Things are looking good for Hawerchuk's Colts

DOUG GRAHAM, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Dale Hawerchuk has quite the double rebound to open the hockey season.

First, the former star player witnessed Winnipeg, where he played for nine of his 16 seasons, come off the mat to become a National Hockey League city again.

It also appears that Hawerchuk's Barrie Colts, are intending to soar upwards in the Ontario Hockey League standings.

The Colts won just 15 games in Hawerchuk's rookie coaching season last year. He patiently went about rebuilding a team with a youth movement that resulted in Barrie missing the playoffs for the first time in its 16-year franchise history.

Season No. 2 is looking a lot different for Hawerchuk and Co.

The Colts, with the likes of Tanner Pearson -- the first winner of the OHL player of the week -- and captain Colin Behenna leading the way, won their opening two games over the Kingston Frontenacs and Brampton Battalion.

The 2-for-2 start is vastly different than last year's Colts, who didn't win No. 2 until their 12th game.

By that time, the Colts were in last in the Eastern Conference, never to leave that spot.

Granted, the Colts haven't played any of the top teams yet -- in fact, Kingston (0-3) is looking like it will be the Barrie of the 2011-12 season -- but Barrie has won without a full lineup.

Ironically, the team responsible for holding on to one of Barrie's top assets, Mark Scheifele, is the Winnipeg Jets.

Scheifele -- although he has looked good in two NHL exhibition games, scoring twice and assisting on three -- is likely too young to stay with the NHL club. But the Jets, with the fan frenzy created by the team's return, are probably going to showcase the youngster a little before eventually sending him back to Barrie.

Hawerchuk knows exactly

what Scheifele is feeling. Hawerchuk was in his 19th year when he ascended into the NHL right after an 81-goal junior season in 1980-81 with the Cornwall Royals.

He was the No. 1 overall pick to the NHL and the Jets kept the young man up. Hawerchuk justified that in spades. He won the Calder Trophy with an explosive 45-goal rookie season, topping 100 points in what would be the first of six times he went over the century mark in points.

Should Scheifele defy the odds and stick with the Jets, it will be a bit of a blow to the Colts.

Either way, Hawerchuk will be happy. If he gets the player back, great. If Scheifele stays in the NHL, Hawerchuk knows from his history what that would be like for the young man.

AROUND THE O

Always interesting to see how the first-round draft picks in May get out of the gate for their OHL teams. Max Domi, the Kingston-to-London draft pick, had the most successful start with his hat trick for the Knights against the Saginaw Spirit. Domi already is holding a spot in the OHL's top-10 scoring list. London's other first-round pick, Bo Horvat, has a goal and an assist. Also off to a good start is Nicholas Ritchie, the No. 2 overall pick of the Peterborough Petes. Ritchie has scored in both of the Petes' games. Mitchell Dempsey, from the Cambridge Hawks, has a goal and two assists as the Plymouth Whalers' top pick. Owen Sound's first rounder, Zach Nastasiuk has scored twice and defenceman Alex Yuill, the 22nd and final pick of the first round, has a goal and an assist for the Barrie Colts. Not including goaltender Spencer Martin of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, 10 of the 21 first rounders have registered a point. Defenceman Aaron Ekblad, who earned exceptional player status and was the first overall pick of Barrie, doesn't have a point yet ... The OHL already has handed out 29 suspension games through the exhibition schedule with Sarnia's Dean Pawlaczuk, a second-time offender, receiving eight games. Ottawa's Dalton Smith was suspended for 10 games for his charge on goalie Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls during a game this past weekend in the nation's capital. Smith received a major for the charge, which resulted in Subban's helmet being knocked off.

THE BOOK ON

Mark Scheifele

Centre, Barrie Colts The Winnipeg Jets were so impressed by Scheifele's rocket rise up the scout's rankings list that he became targeted as the team's first-round pick in June's NHL Entry Draft. Scheifele went from a junior B scorer to a 75-point player in his st season in the OHL. The Jets see cheifele developing ven more under ach Dale Hawerchuk. If Scheifele turns out to be anything like his coach in his star-filled years with the Jets, everybody in Winnipeg will be thrilled.

2010-11 Stats

G 22 A 53 Pts 75 Pim 35

Strengths

A smart player who sees the ice well, Scheifele is reminiscent of a young Joe Thornton with his size and play-making ability. Great work ethic and loves to compete. Displays good offensive instincts.

Weaknesses

Expectations are that Scheifele, who was a minus-22 on a last-place Colts team, will improve his two-way game this season on a Barrie club that is more of a contender. At 6-foot-3 and 184 pounds, he still needs to add to his strength and continue to work on his skating.

Rating out of five

Four star


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