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Minor League Hockey

OHL Roundup: Rangers and Frontenacs a cut above

By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor

Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - A look at some storylines from around the Ontario Hockey League:


No Jeff Skinner, no Jeremy Morin, no problem.

Coming into the season, it was expected the Kitchener Rangers would have to score by committee because they lost the services of their top snipers from last year.

Ryan Murphy has been a revelation on the blue-line and Gabriel Landeskog has shown why he should be a Top 10 pick - along with Murphy - in the 2011 NHL draft.

And after a 15-point week, you can add Jason Akeson to the list of Kitchener�s deadly offensive weapons.

The over-age forward's outburst isn't a big surprise, as he scored 24 goals and finished with 80 points last season.

But considering he doubled his season point total in one week and jumped to the top of league scoring (9-25-34), expectations should be tempered after such a freakish and uncharacteristic performance.

With the Rangers going 3-0-0 in Week 6 while torching opponents for 21 goals - including 13 in two wins over the defensively minded London Knights - it's clear that Akeson's production is vital for Kitchener's success and Memorial Cup aspirations.


After going 7-3-0 in its last 10 games, Kingston has moved into first place in the competitive East Division without much fanfare.

What makes the Frontenacs such an intriguing story is that they have had plenty of success as a team despite a relative lack of individual accomplishments.

They don't boast the flashiest names up front, although over-ager Nathan Moon and New York Rangers draft pick Ethan Werek continue to put up big numbers without much of a supporting cast.

On the back end, Erik Gudbranson returned from a great NHL camp in Florida but has struggled with a team-worst minus-7 rating, a rough figure for a defensive defenseman. And the offensively minded Taylor Doherty has yet to score despite notching 16 goals last year.

Perhaps the biggest improvement is in goal, as Philipp Grubauer has given the team a chance to win every time out, a fact that was highlighted with three strong performances this past week.

Grubauer, a Memorial Cup winner with the Windsor Spitfires last year, went 3-0 on the week with a .947 save percentage and 2.00 goals against average.

Although Kingston is employing an unconventional equation for success, it's hard to argue with results, and the Frontenacs are getting plenty of good ones.


The Super Series has been a farce in the past, giving a group of OHL all-stars a stage to pummel and humiliate their Russian counterparts.

Quite simply put: it's been terrible hockey and an even worse format.

But this year's addition of the annual series might change that as Team Russia has tons of skill and could be a legitimate threat.

While homegrown talent heavily represents the Russians, there is a strong OHL contingent for the two games played in London, Ontario, and Sudbury, Ontario.

Starting in goal for the two OHL games is Knights netminder Igor Bobkov. Although he has been uninspiring in his two starts this year, the monstrous Russian still has big-time potential.

For the London game only, the Russians will get a significant infusion of offense as Sarnia's Nail Yakupov and London's Vladislav Namestnikov will face off against their OHL brethren. Guelph defenseman Andrey Pedan also will suit up for Russia.

Saginaw Spirit forward Ivan Telegin will join his countrymen for the game in Sudbury.

Despite the additions of Namestnikov and Yakupov, the Russians will still be hard-pressed to win for the first time in the eight-year history of the event.


Mississauga St. Michael's Majors forward Justin Shugg was named OHL Player of the Week for the period ending Oct. 31 after scoring five times and adding three assists in three games.

The OHL also handed out October monthly awards this week.

Garrett Wilson of the Owen Sound Attack took home player of the month honors with 14 goals and 24 points in 12 games.

The rookie of the month selection was an easy choice as Yakupov walked away with the award after leading the league in scoring for October with 25 points in 13 games.

The same goes for the defenseman of the month, as Murphy led all blue-liners in scoring with 18 points in 12 games.

The top goaltender of the month went to the guy who should also win the coolest name award: Saginaw's Mavric Parks. The 20-year-old went 6-1-1 and led the league with a .935 save percentage and 2.20 GAA.

In the CHL Top 10 Rankings, Mississauga moved up two places to second, while Saginaw dropped one spot to No. 3 and Owen Sound fell from fifth to eighth.

11/08 15:06:23 ET

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