By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Despite a strong start to the weekend against the North Bay Battalion, the Oshawa Generals were unable to keep the momentum rolling and dropped back-to-back games against the Ottawa 67s and the Saginaw Spirit.
When the Battalion rolled into town on Dec. 9, they were out for redemption after the Gens handed them a 5-2 loss on their home turf on Nov. 30, led by a hat trick off the stick of Mitch Vande Sompel. However, the Gens dished out much of the same treatment on their home ice, once again defeating them 5-2.
The solid offensive effort against North Bay came up flat when the Gens travelled to Ottawa, being handed a 4-1 loss by the 67s. Coming into Sunday’s matchup against the Saginaw Spirit, which also happened to be Oshawa’s annual Teddy Bear Toss night, the club looked tired from the trip.
Saginaw would get on the board first and carry the one goal lead into the second period. They would extend the lead to 3-0, including a powerplay goal from Hayden Hodgson, before Oshawa was able to get on the board, once again off the stick of Vande Sompel, who has six goals in his last five games. The goal also cued the teddy bears, and before it was over, 5,770 littered the ice to be donated to the Durham Children’s Aid Foundation.
“I think it brings a lot of joy to a lot of children and I think our players are happy to be a part of it,” said head coach Bob Jones following the game.
Just past the halfway mark of the second, Hodgson would get his second of the game to reinstate the three-goal lead. However, before the period was out, Serron Noel would add another for the Gens to cut the lead to two once again.
On the powerplay going into the third period, Oshawa would get within one off a point shot from Medric Mercier.
The comeback effort would fall short though, and it would be Hodgson once again on the powerplay who would seal the deal for Saginaw. The winger would also add his fourth of the game late in the period to bring the final score to 6-3.
For Noel, missing captain Anthony Cirelli, currently away at selection camp for Team Canada’s world junior team, really hurt the club.
“It’s pretty rough on the guys, a lot of pressure for some of the top guys to perform and you can see how tired they were getting and how frustrated they were,” he says.
According to Vande Sompel, there were just too many missed opportunities that Oshawa needed to capitalize on.
“We’re not going to give excuses, we had chances on the powerplay and I thought we should have scored, but you’re going to have those games where they don’t go in,” he says.
Even with the pair of losses, Oshawa still holds down the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 19-9-0-2 record for 40 points, ahead of the second place Peterborough Petes’ 34 points.
With 30 games played, the OHL is nearing the halfway point of the season and for goaltender Jeremy Brodeur, his club has really pinned down their path to success, it’s just making sure the stamina is there.
“I think we’ve figured out how to win games and we know what we have to do and sometimes guys are tired and you play a little different than you would if it’s the first game of the weekend,” he says.
And the club will need to rest up this week because they’re staring down the barrel of another triple-game weekend, with two of them coming on home ice.
The weekend opens with a Dec. 16 matchup against the Niagara Ice Dogs at the Tribute Communities Centre before Oshawa travels to Kingston to face the Frontenacs on Dec. 17. The Gens will end the weekend at home on Dec. 18 against the Hamilton Bulldogs.