Another week down in the Ontario Hockey League and teams that struggled out of the gate are starting to find their footing. Most players who started the year in the NHL and were coming back are now back with their junior clubs. Chemistry is being built and we’re getting a better idea of who will be among the best in the OHL this season.
While there wasn’t a whole lot of movement in this week’s OHL Power Rankings, our panel did provide readers with a new number one as the Owen Sound Attack took a step back this week for their top seed in last week’s rankings.
As was the case last week, the panel for this edition of the power rankings will be made up of myself, Dave Jewell and Matt Wilson. Based off of our rankings from last week and each team’s performance over the last seven days, here’s how the OHL rankings break down this week.
Our three panel members ranked the league’s 20 teams individually before our final rankings were put together.
|1||Sarnia Sting (-)||Sarnia Sting (+2)||Sarnia Sting (+2)|
|2||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (+4)||Barrie Colts (-1)||Owen Sound Attack (-1)|
|3||Barrie Colts (+1)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (+2)||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (-1)|
|4||Owen Sound Attack (-2)||Peterborough Petes (-)||Barrie Colts (+2)|
|5||Peterborough Petes (-)||Owen Sound Attack (-3)||Peterborough Petes (-)|
|6||Niagara IceDogs (+1)||Niagara IceDogs (+1)||Kitchener Rangers (-2)|
|7||Kitchener Rangers (-4)||Kitchener Rangers (-1)||Hamilton Bulldogs (+1)|
|8||Hamilton Bulldogs (-)||Hamilton Bulldogs (-)||Niagara IceDogs (+2)|
|9||Windsor Spitfires (+1)||Windsor Spitfires (+2)||Windsor Spitfires (+7)|
|10||Ottawa 67’s (+1)||London Knights (+2)||Flint Firebirds (+2)|
|11||Flint Firebirds (+1)||Oshawa Generals (-2)||Oshawa Generals (-4)|
|12||Erie Otters (+4)||Kingston Frontenacs (-2)||Guelph Storm (-1)|
|13||Kingston Frontenacs (-4)||Ottawa 67’s (-)||London Knights (+1)|
|14||Guelph Storm (+1)||Erie Otters (+3)||Kingston Frontenacs (-5)|
|15||Oshawa Generals (-2)||Flint Firebirds (-1)||Ottawa 67’s (-)|
|16||North Bay Battalion (-2)||Sudbury Wolves (-1)||Erie Otters (+1)|
|17||London Knights (+2)||Guelph Storm (-1)||Mississauga Steelheads (-4)|
|18||Sudbury Wolves (-)||North Bay Battalion (-)||North Bay Battalion (+1)|
|19||Saginaw Spirit (-2)||Mississauga Steelheads (-)||Sudbury Wolves (+1)|
|20||Mississauga Steelheads (-)||Saginaw Spirit (-)||Saginaw Spirit (-2)|
20. Saginaw Spirit
Overall Record: 3-6-1-0
Division Standing: 5th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 20th ( – )
Analysis: Well, their week wasn’t awful. But they still haven’t found their way out of the basement yet. After losing 2-1 to Guelph on Saturday, they came out and took home a W in a 3-2 win over the Petes. Let’s see if they can build off the win.
19. Mississauga Steelheads
Overall Record: 2-9-0-0
Division Standing: 5th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 18th (-1)
Analysis: The Steelheads scored 12 goals in three games this week. The problem? They also gave up 12 goals in those games. The came out of the week with a win and two losses. While they’re surely still missing McLeod and Tippett, something has to happen for this team to turn things around after falling one spot in this week’s ranking.
18. Sudbury Wolves
Overall Record: 4-7-2-0
Division Standing: 4th in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 19th (+1)
Analysis: One spot higher than last week, the Wolves are clawing back from their cold start. Their week included two wins coming against Sault Ste. Marie and Kingston – two teams off to much better starts than Sudbury.
17. North Bay Battalion
Overall Record: 4-6-2-0
Division Standing: 3rd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 17th ( – )
Analysis: Well, they got back in the win column after starting the year 3-0-0, but they also lost another two games this week.
Wilson’s Hot Take: They are quietly third in the league in shot differential. The shots do have to enter the net, however.
