Led by Adam Mascherin, the Kitchener Rangers are taking the OHL’s Midwest Division by storm. They’re third overall in the league in points and have a six point lead in the division. But with the exception of the Erie Otters, the rest of the division is also playing some good hockey as of late.
The Mississauga Steelheads are all over the map on our individual rankings, while both the Kingston Frontenacs and London Knights jumped the ranks with some hot play over the past week. With that, here’s how our rankings break down.
|1||Kitchener Rangers (+4)||Sarnia Sting (-)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (-)|
|2||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (-1)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (+1)||Sarnia Sting (-)|
|3||Sarnia Sting (-1)||Kitchener Rangers (+2)||Owen Sound Attack (-)|
|4||Owen Sound Attack (-1)||Barrie Colts (-)||Kitchener Rangers (+2)|
|5||Barrie Colts (+1)||London Knights (+3)||Barrie Colts (-1)|
|6||Kingston Frontenacs (+3)||Kingston Frontenacs (+3)||Mississauga Steelheads (+1)|
|7||Peterborough Petes (-3)||Hamilton Bulldogs (+5)||London Knights (+1)|
|8||Erie Otters (-)||Owen Sound Attack (-2)||Hamilton Bulldogs (+4)|
|9||Mississauga Steelheads (+4)||Windsor Spitfires (-2)||Kingston Frontenacs (+2)|
|10||Hamilton Bulldogs (+2)||Peterborough Petes (-8)||Peterborough Petes (-5)|
|11||Windsor Spitfires (-4)||Ottawa 67’s (-)||Windsor Spitfires (-2)|
|12||Ottawa 67’s (-2)||Mississauga Steelheads (+4)||Oshawa Generals (-2)|
|13||Niagara IceDogs (-2)||Guelph Storm (+1)||Ottawa 67’s (+1)|
|14||Saginaw Spirit (+1)||Erie Otters (-1)||Guelph Storm (+1)|
|15||London Knights (+2)||Niagara IceDogs (-)||Niagara IceDogs (-2)|
|16||Guelph Storm (-2)||Saginaw Spirit (+1)||Saginaw Spirit (+1)|
|17||Oshawa Generals (-1)||Oshawa Generals (-7)||Erie Otters (-1)|
|18||Flint Firebirds (-)||North Bay Battalion (-)||Sudbury Wolves (+2)|
|19||Sudbury Wolves (-)||Sudbury Wolves (-)||North Bay Battalion (-)|
|20||North Bay Battalion (-)||Flint Firebirds (-)||Flint Firebirds (-2)|
20. Flint Firebirds
Overall Record: 7-13-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 18th (-2)
Analysis: They have one win in the last 10 games and have started are new losing streak with two in a row. They’ve given up the second most goals in the league and aren’t showing any signs of turning it around.
Wilson’s Hot Take: They beat Sarnia this week. Hockey is weird.
19. North Bay Battalion
Overall Record: 7-13-3-0
Division Standing: 5th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 19th ( – )
Analysis: It’s getting lonely in North Bay and even lonelier at the bottom of the Central Division for the Battalion and Sudbury Wolves. Offensively, they’re doing alright with Justin Brazeau leading the way with 24 points in 23 games. In net, however, the team’s seen four goalie man the crease with Julian Sime seeing the majority of the time. That said, Sime’s numbers are far from impressive with a 3.56 goals against average (GAA) and 0.887 save percentage (SV%).
Wilson’s Hot Take: They’re 4-0 against Sudbury and Flint, and 3-13-3 against everyone else. This is not efficient #QuittinForQuinton, Mr. Butler.
18. Sudbury Wolves
Overall Record: 7-14-4-0
Division Standing: 4th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 20th (+2)
Analysis: Finally, the Wolves are out of the basement. Like many of the teams at the bottom, goaltending is an issue. The trio of McGrath, Frappier and Bowen aren’t getting it done and it’s hurting the Wolves overall.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Yes, they keep losing to North Bay, but I like them to rebound a bit once they start getting some bodies back.
17. Oshawa Generals
Overall Record: 9-12-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 13th (-4)
Analysis: Losing has become far too common in Oshawa. Dropping four spots on this week’s rankings, they are 3-7 in their last 10 games and have lost two straight. It’s been a carousel in net and the Generals have seen the product of their inconsistency.
