Tavares as good as it gets

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

BRAMPTON -- John Tavares is in the same group as anyone who has watched him play in the Ontario Hockey League.

The 16-year-old is amazed at what he has accomplished in two seasons with the Oshawa Generals.

The Oakville native finished second in league scoring with 134 points in 67 games after scoring his 72nd goal and assisting on three others in a 7-5 loss to the Brampton Battalion yesterday at the Powerade Centre.

"It has gone extremely better than I thought it would and to see where I am now, I am proud," Tavares said. "I just hope I can keep getting better. I'm only 16 and I still have a lot to do."

Sidney Crosby has set the National Hockey League on its ear as a 19-year-old and there is nothing to suggest that Tavares won't be doing the same in three years after he has been selected in the 2009 entry draft. Tavares' 72 goals in the OHL are the most one player has had in the league since Ray Sheppard had 81 in 1985-86. In 132 games since he started skating in the OHL at 15, Tavares has 117 goals and 211 points.

"It's ridiculous," Generals general manager/coach Brad Selwood said. "I can't imagine what kind of numbers he will put up in his next two seasons. We have two more years to work on parts of his game that need to improve."

Those parts are coming along. Tavares was plus-25 this season after he was minus-13 as a rookie. And after the Generals were assessed a string of penalties in the first period against Brampton, Tavares helped kill off the 5-on-3 Battalion power plays.

How important has Tavares become in the eyes of the Generals? Selwood has told the phenom he would prefer that he not play junior-A lacrosse this summer, which he did in 2006.

What Tavares cares most about now is helping the Generals make a long playoff run. Like the majority of his teammates, he is sporting dyed blonde hair and has put away his razor in anticipation of the post-season, which begins Friday night at home for Oshawa in the first round against the Kingston Frontenacs.

"We don't want to have this hair for a week, we want it for a couple of months," Tavares said. "I'm excited about the playoffs. I want to be a leader and help bring success to our team."

The Battalion, which got three goals and two assists from Graham McNabb and a goal and four assists from John Hughes yesterday, will face the Barrie Colts in the first round with Game 1 in Barrie on Saturday.


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