Another exciting week of action in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is in the books. It was a week that provided some interesting games, some additions to the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) Top-10, and saw the London Knights extend their win streak to seven games. We’re only three weeks into things, but before you know it, it will be Christmas break and the World Juniors will be in full swing. Here’s what you need to know about the third week in the OHL calendar!
Every week, the CHL puts out a ranking of the top 10 teams from around their three leagues. This includes the OHL, the Western Hockey League (WHL), and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In their most recent ranking, three clubs in the OHL were listed inside the top 10 while one more was listed as an honourable mention for the week. The Knights, who are off to a great start to the season, ranked fourth, the Kitchener Rangers, who have stumbled a bit as of late are in eighth, and the Kingston Frontenacs, who haven’t started the way they would have hoped are in 10th. The honourable mention spot belongs to the Ottawa 67’s, a team that is a massive surprise to many in the know around the OHL.
Including the honourable mentions, the WHL has five teams listed and the QMJHL has four teams listed. The top spot has been tightly contested between the Quebec Ramparts and the Winnipeg ICE, but the Ramparts continue to hold down that first spot. It’s tough to tell where the OHL teams will go from here. They have been at quite a disadvantage to start the season after not playing the 2020-21 season while both the WHL and QMJHL had some form of season. Perhaps some teams will drop out, perhaps Kingston and Barrie will find a way to get their seasons back on track, but it’s really hard to tell.
For four members of the OHL to be inside the ranking is rather impressive given how young all the teams are. These of course carry no weight, but it does give a good sense of who’s good and who isn’t to the scouts, and typically, these scouts know what they are talking about.
Ottawa’s Comeback Over Oshawa
It takes a special kind of game to get featured in the weekly recap, and it’s not something you are going to see too often, but the Ottawa 67’s and Oshawa Generals game on Sunday was something that deserved to be here. Down by three goals and looking like the tank was just about empty, the 67’s put together a stunning comeback effort that saw them knock off the Generals and reclaim the lead in their season series.
Ottawa scored four goals in the span of two minutes and 33 seconds, giving them a 4-3 lead that would last just over two minutes. A rocket of a shot from Calgary Flames prospect, Jack Beck got the 67’s on the board. It gave the team a sense of life that they took a hold of and never let go of. The Beck goal was quickly followed by a marker from Thomas Johnston, and not 30 seconds later, Dylan Robinson scored against his former team to tie the game at three.
Ottawa wasn’t done there, of course. Matthew Mayich scored for the 67’s, marking his first OHL goal and possibly just as important to him at the time, giving the 67’s the lead in the game. The Generals did respond, however. Ryan Gagnier scored with just over a minute and a half to go in the game, sending the affair to overtime. The extra frame solved nothing, meaning the game was going to be solved with a shootout.
Despite the high-scoring third period, only one shooter would go on to score in the shootout, and it was perhaps one of the unlikeliest of candidates to get the job done for the 67’s, Brenden Sirizzotti. If you follow the club, you might know that Sirizzotti has one of the best shots on the team, but he hasn’t been off the best start this season. He was a healthy scratch when they were in Barrie on Saturday, but he was on Dave Cameron’s list of shooters for a reason. He played hero, and the 67’s skated away with a win in a game that was all but over halfway through the third period.
The Knights have become somewhat of a permanent fixture on this series, but there’s a very good reason for that. Three weeks into the season, the Knights haven’t lost a hockey game and while the scores have been tight, good teams win the close games. Say what you will about this franchise, but they are one of the only teams in the entire CHL that manages to get results season after season, and that’s impressive.
The Kights have their veteran players rolling, they have rookies playing well, and they have gotten great goaltending out of Brett Brochu. They might not have the most impressive roster on paper, but when it comes down to it, the Knights always find a way to be a tough opponent. As of yet, the Knights have only played the Owen Sound Attack, Windsor Spitfires, and Sarnia Sting, so they haven’t had the toughest of schedules so far. Going forward, they are going to play some better teams, and it’s going to be interesting to see how things go for them.
The High-Flying Soo Greyhounds
Quietly, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have been off to a solid start through their first nine games of the season. They are currently tied for second in goals-for (37) with the North Bay Battalion. Why are we talking about the Greyhounds and not the Battalion or Sudbury Wolves (who lead the league in goals-for)? Well, it comes down to three names. Rory Kerins, Cole MacKay, and Tye Kartye are all leading categories early this season. Kerins and MacKay are tied for the league-lead in points with 15 each, and Kartye is tied for the league-lead in goals (with Jack Beck of the 67’s) with eight goals. While those names caught my attention, it quickly became evident that the Greyhounds are scoring at all levels, not just with their top guys.
Both Tanner Dickinson and Ryan O’Rourke are at or above a point per game pace, but what is most exciting about the Greyhounds right now is the production from some of their rookies. Bryce McConnell-Barker has six points through nine games, Marco Mignosa has four goals through eight games, and Kirill Kudryavtsev has three points in nine games.
Currently leading the West Division and in second place in the Western Conference, the Greyhounds haven’t really been mentioned in the conversation of being legitimate contenders. The ‘Hounds have played some good teams already this season including the Battalion three times, the Kitchener Rangers, and the Barrie Colts, and they have been winning more often than not. They have come out of left field a little bit, but it might be time to include them at the table of contenders, especially if they continue on this path.
Three Weeks In
We are now three weeks into an exciting new season of OHL action and we’ve seen a little bit of everything so far. It’s around this time that things might start to level out. We should soon start to see the good teams rise to the top and the bad teams fall to the bottom, or at least we should hope. Regardless, it’s nice to have the OHL back, and it’s really good to see the next generation of OHL stars making names for themselves early in this new season.
Currently a journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, I have always had a passion for the OHL and the Ottawa 67’s in particular. I have been attending games since I was young, and being involved with sports has always been a dream of mine. Sports writing fits perfectly into that. You can also find me talking and writing other sports (primarily Canadian football) on my website 13thmansports.ca!