By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The Oshawa Generals are one of the hottest teams in the Canadian Hockey League after winning three straight games over the weekend, catapulting them into first place in the OHL Eastern Conference by a five-point margin.
“We’re on a bit of a roll right now and it’s coming from different places every night,” said assistant coach Greg Nemisz after a 4-2 trouncing of the Sudbury Wolves on Nov. 13 at the Tribute Communities Centre.
And “a bit of a roll” is an understatement as the Generals have captured points 19 points in the 10 games since the return of captain Anthony Cirelli and goaltender Jeremy Brodeur, who were both at NHL training camps in the early days of the season. The victory over Sudbury followed a 2-1 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs the night before and a 5-4 win over the Mississauga Steelheads the night before that.
The trio of wins, arguably the best of the young club’s season so far as they were against some of the top teams in the OHLs Eastern Conference, improves Oshawa’s record to 14-5-0-1.
“It’s a great weekend, I can’t say enough about our players right now. They’ve all bought in and it’s a lot of fun to come to the rink right now,” Nemisz said.
One player who spent more than his fair share of time at the rink was defender Mitch Vande Sompel, who not only played three straight nights with his Oshawa club, but also played the Subway Series game with Team OHL on Nov. 10.
He says that his teammates may be a little bit surprised at their recent success.
“Coming in, we had high expectations to build off last year and, I mean, I don’t think we figured we’d be this many points ahead at this point, but we definitely had high expectations for ourselves,” he said.
Vande Sompel helped the club during the victory over Sudbury with a goal in the second period to put the Gens ahead 2-1. Sullivan Sparkes got things started in the first period for Oshawa, and Cirelli and Riley Stillman added the remainders.
However, the game took a frightening turn early in the third period when Robbie Burt was blindsided by Sudbury’s Darke Pilon, and spent nearly 20 minutes on the ice before being taken off on a stretcher.
Pilon received a five minute major for blindsiding and a game misconduct for the hit, but it’s undetermined whether the league will take further disciplinary action.
“It was a really dirty play, it wasn’t really a hockey play, it’s a vulnerable player, but that’s something the league will have to deal with,” Nemisz said.
Thankfully, Burt was awake and communicative at the hospital following the game and released later that night. It’s unknown how much time Burt will miss due to the hit.
“That’s really the only thing that matters for us right now. We’re happy he’s OK and it was a scary moment for sure,” Nemisz added.
The Generals are on the road for their next three games with visits to Mississauga, Kitchener and Peterborough before returning home on Nov. 25 to face off against the Flint Firebirds.