( Photo Credit: Both Images Above Courtesy Of Aaron Bell / OHL Images )
By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
A Little History……..
The Oshawa Generals are currently playing in their 56th season since rejoining the Ontario Hockey League in 1962. Per Wikipedia, the organization’s roots go back to the 1937-38 season and continue to 1953 before a fire at their home rink forced to club to take a ten-year leave of absence from the league. The Boston Bruins played a key role in the resurrection of the Generals club and new Oshawa Civic Auditorium construction which opened in 1964.
Again, Per Wikipedia, Bruins President at the time Weston Adams would go on to oversee the construction of the new arena and manage the Oshawa team as a Bruins minor-league affiliate having access to legendary B’s player Bobby Orr. Former Bruins legends Rick Middleton and Terry O’Reilly played for Oshawa in the late 1960s and early 1970s before their NHL careers, and Marc Savard was also a member of the Oshawa club in the early to mid-1990s and had a successful junior career for himself.
Jumping ahead to the start of the 2018-19 regular season for the Generals club, things were a bit shaky as seen below from Twitter account Generals Live ( @GeneralsUpdates ) below, the team struggled to start but have really made some noise gathering 14 points in their last 17 games since October 16th. The Gens are now in second place in the Eastern Conference 10 points behind the Ottawa 67’s who are having an outstanding season so far with 42 points in 26 games played.
Two Boston Bruins prospects currently playing with the Oshawa club are contributing at career-high paces and have been key members to the team’s recent success. Since being returned from their respected Boston Bruins training camps, prospect goaltender Kyle Keyser and forward Jack Studnicka have been pleasant additions to a very sneaky Gens team. Many highly respected analyst that cover the league has mentioned the Generals could be a “dark horse” club that could be head turners this season regardless of their slow start. Below is a little more insight and my personal opinion from what I’ve seen thus far this year and what’s to be expected in the future from both B’s prospects.
Goaltender Kyle Keyser
( Photo Credit: Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland )
Definitely, one of my favorite goaltending prospects to watch with his agility and athleticism. At 6′-2″ 183-pounds he’s aggressive netminder that is often at the top of his crease commonly cutting down his angles and squaring his body to the puck. Often these days, well in my opinion anyway, goaltenders above his height or equal to play deeper in the net while Keyser plays out relying on his quick lower body reflexes to get where he needs to be laterally. His quickness and reaction time is second to none and with those attributes has acquired an increasingly better-developed glove hand that seems to be getting better year-by-year with his puck tracking ability.
The 2017-18 season was Keyser’s breakout year as a starter, and with his free agent signing with the Boston Bruins in the fall of 2017 shortly after the Vegas Golden Knights waiver claim of former B’s first-round prospect Malcolm Subban, Kyle has seemingly taken the umbrella of the B’s organization to a whole new level. In the aforementioned breakout year, he went 28-13-2 with a 3.16 goals-against-average, and .904 save percentage which had him ranked ninth overall in the OHL. A solid season nonetheless minus the two concussions he battled during the last season’s campaign which could’ve had major setbacks in his development.
This year Kyle started the 2018-19 season on the shelf nursing an injury from Bruins training camp but as soon as he was cleared to play his mission has been focused on improving and helping his Generals team all he can as the last line of defense. In 18 games played so far the Coral Springs, Florida native has a 12-3-1 record, a 2.43 GAA and .929 Save% which is ranked third overall in the OHL. Keyser is currently on a five-game winning streak which he tied of a season-high this year and is one win away from tying a career-best six-game winning streak. Kyle has the chance to tie his career-high string of “W’s” tomorrow afternoon when the Generals host the Sarnia Sting from the Tribute Communities Centre when the puck drops at 2pm.
Forward Jack Studnicka
( Photo Credit: Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland )
Determination is a word that I constantly think about when talking about Jack and the skill set he brings to so many levels of competitive developmental hockey. As a guest media member during the offseason’s development camp to rookie camp and NHL training camp participation, being close to Studnicka in that timeframe has allowed me to get a sense of what type of player he can be while presenting himself in a professional manner. From the Bruins training facility at Warrior Ice Arena Jack’s efforts and drive can be seen up close along with the surrounding voice of reason from supporting members such as Bruins training staff for on and off-ice training sessions during the offseason.
Having the opportunity to interview Studnicka on several occasions, he’s said he’s here to challenge for an NHL roster spot and will continue to showcase his skills with close up looks from the B’s brass whenever possible. All those attributes were on full display as the team was heavily considering a spot as a third-line center but elected to return him to his junior team in favor of further development. This move back to Oshawa was not a knock against his development moving forward but was a smart idea when looking at his American Hockey League eligibility and the potential of starting his NHL career as close as next year.
Studnicka had a career year last season posting 22-50-72 in 66 games and is already on pace to break those totals this year. After being returned to Oshawa from Bruins camp, he’s appeared in 23 games and has 9-21-30 numbers. He’s currently on a five-game point streak which he can extender to six-games with a tilt tomorrow afternoon against Sarnia. So far this season the highly touted center has only gone pointless five times this season and in his last ten games has 3-9-12 numbers in that timeframe.
This year Generals Head Coach Greg Walters has used Jack’s skills all over the lineup with him playing a majority of time in the top-six but often as low as the third line when matching up pre-game lineups. Regardless of what line he plays on his speed and the two-way game is impressive to watch. I wish I were close to seeing him play games live, but I’ve been fortunate enough to stream about 60 games since leaving the Draft podium in the summer of 2017. Great 200-foot game and high hockey IQ in tight situations. Big slap shot playing the point on the power-play acting like a quarterback with a man advantage and unreal release in front of the net.
The 6′-2″ 179-pound forward took his demotion back to his Junior Club as a positive with the mindset that the journey to conquering his life-long goal was not yet over. In an October 1st, 2018, an article from Brain McNair of the DurhamRegion.com website, Studnicka had these things to say below upon his return back to the historic OHL franchise.
“It was awesome, they’re fast, you’ve got to keep up with them,” Studnicka said. “I think of myself as fast, but it really helped me to kind of be fast 24-7 and keep moving because those two are obviously two of the most skilled wingers in the game, but they’re also two of the hardest workers.”
Studnicka on working alongside current Boston Bruins player Patrice Bergeron.
“He’s an older guy, but you wouldn’t know it. He interacts with all the young guys due to his leadership, and it’s something I want to bring back to our room,” he said of Bergeron. “A lot of guys that get caught in my situation are going to hang their head and kind of walk through juniors, but I’m going in with my head held high here and I’m going to do everything I can to help the team succeed.”
Some word from Generals Head Coach Greg Walters on his return back to the league and organization.
“As you can see, his skill set is off the charts,” Walters said after Studnicka’s two-goal, four-point night in Sunday’s home opener against North Bay. “He’s a great leader, a true professional in the way he acts in the dressing room and in practice. We haven’t seen the best of Jack Studnicka yet.”
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