16. Saginaw Spirit
Overall Record: 9-9-3-0
Division Standing: 4th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 17th (+1)
Analysis: They just continue to climb the ranks, and it’s because of their ability to get it done against some of the top-tier teams. They’re 6-2-2-0 in their last 10 and haven’t lost in regulation in four games – that includes and overtime loss to London and a 5-3 win over Owen Sound. Heck, Evan Cormier might be the reason they’re turning this thing around.
15. Guelph Storm
Overall Record: 10-9-1-2
Division Standing: 3rd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 16th (+1)
Analysis: The Midwest Division is getting hot and it’s no different for the Guelph Storm who are 5-3-1-1 in their last 10 games. That being said, they haven’t won in three games and are seeing the London Knights chomping at their heels in the division standings. Anthony Popovich is doing his part in net with a 2.93 GAA and 0.914 SV% this season while Ryan Merkley continues to carry the load offensively. Still, he’ll need to find a way to fix his minus-15 rating.
14. Niagara IceDogs
Overall Record: 9-8-3-1
Division Standing: 3rd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 15th (+1)
Analysis: What should we make of the IceDogs? They started the year with some good numbers and since then they haven’t been able to find their footing. They have just two wins in their last 10 games and beyond their top three scorers (Maksimov, Jones and Thomas) there’s a major drop-off in production.
13. Erie Otters
Overall Record: 9-11-2-1
Division Standing: 5th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 14th (+1)
Analysis: With the Knights getting hot, someone had to take over the bottom spot in the Midwest Division. That happened to fall on the shoulders of the Erie Otters who’ve given up 90 goals in just 23 games this season. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and that includes two losses to the Saginaw Spirit. Things aren’t looking good for the reigning OHL champs.
Wilson’s Hot Take: This year’s winner of the dubious distinction of “worse than you think they are, but not than you thought they’d be.”
12. Ottawa 67’s
Overall Record: 13-9-1-0
Division Standing: 3rd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 10th (-2)
Analysis: The 67’s are another team that is struggling with consistency. Their record in the last 10 games is a perfect example of just how inconsistent this team has been – 5-5-0 over that span. Can they make believers of us?
11. Windsor Spitfires
Overall Record: 12-10-1-0
Division Standing: 3rd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 7th (-4)
Analysis: They’ve fallen out of the top 10, and now the reality of just having a goalie is starting to set in for Michael DiPietro and the Windsor Spitfires. They’re 5-5 in their last 10 and have lost three in a row. DiPietro is still carrying a 2.65 GAA and 0.917 SV%, but needs help in front of him. Otherwise, this could be a short season for the defending Memorial Cup champions. Good news? They will be getting Gabriel Vilardi back soon.
Jewell’s Hidden Gem: A rough weekend has ‘fire sale’ talk getting started. Is it time for Warren Rychel to pick up the phone?
10. London Knights
Overall Record: 10-10-2-0
Division Standing: 4th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 9th (-1)
Analysis: Sure, they’ve moved down one spot over our previous rankings, but the London Knights are on a tear right now. Still, they’re only .500 thanks to a horrible start to the season. The Knights are 7-2-1 in their last 10 and have won three straight, but they’ll need Robert Thomas to continue his pace if they want to be a force come playoff time.
Wilson’s Hot Take: How much did the Knights’ early-season struggles hurt them? They’re 7-2-1 in their last 10, good for a .750 winning percentage. But .750 hockey over the rest of the season would still only get them to 91 points. That could make for a rough road come playoff time.
9. Mississauga Steelheads
Overall Record: 11-10-0-1
Division Standing: 2nd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 12th (+3)
Analysis: It’s a long way to the top, but the Steelheads are on their way there. They’re 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 and have won three in a row. They’re just five points behind the division-leading Colts with Ryan McLeod and Nicolas Hague among the team’s top three scorers.
Wilson’s Hot Take: The reinforcements are here, and the team is rolling, having gone 8-1-1 since a brutal start.
