HarborCenter to host OHL Showcase

OHL Showcase
By Kevin Snow
August 31, 2017

The Ontario Hockey League exhibition schedule kicks off this weekend, and the first games on the docket will be part of the HarborCenter OHL Showcase in downtown Buffalo.

The six-team event gets underway Friday afternoon, and features the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, along with the Erie Otters, winners of the OHL Championship last season. Joining them in the Showcase are the Flint Firebirds, Kitchener Rangers, North Bay Battalion and Peterborough Petes.

Each team will play three games over the weekend, with all games taking place on HarborCenter’s main KeyBank Rink. (The full schedule is listed below.) The OHL’s 2017-18 regular season schedule starts on Thursday, September 21.

Although there aren’t any Sabres prospects on the rosters of the six teams, fans should expect to see some high-octane competition over the three days. With OHL training camps opening earlier this week, this will be the first opportunity for many of the younger players to make an impression on their coaches. The games will also serve as a tune-up for the drafted players heading to NHL camps over the next week, including the Prospects Challenge that runs from September 8-11 on the same HarborCenter ice.

Let’s take a look at the six teams involved, including some Buffalo connections within a few organizations.

Windsor Spitfires
41-19-5-3 (90 pts.), 5th place in Western Conference; defeated Erie 4-3 to win Memorial Cup
Players to watch:
Gabriel Vilardi, C (2017, LA); Michael DiPietro, G (2017, VAN)

Erie Otters
50-15-2-1 (103 pts.), 1st overall, OHL Champions; lost to Windsor in Memorial Cup
Players to watch:
Taylor Raddysh, RW (2016, TB); Ivan Lodnia, C (2017, MIN)

Kitchener Rangers
36-27-3-2 (77 pts.), 6th place in Western Conference; eliminated by Mississauga in East semis
Players to watch:
Adam Mascherin, LW (2016, FLA); Dylan Seitz, C (from Eden, NY; played for Buffalo Jr. Sabres and Nichols School)
Buffalo connections: Entering his second season as Kitchener’s head coach, Jay McKee was drafted 14th overall by the Sabres in 1995, and became a fan favorite in Buffalo during his 10 seasons from 1996-2006. This will also be the second season behind the bench for another former Sabre, assistant coach Matthew Barnaby. Drafted by the Sabres in 1992, Barnaby would go on to play 317 games in Buffalo from 1993-99.

North Bay Battalion
24-38-4-2 (54 pts.), 9th place in Eastern Conference
Players to watch:
Cam Dineen, D (2016, ARI); Brett McKenzie, C (2016, VAN)
Buffalo connection:
Battalion assistant coach/assistant GM Adam Dennis was drafted by the Sabres in the sixth round of the 2005 Draft. . Dennis spent three seasons in Rochester and Portland from 2006-09, posting a record of 42-49-2 in 94 games.

Peterborough Petes
42-21-2-3 (89 pts.), 1st place in Eastern Conference
Players to watch:
Zach Gallant, C (2017, DET), Jonathan Ang, C (2016, FLA)
Buffalo connection: Assistant coach Mike Duco played in Rochester from 2008-11, during the three seasons the Amerks served as Florida’s AHL affiliate.

Flint Firebirds
32-28-3-5 (72 pts.), 7th place in Western Conference
Players to watch:
Fedor Gordeev, D (2017, TOR); Nick Caamano, LW (2016, DAL)



Friday, Sept. 1
Flint vs. Windsor, 12:30 p.m.
Kitchener vs. North Bay, 4 p.m.
Erie vs. Peterborough, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 2
North Bay vs. Windsor 12:30 p.m.
Peterborough vs. Kitchener, 4 p.m.
Erie vs. Flint, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 3
Flint vs. North Bay, 12:30 p.m.
Windsor vs. Peterborough, 4 p.m.
Kitchener vs. Erie, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 per day, or $40 for a three-day pass.
Kevin Snow (@kwsnow) is a Canadian-born freelance writer now living in Buffalo, NY. A diehard Maple Leafs and Blue Jays fan, Kevin spent 10 seasons (2005-15) working with the Buffalo Sabres in their Public Relations and Web departments.

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