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Midwest rivalries should reignite quickly with heavily weighted Attack schedule

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The Owen Sound Attack open up the 2021-22 season with a home-and-home against the rival London Knights.

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Fingers crossed.

After the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly put a stop to the 2019-20 Attack season and forced the cancellation of the entire 2020-21 campaign, the Ontario Hockey League has charted a course back to action.

A planned 680-game regular-season schedule opens on Oct. 7 in the OHL with games in North Bay, Windsor, and Barrie.

The Owen Sound Attack will get underway Friday, Oct. 8 at the Budweiser Gardens in London before hosting the Knights at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre the next night, Oct. 9.

For the rest of the 68-game slate, the Attack are fed a steady diet of Midwest Division rivals.

The upcoming season has teams facing off against mostly conference foes with few exceptions. The only Eastern Conference team the Attack will play in 2021-22 is the Barrie Colts – their Highway 26 rival.

In fact, The 2021-22 season will see the Attack play a total of 36 games against Midwest Division rivals (Erie, 4; Guelph, 12; Kitchener, 10; London, 10), 26 games against West Division opponents (Flint, 4; Saginaw, 4; Sarnia, 8; Sault Ste. Marie, 4; Windsor, 6) and six games against Barrie. The Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre will play host to 34 home games this season with 21 of these occurring on our traditional Saturday, two on Tuesdays, eight on Wednesday’s and three on Sundays.

The Attack host a New Year’s Day matinee against the Rangers on Jan. 1. The Attack’s Christmas break will be held between Dec. 18 and Dec. 28 with a New Year’s Eve game scheduled in the afternoon at Kitchener.

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The Attack’s home barn, the Bayshore, has been set up for use as both a field hospital and vaccination clinic during the pandemic. It was recently announced Grey Bruce Health Services would begin to remove the field hospital from the rink on July 12 and reopen the building to the community.

The 75-bed field hospital was erected last May as part of contingency planning in case the Grey Bruce region or other areas of the province needed extra capacity to support the pandemic. A number of hospitals in Ontario were asked by the provincial government to build temporary hospitals/Alternate Health Facilities.

The Attack hold a 2-0 record when hosting their home opener against the Knights, winning in a decisive fashion both times. In 1999-2000, Joel Ward had two goals, Bryan Kazarian had three assists and Curtis Sanford had 22 saves in a 6-2 victory, while to start the 2005-2006 season, Bobby Ryan tallied two goals and two assists, while Jeff Kyrakos added a goal and two assists in an 8-1 win.

IMPORT DRAFT

The Canadian Hockey League will hold its import draft Wednesday.

The Attack have the 39th-overall selection and 99th-overall selection in the draft.

The CHL Import Draft is a two-round draft that includes all 60 teams from across the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. Teams may only have two import players on their roster for a season, therefore, not all teams participate fully in the draft.

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The Baie-Comeau Drakkar from the QMJHL hold the draft’s top pick, while the WHL’s Everett Silvertips will pick second followed by the Barrie Colts picking third.

With Czech born Stepan Macachek expected to return to the Scenic City in the fall, Attack GM Dale DeGray told the team’s website he’ll only be using one import selection this year.

“The CHL Import Draft is another way of creating depth within an organization,” said DeGray. “We are looking to use our pick once again to accomplish this. Moving forward, we hope the player selected has the ability to be a top-four defenceman or top-six forward.”

The Attack have had success in the CHL Import Draft. The team has previously selected Stefan Ruzicka (2003), Andrej Sekera (2004), fan-favourite Petrus Palmu (2014), and current Philadelphia Flyers prospect Maksim Sushko (2016).

The 2021 CHL Import Draft begins at 11 a.m., Wednesday and can be viewed online at chl.ca/draft.

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