Attack One Of The Favourites For Title
Thursday, 19.05.2011 / 10:02 AM / News
The Canadian Press
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The Owen Sound Attack boast several stars on offence but it has been their depth that has impressed throughout the playoffs.
Posting a 46-17-1-4 record, Owen Sound was second only to the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors in the regular season. The tables turned when the Attack beat the Majors in the OHL final with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 7.
The win gave the Attack their first ever J. Ross Robertson Cup and first OHL championship as a franchise in 22 years of existence (formerly they were the Owen Sound Platers).
The veteran-laden Attack are led on offence by two superstars - Colorado Avalanche draft choice Joey Hishon and Florida Panthers draft pick Garrett Wilson - as well as the OHL playoff MVP Robby Mignardi.
While Wilson had a superb playoffs, it was Mignardi and Hishon who stole the spotlight.
Mignardi came to the Attack in time for the 2009-10 season, and hasn't disappointed since. Scoring 30 and 32 goals, respectively, Mignardi took his game to the next level in this year's playoffs by notching 15 goals and 24 points in 22 games.
Hishon, like Mignardi, has been a machine for the Attack throughout their playoff run, with five goals and 24 points in 22 games. Drafted 17th overall in 2010, Hishon sees the ice like no one else on the Attack and leads the offence. He has the ability to be a game-breaker, although he's more relied upon to set up a goal rather than score himself.
A major strength of this Owen Sound team has been its depth all season, and that was on full display during the OHL playoffs as different players stepped up at appropriate times - specifically forward Andrew Shaw.
Traded from Niagara in the off-season, Shaw will be another undrafted player in the MasterCard Memorial Cup worth watching. Shaw was one of the top scorers on the team in the playoffs (10 goals, 17 points), which is quite the accomplishment when playing behind Wilson and Hishon.
Other forwards to keep an eye on during the Memorial Cup include Jarrod Maidens, a 16-year old who scored the overtime winner against the Majors, and Michael Halmo, who is one of the better two-way forwards on the team.
Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Jesse Blacker and overager Matt Stanisz are the rocks of the Attack defensive corps. After requesting a trade from the Windsor Spitfires due to lack of playing time, Blacker has been leaned on all season to play in most situations, and he has thrived with the additional responsibility.
Stanisz complements Blacker. Coming over from the Barrie Colts in the off-season, he isn't afraid to show offensive flair either, piling up 12 goals and 41 points in the regular season, while adding a goal and 14 assists in the playoffs.
In goal, it's hard to imagine that 17-year old draft eligible Jordan Binnington won't start in the Memorial Cup. He was in goal for the decisive game against Mississauga.
Head coach Mark Reeds used a three-goalie system with Scott Stajcer (8-4), Michael Zador (4-0) and Binnington (4-2) all seeing action during the playoffs.
Owen Sound is one of the hardest-working teams in the league. They will battle for every loose puck and every inch of ice. While the're solid five on five, their power play - quarterbacked by Blacker and Stanisz - clicked at a 31 per cent rate in the OHL final.
``This is a business of performance on demand,'' Reeds said heading into the OHL final. ``That's what we've been asking our players to do since Day 1. They need to be prepared to respond and perform the right way. What it really boils down to is execution, battles, heart, and desire.''
The Memorial Cup opens Friday when Majors take on Saint John. The Attack start Saturday against the Kootenay Ice.