights to six shots, including none in the first period of a 5-0 clinic on Friday. They then capped a perfect weekend with wins over Oshawa and Sudbury.
Cruising through a 68-game season as the league's most dominant team and Memorial Cup host from start-to-finish is an arduous feat, as, inevitably, there will be moments when they get too comfortable and rely on getting by with skill as opposed to putting in a 60-minute effort on a nightly basis.
That's precisely what Cameron grumbled about a few weeks back, and it appears his troops heeded his message.
With a first-round date with either Peterborough or Belleville, Mississauga will need intense focus to avoid falling into any bad habits that might develop in a series against a much weaker opponent.
FORECAST CLOUDY FOR SPITS' JONES
When it was announced last week that Windsor coach Bob Jones was being investigated by police for his involvement in an altercation in front of a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, bar that left a 19-year-old with a broken jaw, the instinctive response was, "Oh, great, here we go again."
The Spitfires have had their share of run-ins with the law recently, as Zack Kassian and Marc Cantin were involved in bar room altercations this past summer.
General manager Warren Rychel insists that Jones is the victim and that the Sault Ste. Marie native was attacked by a group of five men outside Docks bar while waiting for a cab. One of the men involved also walked away with Jones' Memorial Cup ring.
What makes his investigation so bizarre is that Jones didn't initially file a complaint to the police about the ring theft because he wanted to avoid media attention during a "crucial time of the season," according to Rychel.
While a valid concern, it seems odd that Jones wouldn't contact the police following the incident, knowing full well that reports of the altercation would surface eventually.
Whether Jones was the victim or not, it's another lesson to coaches and players across the league that when they put themselves in those situations, they often have a target on their back.
And regardless of the results of the investigation, any press surrounding late-night skirmishes at a bar is bad press and another black eye on an organization that has been battered similarly so many times in the past.
SAD SAGA IN SARNIA CONTINUES
It's been a long season for the Sarnia Sting and there comes a point when you start to feel sorry for the young squad.
That point is now, following a horrendous weekend where the boys in black-and- yellow went 0-3 and were outscored 28-9, including back-to-back games in which they gave up 10 goals.
Losing is one thing, but getting blown out as severely as they did summons a whole other level of fury.
The resulting frustration seemed to reach a boiling point against the Niagara IceDogs on Saturday, as Sting goaltender Brandon Hope took out his pent-up aggression on counterpart Dalton McGrath in a rare goalie tussle.
Questionable goaltending aside, defensive woes have plagued the Sting all season and management has some important decisions to make in the summer, as super rookies Nail Yakupov (45-45-90) and Alex Galchenyuk (25-44-69) enter their draft year and potential last stand in Sarnia.
Whether they decide to surround their talented twosome with adequate help or hope the hardships of a lost season simmers and burns with the current group in a what-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger kind of way, it would be shameful to watch such elite players finish their junior careers without playing meaningful hockey.
The Ryan Ellis watch is in full effect, as the Windsor rearguard is nine points back of the century mark with five games remaining. If he reaches 100 points, he will become the first blueliner to do so since Bill McCauley reached the illustrious plateau with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings in 1994-95.
Jason Akeson was rewarded for his career season on Friday when the Philadelphia Flyers signed the 20-year-old to a entry-level contract. The Flyers also signed undrafted free agent Tyler Brown of the Plymouth Whalers the same day.
03/08 10:28:22 ET