By Victor Fernandes Erie Times-News staff blogger
Staff writer Victor Fernandes has ice in his veins. Hockey – he plays it, coaches it and provides the region's best coverage of it.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1716
Posts tagged ‘Kris Knoblauch’
Posted: May 14th, 2014

OHL All-Star Team
First team (voting points in parentheses)

C – Scott Laughton, Oshawa (62)
LW – Dane Fox, Erie (83)
RW – Connor Brown, Erie (88)
D – Aaron Ekblad, Barrie (93)
D – Slater Koekkoek, Windsor (55)
G – Alex Nedeljkovic, Plymouth (67)
Coach – D.J. Smith, Oshawa (48)

Second Team
C – Connor McDavid, Erie (61)
LW Michael Dal Colle, Oshawa (28)
RW – Scott Kosmachuk, Guelph (50)
D – Adam Pelech, Erie (52)
D – Nikita Zadorov, London (51)
G – Matt Murray, Sault Ste. Marie (57)
Coach – Kris Knoblauch, Erie (47)

Third Team
C – Sam Bennett, Kingston (38)
LW – Max Domi, London (23)
RW – Nick Baptiste, Sudbury (19)
D – Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie (34)
D – Matt Finn, Guelph (27)
G – Oscar Dansk, Erie (29)
Coach – Scott Walker, Guelph (38)


Posted: April 25th, 2014

GUELPH, Ontario – There isn’t much to say about the Erie Otters’ season-ending 5-0 loss to Guelph in Game 5 of the OHL’s Western Conference finals.
It was all Storm from start to finish of a dominant performance, starting with 3 special-teams goals in the first period and ending with Justin Nichols’ 40-save effort.
The Otters had their moments – in this game and in this series. But aside from their Game 4 win on home ice, the Otters failed to capitalize on their chances in this series.
“Ultimately, they were the better team in these games,” Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch said.

Check out the post-game news conference with Knoblauch and captain Connor Brown here

Posted: April 21st, 2014

My colleague, John Dudley, describes the Erie Otters’ troubles well in his column today – “The question isn’t who will be in net for the Erie Otters” for Game 4 Tuesday. “The question is whether it matters.”
Devin Williams and Oscar Dansk had another tough night in goal against Guelph.
The tandem in net allowed seven goals on 41 shots, and have surrendered 19 goals on 97 shots in the first three games of the series. But as the Otters face a 3-0 series deficit, they face face more glaring issues.

Here’s just a few thoughts on that…

* The No. 1 line of Connor Brown, Dane Fox and Connor McDavid have been nearly non-existent in the series. The Storm have given McDavid (0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points) no time and space by taking away time and space and using a physical style. Without McDavid at his playmaking best, Brown (2-0-2) hasn’t enjoyed as many quality scoring chances as he did all season long. Fox (0-1-1) hasn’t played an active role on the offensive end throughout the series. Meanwhile, his frustration level has grown with each passing game – to the tune of 10 penalty minutes and a 10-minute misconduct that ended his evening early in Game 1.

* Puck possession was a huge key to success in the regular season, and in the first two series against Saginaw and Sault Ste. Marie. But aside from the start of Games 1 and 2, the Otters haven’t consistently sustained pressure in the offensive end. The more they have the puck, the less opportunity the Storm have to score.

* The Otters haven’t been mentally tough — letdowns after strong starts, allowing goals moments after scoring goals of their own, one bad penalty after another (13 short-handed situations overall in Game 3 tonight). And the Storm seemingly have taken advantage of every mistake.

* The Otters haven’t been aggressive on defense, which have given the Storm plenty of time and space. You can’t give that team any time and space and expect to win. But in the first three games, it seems like the Otters showed too much respect to the Storm from a defensive perspective. That has made life difficult for Williams (who will start Game 4 Tuesday) and Dansk. Perfect example – the Otters allowed only seven quality chances in the first two periods of Game 2 on Friday. The Storm scored on five of them.

Here’s what head coach Kris Knoblauch and D Adam Pelech had to say in the post-game news conference… 

Posted: April 18th, 2014

Oscar Dansk

GUELPH, Ontario – Oscar Dansk‘s struggles in net continued tonight, but he had plenty of help in allowing seven goals on 30 shots in a 7-2 loss to Guelph tonight in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
The OHL’s stingiest scoring defense in the regular season has been unable to handle wave after wave of attacks from the league’s highest-scoring offense this season. The Otters succumbed to a series of 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s, especially in the third period. The Storm deserve lots of credit, because they capitalized on scoring chances with their speed, pinpoint passing and even better shots. But the Otters need to slow down the Attack in a pair of must-win games in Erie on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’ve got to be better,” D Spencer Abraham said. “We know we can’t give them much. They have so much talent up front, much like us. Their top 6 is amongst the best in the league. … Everyone just has to tighten up. One mistake here and there, and it’s been ending up in the back of our net.” 

