Plenty of action this week in the Ontario Hockey League means there’s also plenty of action here in the OHL Power Rankings. Many games were high scoring affairs, leaving us with some tough decisions to make when it comes to the Players of the Week, but we found three players who stood out above all others, all worthy of being selected in their respective positions. We’ve also got a new number one on the Power Rankings, for the third week in a row, as teams shuffle around atop the league standings.
Players Of The Week
Hunter Garlent (Guelph Storm) – The Guelph Storm had an impressive three game weekend, winning all games, and Hunter played a prominent role in all three contests this past week. On Friday night, Garlent would register a goal and an assist in defeating Sarnia. The following night, Hunter scored another goal, part of a four point game, as the Storm rolled over the Saginaw Spirit. Guelph finished the week with a win in Sault Ste. Marie in which Garlent would score again, as well as set up another. In his three contests, Hunter scored three goals and helped out on five others, his eight points tied for the most in the league over the past seven days. The Storm sit atop the OHL standings in large part due to the efforts of the centreman, who is our Top Forward for week five.
Ryan Murphy (Kitchener Rangers) – Guess who’s back? After a relatively quiet start to the 2012-13 campaign, much like the rest of his teammates, Ryan Murphy exploded back onto everyone’s radar this week, posting three impressive games to help his club back into contention in the Western Conference. On Friday night, as the Rangers played in front of their home crowd for the first time, the Carolina Hurricanes draft pick racked up four apples in an impressive victory over Oshawa. The next night, Ryan’s goal would seal another victory in Sarnia, and Sunday night, Murphy his goal and two assists helped lead Kitchener past Kingston. In three games, Ryan would score twice and post eight points, and was also an impressive +6 in the process. For that, Murphy is our choice as the league’s Top Defenceman.
Matt Mahalak (Plymouth Whalers) The Plymouth Whalers are coming off of a very successful road trip through Eastern Ontario, winning all three games, and they relied on the impressive goaltending of Matt Mahalak in all three contests. Matt stopped 23 of 24 shots Thursday night as the Whalers won in Peterborough, and faced 24 shots again on Friday, stopping 21 to post another victory in Kingston. On Sunday evening, Mahalak faced 31 Oshawa shots, and was beaten on only two of them as the Whalers won again. Matt would post a .924 save percentage over three games, and is our Top Goaltender this week.
OHL Power Rankings
1. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 5) One week ago, I claimed that the Guelph Storm had been surprising some around the league with their solid play to start the season. They won’t be surprising anyone moving forward, as they climb to the top of the OHL Power Rankings with another three game perfect weekend. The Storm are now riding a nine-game undefeated streak, earning 17 of 18 possible points in the process. After defeating Sarnia at home on Friday night, Guelph was on the road over the weekend, winning games in Saginaw and Sault Ste. Marie. The Storm face another three-game weekend ahead, beginning at home to Windsor Friday night. On Saturday, Guelph plays in London, then returns home to end the weekend against Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday afternoon.
2. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 1) Don’t read too much into the Barrie Colts down one spot this week, as they are still clear of all competition in the Eastern Conference, and are a tough team to beat. Thursday night, the Colts defeated Ottawa to make it eight straight wins, but a shootout loss to London on Saturday ended the winning streak there. With points in nine straight, Barrie would lose again on Sunday in Brampton, stopping the points streak as well. The Colts have a chance at retribution against Brampton, when they visit Barrie on Thursday night, before Niagara comes to town on Saturday night.
3. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 2) By splitting a pair of home games over the last week, the Owen Sound Attack opened the door for Guelph to jump ahead of them, but the Attack remain in the top three with an excellent 8-2-0-1 record to date. After defeating Ottawa on Friday night, the Attack could not extend their winning streak to six, stopped on Saturday by Oshawa. Owen Sound has a three-game weekend in front of them, as they play in Kitchener on Friday night, before returning home for two more games over the weekend, Saturday against Sudbury, and Sunday versus Windsor.
