Boston Bruins: Weekend Preview for Their College, Junior Prospects

Al DanielCorrespondent IIDecember 5, 2012

UNIONDALE, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Dougie Hamilton #53 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Islanders during a rookie game exhibition at Nassau Coliseum on September 12, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. The Bruins defeated the Islanders 8-5.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Seth Griffith and Dougie Hamilton, two of the OHL’s most prolific producers and two of the Boston Bruins’ most promising prospects, will face off Friday in a rematch of the 2012 Robertson Cup championship.

When they converge on London’s John Labatt Centre, exactly 30 weeks will have passed since, on the same synthetic pond, none other than Griffith potted the deciding goal in Game 5 to give the Knights the title.

Regardless of what happens in their respective games the evening prior (London at Brampton and Niagara at home vs. Ottawa), the Knights will enter Friday’s tilt with the OHL’s best record to date this season.

Depending on what Anthony Camara’s Barrie Colts, which have two games in hand, do against Sudbury, Hamilton’s Niagara Ice Dogs can leapfrog them in terms of point total with a win on Thursday.

The Colts will have the same relatively light weekend slate as the Ice Dogs, continuing a homestand on Saturday vs. Kingston. The rest of the Bruins’ OHL farmhands have three games spread over a span of four days, with Griffith wrapping up his weekly extramural itinerary at home vs. Mississauga this Sunday.

Cody Payne is in Owen Sound with his Plymouth Whalers on Wednesday, then comes home for back-to-back games vs. Saginaw on Friday and vs. Oshawa on Saturday.

In a reverse pattern, Belleville Bulls backstop Malcolm Subban hosts the Peterborough Petes on Wednesday before venturing out for a couple of potential heavyweight staring contests.

Subban is fifth among all OHL netminders with a 2.23 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. His prospective Friday counterpart in Kitchener, John Gibson, is tied for third in both of those categories, while Saturday’s presumptive starter in Owen Sound, Jordan Binnington, is second on the goaltending leaderboard.

Based on the World Junior training camp rosters released earlier this week, Saturday could be a battle of soon-to-be allies on Team Canada. Conversely, the likely Subban-Gibson goaltending card in this Friday’s OHL action could be a preview of the goalie matchup when the U.S. and Canada square off on Dec. 30.

Gibson has one fellow U.S. training camp invitee in the Bruins system, Matt Grzelcyk, who will have his last two games with Boston University this weekend before going to New York for his tryout the week after.

The Terriers, which are a distant third in the Hockey East standings, are the only team in their conference with multiple league matchups still to come in December. This means Thursday’s visit to second-place New Hampshire and Saturday’s home bout with Maine will present two critical opportunities to whittle down the gap.

In the CCHA, Colton Hargrove’s Western Michigan team can pole-vault over Ferris State outright. The Bulldogs are coming down to visit the Broncos for two nights with a two-point edge for fourth place.

The Broncos and Zane Gothberg’s North Dakota team are the only college programs featuring a budding Bruin who will still be in action between early next week and Christmas. UND will conduct its penultimate weekend of game action before the holiday hiatus by hosting the WCHA-leading Denver Pioneers.

Back out east, Alex Fallstrom and Harvard will stay within state boundaries but venture outside of the ECAC for a pair of Hockey East crossovers before the team's December deceleration. The Crimson visit Merrimack on Friday, then host UMass-Lowell this coming Monday.

Rob O’Gara and Yale will similarly engage UMass-Amherst this Tuesday in a weeknight, nonconference bout, though not before hosting ECAC cohabitants Rensselaer on Friday and Union on Saturday.

Odds are Ben Sexton will still be out of action until the other side of Clarkson’s break, but his club will be visiting neighboring rival St. Lawrence on Wednesday, then re-engaging the Saints on a neutral site in Lake Placid this Saturday.

Matt Benning is hanging around his adoptive home in Dubuque as his Fighting Saints continue their five-game homestand with a two-night visit from the Youngstown Phantoms this weekend.