16. Guelph Storm
Overall Record: 5-6-0-1
Division Standing: 4th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 14th (-2)
Analysis: Down two spots from last week, the Storm actually had a 2-1 record over the past week. Their wins were both one-goal games, but the Storm gave up seven goals in a loss to the Greyhounds on Sunday which didn’t look good on the team. They aren’t far off getting back into the top 15, but defence should be looked at this week.
15. Erie Otters
Overall Record: 5-6-1-0
Division Standing: 3rd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 16th (+1)
Analysis: They had two wins in two games this week with both coming against the top-tiered Owen Sound Attack. They scored 10 goals in those two games, but did give up seven. Our Matt Wilson sees a big trade in the near future, but do the Otters think they’re better than they are?
14. London Knights
Overall Record: 3-8-1-0
Division Standing: 5th in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 15th (+1)
Analysis: The Knights are ranked a tad high, but we all knew they wouldn’t be held down for long. Max Jones and Robert Thomas seem to have got back on track with the two of them combining for five goals in a 5-1 win over Kitchener on Friday. They’ve still got a long way to go, but two road wins is certainly a good start.
13. Kingston Frontenacs
Overall Record: 5-5-0-2
Division Standing: 4th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 9th (-4)
Analysis: The Frontenacs lost three games this week and are currently winless in six (with two losses coming in the shootout). While their one loss came in a nigh-scoring 6-5 game against the Greyhounds, their other two came at the hands of North Bay and Sudbury – two teams they should be able to beat. As we’ve seen in Montreal this season with the Canadiens, goaltending can only carry you so far.
12. Ottawa 67’s
Overall Record: 8-5-1-0
Division Standing: 2nd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 13th (+1)
Analysis: The 67’s actually climbed the rankings this week, but only by one spot. While that might seem odd for a team that is second in their division and has eight wins through 14 games, part of that is because they are still being outscored overall this season and remain one of the league’s most penalized teams. Eventually, something’s got to give.
11. Oshawa Generals
Overall Record: 5-5-2-0
Division Standing: 5th in East
Last Week’s Rank: 10 (-1)
Analysis: How can a team with a .500 record top the 67’s in the rankings? Well, the Generals might be one of the many teams just starting to get their stride. They went 1-1-1 this week losing to Oshawa in overtime and Barrie in regulation. But they beat the Rangers in a tight game as well, which adds some hope to Oshawa fans that this team is better than their record shows.
10. Flint Firebirds
Overall Record: 6-4-1-0
Division Standing: 4th in West
Last Week’s Rank: 12th (+2)
Analysis: The Firebirds split their two games this week for a 1-1 record, but still managed to crack the top 10 on THW’s rankings after debuting at 12. In one of the tougher divisions in the OHL this season, the Firebirds have held their own. The put up a seven-spot of the Petes early in the week before the Spitfires brought them back to earth with a 6-1 score. Consistency remains the big question.
9. Windsor Spitfires
Overall Record: 7-4-1-0
Division Standing: 3rd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 11th (+2)
Analysis: The Spits also climbed the ladder by two spots to crack this week’s top 10. They’re a prime example of how a team can be overly reliable on their goaltending as Michael DiPietro is still a favourite to win the league’s MVP award. The Spits better hope they don’t lose their top goaltender, otherwise things might start looking ugly.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Is DiPietro too valuable to trade? He might be the best goalie to be moved since Steve Mason, who cost the Rangers three huge pieces in 2008. But DiPietro’s got an extra season of junior eligibility. If Warren Rychel can’t get a bidding war going, he may be better off holding on to his star and trying to ride him through the playoffs.
Jewell’s Hidden Gems: Their two games this weekend showed the offence is there. They just need to learn how to finish their chances. DiPietro remains an early candidate for MVP, and I still think he’s a robot.
8. Hamilton Bulldogs
Overall Record: 6-2-1-2
Division Standing: 3rd in East
Last Week’s Rank: 8th ( – )
Analysis: From eighth to… well eighth. When you’re in the top 10 it usually means that you’re doing pretty good. The same can be said for the Bulldogs who also split their two games this week – losing by a goal to the Storm and shutting out the 67’s. They remain one of the most discipline teams in the league (105 penalty minutes) and seem to be able to win the close games – which might be why they’re still sitting at eight. Beating Ottawa 3-0 ended a run of eight straight games that were decided by a goal or shootout. It’s time to show a little more separation.
