Owen Tippett is back in Mississauga, which means the season starts now for a team who has struggled to get things going this year. While the Steelheads are one of the biggest climbers in this week’s OHL Power Rankings, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Sarnia Sting are still battling atop the league and we determined that there is a new number one as we head deeper into the OHL season.
As always, I’m joined by Dave Jewell and Matt Wilson as well rank the league’s 20 teams individually on our way to providing readers with an in-depth look at the OHL’s best and worst on a weekly basis. With our top five essentially the same in the overall ranks, the Steelheads and the London Knights are among the most interesting movers on this week’s list.
For two of us, the Sarnia Sting dropped out of the number one spot in this week’s rank. For all of the panelists this week, the Steelheads are the story as they continue to climb their way out of the basement.
|1||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (+1)||Sarnia Sting (-)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (+2)|
|2||Sarnia Sting (-1)||Peterborough Petes (-)||Sarnia Sting (-1)|
|3||Owen Sound Attack (-)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (-)||Owen Sound Attack (-1)|
|4||Peterborough Petes (-)||Barrie Colts (-)||Barrie Colts (+1)|
|5||Kitchener Rangers (+2)||Kitchener Rangers (+5)||Peterborough Petes (-1)|
|6||Barrie Colts (-1)||Owen Sound Attack (-1)||Kitchener Rangers (+1)|
|7||Windsor Spitfires (-1)||Windsor Spitfires (-1)||Mississauga Steelheads (+8)|
|8||Erie Otters (+2)||London Knights (-1)||London Knights (+2)|
|9||Kingston Frontenacs (+5)||Kingston Frontenacs (+6)||Windsor Spitfires (-)|
|10||Ottawa 67’s (-2)||Oshawa Generals (-2)||Oshawa Generals (-4)|
|11||Niagara IceDogs (-2)||Ottawa 67’s (-2)||Kingston Frontenacs (+6)|
|12||Hamilton Bulldogs (-)||Hamilton Bulldogs (-1)||Hamilton Bulldogs (-4)|
|13||Mississauga Steelheads (+4)||Erie Otters (-1)||Niagara IceDogs (-2)|
|14||Guelph Storm (-1)||Guelph Storm (-1)||Ottawa 67’s (-)|
|15||Saginaw Spirit (+5)||Niagara IceDogs (-1)||Guelph Storm (-3)|
|16||Oshawa Generals (-5)||Mississauga Steelheads (+3)||Erie Otters (-3)|
|17||London Knights (-1)||Saginaw Spirit (+3)||Saginaw Spirit (+3)|
|18||Flint Firebirds (-3)||North Bay Battalion (-1)||Flint Firebirds (-2)|
|19||Sudbury Wolves (-)||Sudbury Wolves (-1)||North Bay Battalion (-1)|
|20||North Bay Battalion (-2)||Flint Firebirds (-4)||Sudbury Wolves (-1)|
20. Sudbury Wolves
Overall Record: 6-12-4-0
Division Standing: 4th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 19th (-1)
Analysis: While we have a new team atop the list, we also have a new team at the bottom. The Wolves just can’t seem to find their footing this season. They’re on a four-game losing streak – including losses to Guelph and Owen Sound recently – and are 3-5-2 in their last 10.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Currently last in shot differential, they’re on pace to be outshot by 440. Amazingly, that would be their best shot differential since 2013-14. Woof.
19. North Bay Battalion
Overall Record: 6-12-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 18th (-1)
Analysis: They keep coming back down to earth a little more at a time. Now, the Battalion are sitting one spot from the bottom and are on a four-game losing streak. Add that to their three wins in the last 10 games and this team is fighting to stay remotely relevant just 20 games into the season.
Wilson’s Hot Take: In the words of the immortal Dennis Green, they are who we thought they were. And what we thought they were was very bad.
18. Flint Firebirds
Overall Record: 6-11-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 16th (-2)
Analysis: The Firebirds have given up five or more goals in eight of their last nine games. Oh, and they haven’t won in nine straight either – including eight regulation losses. Things aren’t looking good in Flint.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Giving up five-spots to Saginaw and North Bay (and losing) will not help you in these rankings. The good news? Their ultra-competitive division suggest they’ll be well-position for the Quinton Byfield sweepstakes.
