Oshawa Generals open new season tonight against Hamilton Bulldogs

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Published October 8, 2021 at 10:12 am

For the first time in 14 years the Oshawa Generals get to open their season at home when they welcome the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Tribute Communities Centre tonight, the first league game for both clubs in 19 months.

Last year at this time, with the world still unsure how long the pandemic would last, the team had at least a sliver of hope about the 2020-21 season. The Generals were ranked third in the pre-season Canadian Hockey League rankings and were one of two teams (Sault St. Marie was the other) vying to host the Memorial Cup.

But while the Quebec and Western leagues got a few games in – the QMJHL actually managed to complete a shortened season and declare a champion – Ontario Hockey League boss Dave Branch put player and fan safety first and the league never played a single game before the third wave of the virus swept in and cancelled all hope.

This year, with the promise of a full season ahead, the Oshawa Generals have wiped the slate clean with a new head coach in Todd Miller, a new captain in Ty Tullio, a new can’t-miss kid in Calum Ritchie and new hope for success this season.

They didn’t earn a spot on the CHL’s pre-season Top 10 poll – division rival Kingston is ranked fourth in the nation – but the club believes they have the weapons to battle for a championship.

They should have the scoring – Ritchie, all of 16, led all pre-season scorers with 4-8-12 totals in six games while Tullio chipped in eight points in just four games and Brett Harrison and Daniel Michaud added seven points each. The defence, led by 19 year-old Lleyton Moore, should be solid and the goaltending should be strong enough to carry them through.

The club was hoping overager Zach Paputsakis could anchor the nets this season, but Patrick Leaver may have taken the job from him after getting three of the six pre-season starts and posting a sparkling 2.14 average and .929 save percentage.

The team also has a McSorley in the lineup – Tye McSorley, Marty’s nephew – and they have a secret weapon: they have Jesus. David Jesus, a 6’4” defenceman, performed his own near miracle by making the club in 2019 (and putting up 11 points) after being selected in the 12th round – 231st overall – in the 2018 draft.

Come spring it will be seven whole years since Oshawa last won the Memorial Cup. For their fans who are used to championships, that’s long enough.

Game time is 7:35 p.m.

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