Shoe Notes: October 7th, 2014

 

  • The Golden Horseshoe Conference is now the smallest conference in the GOJHL, with the Buffalo Regals taking a one-year leave from the league. According to our very own RocketGirl’s sources, the Regals dropped from the league due to the influx of Buffalo-based junior teams, leaving the player pool absolutely depleted. The Regals were not able to put together a full GOJHL roster and requested a one-year leave from the league, which was granted. More on that here.
  • The Port Colborne Pirates moved to Pelham in the offseason, becoming the Pelham Pirates, after a second junior team moved into Port Colborne’s arena, threatening the fanbases of both squads. However, since the move, it seems the Pirates have been snake-bitten, as they’ve dropped their first 8 games in the 2014-15 season and allowed a conference-high 5.88 goals-against per game since the move.
  • Staying on the topic of the Pirates: after eight straight losses, it’s apparent the team is beginning to miss the offense provided by forward Cody LeVasseur. After putting up a point-per-game pace (44 points in 44 games) last year in his first GOJHL season, Levasseur’s offense has completely disappeared in Pelham: he’s yet to score in 7 games, and has tallied only 2 assists. Whether it’s the mid-2013 departure of forward Charlie Izaguirre weighing him down, or simply a lack of motivation on a losing squad, Levasseur will have to pick up his play if the Pirates’ want to get back into a competitive spot in the Shoe.
  • PDO, a statistic that typically shows the luck a team has had based on adding their shooting percentages and save percentages, is shining a bright light on last year’s champions, the Caledonia Corvairs. At a PDO of 98.3, the fourth-lowest in the Horseshoe, the defending Sutherland Cup champs should see their record of 5-2-0 get even better as the season goes on. This will also be helped by the number of shots the team takes, as their 41.4 shots per game and 66.7% shots-for percentage both lead the conference in those categories. While they may look weaker than usual right now, look out for the Corvairs to bounce back as the season continues.
  • Helping the Corvairs begin their bounceback as the season continues will be new addition Tyler Lepore, who played 50 games in the OJHL last season for the Burlington Cougars, recording 45 points in 50 games for the bottom-feeder club. Jumping into the GOJHL this year with Caledonia, he has already recorded 4 points in 5 games. Lepore’s solid presence on offense for the Corvairs will be a key factor for their success this year.
  • Lepore isn’t the only former OJHL’er on the Corvairs roster; both Matthew Hore (Mississauga) and Nathan Gomes (Hamilton) join Caledonia after a season in the OJHL. The three combined last year for 68 points in 80 games played, but they’ll likely boost that production if they spend full years in the G this season.
  • Fun with numbers: the Golden Horseshoe Conference ranks second of the three conferences in suspensions (measured in games) so far this year. The Midwestern leads with 35 suspended games, with our Horseshoe following up at 29 games, and the Western sitting 3rd at just 19 games. The largest suspension in the Horseshoe so far this year? Forward (and former OJHL’er) Mitchell Reid of the Welland Canadians, who picked up a 4-game suspension back in mid-September for kicking a Caledonia player during play. Kicking, formally referred to as a MP45 penalty, carries a minimum suspension of four games in the GOJHL.
  • Also in punishment news, the GOJHL has been cracking down on GRM62 violations since the beginning of the season. GRM62’s are more commonly known as ‘playing without a helmet’ misconducts, and carry a minimum penalty of a single game suspension. On the weekend of September 22nd to 25th, there were 22 of these suspensions handed down across the league, including 8 in the Golden Horseshoe Conference. The league is getting much more serious about these misconducts as the risks of head injuries in hockey have been more clearly identified over the past decade.
  • Speaking of Welland, they’re one of only two Horseshoe Conference teams who remain undefeated on the road this season, along with the Caledonia Corvairs. Helping Welland to their conference-leading success is offensive defenseman J.C. Thivierge, who is the top scoring blueliner in the Horseshoe early in the season. While he falls to 2nd in the entire GOJHL for points by a defenseman, his 9 points in only 8 games played best Niagara’s Matt Hollowell (8 in 8) for lead in the conference. Thivierge joined the Canadians in October of last year after being acquired from the conference rival Corvairs, who he failed to get a point against in Welland’s season opening win over back in September.