— Tape2Tape (@Tape2TapeTHW) November 13, 2017
17. Saginaw Spirit
Overall Record: 7-9-2-0
Division Standing: 4th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 20th (+3)
Analysis: Finally, the Spirit are out of the basement. They’re 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and are being led by Damien Giroux’s 17 points in 18 games. While they still have a long way to go, wins over Erie and London should help boost their confidence.
Wilson’s Hot Take: I hear people asking “Wait, what about Byfield to the Spirt?” I’m glad you did. The Spirit close the season against a murderer’s row of Owen Sound, Kitchener, London, Sault Ste. Marie, and Windsor. Don’t count them out.
16. Guelph Storm
Overall Record: 10-7-0-2
Division Standing: 3rd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 14th (-2)
Analysis: They’re on a three-game winning streak and are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10. So why are the Storm sitting so far down the list? Well, it’s because the teams around them also got better. The team has scored just 58 goals in 19 games, while giving up 61. Their wins have come against Flint, North Bay and Sudbury, so we’re not quite sold on the team as a whole yet. But if they keep this up, it won’t be the last time we’re talking about the Storm.
15. Niagara IceDogs
Overall Record: 8-6-3-1
Division Standing: 2nd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 12th (-3)
Analysis: Ben Jones and Akil Thomas are running the show in Niagara. But the IceDogs are having a tough go over their last 10 games. With just two wins over that span, the team is falling back towards the bottom of the league after close games against both North Bay and Sudbury.
14. Erie Otters
Overall Record: 8-9-2-1
Division Standing: 4th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 13th (-1)
Analysis: Losses to Saginaw and Hamilton could contribute to the Otters’ drop off this week. Still, the Otters are just five points back in the Midwest Division and have a pair of offensive threats in their lineup in Kyle Maksimovich and Taylor Raddysh that could keep them chugging along. But they haven’t won in three games and that could be an issue.
13. Oshawa Generals
Overall Record: 8-10-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 8th (-5)
Analysis: What should we make of the Generals? Are they streaky or just not good enough? After reaching the top 10 in last week’s rankings, the Generals have fallen back to 13th after five straight losses and a 4-6 record in their last 10. Meanwhile, the rest of the teams around them are starting to click which means the Generals will have to figure out their plan going forward.
12. Mississauga Steelheads
Overall Record: 8-10-0-1
Division Standing: 3rd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 17th (+5)
Analysis: One of the biggest climbers on the list this week, the Steelheads seem to have found their footing. That said, the additions of Ryan McLeod and Owen Tippett will certainly do that for a team. With a 7-2-0-1 record in their last 10, this team is getting back to where they were last season and the rest of the league should take notice.
11. Hamilton Bulldogs
Overall Record: 10-5-1-3
Division Standing: 3rd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 10th (-1)
Analysis: They’ve won four in a row and five of their last 10, but how long can they hold down their place in the standings as the lowest scoring team in the OHL? That’s right. They have just 53 goals in 19 games, but still sit third in the division.
10. Ottawa 67’s
Overall Record: 12-8-1-0
Division Standing: 1st in East
Last Week’s Rank: 9th (-1)
Analysis: Their last two wins came against Oshawa. Big deal. But they also knocked off the Sarnia Sting back on November 5. That, my friends, is a big deal. Regardless, the 67’s have won their last three and are 6-4 in their last 10. You can’t really argue with numbers, and right now the 67’s are a top 10 team in this league.
9. London Knights
Overall Record: 7-9-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 11th (+2)
Analysis: A record below .500 and still the London Knights are in the top 10 in this week’s ranking. Why? It’s simple if you’ve watched the team play at all over the last two weeks, but if you haven’t it’s because this team is for real. A sluggish start has them working from behind to catch up in the division. Still eight points behind the division-leading Kitchener Rangers, the Knights are being led by captain Robert Thomas who has 25 points in 15 games this season – including two hat tricks against the Firebirds.
