A Major slump

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

For 45 minutes before practice yesterday afternoon, Darryl Boyce fired shots on goalie Justin Peters at St. Michael's Arena, trying to find something -- anything -- to help him climb out of a deep scoring rut.

It's a wonder the entire roster of the St. Michael's Majors was not on the ice for early work. Eighteen games into the 2004-05 Ontario Hockey League season, the Majors find themselves in relatively unfamiliar territory: After advancing to the Eastern Conference final in each of the past four seasons, they are now in last place in the conference.

"I don't like this rink anymore," Boyce, an overager who has just four goals and 11 points in 18 games, said in reference to the small 180-by-80 foot surface at St. Mike's

"The (Majors) teams of old were used to it but didn't have the skating ability of this one. All four years I've been here we've been waiting for a new arena, but next year never comes."

Coach/general manager Bud Stefanski likely would let his team practice on the new football field at the school if it led to improvement.

The Majors, who are 5-9-3-1 and play in Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury this weekend, have been blanked three times at home.

Stefanski didn't pull any punches yesterday.

"No one has stepped up to say 'I am going to lead this team,'" Stefanski said. "We've taken a lot of needless penalties and our goaltending has been only been adequate."

SYVRET VS. QUINCEY

The London Knights will try to extend their unbeaten streak to 19 games tonight when they visit the Mississauga IceDogs but the game within the game may be as intriguing.

Kitchener Rangers general manager/coach Peter DeBoer said if any OHL defencemen have a chance of cracking Canada's roster for the world junior championship next month, it's London's Danny Syvret and Mississauga's Kyle Quincey.

"Those two would be two of the front-runners from the OHL," said DeBoer, who will be an assistant coach for Canada. "I'm a big fan of Syvret. He and Quincey are in the mix."

Canada is set to have four WHL players -- Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, Shawn Belle and Braydon Coburn -- return to the blue-line from last winter's team. A fifth spot is expected to be filled by Shea Weber of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets.

BRIEFLY

Owen Sound Attack general manager Mike Futa, on the rumours the Greyhounds will trade star player Jeff Carter: "There are no Carter sweepstakes. (Greyhounds GM) Dave Torrie has not put him out there. Carter has never been made available to anybody."... Maple Leafs prospect John Mitchell of the Plymouth Whalers has registered just six points in 13 games since returning from a back strain and is a team-low minus-8.


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