Mississauga, Ontario- Through two games of the Mississauga Steelheads season, concerns were mounting about their offence. They had not won a game and were giving up too many turnovers that would often lead to goals.
But in their contests against the Erie Otters and Kingston Frontenacs, the script was flipped and the Steelheads discovered their ability to pucks in the net. On Friday, September 28, the Steelheads defeated the Otters 6-1 and on Sunday’s weekend matchup against the Frontenacs, Mississauga won 4-1. In both these games, the Steelheads were able to generate over 30 shots on goal and more aggressive in the offensive zone. Against the Frontenacs, the Steelheads at 41 shots on goal, finally finding their footing on offence, creating a large number of scoring opportunities.
Owen Tippett Showcases Speed and Puck Moving Ability
When the 10th overall pick of the Florida Panthers, Owen Tippett was sent back to Mississauga, he wanted to prove that he would not be playing junior hockey for long. He is a goal-scoring winger, who has tremendous speed and the ability to create scoring chances. In the offensive zone, he possesses a quick release that allows him to be a threat on offence.
In his first game back against the Erie Otters, Tippett was making his impact known. He scored a short-handed goal and two more after that, completing his first hat trick of the season. He also added an assist to cap off a four-point night that saw the Steelheads dominate the Otters.
Against the Kingston Frontenacs, Tippett added another assist. He utilized his size of 6-foot-2, 204 pounds to win battles along the boards and set up his teammates for scoring opportunities. The strategy of coach Richmond was clear; give Tippett minutes so he can showcase his speed and high hockey IQ.
“Obviously, it’s a disappointing feeling being sent down from the Panthers,” says Tippett. “But coming back, I know most of these guys so I can be a mentor to them now. There are things I have to work on but my job here is to inspire my teammates to work hard so that favourable results will occur.”
Michael Little Settles Into Role of Goal-Scoring Winger
With the Steelheads losing key players to the pros like Michael McLeod and Nic Hague, left-winger Michael Little saw an opportunity to become a critical asset for the team as a playmaker.
“I’m still going to be a power forward,” said Little, entering his third OHL season. “As you get older, you should be able to dominate and have more puck possession. I know that’s what’s expected and it’s what I’m going to try to bring.”
“Tippett and Little get along off the ice and they work well on the ice together,” said Richmond after the game. “Little has great speed and if he utilizes his quick agility to get to the front of the net, Tippett will find him. That’s what happened tonight.”
Steelheads Showcase Much-Improved Penalty Kill Against Kingston
The Frontenacs can’t blame themselves for a lack of scoring chances against the Steelheads. With 30 shots on net and brilliant saves by Brendan Bonello, Kingston consistently ramped up the pressure after a slow start. But the Steelheads countered with the strong play of their own, particularly on special teams.
Heading into the Frontenacs game, the Steelheads had a 66.7 penalty kill percentage, second worst in the OHL. But Mississauga were effective at clearing their own zone, not giving the Frontenacs many openings for scoring chances as they went 0 for 3 on the power play. And when Kingston had a scoring opportunity, Steelheads goalie Jacob Ingham was there, making critical saves and ending the game with 29 saves.
At the end of the game, tempers flared between both teams after Jason Robertson of the Frontenacs got a boarding penalty. This resulted in both teams taking penalties due to ensuing pushing and shoving. Discipline may have been lost but the Steelheads were able to possess composure, not giving the Frontenacs an opportunity to make a comeback. As Coach Richmond explains, his team showed toughness at the end of the game to get the second consecutive win.
“We need to continue to work on the penalty kill. Being near the basement of the league is not great. We will get better as the season progresses.”
Main Photo: LONDON, ON – DECEMBER 9: Owen Tippett #74 of the Mississauga Steelheads skates against the London Knights during an OHL game at Budweiser Gardens on December 9, 2016 in London, Ontario, Canada. The Steelheads defeated the Knights 7-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)