  • Thivierge isn’t the only one contributing on Welland’s defense, though. The team actually has four of the top five defensemen in the Golden Horseshoe Conference for scoring so far this season. Joining Thivierge in the top five are 17-year-old Nathan MacDuff, former Orillia Terrier Josh Allan, and Welland veteran Gabe Ruggi, a 20-year-old entering his third year with the Canadians.
  • Moving north from Welland, we look at two teams fighting to keep their spots in the conference’s top half: the St. Catharines Falcons, and the Niagara Falls Canucks. Rivals by force of geography, the two teams have still yet to meet this year, but will play each other for the first time at Jack Gatecliff in St. Catharines on October 17th. So far this year, the Falcons have dominated on home ice, outscoring opponents twenty-five to five in four home games, including a 12 to 1 thrashing of the Fort Erie Meteors. Leading the Falcons and Canucks into battle will be Austin Wright and Ryan Doucette respectively, the conference’s top scorers who have made their mark on each and every game thus far.
  • Not only is Austin Wright the Golden Horseshoe’s top scorer, but he’s also the top scorer for the entire GOJHL. His 19 points in 8 games have come as a shock as the 18-year-old recorded only 13 points in 46 games last year with Niagara Falls, when he was known more of his ability to take penalties (148 PIMs in 46 games) than his ability to score. However, in a new role with the ‘Nucks this season, Wright is flourishing as an offensive dynamo and could lead the team to an even better result than their 26-22-1 record of last year.
  • Shoe charts: the following chart shows the shots a team takes per game versus the shots it allows. The bubble colour dictates the team, and bubble size shows the team’s winning percent. For example, you can use this chart to show that Thorold (the brown bubble) has a 43.8% points percentage thus far, allowing 32.8 shots against per game, slightly above the league average of 31. A team that gets more shots for than average is referred to as a good “shot creation” team, and a team that allows less shots against than average is a good “shot suppression’ team.
  • Two interesting cases to look at here are Thorold and Ancaster. While the two teams are similar in points (Thorold has 7, Ancaster has 6), they differ greatly in their shot creation and suppression rates. On one hand, Thorold is mostly average on both sides of the puck, creating just below-average shots for, and suppressing just above-average shots against. If the Hawks want to improve on either, they may need to sacrifice the other, although teams like Caledonia are able to succeed at both without sacrificing either.
  • On the other hand, the Ancaster Avalanche are having serious trouble creating offense. Outside of their top scorer Cooper Richards, who has 6 goals in 5 games, they don’t have any standout scorers. Along with that, their shot creation rates are depressingly low, as they produce about 7.5 less shots than an average Horseshoe team per game. With a shooting percentage of 10.6%, just around league average, those 7.5 less shots per game could mean Ancaster is missing out on an extra goal every four periods of play (or three missed goals every four games). If they want to grab those goals (and therefore, more wins), they’ll need to improve on getting shots at the net and creating quality plays in the offensive zone.
  • Closing off our Shoe Notes for this week, and future weeks, we’ll have a short profile on a player in the conference who may deserve more attention than he’s getting. This week, 1998-born winger Dakota Miskolczi of the Fort Erie Meteors gets the spotlight. Last season, Miskolczi spent the majority of his year with the Niagara Falls Rivermen in the SCTA (South Central Triple-A) league. While the Rivermen struggled, achieving the league’s lowest record at 7-30-3, Miskolczi was a noticeable name on the ice. He put up 15 points in 32 games in the regular season, good for 8th on the squad in points, and 6th in points-per-game. Coming into his first full GOJHL year after four games with the Meteors last season, Miskolczi has two points in his first seven games as one of the league’s youngest forwards. While he’s not a huge scoring threat yet, the 16-year-old should continue to develop his game over the course of this season and potentially earn his way into the Meteors’ top six for the 2015-16 season.

1 Comment

  1. Welland fan

    October 8, 2014 at 1:57 am

    The Pirates will be lucky to win a game this season. They’ll need to find a couple stay at home D’men if they want to win a few games.

    Their coach is confident that they may win a game this week. Not likely, Fort Erie has improved a lot while Brantford has a solid offense & a veteran goalie…

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