OHL Power Rankings and Players of the Week: Week 16
The Ontario Hockey League trade deadline came and went this past week, and there was a flurry of deals made, as teams had to decide whether they were buyers or sellers in this year’s market. As we work our way through this week’s OHL Power Rankings, we’ll take a look at the moves made by each team.
Players Of The Week
Connor Brown (Erie Otters) – The Erie Otters seem to be a new team in the second half of the OHL season, none more so than their leading scorer, Connor Brown, who tallied points in all three of their games this week. Wednesday night, Connor scored three goals against Owen Sound, the third, coming in the final minute of the game, would be the game-winner. On Friday night, Brown registered an assist in a loss in Saginaw, and a night later, he would score a goal as part of a three point night against Plymouth. In his three games, Connor scored four goals and seven points, and earns this week’s recognition as the league’s top forward.
Jordan Subban (Belleville Bulls) – While some may consider him playing in his brother’s shadow, Jordan Subban has been having an impressive season of his own, and earns recognition as our Top Defender for the week. Jordan’s big night this week came on Friday, when he registered a goal and three helpers to lead the Bulls to a 8-2 romp in Kingston. While kept off the scoresheet in Belleville’s shootout win over Windsor the following night, his four points was enough to lead all OHL defencemen, and he did so while play a game or two less than most others across the league. With much of the attention on big brother Malcolm, Jordan is turning heads around the league, and is a player to watch heading into this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
Matt Murray (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – With much of the league attention on other goaltenders, and with a tough slate of opponents, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds netminder Matt Murray rose above this week, leading the Hounds to three big wins as they fight to keep pace in the Western Conference. Wednesday night, Matt made 16 saves against Sarnia, a game the Soo won 3-1. Murray followed that performance with a pair of excellent weekend games, stopping 31 of 32 shots against Mississauga, and holding London to just two goals on 28 shots on Sunday night. Matt Murray gave up only four goals in his three contests, stopping 73 of 77 shots faced, and is our pick as the league’s Top Goaltender this week.
OHL Power Rankings
1. London Knights – (Last Week: 1) The London Knights were relatively quiet at the deadline this year, but that didn’t stop them from making moves, as they brought in defender Dakota Mermis and goaltender Anthony Stolarz to shore up any potential holes they may have had on their roster. To make room for Stolarz, the Knights released Kevin Bailie, and also dealt Kevin Raine to Sudbury for defenceman Justin Sefton.
Everyone knew it would be impossible for the London Knights to continue the torrid pace they had been setting recently, and this week they finally blinked, dropping two straight games at the conclusion of a 28-game point streak. The Knights were impressive at home on Friday night, reaching double-digits against Ottawa, but, on the road, London would falter, losing games in Saginaw on Saturday, and in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday. The schedule is incredibly light for the Knights this week, as they play just one game, at home on Friday night against Windsor.
2. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 4) The Belleville Bulls knew going into the deadline that they would need more scoring if they wanted to make a serious run at a championship season, so they went out and made a splash, bringing in Tyler Graovac from Ottawa and Alan Quine from Peterborough to provide that much needed scoring punch. Early returns have been favorable, as the team has gelled together nicely, and both newcomers have made immediate contributions to the team.
Wins in both of their contests extends a winning streak to three games, and the East Division leaders climb to number two this week in the OHL Power Rankings. The Bulls offense exploded in Kingston on Friday night, and came out on top in a shootout over Windsor back at home on Saturday. Belleville plays a similar Friday-Saturday schedule this week, playing in Niagara before returning home to face Owen Sound the next night.
3. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 2) The Eastern Conference leaders made some minor moves this week, as they brought in defenceman Jake Dotchin and forward Devon Rymarchuk from Owen Sound in separate deals, and acquired Mitchell Theoret from Niagara in exchange for Brendan Perlini.