That begins with better puck possession, which was a staple through the Otters’ success in the regular season and through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Otters started strong for the second straight game, to the tune of a 13-1 advantage in shots. “They capitalized on their opportunities. We didn’t,” head coach Kris Knoblauch said.
He needs more consistent play from the team’s top line of OHL goals leader Dane Fox, OHL scoring leader Connor Brown and second-year phenom Connor McDavid. They were held to one point in Game 2 – McDavid’s assist on D Cory Genovese‘s goal – and four points (including one goal) in the first two games. They were arguably the league’s best line in the regular season, and were on fire against Saginaw and Sault Ste. Marie. It’s time to raise their game again.

*** As expected, Knoblauch didn’t reveal whether Dansk or Devin Williams will start in goal for Game 3. Yet he did say he started Dansk tonight because Williams needed rest. Williams allowed five goals on 26 shots in a Game 1 loss. But before that, he and the Otters had nine days off after eliminating Sault Ste. Marie in a four-game sweep. So how was he tired?

*** The Otters deserved a better fate early in the game for the second straight night. Shots were 13-1 Otters at one point in the first period. Yet the Storm scored first on their 2nd shot. The Otters built a 16-9 shot advantage in the period, but were still down 3-0. It just shows strong how dangerous the Storm really are.

- Victor Fernandes

Series schedule
No. 3 Erie vs. No. 1 Guelph
Storm lead series 2-0
Game 1 – Guelph 5, Erie 4
Game 2 – Guelph 7, Erie 2
Game 3 – Monday at Erie, 7 p.m.
Game 4 – Tuesday at Erie, 7 p.m.
Game 5 – Friday at Guelph, 7:30 p.m.*
Game 6 – April 26 at Erie, 7 p.m.*
Game 7 – April 28 at Guelph, 7 p.m.*
* If necessary

No. 1 Oshawa vs. No. 2 North Bay
Battalion lead series 1-0
Game 1 – North Bay 1, Oshawa 0
Game 2 – Sunday at Oshawa, 6:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Tuesday at North Bay, 7 p.m.
Game 4 – Wednesday at North Bay, 7 p.m.
Game 5 – Friday at Oshawa, 7:05 p.m.*
Game 6 – April 26 at North Bay, 7 p.m.*
Game 7 – April 28 at Oshawa, 7:05 p.m.*

* If necessary


Posted: April 18th, 2014

GUELPH, Ontario – The turning point in the Western Conference finals will occur tonight in Game 2.
Erie Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch is starting Oscar Dansk in net, a night after Devin Williams allowed 5 goals on 26 shots in a 5-4 Game 1 loss – but more importantly, after Williams played so well through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Knoblauch has gone down this road once before this postseason – Game 3 against Saginaw in the first round. Dansk allowed five goals on 25 shots and was replaced by Williams in what became a 7-6 OT loss. That momentarily gave the Spirit life in the series after they lost the first two games in Erie. And that move could have changed the overall series.
I’m not 100 percent surprised by the move. Williams wasn’t bad – average but not bad – in Game 1. But it seemed like the time Knoblauch would consider making the switch. Williams also hasn’t enjoyed a ton of success against the Storm this season – 21 goals against on 182 shots (.884 save percentage) in 5 games this season.
If this move produces a win tonight, the Otters will gain more than home-ice advantage. They will gain added confidence and mometum as they head back to Erie for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Tuesday. If it doesn’t work, the Otters are in trouble.

- Victor Fernandes


Posted: April 17th, 2014

GUELPH, Ontario – Even in a game with nine goals, five lead changes and four ties, Dane Fox – the OHL’s leading goal scorer in the regular season – was seemingly non-existent offensively in the Erie Otters’ Game 1 loss to Guelph tonight.
Fox never found his rhythm offensively, because he wasn’t his usual aggressive self. When Fox is at his best, he works relentlessly to get into open ice, puts constant pressure on defenses and utilizes on one of the league’s quickest shots.
But on this night, he seemed stagnant. He didn’t move his feet as well as he ordinarily does. At one point, Fox seemed hurt, as he skated to the bench hunched over with what appeared to be a grimace on his face.
He certainly was frustrated as the game progressed. That frustration boiled over in a big way late in the third period, as he vehemently argued a tripping penalty – his third minor penalty of the game – which led to an early trip to the dressing room with a 10-minute misconduct after being given a good bit of leeway from the officials. That left the Otters short-handed for two minutes, and then during a 6-on-4 power play in the closing seconds that included a final faceoff with 4 seconds left.
Fox joins Brendan Gaunce (who took that draw) as the team’s top faceoff guys.
Fox didn’t speak with the media after the game. Instead, he boarded the team bus early. Yet when asked to assess Fox’s late-game outburst, head coach Kris Knoblauch said, “I’m disappointed when anybody on my team loses it like that.”
“Certainly we could have them at the end of the game for that last shift and that last faceoff,” Knoblauch added. “But certainly we have to stay much more composed and focused, because certainly that’s not who we are. This time of the year, obviously emotions run hot. But certainly we have to look forward to our next shift.”
On the bright side, Fox is too good not to bounce back. Expect a much better effort from him in Game 2 Friday night.

