They say, better late than never. While it’s been well over a week since our OHL power rankings showed up on your computer screen, but we’re back and with some teams looking to make a statement in this week’s edition of The Hockey Writers’ rankings.
While the top five remained relatively similar with a couple teams swapping spots, the middle of the pack saw some new cities climb into the mix as they look to better their numbers on the season. As is the case every week, I’m joined by Dave Jewell and Matt Wilson with their takes on the OHL’s top teams. With that in mind, here’s how each of us ranked the league’s 20 teams.
Each of our three panelists take the time every week to rank the OHL’s teams. Here’s how they fall over the past seven days.
|1||Sarnia Sting (-)||Sarnia Sting (-)||Sarnia Sting (-)|
|2||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (-)||Peterborough Petes (+2)||Owen Sound Attack (-)|
|3||Owen Sound Attack (+1)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (-)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (-)|
|4||Peterborough Petes (+1)||Barrie Colts (-2)||Peterborough Petes (+1)|
|5||Barrie Colts (-2)||Owen Sound Attack (-)||Barrie Colts (-1)|
|6||Windsor Spitfires (+3)||Windsor Spitfires (+3)||Oshawa Generals (+5)|
|7||Kitchener Rangers (-)||London Knights (+3)||Kitchener Rangers (-1)|
|8||Ottawa 67’s (+2)||Oshawa Generals (+3)||Hamilton Bulldogs (-1)|
|9||Niagara IceDogs (-3)||Ottawa 67’s (+4)||Windsor Spitfires (-)|
|10||Erie Otters (+2)||Kitchener Rangers (-3)||London Knights (+3)|
|11||Oshawa Generals (+4)||Hamilton Bulldogs (-3)||Niagara IceDogs (-3)|
|12||Hamilton Bulldogs (-4)||Erie Otters (+2)||Guelph Storm (-)|
|13||Guelph Storm (+1)||Guelph Storm (+4)||Erie Otters (+3)|
|14||Kingston Frontenacs (-1)||Niagara IceDogs (-8)||Ottawa 67’s (+1)|
|15||Flint Firebirds (-4)||Kingston Frontenacs (-3)||Mississauga Steelheads (+2)|
|16||London Knights (+1)||Flint Firebirds (-1)||Flint Firebirds (-6)|
|17||Mississauga Steelheads (+3)||North Bay Battalion (+1)||Kingston Frontenacs (-3)|
|18||North Bay Battalion (-2)||Sudbury Wolves (-2)||North Bay Battalion (-)|
|19||Sudbury Wolves (-1)||Mississauga Steelheads (-)||Sudbury Wolves (-)|
|20||Saginaw Spirit (-1)||Saginaw Spirit (-)||Saginaw Spirit (-)|
20. Saginaw Spirit
Overall Record: 6-8-2-0
Division Standing: 4th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 20th ( – )
Analysis: While they aren’t fifth in the division anymore, they are still the bottom feeders of these power rankings. Enough said? I think so.
Jewell’s Hidden Gems: Is it too early to start the Bottom Out for Byfield idea?
19. Sudbury Wolves
Overall Record: 6-10-3-0
Division Standing: 3rd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 18th (-1)
Analysis: Up and down, the Wolves enjoyed one week at the 18 spot before falling back to their original rank. If they can continue to play relatively good hockey, they won’t be this low for the entire season.
18. North Bay Battalion
Overall Record: 6-9-2-0
Division Standing: 4th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 17th (-1)
Analysis: With Sudbury jumping up one spot in the division, the Battalion are staring disappointment right in the face. With the amount of goals they are giving up, eventually they will need to find a way to provide more offence if they’re looking to climb out of this hole.
17. Mississauga Steelheads
Overall Record: 6-9-0-1
Division Standing: 5th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 19th (+2)
Analysis: Even as the bottom seed in the Central Division, the Steelheads are playing better hockey than their record shows. They’re still missing some key talents in the lineup, but that hasn’t stopped them from putting up 52 goals so far this season.
16. Flint Firebirds
Overall Record: 6-9-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 10th (-6)
Analysis: It is a long way to the bottom, but the Firebirds are on the road there. They’re 0-6-1 in their last seven games and are showing no signs of slowing down the streak giving up five-plus goals in multiple games over the past week. Aside from the Wolves, the Firebirds have given up the second most goals in the league this season (75) and their offence hasn’t equaled what they’ve given up.
15. Kingston Frontenacs
Overall Record: 8-5-1-2
Division Standing: 2nd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 13th (-2)
Analysis: It almost seems wrong to see the Frontenacs so low on the list this week. Even going 3-0-1, they’ve found a way to drop down the list by two spots. That being said, they’re still 3-4-1-2 in their last 10 games and that’s why they haven’t cracked the top 10 this week. Linus Nyman continues to lead the way for the team and you shouldn’t be surprised if the Frontenacs jump the ranks next week.
14. Guelph Storm
Overall Record: 8-7-0-2
Division Standing: 4th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 16th (+2)
Analysis: They sit just three points back of the division-leading Kitchener Rangers and have a winning record over their last 10 games. Ryan Merkley leads the way on the offensive end with 18 points in 17 games, but if the Storm are for real, he and his teammates will have to clean up their play in the defensive zone.
13. Erie Otters
Overall Record: 8-7-2-1
Division Standing: 3rd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 15th (+2)
Analysis: The Midwest Division seems to be on the rise in our rankings. The Otters look like they’ve cleaned up their act and now have a winning record – two points back of the first-place Rangers. Taylor Raddysh continues to impress with 26 points in 17 games as the team continues to move on following the losses of Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome.
