Niagara River Lions
As of Monday night, the River Lions currently hold a 7-13 record, as they have now completed half of their 40 game schedule. As they prepare for their March 7 matchup against the London Lightning, they look to have a strong second half that gets them out of the cellar of the Central Division and into a playoff spot. Luckily for them, four of the five teams in each division make the playoffs so they don’t have far to go to get back into the playoffs. The KW Titans currently sit in the final playoff spot in their division with a 9-12 record.
Marcus Lewis leads the way for the River Lions, averaging 15.3 points per game to go along with 2.22 steals per game, which is third in the NBL. Lewis’ best game of the season came on February 7 in front of a home crowd against the London Lightning, where he racked up a season high 31 points and seven rebounds. Lewis was also named the Central Division player of the week back in January. After missing the last few games due to injury, Lewis hopes to make a return to the court soon and continue to put up big numbers.
The biggest disappointment for the River Lions so far this season has been Logan Stutz’ injuries. The reigning points per game leader from the 2015-16 season has been held out of the lineup since late January. After averaging more than 23 points per game last season, Niagara hopes he can come back from injury and contribute like he did last year.
Niagara Ice Dogs
Sunday night in the Ontario Hockey League, the Ice Dogs won an exciting 9-7 thriller against the Erie Otters. In the victory, goaltender Stephen Dhillon faced an astronomical 60 shots in the win. After that game, Dhillon has now faced 351 more shots than any other goalie in the OHL.
Currently sitting in eighth place in their conference with just six games remaining, the Ice Dogs need to clean up their game defensively if they hope to secure one of the remaining playoff spots that they currently occupy and make a deep playoff push.
Captain Ryan Mantha has played well, earning himself a three year entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers. The defenseman has 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points in 61 games so far this year. The point total is more than double his previous career high. Rookie Akil Thomas has been a bright spot for the team, posting 20 goals and 20 assists in 55 games. Johnny Corneil leads the team in both goals (28) and points (56).
If the season ended today, the Ice Dogs would take on the Peterborough Petes in the first round of the playoffs. The Petes are the top team in the Eastern Conference so it would not be an easy series, as the Ice Dogs hope to repeat as Eastern Conference Champions.
St. Catharines Falcons
The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (Junior B) are currently in the playoff portion of their 2016-17 schedule. After finishing second in their division with a 40-7-3 record, the St. Catharines Falcons are currently in a playoff series against the Pelham Panthers in which the Falcons lead 3-0.
Lucas Smilsky and Zach Main led the Falcons offensively throughout the season, both finished with 95 points in 44 games. Smilsky had 36 goals and 59 assists while Main had 27 goals and 68 assists. They finished tied for second in all of the GOJHL in points.
The Falcons also received strong goaltending from Owen Savory, who posted a 1.99 goals against average (2nd in GOJHL) and a .927 save percentage.
As they look to wrap up their playoff series against Pelham, the Falcons hit the ice on March 7 at 7:00 p.m. in game four of the series at Jack Gatecliff Arena in St. Catharines.