It’s almost the Christmas break, which will leave the Storm one game shy of the midway point in the OHL schedule after this weekend's action.
Surprises, disappointments and few thoughts on that midway point.
Storm surprises, the good:
Anthony Popovich: Nobody knew if the Storm needed to go out and get a goaltender this year, but Popovich stepped in and proved himself to be a very good number one goaltender. Consistency still a work in progress but third busiest goalie in the league with a .907 save percentage.
Barret Kirwin/Cedric Ralph: It's hard not to talk about the duo in the same breath. Two players in tough to make the team at training camp are no on the ice at the end of close games. Twenty goals between them and a work ethic second to none.
Dmitri Samorukov: Playing much more consistent hockey of late and establishing himself as one of the premier two-way defenders in the league.
Storm surprises, the not so good:
James McEwan: Something not quite clicking with the former 25-goal scorer, who has just eight goals in 26 games, three of those coming in one game.
Alexey Toropchenko: Just five goals in 30 games, despite some decent overall play, just isn’t good enough from an NHL draft pick.
Zach Poirier: Poirier has just two goals in a season interrupted by a pair of suspensions. Still, nobody can be thrilled with two goals and six points in 17 games. Doesn’t help that the guy he was traded for, Luke Burghardt, has 30 points in North Bay.
Surprise teams, the good:
Sarnia Sting: Take out a blip where they dropped four of five games and the Sting, at 15 games over .500, have been the talk of the town this year. Derian Hatcher a definite favourite for coach of the year.
Barrie Colts: From worst last year to almost first this year. It’s a rare and noble feat in the OHL and the Colts are adding players for a run at a conference championship.
Surprise teams, the not so good:
Owen Sound Attack: nobody saw this one coming. Many people had the eighth-place Attack as the team to beat in the Western Conference standings. But awful goaltending and a lack of secondary scoring has the Attack six points out of missing the playoffs right now. Still time to fix it, but will the Attack do that or throw in the towel for this year? Hard to think the team will be better next year when they could lose four of their top forwards to the pro ranks.
Mississauga Steelheads: A conference contender heading into the season is sitting out of the playoffs and eight games under .500. Need to decide what to do with their high-end last-year players.
Justin Brazeau, North Bay: Didn’t play in the league as a 16 year old and had a combined 28 goals his first two leagues. Has 23 already.
Sean Durzi, Owen Sound: Defenceman with 43 points in 28 games, including 14 goals in 28 games. Had two last season.
Albert Michnac, Mississauga: The Storm went with Toropchenko over Michnac as their second import this season and while Toropcheno has been decent, his five goals and 14 assists pale in comparison to Michnac’s 15 goals and 22 assists.