Wilson’s Hot Take: The points streak is nice, but like Windsor, they can’t add and I don’t think they’re as good as the contenders.
12. Niagara IceDogs
Overall Record: 7-5-3-1
Division Standing: 2nd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 6th (-6)
Analysis: Among the biggest fallers of the week, the IceDogs haven’t won in six games. Ben Jones and Akil Thomas continue to lead the way offensively, but the team needs to find some secondary scoring if they are going to maintain their spot behind the Colts in the division.
11. London Knights
Overall Record: 6-9-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 14th (+3)
Analysis: They might be one of the only sub-.500 teams on the verge of cracking the top 10, but the Knights showed glimpses of glory over the past week – including an eight-goal performance against the Firebirds. They’re 5-3-2 in their last 10, but we still need to see more before we’re fully convinced that they’re back.
10. Hamilton Bulldogs
Overall Record: 7-5-1-3
Division Standing: 4th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 8th (-2)
Analysis: Sure, they dropped two spots on this week’s ranking, but the Bulldogs still crack the top 10 in one of the harder divisions in the league. They haven’t scored much this season which could lead to further woes, but they remain one of the lowest penalized teams in the league. Scoring is everything, however, and they’ll need to find some of it soon.
9. Ottawa 67’s
Overall Record: 9-8-1-0
Division Standing: 3rd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 12th (+3)
Analysis: They’re the second highest penalized team in the league this season (249 minutes in penalties), but the biggest issue for the 67’s so far is their lack of responsibility on the defensive end. They’ve given up 74 goals this season which is the third highest total behind the Wolves and the Firebirds. For them to make a move in the East, something will have to change.
8. Oshawa Generals
Overall Record: 8-7-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 11th (+3)
Analysis: They may be last in their division, but it’s a tough division to take advantage of this season. The Generals still have eight wins in 17 games and are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. Their fifth place rank in the division isn’t remotely indicative of how they’ve played this season.
7. Kitchener Rangers
Overall Record: 10-6-1-0
Division Standing: 1st in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 7th ( – )
Analysis: The Rangers have stepped back on the gas pedal in the Midwest Division. While the bottom three teams in their division continue to search for consistency, the Rangers have put up 10 wins so far this season. Adam Mascherin continues to lead the way offensively with eight goals and 14 points in 17 games.
6. Windsor Spitfires
Overall Record: 11-5-1-0
Division Standing: 3rd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 9th (+3)
Analysis: The Spits are back in full force and are just seven points back of the league-leading Sarnia Sting. Logan Brown has returned from his NHL stint with something to prove – scoring five goals and 11 points in just six games since his return. Aaron Luchuk is leading the way and ranks second in the league with 33 points.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Just how good is Michael DiPietro? For starters, this team is seventeenth in shot differential, at minus-53. The team as a whole is capable but can’t add anything. However, if it’s just Sarnia and a bunch of scrubs at the deadline, it will be tempting for Warren Rychel to hold on to MDP and pray in the playoffs. I’m still saying sell.
Jewell’s Hidden Gems: The return of Brown means two things for the Spitfires – short-term success and long-term draft picks. They need to get the wins while they can because it’ll be tough after the trade deadline.
5. Barrie Colts
Overall Record: 10-4-1-1
Division Standing: 1st in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 3rd (-2)
Analysis: How the highest penalized team in the league can manage to remain atop their division still baffles me. But the Colts have found a way to do it. Hit with 252 penalty minutes this season, the Colts have 10 wins to show over a 16-game schedule and are 6-3-1 over their last 10. Not bad. Still they took a dip in this week’s ranks as some of the other top-tiered teams played a little better.
4. Peterborough Petes
Overall Record: 11-6-0-1
Division Standing: 1st in East
Last Week’s Rank: 5th (+1)
Analysis: Their offence is thriving with 75 goals in 18 games – led by Jonathan Ang and Logan DeNoble. But their depth in scoring and ability to shut things down in their own end might be why the Petes aren’t a team to be reckoned with this season.
3. Owen Sound Attack
Overall Record: 9-5-0-2
Division Standing: 2nd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 4th (+1)
Analysis: After a hot start, the Attack have cooled off just a bit. Still, their offence is what keeps them chugging along seeing as they have given up 61 goals in just 16 games – an average of 3.81 this season.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Sault GM Kyle Raftis’ rumoured refusal to deal goaltender Joseph Raaymakers to the Attack looks brilliant now, with Raaymakers having helped stabilize the Knights in London and the Sound’s two goalies labouring to twin .870 save percentages.
2. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Overall Record: 12-3-2-0
Division Standing: 2nd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 2nd ( – )
Analysis: Their goal? It’s to catch the Sarnia Sting at some point this season. With their division-rival Sting having a season worth writing home about, the Greyhounds are still sitting second in arguably the toughest division this year. Their 12 wins in 17 games are a prime example of just how impressive the Hounds have been.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Silly Hounds, thinking they could outshoot Sarnia by a mere 18 and win. They’ll get another crack at the Sting in Sarnia on November 10th.
1. Sarnia Sting
Overall Record: 15-2-0-0
Division Standing: 1st in West
Last Week’s Rank: 1st ( – )
Analysis: What more can be said about this incredible start to the season. The Sting have lost just two games in their first 17 and are averaging 5.35 goals per game. Add that to their 2.88 goals against this season and there’s no reason that the should lose top spot any time soon.
Do you have any thoughts on this week’s rankings? If so, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, as our panel would love to hear your thoughts. As this ranking came out late this week, we will have another up soon, so be sure to check it out.
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.