Majors have no mercy for young Gens

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

OSHAWA -- Junior hockey sensation John Tavares has two things in common with Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Sydney Crosby -- both are on a pace for 100 point seasons and both are playing on teams that don't win very often.

But while the National Hockey League Penguins look like they have the potential to reverse their early season losing streak, the light at the end of the Generals' tunnel is an express train to nowhere.

The storied Ontario Hockey League franchise is mired in last place overall -- not just last place in the OHL but last place in all of Canadian major junior hockey.

Last night 15-year-old Tavares had a point -- his 15th of the season -- in a 9-4 loss against the St. Mike's Majors who came to Oshawa with their own two-game losing streak.

It was the Generals' ninth loss in 10 games, bringing their record to 1-8-1-0.

The Gens, obviously, are very much a team looking to the future.

It's a team loaded with rookies -- nine of 19 players who have played in all 10 games this season are freshmen -- so expectations lay beyond this year.

A new downtown arena is under construction and is scheduled to open in time for the 2006-07 season with the city finalizing a bid for the 2008 Memorial Cup.

That should be the year Tavares -- hopefully by that time surrounded with a solid core of veterans -- reaches his junior peak to help win a cup in Oshawa.

The youngster has big shoes to fill as he is already being compared favourably to Oshawa legends Bobby Orr and Eric Lindros.

Head coach Randy Ladouceur knows his rookie-laden team team isn't going to contend for a top five finish this season but he still is looking for some wins.

"Obviously we'd like to be winning, there's no doubt about it," Ladouceur told an Oshawa newspaper prior to last night's game. "It's definitely frustrating. We've got a lot of inexperience on our team right now."

The Generals went ahead early last night taking a 3-1 lead into the second period.

But four consecutive goals by the Majors in the second period pretty much iced the contest.

Tavares drew an assist on the second Oshawa goal and played solidly on a regular shift in addition to power play and penalty killing duties.

"Obviously we can't continue to lose so consistently the way we have been," Ladouceur said. "We need to find a way to win."

The Majors got a pair of goals from Justin Donati and Justin Dibenedetto with singles from Ryan Wilson, Matt Caria, Peter Franchin, Marek Horskey and Tyler Donati, while the Gens responded with two goals from Adam Berti and singles from Cal Clutterbuck and Peter Tsimikahis.

JEFFERSON RELEASED

Tom Jefferson, 18, brother of disgraced ex-NHLer Mike Danton, has been given his full release by the Generals.


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