*** Knoblauch didn’t want to comment on the controversial tripping penalty against Fox. Then he ended up commenting anyway. “I didn’t think that was tripping at the end,” he said. “Fox was trying to lift his stick. (Fox) was on his hands, and (the Storm player) falls down.”
The officiating was consistent for the most part. But that was a tough spot to call a penalty that was borderline at best.

*** Defenses didn’t struggle as much as the 5-4 score would indicate. Both offenses were simply in top form.
There wasn’t a bad goal all night. Instead, there were deflections and redirects, strong finishes on odd-man rushes, 2 or 3 wicked wrist shots (including Connor Brown‘s power-play goal in the first period) and a slap shot from Tyler Bertuzzi that sailed through D Travis Dermott‘s legs and past G Devin Williams.

*** However, the Otters’ D has to step up Friday, because a Storm club that scored 5 goals on 26 shots in Game 1 gets suspended 40-goal scorer Brock McGinn back in the lineup.

*** Speaking of the Storm’s attack, this game showed how dangerous they are. They have more quality scorers beyond frontline guys like McGinn, Scott Kosmachuk, Zack Mitchell and Kerby Rychel. Bertuzzi had 2 goals tonight, while Ryan Horvat scored the GW goal 6 minutes into the third period.
“The other lines have to be able to chip in and take some of the pressure off the guys,” head coach Scott Walker said.

- Victor Fernandes




Posted: April 16th, 2014

Posted: April 16th, 2014

Kris Knoblauch led the Erie Otters from last place in the Western Conference – and the league’s second-worst record – to a franchise-record 52 wins and the Western Conference championship series. But that wasn’t enough for Knoblauch to capture the OHL’s Coach of the Year award.
Knoblauch earned 47 voting points, one behind Oshawa’s D.J. Smith, in balloting. Smith led the Generals to the Eastern Conference’s regular-season championship and into the conference finals against North Bay. Guelph’s Scott Walker, whose club won the Hamilton Spectator Trophy as the league’s regular-season champion and face the Otters in the conference finals, finished third with 38 voting points.
Smith will receive the trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony on June 3 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He also will be the league’s nominee for CHL Coach of the Year.

Posted: April 11th, 2014

Erie Otters C Kyle Pettit was back on the ice for a full practice for the first time since having his left calf slashed by a skate blade in Game 4 of the opening-round series against Saginaw. He’s expected to rejoin the lineup for the start of the Western Conference finals. For now, he will focus on regaining his game shape.
“It’s pretty exciting again. It’s been a slow process, but it’s getting a lot better, ” said Pettit, who skated on his own twice earlier in the week without pain. “That was really surprising to me,” he said. “Maybe I’m a little hesitant, but it’s going to take some time just to get back to normal. … It’s what the practice is for.”


Some players watched the webcast Game 4 in the Guelph-London series on their off night Thursday. Some enjoyed a second day away from hockey. But the coaching staff was hard at work, as they traveled to London, Ontario, to watch the Storm’s 6-3 win at Budweiser Gardens. They are familiar with the Storm and Knights, as the Otters faced their Midwest Division rivals six times apiece in the regular season. But the Otters have tinkered with their strategy from series to series, head coach Kris Knoblauch said. Those teams have done that as well.
“They’re always changing their game a little bit, and they’ll change their game when they play us,” Knoblauch said before Friday’s practice at Erie Insurance Arena, the team’s first time back on the ice since completing a four-game sweep of Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday in the conference semifinals. “You can watch games on video, but you only see a third of the ice. (Watching games live) gives you a better idea of what’s going on. It gives you a little bit better perspective of what they’re doing.”


Looks like the Otters will have a full week of practice before starting the conference finals. Knoblauch said he expects the best-of-seven series to begin next Friday. So he will need to keep practice fresh to keep his players sharp.
“This time of year you can only practice so much,” he said. Pettit is happy about the long break, though. “I’m getting a lot of rest and working on (my leg),” he said. ”


Oscar Dansk

Oscar Dansk seems like a more confident goaltender these days. He’s still adjusting to what he called a “new experience” – life as a backup to Devin Williams. But Dansk has worked hard in practice to regain the form that made him one of the league’s top goaltenders in the regular season. He also has returned to the old pads he used in the regular season.
“I just have to learn how to handle this kind of situation myself,” he said. “A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to get my feel back, getting back in the groove. I’ve felt really good in practice.”
Posted: April 7th, 2014

NHL Central Scouting unveils its final rankings for the 2014 Entry Draft on Tuesday. Erie Otters G Devin Williams may or may not make the list. But he likely impressed a group of scouts that numbered at least 15 with his 29-save effort and second straight shutout in a 2-0 Game 3 win against Sault Ste. Marie.
His teammates also deserve some credit for their strong defensive performance in front of him.
Here’s what D Troy Donnay and LW Andre Burakovsky had to say after the game.
Also, check out head coach Kris Knoblauch‘s post-game news conference…