8. Kingston Frontenacs
Overall Record: 10-6-1-2
Division Standing: 4th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 15th (+7)
Analysis: Up seven spots over last week’s 15th rank, the Frontenacs are catching their stride. A definitive win over Sarnia really put the league on notice when Kingston toppled over them with a 7-1 score. Defenceman Eemeli Rasanen is third on the team in scoring with 15 points in 19 games with Linus Nyman leading the way offensively.
7. Windsor Spitfires
Overall Record: 12-7-1-0
Division Standing: 3rd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 6th (-1)
Analysis: They’re 6-4 in their last 10 games, but this team is relying a lot on the goaltending their getting from Michael DiPietro. Sure, the duo of Aaron Luchuk and Logan Brown have taken the league by storm, but without DiPietro in net, are the Spitfires a top-10 team?
Jewell’s Hidden Gem: The Brown-Luchuk combo has scary potential, at least until the deadline.
6. Kitchener Rangers
Overall Record: 11-6-2-0
Division Standing: 1st in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 7th (+1)
Analysis: The Rangers are first in their division, but the Midwest Division is completely wide open. Still, the Rangers are doing whatever they can to keep their place atop the group. They’re 4-0-1 in their last five and 6-3-1 in their last 10. They’re a low-scoring team, with Adam Mascherin leading the way with 18 points in 19 games, but their goaltending has done a good enough job to keep their winning going.
5. Barrie Colts
Overall Record: 12-4-1-1
Division Standing: 1st in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 5th ( – )
Analysis: The Colts are still dealing with the Svechnikov injury and it isn’t easy losing a guy who had 10 goals in 10 games. Still, the team is 3-0-1 in their last four and 7-2-1 in their last 10. And as Wilson puts it, this team doesn’t stay down for long.
4. Owen Sound Attack
Overall Record: 10-6-0-2
Division Standing: 2nd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 3rd (-1)
Analysis: The Attack have played .500 hockey over the last 10 games, while Nick Suzuki, Sean Durzi and Kevin Hancock continue to thrive on the offensive end. Their problem is that both goaltenders have goals against averages over 3.40 and sub-.900 save percentages.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Their goalies have bettered their opponents’ save percentage in just one of their last seven games – against Kitchener backup Luke Richardson on October 27. I hate to beat a dead horse on this one, but that is not good.
Jewell’s Hidden Gem: They’re just one top goaltender away from greatness.
3. Peterborough Petes
Overall Record: 12-8-0-1
Division Standing: 2nd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 4th (+1)
Analysis: They just keep winning and putting forth solid efforts – led by Jonathan Ang. While their last 10 games aren’t pretty – with a 4-6 record – they still sit second in the East Division behind Ottawa. The Petes are another team that can put up a lot of goals, but need someone to step it up in net.
2. Sarnia Sting
Overall Record: 16-3-1-0
Division Standing: 1st in West
Last Week’s Rank: 1st (-1)
Analysis: For the first time in two weeks, the Sting aren’t sitting atop our rankings. Could the 253 penalty minutes finally be taking its toll on this team? I know we’re looking at this drop to second as a travesty, but the reality of it is that the Sting still sit atop their division. They have 16 wins in 20 games and are the only team in the league with 100-plus goals. There’s nothing to be concerned about.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Don’t look now, but they’ve suddenly lost two games in a row and have been outshot in their last eight – including the likes of North Bay, Sudbury and Flint.
Jewell’s Hidden Gem: Two losses last weekend, but they’re still deadly in all areas.
1. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Overall Record: 15-3-2-0
Division Standing: 2nd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 2nd (+1)
Analysis: The Greyhounds are hot and fast approaching the Sting atop the West Division. They’ve won six games in a row and are 8-2 in their last 10. Boris Katchouk and Morgan Frost continue to lead the way offensively, while Matthew Villalta and Tyler Johnson continue to hold down the fort in net – Villalta more than the latter.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Comfortably second in the league in shot differential and tied for second in goal differential. GM Kyle Raftis will add aggressively, too.
Do you like the new number one ranking for the Greyhounds, or is there someone else on the list that you think should be higher or lower? Let us know what your thoughts are by commenting below as we look ahead to next week’s ranking.
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.