8. Peterborough Petes
Overall Record: 12-11-0-1
Division Standing: 4th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 3rd (-5)
Analysis: One of the biggest fallers of the week, the Petes are dropping fast. They’ve lost three in a row and seven of their last 10. Jonathan Ang continues to lead the team offensively with 30 points in 24 games while the team sees a major drop off after their top three scorers. Are their big three enough to keep them afloat?
Wilson’s Hot Take: Absolutely wretched week, going 0-3 and getting outscored 12-1. Though better on Sunday against Kitchener, Dylan Wells has looked worrisomely mortal this season.
7. Hamilton Bulldogs
Overall Record: 12-6-1-3
Division Standing: 1st in East
Last Week’s Rank: 11th (+4)
Analysis: The Bulldogs are into the top 10 and are seeing their success pay dividends. They’re first in the East Division and are getting it done without any one driving force on the offensive end. That said, both Donofrio and Fulcher are getting it done in net with a combined GAA of 2.63.
Wilson’s Hot Take: I’m less impressed by them than Kingston, but the Bulldogs are more likely to add this year.
6. Kingston Frontenacs
Overall Record: 12-7-1-2
Division Standing: 2nd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 8th (+2)
Analysis: Kingston may be one of the more dominant teams right now that isn’t getting nearly enough attention. They’re 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are averaging 3.6 goals per game. This team is for real and the OHL needs to look out for Kingston.
5. Owen Sound Attack
Overall Record: 12-7-0-2
Division Standing: 2nd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 4th (-1)
Analysis: They’ve dropped one spot for the last two weeks, but the Attack are still hanging on to second place in the Midwest Division. While they’ve scored 4.6 goals per game on average, they’ve also allowed 3.95 goals per game which could be why they’ve slowly dropped on our overall rankings. If the Attack want to remain a contender, they’ll need to pick up a goalie at some point before the deadline.
Wilson’s Hot Take: This week in The Attack Desperately Need a Goalie: Owen Sound goaltenders have allowed the eighth most goals in the league while facing a league-low in shots.
4. Barrie Colts
Overall Record: 13-6-1-1
Division Standing: 1st in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 5th (+1)
Analysis: They’re the most penalized team in the league with 337 penalty minutes and still they’re sitting atop the Central Division with 13 wins in 21 games. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 – including wins against Oshawa and Niagara. They still aren’t a top-three team, but cut down those penalty minutes and they could be.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Tough loss to the Rangers on Saturday, but they’ve been the East Division’s most consistent team through the season’s first third and look like the class of their conference.
3. Kitchener Rangers
Overall Record: 15-6-2-0
Division Standing: 1st in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 6th (+3)
Analysis: I have them ranked as the top team in the league right now, but combined they hit this week’s list at number three. They’ve won 15 of their first 23 games. They haven’t lost in regulation in nine games and are 8-1-1 in their last 10. It’s hard to think that the Rangers won’t be topping this list in the coming weeks.
Which team will be the team to beat out of the #OHL's Western Conference?
— Tape2Tape (@Tape2TapeTHW) November 22, 2017
Wilson’s Hot Take: A nice win in Barrie on Sportsnet highlighted a perfect 3-0 weekend. The Rangers finish the season having gone 8-1 in their three sets of three games in three days, with their one loss a 3-2 decision to the Soo in Sault Ste. Marie.
2. Sarnia Sting
Overall Record: 18-4-1-0
Division Standing: 1st in West
Last Week’s Rank: 2nd ( – )
Analysis: Still one of the best in the league, the Sting are catching fire again and it won’t be long before they find their way back to the top of this list. They remain the only team to reach the 100-goal plateau at this point in the season with Jordan Kyrou’s 47 points in 21 games going a long way.
1. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Overall Record: 17-3-2-0
Division Standing: 2nd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 1st ( – )
Analysis: They’re just one point behind the Sting for the division and league lead with a game in hand. Matthew Villalta continues to backstop the team to victory, while Tyler Johnson is 3-0-0 since coming over from the London Knights in the Raaymakers trade.
With that, we close out another week of our OHL Power Rankings. Whether you agree or disagree with our panel, we’d like to hear your thoughts on where teams rank in your personal rankings – do you have the same team at number one? We look forward to hearing from you and will be back at it next week with more from the OHL.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.