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OHL at the Break: Media assessments and predictions

Ontario Hockey League

The first half of the 2017-18 Ontario Hockey League season is in the books and as teams return from the holiday break the stretch drive to playoffs begins.

A poll of various media who cover the league in broadcast booths and press boxes weighed in with opinions and comments on some of the players and teams who made the most noise during the first half, and those who will emerge from the pack down the stretch.

Below is a compilation of the most popular mid-season answers with select media comments to support their decisions.

Which team will win the Midwest Division?

Kitchener Rangers (50%)

“Their roster is solid and if goaltending holds up they’re in good shape in the second half.”

London Knights (50%)

“With so much star power the Knights can compete.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Owen Sound Attack (95%)

Which team will win the West Division?

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (100%)

“The two best teams in the league being in the same division is tough luck for Sarnia.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (90%)

Which team will win the East Division?

Hamilton Bulldogs (100%)

“Hamilton’s pre-deadline deals have been a boost and they aren’t looking back.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Peterborough Petes (45%)

Which team will win the Central Division?

Barrie Colts (95%)

“The addition of a proven winner in Aaron Luchuk makes the Colts even stronger.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Mississauga Steelheads (100%)

Which team has been the most surprising?

Barrie Colts (45%)

“I anticipated an improvement this year but they’ve been better than expected.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Barrie Colts (30%)

Which player has been the most surprising?

Sean Durzi, Owen Sound Attack (40%)

“Nothing like smashing your career highs offensively with half a season to go.”

Honourable Mention: Aaron Luchuk, Barrie Colts (35%)

Who has been the league’s best goaltender?

Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires (45%)

“He’s had to steal more games than any of the other top goaltenders in the league.”

Honourable Mention: Jeremy Helvig (25%)

Pre-Season Media Pick: Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires (55%)

Who has been the league’s best defenceman?

Conor Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (40%)

“Solid in all aspects of his game and well deserving of a spot on Team Canada.”

Honourable Mention: Sean Durzi, Owen Sound Attack (30%) and Evan Bouchard, London Knights (25%).

Pre-Season Media Pick: Conor Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (45%)

Who has been the league’s top rookie?

Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (45%)

“When healthy he was not only the best rookie but one of the league’s elite players.”

Honourable Mention: Cam Hillis, Guelph Storm (30%)

Pre-Season Media Pick: Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (55%)

Who has been the league’s top coach?

Drew Bannister, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (50%)

“A record of 29-3-2 shows that not only is the talent there, but the team is ready to play every night.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Drew Bannister, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (30%)

Who has been the league’s most outstanding player of the year?

Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia Sting (90%)

“Averaging nearly two points-per-game and dangerous every time he’s on the ice.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (60%)

Who will be the league’s top prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft?

Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (100%)

“Hard to believe but he’s been even better than expected.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (55%)

Which player will lead the league in scoring?

Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia Sting (40%)

“Fully expect him to return from World Juniors and pick up where he left off.”

Honourable Mention: Aaron Luchuk, Barrie Colts (30%) and Morgan Frost, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (25%)

Pre-Season Media Pick: Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (60%)

Who will win the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as Western Conference champion?

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (95%)

“It’s hard to bet against a team that wins 20 games in a row.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Owen Sound Attack (85%)

Who will win the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference champion?

Hamilton Bulldogs (55%)

“They’ve been solid defensively all season and it should continue.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Mississauga Steelheads (70%)

Who will win the Robertson Cup as OHL champion?

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (95%)

“Rolling with what they already have and expect them to be even more lethal come March.”

Pre-Season Media Pick: Owen Sound Attack (45%) and Mississauga Steelheads (45%)

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