It must be a challenge for Jason Robertson to not get caught up in the numbers of his goal and point totals this season.
After all, there have been quite a lot of both.
One of the top point scorers in the OHL, he has 39 goals and 49 assists through 47 games this season, split between his previous team, the Kingston Frontenacs, and his current one, the Niagara IceDogs. He’s five points back of the league lead in scoring, but quite possibly could have been the leader right now had he not missed a chunk of games to play for the United States in the World Juniors.
Either way, he’s quickly closing that gap, with a whopping 26 points on his current 12-game point streak.
Ask Robertson about it, though, and he has something bigger on his mind than individual numbers: winning.
His Niagara team is locked and loaded for a deep playoff run, one that Robertson hopes, as he recently told the Canadian Press, leads to a spot in the Memorial Cup.
Robertson already has two 40-goal seasons on his resume from his time with Kingston and wants to build off those. But a league scoring title falls far behind his other personal ambitions.
”Obviously I like to up my game every year. I want to get better and when you get better the numbers get better,” said Robertson.
”(But) it’s all numbers in the end, my ultimate goal is to go far in my hockey career and for the time being right now is Memorial Cup.”
The IceDogs, who paid a junior hockey fortune to acquire Robertson earlier this season, are expecting the dangerous winger to be a big part of that plan coming to fruition. So far so good, as he’s been everything that they hoped he would be since making the trade, as Niagara coach Billy Burke recently said to Sportsnet.
The additions of Paquette and Robertson in November saw the team pay a price for two players who have added key elements to the roster.
“Right from day one, it’s felt like they’ve been here for years,” Burke said. “They’re well-respected in the locker room and they’re very respectful guys.”
For Robertson, the Dallas Stars prospect stepped right into the lineup and his offensive production didn’t miss a beat.
“J-Rob is a game-breaker,” Burke said. “He’s a guy who is going to have a long NHL career.”
Only time will tell now. The OHL regular season wraps up in March, with the playoffs starting shortly after that.
North American Juniors
Robertson isn’t the only Stars prospect with Memorial Cup aspirations this season, though.
Tye Felhaber’s Ottawa 67’s club is still sitting at the top of the OHL’s standings, and they loaded up for a Memorial Cup push just like Niagara did. The newest Stars prospect still leads the OHL in scoring and had two assists in three games, but slipped out of his goal-per-game pace for the season — at least for now.
Over in Guelph, the Storm might have acquired more firepower than anyone else prior to the OHL trade deadline. Despite an influx of talent around him, Liam Hawel continues to play an important role on the roster as a Top 6 forward. He’s been on a bit of a scoring tear lately, picking up 13 points so far in his ongoing six-game point streak, one of which was his 30th goal.
On a more somber note, Ty Dellandrea went through a bit of adversity recently (as if he hadn’t gone through enough already these past few years), having to say goodbye to a close family member.
Joseph Cecconi recently got to do something pretty special for the second time in his career, playing at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers, as part of the Big Ten’s Super Saturday, which also included a basketball game earlier in the afternoon. His first experience in the event came during the 2015-16 season.
“It was fun. Up until then, I don’t think I’ve played a game in an NHL rink,” Cecconi said. “Except if we did the ‘Duel in the D’ or the Great Lakes Invitational so I guess I did, but it’s always fun to play in an NHL rink because it’s your dream one day to play in rinks like that. So when you can do it in college, just a fun different experience than a college atmosphere.”
His University of Michigan team lost in Cecconi’s second trip to MSG, falling 5-2 to Penn State in the January 26 contest.
Bjorkloven teammates Jakob Stenqvist and Jacob Peterson teamed up in a big way on Monday, picking up the two assists on what turned out to be their squad’s 3-2 game-winning goal over Vasterviks IK. Highlights of the game can be found here.
The Texas Stars had another tough go of things this past week in the first three games of their four-game road trip, starting off with a 1-0 shutout of the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday but then falling to the Manitoba Moose 3-2 on Saturday and 2-0 in an afternoon game on Sunday.
Landon Bow made all the saves that he needed to — 29 in total — against the Admirals before getting recalled to Dallas the very next day to take the place of the sidelined Ben Bishop. Philippe Desrosiers started the other two games and held his own in the losing efforts, stopping 23 of 26 shots on Saturday and 30 of 31 on Sunday. Colton Point is the other goalie currently in Texas, getting recalled the same day Bow joined Dallas.
Goals have been harder to come by for Texas with Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz up in the NHL, but Joel L’Esperance keeps finding a way. He maintains his command of the AHL’s goal-scoring lead after potting his 26th of the season.