By Jesse Michael for the Canadian Hockey League
Undefeated. Perfection. 19 in-a-row.
No matter how it’s described, there’s something special on the line once again for Team OHL as they begin their leg of the tenth annual SUBWAY® Super Series against the Russian National Junior team, Thursday night in Guelph, Ontario.
In what has become an expected result over the past nine events, Team OHL will look to continue the lengthy streak versus a Russian team that’s one of the best and strongest in SUBWAY® Super Series history.
“Looking at the roster, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be at least 90% of what the World Junior team is going to be at Christmas,” said Team OHL and World Junior Head Coach Steve Spott. “A majority of the players who played this summer [in the Canada/Russia challenge] are on the team. From our standpoint we think it’s a great opportunity to evaluate our team, and the Russians think that it’s great as well for them...it’s going to be a very strong team.”
And that’s something that has changed from the early years of the event, when the Russians didn’t bring their most competitive teams.
“Over the last couple of years we have [had tougher games] because the Russians have sent over good teams,” said Hockey Canada Head Scout, Kevin Prendergast. “They built from these six games going into the World Juniors, and going back over the last two World Juniors, they’re the team who has knocked us out.”
Team OHL isn’t without fire power themselves, however, as they boast five players who played on the 2012 Canadian World Junior Championship team; Dougie Hamilton (Niagara IceDogs), Scott Harrington (London Knights), Boone Jenner (Oshawa Generals), Mark Scheifele (Barrie Colts), and Ryan Strome (Niagara IceDogs).
Other notables include 2012 first round NHL draft picks Malcolm Subban (Belleville Bulls), Cody Ceci (Ottawa 67’s), Thomas Wilson (Plymouth Whalers), Brendan Gaunce (Belleville Bulls), Slater Koekkoek (Peterborough Petes), and Scott Laughton (Oshawa Generals).
“I think overall we’re going to be solid on the back end, defensively, and have some great power, but up front I think we’ll have a mix of everything,” Team OHL Selection Committee member Mark Hunter said. “Good team toughness and good character but enough skill to score some goals.”
There are other parts of the Team that Hunter is eager to see as well.
“I’m excited about the goaltending,” he continued. “I think the goaltenders here excite me, and there will be some good competition.”
Aside from the evaluation purposes of the two games for the players on Team OHL, is the constant reminder that they still are undefeated in the entire history of the event, and none of the players want to be responsible for that streak coming to an end.
“I think any time you look at the competition between the three CHL leagues, every player on our team wants to keep the streak alive,” said team OHL forward, Matt Puempel of the Kitchener Rangers. “Going into each game it’s going to be motivation, and [we will] look to build on that.”
One of Puempel’s Western Conference rivals backed up his sentiments.
“It’s going to be in the back of my mind as well as all the guys,” said Guelph Storm forward Zack Mitchell. “We’re going to out there and will prepare like any other game, as we’ve been doing with our home clubs. It’s an exciting opportunity, and we expect to keep the streak alive.”
Both games three and four will be broadcast live on Sportsnet, beginning Thursday, November 8 in Guelph, followed by Monday, November 12 in Sarnia. The games can also be seen on the NHL Network U.S, viewed online through NeuLion, or audio streamed through Sportsnet Radio the FAN 590.
For broadcast, ticket, and event information please visit www.subwaysuperseries.ca.
2012 SUBWAY® Super Series Schedule of Games:
Game 1 – Monday November 5 at Blainville-Boisbriand, QC
Game 2 – Wednesday November 7 at Val d’Or, QC
Game 3 – Thursday November 8 at Guelph, ON
Game 4 – Monday November 12 at Sarnia, ON
Game 5 – Wednesday November 14 at Vancouver, BC
Game 6 – Thursday November 15 at Victoria, BC