7. Kitchener Rangers
Overall Record: 7-5-1-0
Division Standing: 1st in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 4th (-3)
Analysis: They might be first in the division right now, but it’s the most upside down division in the OHL right now. The Rangers went 0-2 this week and gave up 11 goals over those two games – including a 5-1 loss to their division rival London Knights. Their poor showing this week certainly explains their three-spot drop-off in this week’s rankings.
Wilson’s Hot Take: If there’s a team in the league that could win or lose to anyone on any given night, it’s this one. They’re the only squad to beat Sarnia and have a nice win over Owen Sound, but got pasted by a rejuvenated London this week.
6. Niagara IceDogs
Overall Record: 7-2-2-0
Division Standing: 2nd in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 7th (+1)
Analysis: If they weren’t intriguing enough in the early going, the IceDogs have taken a step up in this week’s rankings. Sure, their win came against the lowly Steelheads and they lost to the 67’s, but their seven wins in 11 games can’t really be disputed. Akil Thomas still leads the way with 15 points in 11 games and the rest of the team should take notice. They have a real chance to impress this season.
5. Peterborough Petes
Overall Record: 8-4-0-1
Division Standing: 1st in East
Last Week’s Rank: 6th (+1)
Analysis: A 1-2 record this week and they still climbed the ranking. That’s how convincing this Petes team is. While they still have to shut down when it comes to the defensive side, they’ve managed to outscore their problems on the backend. Still, they’ve lost two in a row and the rest of the East Division is coming for them. The rest of the league was bad enough that they moved up this week, but things can change.
4. Owen Sound Attack
Overall Record: 6-3-0-2
Division Standing: 2nd in Midwest
Last Week’s Rank: 1st (-3)
Analysis: They may be one of the biggest fallers on the list this week, but it’s tough to stay at number one. That, compounded by two losses this week, are exactly why the Attack find themselves in fourth rather than locking down the top spot for a second week in a row. Still, they shouldn’t be disappointed with their season so far. Nick Suzuki still leads the league with 23 points in 11 games, but he can’t do it alone. They’ve lost two in a row and will look to turn it around this week.
Wilson’s Hot Take: They’re still second in the league in goal differential and first in shot differential with a tough schedule. It will be interesting to see how long it takes DeGray to pull the trigger on a goalie.
3. Barrie Colts
Overall Record: 8-3-0-1
Division Standing: 1st in Central
Last Week’s Rank: 3rd ( – )
Analysis: Andrei Svechnikov had 10 goals in 10 games so it will be interesting to see how the team can perform without him in the lineup. They did shutout Oshawa, but were smoked by one of the best teams in the league in the Sarnia Sting. If they can reduce the penalties, this team could be vying for the top spot down the road.
2. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Overall Record: 9-2-2-0
Division Standing: 2nd in West
Last Week’s Rank: 5th (+3)
Analysis: Another two wins to go with a loss this week and the Greyhounds are flying out of the gate. While they are in the toughest division in the league this season, they’re putting the rest of the league on notice – the Greyhounds are for real.
Wilson’s Hot Take: This feels an awful lot like last year’s Greyhounds team. Solid on both ends of the ice, excellent goaltending from Matthew Villalta and overshadowed by a couple of other Western Conference competitors. Good bulletin board material.
1. Sarnia Sting
Overall Record: 12-1-0-0
Division Standing: 1st in West
Last Week’s Rank: 2nd (+1)
Analysis: Will anyone be able to catch the Sting? Another three win week as Sarnia went 3-0-0 and the team is off to a very hot start – led by Jordan Kyrou’s 22 points and Adam Ruzicka’s 20 points. Even Justin Fazio has shut down the opposition with a 2.37 goals against average and .933 save percentage.
Wilson’s Hot Take: Their now-ridiculous PDO of 108.29 would clear the 2004-05 Knights’ modern record by a full two points over a full season. Are Fazio and the snipers this good? If so, the team is historic. If not, they’re going to need possession help by the deadline. They’ve somehow been outshot on the season (no, really).
Do you have any thoughts on this week’s rankings? Whether or not you agree, we’d love to hear what you have to say. That said, we hope you’ll join us next week for more OHL power rankings.
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.