By Doug Kennedy
The NHL race for a play-off spot will be a lot closer this year than in the past. The Montreal Canadiens got beat out the last weekend of 2018. Besides Ottawa and Detroit in the east, I am not sure what other teams I would count out this early. Buffalo had the same record last year but fell apart mid-way through the season. New Jersey picked up some good players in the offseason but did not start well. They already fired their coach. For the L.A. Kings, Chicago and Minnesota, it looks like it could be tough for them to get in, but remember what St.Louis did last year. Last place at Christmas and then they became Stanley Cup champions. I would say 25 out of 31 teams have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. The owners love the salary cap that keeps all teams competitive.
The Bulldogs won a pair of games on the weekend. On Friday night, at the Davidson Centre, Jamie Brock stopped 24 shots, blanking the Goderich Flyers 3-0. Mike Fiegehen opened the scoring in the first period with Jordan Caskenette assisting. Fiegehen scored again on a power play at 18:27 in the third period, with Logan Freiburger and Caskenette assisting. Jacob Traynor scored in an empty net to make it a 3-0 final.
On Saturday night the Bulldogs travelled to Mitchell and defeated the Hawks 3-2. Logan Freiburger led the way with two goals. Brandon Stewart scored the winning goal mid-way through the second period. Tyler Sutter and Fiegehen had assists. Shawn Andrus picked up the win, stopping 25 shots. This week the Bulldogs have two home games. Saturday night Mount Forest is in town at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. the Mitchell Hawks are in town at 3:30 p.m.
The Ripley Wolves defeated Shelburne on Saturday night at home 5-2. Ben Hughes scored two goals and singles went to Adam Alexander, Keaton Willis and Garrett Meurs. The Wolves are on the road this week when they travel to Tillsonburg on Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. game.
Ryley Cribben of the Mount Forest Patriots is leading the Pollock Division in scoring this year, with 10 goals and 18 assists. Teammate Jack Birkett is in second place with 12 goals and 14 assists.
After taking a year off, the Caledonia Junior B team is back in first place in their division. Kitchener leads the midwestern division with a one point lead over Listowel. London leads their division with Leamington and St Mary’s close behind.