Wins in two of their three games wasn’t enough to hold the second spot in this week’s rankings, but the Barrie Colts remain in the top three, and are still considered the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Thursday night, the Colts needed a shootout to get past Mississauga, and dropped a decision a night later in Guelph. Barrie rebounded on Saturday to finish the week with a win at home over Niagara, and play a similar three games in as many days in the week ahead. Thursday night, the Colts host Oshawa, and travel to Sudbury to play again on Friday. Barrie finishes the weekend at home on Saturday, taking on Kitchener.
4. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 10) The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were relatively quiet at the deadline this season, as their only deal was to send forward Mark Petaccio to the Ottawa 67’s for a ninth round draft pick this summer.
After a slow start to the OHL season that resulted in a coaching change, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have been playing impressive hockey as of late, as new coach Sheldon Keefe has got his players believing in the system he brings with him. The Greyhounds made the most of their three game home-stand, posting three wins in regulation against some tough opposition. Wednesday night, the Hounds knocked off Sarnia, and posted weekend wins, Saturday over Mississauga, and Sunday against London. Sault Ste. Marie leaves friendly confines for a pair of games this week, as they travel to across the border to Saginaw for a Friday contest, and play in Plymouth on Saturday.
5. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 5) The Sudbury Wolves made some massive changes to the roster this week, while they were on one of the league’s hottest streaks, but the success continues on the ice. The Wolves sent goaltender Joel Vienneau, along with defenceman Frank Corrado and forward Josh Leivo to Kitchener along with draft picks to get netminder Franky Palazzese, defender Cory Genovese, and young forward Matt Schmaltz, along with a package of draft picks. Sudbury also dealt defenceman Justin Sefton to London for forward Kevin Raine.
Even with some changes in their lineup, the Sudbury Wolves have been playing excellent hockey, and were on one of the league’s best point-streaks until this weekend. Starting the weekend on Friday, the Wolves defeated Mississauga, posting a shutout on home ice, and won a shootout the next night in Peterborough. Sunday afternoon, the Wolves lost in Brampton, their first regulation loss since December 6th in Barrie. Sudbury begins a five-game home-stand with a pair of games this week, as they play host to Barrie on Friday, and Kitchener on Sunday afternoon.
6. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 6) It was a busy week for the Oshawa Generals who made four separate deals in the final twenty-four hours prior to the trade deadline. After sending John Urbanic to the Ottawa 67’s for an eighth round pick, the Gens acquired Simon Karlsson from Plymouth in exchange for Sebastian Uvira and a fifth round draft pick. Oshawa then sent a pair of picks to Erie to acquire heavy-weight Johnny McGuire from the Otters, and sent defenceman Tyler Hore and a sixth round pick to the Sarnia Sting to pick up sparkplug forward Justice Dundas.
The Oshawa Generals hold firm this week in the OHL Power Rankings, remaining at number six after winning two of three games over the past week. Wednesday night, the Generals picked up a shutout in Ottawa, and won again back at home on Friday night, needing a shootout to get past Peterborough. Sunday afternoon, however, Oshawa couldn’t overcome a first period setback, and lost to Windsor. Looking ahead, the Generals play on Thursday night in Barrie before returning to Oshawa for weekend games. The Generals host Kingston on Saturday and Mississauga on Sunday.
7. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 3) As the trade deadline came and went, the Sarnia Sting pulled off a pair of late deals, sending defender Jack Kuzmyk to Erie for a sixth round pick in 2013, and dealing Justice Dundas to the Oshawa Generals in exchange for defender Tyler Hore and a sixth round pick in 2014.
The Sarnia Sting will be glad to turn the page on this past week, where they lost two out of three games, falling out of the top three in the OHL Power Rankings in the process. Losses on the road, Wednesday in Sault Ste. Marie and Friday in Kitchener, were relieved somewhat by a win on Sunday, back at home over Ottawa, but the Sting need to refocus ahead of this week’s contests, as they host Erie on Friday, and play in Windsor on Sunday afternoon.
8. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 8) The Plymouth Whalers found themselves wheeling and dealing at the deadline this year, making a small flurry of moves to better position themselves for the rest of the season. After dealing Alex Aleardi to Windsor for Zach Lorentz, the Whalers acquired Vincent Trocheck from Saginaw in exchange for Zach Bratina and a package of picks. Plymouth wasn’t done there, as they sent defender Simon Karlsson to Oshawa in exchange for Sebastian Uvira and a fifth round pick.
The Plymouth Whalers hold firm at number eight this week in the power rankings, as they managed to get the win in two of their three games this week. After losing in Saginaw on Wednesday night, the Whalers regrouped in time for a pair of weekend victories at home, defeating Brampton on Friday, and in overtime over Erie on Saturday. Plymouth remains at home this week, playing just twice, first Friday, when Mississauga visits, and again a night later, this time against Sault Ste. Marie.
9. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 13) The Rangers made a big splash at this year’s OHL trade deadline, pulling off one of the season’s biggest deals with Sudbury that sent Franky Palazzese, Cory Genovese, Matt Schmaltz, and a number of picks to the Wolves for Joshua Leivo, Frank Corrado, Joel Vienneau, and some picks in return. Kitchener also sent Nick Czinder and a pair of picks to the Peterborough Petes to acquire disgruntled defender Derek Schoenmakers and a late round pick.
The Kitchener Rangers have been up and down, and all over the OHL Power Rankings so far this season, and this week, they find themselves up four spots to number nine. The Rangers were busy this week, playing four times, and they picked up seven of eight possible points on their run. Tuesday night, Kitchener downed Guelph on home ice, but couldn’t pull off the victory Thursday night in Peterborough, losing in a shootout. The Rangers replied with weekend wins back at home, defeating Sarnia on Friday, and Niagara on Sunday afternoon. Kitchener faces a three-game weekend ahead of them this week, opening Friday night at home to Brampton. The Rangers then take their act on the road, playing Saturday in Barrie, and Sunday afternoon in Sudbury.
10. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 7) It was a big splash when the Owen Sound Attack acquired Cody Ceci and Steven Janes from the Ottawa 67’s in exchange for Jake Middleton and Joseph Blandisi, a deal that sent a lot of future potential to the nation’s capital for a chance at a championship this season. Owen Sound also made a pair of deals with Barrie, that saw the Attack send defenceman Jake Dotchin and forward Devon Rymarchuk to the Colts for a number of draft picks.
The Owen Sound Attack are coming to the end of a rough patch in their schedule, but they managed to pick up three points from as many games this week. The effort wasn’t enough to keep the Attack from falling three spots this week, as they land at number ten. After losing Wednesday night in Erie, Owen Sound was defeated again on Thursday, losing a shootout in Niagara. The Attack finished the weekend on a high note by trouncing Kingston on Saturday night, but will head out on the road for three games in the week ahead. Friday night, Owen Sound plays in Kingston, and makes weekend stops Saturday in Belleville and Sunday afternoon in Ottawa.
11. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 14) Only one deal for the Spirit at the deadline, as they sent star forward Vincent Trocheck to the Plymouth Whalers, acquiring Zach Bratina and a package of draft picks.
The Saginaw Spirit are coming together at the right time this season, and three more wins sees them climb three spots in this week’s rankings. Saginaw used victories over Plymouth on Wednesday, Erie on Friday, and London on Saturday to extend their winning streak to five games. Saturday’s win over London would be the first regulation loss suffered by the Knights in two months. The Spirit remain at home for two more games this week, as they play host to Sault Ste. Marie on Friday, and Erie on Saturday.
12. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 11) The Guelph Storm picked up Saverio Posa from Windsor, giving up a fourth round pick to acquire the forward in what turned out to be Guelph’s only deal at the deadline this season.
Even wins in two of three games this past week wouldn’t be enough to keep the Guelph Storm from slipping a spot this week in the OHL Power Rankings, a testament to the competitiveness in the league at this point in the season. Tuesday night, the Storm lost in Kitchener, but answered with home-ice wins over Barrie on Friday and Kingston on Sunday. Guelph has a three-game road-trip this week to try and build a bona-fide winning streak, playing Thursday in Peterborough, Friday in Ottawa, and Sunday evening in Kingston.
13. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 9) The Brampton Battalion were only able to make one deal prior to the deadline, so they made it count, as they picked up useful forward Francis Menard from the Peterborough Petes for a pair of draft picks.
The Brampton Battalion drop four spots this week in the Power Rankings, after losing two of their three games this past week. The troops lost in Windsor on Thursday night, and again in Plymouth a night later, but salvaged the week Sunday afternoon by defeating Sudbury back at home. The Battalion play twice in the coming week, as they play in Kitchener on Friday night before returning home to Brampton to face Peterborough on Sunday afternoon.
14. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 17) The Erie Otters made three late deals in the final hour before the deadline, shuffling the deck with a series of moves. The Otters brought in forward Joel Wigle from Niagara for a pair of picks, and brought in defenceman Jack Kuzmyk from Sarnia for a sixth round pick. To make room, Erie sent heavy-weight enforcer Johnny McGuire to the Oshawa Generals for a fourth round and eighth round picks.
The Erie Otters continue to climb in the OHL Power Rankings, reaching heights not seen by the Otters in a couple of seasons in the process. Erie finds themselves at number fourteen this week, up four spots after picking up three points in as many games. The Otters were good on home ice Wednesday, knocking off Owen Sound, but followed up with losses in Saginaw Friday and Plymouth on Saturday, the latter coming in overtime for a valuable point. Erie now has points in four of their last five games, and look to continue their recent success with a pair of road games this week. Friday night, the Otters play in Sarnia, before traveling to Saginaw to play a night later.
15. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 16) Niagara made a number of moves leading up to the deadline in an effort to get younger, perhaps expecting to lose many of their top players to the NHL with the end of the lockout upon us. After bringing in Jordan Maletta from Windsor and Mitchell Fitzmorris from Belleville for a pair of picks each, Niagara then sent Mitchell Theoret and a conditional sixth round pick to Barrie in exchange for young Brendan Perlini and a sixth round pick. To make room, and to re-acquire some lost picks, the Icedogs sent forward Joel Wigle to Erie for a pair of draft picks.
The Niagara Icedogs are back up one spot this week, climbing to number fifteen after a big shootout victory over Owen Sound on Thursday night. From there, however, the Icedogs couldn’t capitalize, as they lost in Barrie on Saturday and in Kitchener on Sunday. Niagara is back at home this week, playing a pair of games beginning Friday night against Belleville. A night later, the Icedogs are back on the ice, hosting Peterborough to end the week.
16. Mississauga Steelheads – (Last Week: 15) The Mississauga Steelheads didn’t complete any moves leading up to the OHL trade deadline, preferring instead to keep the same lineup that has kept them competitive in the Eastern Conference all season long.
It hasn’t been a pleasant start to a lengthy road-trip for the Mississauga Steelheads, as they found themselves on the wrong end of the first three games on the trip this past week, and fall to number sixteen on this week’s OHL Power Rankings. Thursday night, the Steelheads picked up an important point by losing a shootout in Barrie, but followed that point with a pair of regulation losses, dropping games in Sudbury on Friday, and in Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday. Mississauga looks to right the ship this week, finishing up the six-game trip with three games in four days. The week begins for the Steelheads on Thursday night in Windsor, followed by games in Plymouth on Friday, and in Oshawa Sunday evening.
17. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 12) There was a minor move made by the Kingston Frontenacs at this year’s deadline, as they sent Mitchell Fitzmorris to the Niagara Icedogs in exchange for a seventh round pick this summer, and a fourteenth round pick next summer.
