By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
As temperatures plummeted through the GTA, plunging the region into one of its longest cold spells in recent history, the Oshawa Generals went in the opposite direction, having one of their hottest win streaks of the season so far.
In a win streak that lasted nearly three weeks between Dec. 15 and Jan. 4, the Gens came out on top of six straight games, including victories over rival Peterborough Petes and back-to-back wins over the North Bay Battalion.
Unfortunately, the streak came to an end this past weekend as the Gens found themselves against one of the league’s best teams in the Soo Greyhounds (34-3-2-1).
In what many thought would be a one-way battle, the Generals held their own against the strong Greyhounds team, dominating most of the first period and taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
And while the Soo would score back-to-back goals in the second and third periods, Oshawa would manage to tie the game in the third period off a goal from Nico Gross, recently returned from competing with Switzerland at the World Junior Championships, and send the game to overtime.
And while the Soo would eventually come out on top, GM Roger Hunt, who is currently behind the bench as head coach Bob Jones remains away with an illness, says he is still fairly happy with the result.
“Our start was good, we played a good game,” he says. “I thought we played solid for 60-plus minutes and it would have been great to get two points, but I certainly think that’s one of those games where you can walk away and you take one (point) and you’re fairly satisfied.”
Along the six-game win stretch, it was a rare period where the entirety of the team seemed to be healthy, after being bit by an injury bug that kept key players, including starting goaltender Kyle Keyser, out for weeks at a time.
Unfortunately, that bug may be coming back after Danil Antropov took an awkward fall and sliced his leg open in a game earlier this month, and while no serious damage was done to muscle or tendon, it will see him out for two weeks or more. As well, in the most recent 5-2 loss to the Owen Sound Attack on Jan. 7, the Gens lost forward Kyle MacLean to an upper body injury.
However, this week the club’s mind may be on other things as the Ontario Hockey League trade deadline falls on Jan. 10. With that said, it’s expected to be a fairly quiet period for the Gens, who will look to keep hold of the core of their team as the rebuild process continues.
The big move has perhaps come and gone after the Gens shipped assistant captain Riley Stillman to the Hamilton Bulldog (25-9-3-3) in return for a series of draft picks.
“Riley was a guy that really dragged us through the last couple years when things weren’t great,” Hunt says. “I think that opportunity for him to get a chance to win is kind of how we take care of guys.”
This weekend, the Generals will play three games in as many days with home games against the Flint Firebirds on Jan. 12, followed by a home-and-home series with the Kingston Frontenacs that begins in Kingston on Saturday.