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The changing of the guard

Young Gens take leading roles with club

Left: Joe Manchurek battles for the puck during a game against the North Bay Battalion earlier this season. Right: Oshawa General Kenny Heuther currently leads the team in scoring with 20 goals so far this season.

Left: Joe Manchurek battles for the puck during a game against the North Bay Battalion earlier this season. Right: Oshawa General Kenny Heuther currently leads the team in scoring with 20 goals so far this season.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

These players are just as much a part of the hockey team as their better known benchmates.

However, during last season’s successful run to the Memorial Cup by the Oshawa Generals, the names of Michael Dal Colle, Matt Mistele and Cole Cassels were those most likely to get the red light glowing.

And the likes of Hunter Smith or Michael McCarron were most likely to have the crowd on their feet as the gloves came off and the fists started flying.

However, those players have moved on, leaving behind the space for others to step into the spotlight.

On the goal scoring side of things, big moves have been seen from the likes of Joe Manchurek and Kenny Heuther.

Manchurek, who held the club’s scoring lead for several weeks before dropping behind Heuther in recent games, has 17 goals and 34 points so far this season, a big step forward from the five goals and 24 points he racked up last season.

Heuther, a right-winger from Londesborough, a small town approximately 80 km north of London, currently sits on the top for the Generals, netting 20 goals thus far this season. He’s also added 19 assists to bring his point total to 39, which is second on the team.

These totals are also a big improvement over last season, which saw Heuther produce 11 goals and 15 points all season.

“I just started to get more opportunity,” Heuther says of this season. “I like to be a dependable guy. I have a knack for scoring, so I’m just going to keep throwing pucks on net.”

That strategy paid off well for the 18-year-old who secured a pair of goals in a big win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Jan. 23, a win that kept his club in a playoff position.

According to Oshawa head coach Bob Jones, it’s hard work paying off for Heuther.

“I think Kenny has worked himself into a top two line player in this league on pretty well any team,” he says. “He’s got good character, he works hard…Kenny could play on my team, any day.”

While his offensive totals are the highest for the Generals this season, the team depends on him for much more than that, Jones says.

“We’ve got to rely on Kenny for offence, but we’ve also got to rely on him for overall good play.”

Alex Renaud, a new face on the Generals this year, has quickly filled one of the larger vacant spaces on the team’s roster.

Acquired from the Sarnia Sting late last year, the six-foot-five and 218-pound Renaud has brought some much needed strength to a young Oshawa roster. It’s a role he’s happy to embrace, he tells The Oshawa Express.

“When it comes down to it, if any guys are picking on our younger guys, I take a responsibility to step up,” he says.

The Gloucester, Ont., native also brings more than his size to the team, totaling six goals and 13 points in 43 games with Oshawa this season.

“I’m not a big point guy, but when points do come, they tend to come in important or critical times,” he says.

Those critical times are getting closer and closer for Oshawa as they continue to battle for a playoff spot in the OHL Eastern Conference, currently tied for the final spot with the Hamilton Bulldogs who have a game in hand.