Things didn’t go so well for the Kingston Frontenacs this week, as three straight losses see them fall five spots on this week’s rankings. The Fronts were less than impressive this week, and were never really in games Friday night at home to Belleville, and again Saturday in Owen Sound. Kingston was a little better on Sunday afternoon in Guelph, but again came up short, and the Frontenacs finished the week without a single point to show for it. The Fronts look to rebound this week with another three-game weekend, which begins Friday night at home to Owen Sound, a chance at redemption from last weekend. Saturday night, Kingston plays in Oshawa, then returns home to finish the weekend against Guelph on Sunday.
18. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 18) The Spitfires flipped forwards with the Plymouth Whalers, acquiring Alex Aleardi for Zach Lorentz, and then picked up defender Slater Koekkoek from the Peterborough Petes, at the cost of Michael Clarke and a pair of second round draft picks.
The return of Alexander Khokhlachev has seen immediate dividends paid to the Windsor Spitfires, as he brings an element that has been sorely missed by this Spitfires club. Windsor earned five out of six possible points from their three games over the last week, a week which began with a shutout win Thursday night, at home over Brampton. Windsor would lose in a shootout in Belleville on Saturday, but rebounded in Oshawa on Sunday afternoon to pick up another win. The Spits play three games in four nights this week, which begins for them on Thursday night at home to Mississauga. Windsor travels to London for a Friday night tilt, then returns home to finish the weekend Sunday afternoon against Sarnia.
19. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 19) The Peterborough Petes cut ties with some of their loose weight at this year’s deadline, beginning when they packaged Derek Schoenmakers, the defenceman who failed to report earlier in the season, to Kitchener for forward Nick Czinder and a pair of draft picks. Peterborough then sent forward Francis Menard to the Brampton Battalion, picking up a pair of draft picks, and sent defenceman Slater Koekkoek, their captain, to the Windsor Spitfires in exchange for Michael Clarke and a pair of draft picks.
While it may not show yet on the OHL Power Rankings, the Peterborough Petes have been playing much better as of late, and including this week, they have earned at least a point in each of their last six games, leaving them the only team who haven’t been defeated in regulation in 2013. All three of their contests this week would be decided in a shootout, as the Petes defeated Kitchener at home on Thursday night, but lost in Oshawa on Friday, and lost again Saturday, back at home against Sudbury. Peterborough will look to keep their point-streak alive with another three-game week, beginning on Thursday night at home to Guelph. The Petes play a pair of road games over the weekend, traveling to Niagara for a Saturday night game, then on to Brampton to play on Sunday afternoon.
20. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 20) The 67’s emptied the cupboards in the week leading up to the deadline, sending defender Cody Ceci and forward Steven Janes to the Owen Sound Attack for Jake Middleton and Joseph Blandisi, and dealing Tyler Graovac to Belleville for Sergei Kuptsov and three draft picks. Ottawa also sent Remy Giftopoulos along with a 12th-round pick to Windsor for a seventh round pick this summer and a fourth round pick in 2015. The 67’s filled the holes by picking up gritty forwards Mark Petaccio, from Sault Ste. Marie for a ninth round pick, and John Urbanic, from Oshawa for an eighth round pick.
The Ottawa 67’s continue to struggle at the bottom of the OHL Power Rankings, and raked up three more losses this week as playoff hopes look grim. On Wednesday night, the 67’s lost at home to Oshawa, and were ousted again Friday night in London. A night later, Ottawa ended the week with another loss in Sarnia. The 67’s play just twice this week, both at home, to try and get back into the win column, as they host Guelph on Friday night, and Owen Sound on Sunday afternoon.
The ITO Players of the Week and OHL Power Rankings can be found every week for the rest of the season, right here at OHLWriters.com. Until then, join me on Twitter for conversation anytime, @N24Nicholson.
Anthony Nicholson is the Sports Editor for Toronto News 24 and regular contributor to OHLWriters.com, and can be heard occasionally on ‘In The O... The Radio Show’. Contact Anthony anytime for a conversation by joining him on Twitter, or send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Jordan Subban of the Belleville Bulls looks to improve his position heading into this summer's NHL Entry Draft, as is this week's OHL Top Defenceman. (Photo Courtesy: Terry Wilson/OHLImages)