Kitchener Rangers Assistant Coach Troy Smith will be behind the bench Wednesday night, but not at the team’s game in Owen Sound. Smith is in Drummondville, Quebec serving as Head Coach of Team Ontario at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and will lead his 2-0-1-0 squad into their final preliminary round contest against Team Quebec. A victory will advance the team into the semi-finals on Thursday.
After a 6-5 shootout loss to the United States to open the tournament, Smith’s group has been on a tear, outscoring their opponents 23-1 in back-to-back victories. Ontario’s 28 goals scored is the tournament’s best total so far, while goaltenders Matthew Mancina and Brent Moran have combined to allow just 6 goals against, also a tournament benchmark.
Forwards Connor McDavid and Dante Salituro have led Ontario’s offense with six points each through the opening three games. McDavid, who was the third player in OHL history to be granted exceptional player status for the 2012 Priority Selection, has scored four goals and set up two more, placing him third amongst all participating players. The Erie Otters rookie is also the league’s top scoring freshman with 40 points through the first half of the season.
Salituro has potted three goals, including one game-winner, and added a trio of assists, placing him just behind his teammate in tournament scoring. The Willowdale, ON native has scored 28 points in his rookie season with the Ottawa 67’s, earning him a spot in the top-ten amongst first-year OHL players.
Tonight’s contest, scheduled for 7:30 pm at the Centre Marcel Dionne is a showdown for second place in Pool B, behind Team USA. The winner will also advance to Thursday’s semi-final round. Ontario has finished on the podium every year since 2008, including a bronze medal performance at last year’s event in Windsor.