Generals reaping rewards

DOUG GRAHAM, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

The rewards from the John Tavares trade just keep piling up for the Oshawa Generals, who were among the most impressive teams in the Ontario Hockey League's opening week.

The Generals pounded the rival Peterborough Petes 9-2 in Oshawa after successfully passing one of the tougher opening-night assignments by beating the Petes at the Memorial Centre in Peterborough.

Among the many architects behind those Oshawa wins were Christian Thomas, Lucas Lessio, goaltender Michael Zador and defenceman Scott Valentine.

Those players and young defenceman Nick Quinn are all the result of the trade of Tavares to the London Knights in the winter of 2009.

"The last piece would be Tyler Biggs, who could go in the NHL's first round (next year)," said Generals general manager/coach Chris DePiero.

The Generals used one of their draft picks from the Taveres deal to take a gamble on Biggs, who committed last year and again this year to the U.S. development team program. Biggs was a star in his minor midget season for the Toronto Junior Canadiens.

"We understood (the US program) would be part of it for him. We'd be happy if we can get Tyler here (next year)," DePiero said.

Oshawa, by the looks of the opening weekend, can afford to wait on Biggs. The Generals showcased good offence and physical play up front with the likes of Andy Andreoff, Scott Sabourin and Boone Jenner.

The Generals not only scored often against the Petes but played the rough game, too. When the Friday game in Oshawa turned into a romp, the teams engaged in a full scale line brawl in the third.

The league handed out two-game suspensions to four players on each team on Tuesday. Sitting out for Oshawa will be Jenner, Andreoff, Sabourin and Anton Zupancic.Otherwise, it was a terrific opening for Oshawa.

"We cautioned the players that you can't get too excited. It's early," DePiero said.

"I'm not going to lie, though. It sure beats going 0-2."

DePiero felt vindicated that the Generals' defence and goaltending, which everybody seemed to be pointing to as the team's weak links, more than held up.

"Maybe our defence has been much maligned, but it is not deserved," DePiero said.

"What people maybe don't realize is that we transitioned three 16 year-old (defencemen) into the league last year. Now they (Colin Suellentrop, Jimmy McDowell and Kyle Hope) have that year of experience."

Then there are the veterans. Valentine, who had five assists in the two wins, was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks this summer. Tony DeHart is a good overage defenceman and Calvin de Haan still could be coming back from the New York Islanders. Zador, 19, was solid in both wins and DePiero said he will continue with the 19-year-old as the starter against the Ottawa 67's Friday night. Kevin Bailie is Zador's backup.

"I'm a guy who believes the proof is always in the pudding. (Zador) deserved the job of being in there and he will continue to do so," DePiero said.

AROUND THE OHL

Alex Aleardi is back in Michigan, his home state, with his third OHL team, the Plymouth Whalers, and the familiar setting obviously agrees with the 18-year-old. Aleardi scored seven goals over his three games. He showed signs of that offence in pre-season play, scoring four goals for Belleville before George Burnett made the deal to the Whalers, picking up two second-round draft picks (2012 and 2013). Aleardi was originally drafted (third round) by Kitchener and played for the Rangers in the 2008-09 season. He came out of the Detroit Compuware U-16 program ... Alex Galchenyuk, the No. 1 draft selection, had the best opening weekend of any of the first-round picks. He has two goals for the Sarnia Sting. Only two other first-rounders scored -- Scott Laughton of Oshawa and Jarrod Maidens of the Owen Sound Attack ... Veteran goaltender John Cullen, who has had stops in Niagara and Kingston, is off to a great start with the Sting. Cullen shut out the Windsor Spitfires in Sarnia's season opener.

THE BOOK ON ...

CHRISTIAN THOMAS, RW, OSHAWA GENERALS

The comparisons of an NHL player and his son are natural. In the case of Christian Thomas, the apple did not fall far from the tree stump. His dad Steve (Stumpy) Thomas fashioned a 20-season NHL career (421 goals) with his speed, shot and desire.

"Christian is a lot like his dad. They are both there for their teammates," said Oshawa GM/coach Chris DePiero.

"Christian certainly had a breakout season (41 goals, 25 assists) last year. That was due to his commitment to conditioning last summer. He took that to another level again this summer."

SEASON STATS

GP G A PTS PIM +/-

1 2 0 2 0 +4

Strengths: Thomas plays bigger than his 5-foot-9 stature. Great shot with good speed and an energetic player. "What I really like about Christian is that he is a great teammate. He is a tremendous talent," coach DePiero said.

Weaknesses: Thomas addressed the area he felt needed improving by spending time in the summer in a power skating program. "I always felt he was fast but he has become a lot faster. He wanted to refine his skating and he addressed that," DePiero said.

RATING: FOUR OUT OF FIVE


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