4. London Knights – (Last Week: 6) The London Knights climb back into the top five of the OHL Power Rankings, landing up two spots at number four after earning five of six possible points this week. After dropping a nationally televised game at home to Erie on Friday, the Knights rebounded with a pair of road wins, defeating Barrie in a shootout on Saturday, and dropping Sudbury on Sunday. London plays three times in as many nights again this week, which starts Thursday night in Peterborough. On Friday, the Knights are back at the Budweiser Gardens, hosting Plymouth, before Guelph visits on Saturday.
5. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 3) Oshawa slips two spots for the second straight week, as the former OHL Power Rankings leader falls to number five after losing two of three games this week. Friday night, the Generals lost in Kitchener’s home opener, but responded well a night later, winning in Owen Sound. Oshawa returned home to wrap up the weekend, a loss against Plymouth. The Generals play three times this week, but have the benefit of a day off between each game, a rarity in the OHL. Wednesday night, Oshawa plays in Ottawa, then host a pair of weekend games, playing against Saginaw on Friday night, and hosting Peterborough Sunday evening.
6. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 4) By splitting a pair of games this week, the Belleville Bulls were unable to jump back into first place in the East Division, and slide two spots to land at number six. Thursday, the Bulls picked up a victory in Sault Ste. Marie, but they would lose a tight decision in Sudbury the following night. Belleville only has a pair of games on the schedule again this week, hosting Mississauga on Wednesday night, then having Kingston visit on Saturday.
7. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 8) The Niagara IceDogs made the most of a light schedule this past week, winning both their contests to climb into the number seven spot this week. Thursday night, the IceDogs won on home ice over Brampton, and defeated the visitors from Kingston on Saturday. Niagara plays three games in three days this week, as they host Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday to get the week started. From there, the IceDogs play in Sudbury on Friday, and in Barrie on Saturday.
8. Mississauga Steelheads – (Last Week: 7) Another team with a somewhat light schedule this past week, the Steelheads drop a single spot this week after splitting a pair of contests. Thursday night, Mississauga earned the victory in Sarnia, but lost a night later in Saginaw. The Steelheads wrap up their road trip this Wednesday in Belleville, then return home for games against Brampton on Friday, and Sudbury on Sunday afternoon.
9. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 15) After a big drop last week, the Plymouth Whalers climb back up into the top ten, jumping six spots after winning all three games on an Eastern road trip. The Whalers picked up wins in Peterborough Thursday, Kingston on Friday, and in Oshawa Sunday, rounding out a successful trip. Plymouth starts the upcoming week on the road again, playing Friday night in London, then returning home to begin a home and home series with Kitchener, with the rematch scheduled Sunday.
10. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 14) The Brampton Battalion make great strides this week, climbing four spots by taking five of six possible points over three games. On Thursday night, the Battalion dropped a tough overtime decision in Niagara, but rebounded strong over the weekend, winning at home Friday night over Windsor, and again Sunday over Barrie. Brampton plays a pair of road games to start the upcoming week, beginning Thursday, when they play a rematch in Barrie. The next night, the Battalion are in Mississauga, before coming home to finish the weekend on Sunday afternoon, hosting Sarnia.
11. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 12) The Windsor Spitfires continue to lurk in the middle of the Western Conference, and are proving to be a difficult team to overlook. Winners of two out of three games last week, the Spitfires are up one spot in the OHL Power Rankings. Thursday night, Windsor came out on top over Erie, but, heading out on the road, the Spits lost Friday in Brampton. Playing their third game in as many days, the Spitfires picked up another victory in Erie on Saturday. Windsor stays on the road for three games this week, beginning in Sarnia on Thursday. A night later, the Spitfires play in Guelph, then finish up the weekend Sunday afternoon in Owen Sound.
12. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 17) Returning home from an eight game road trip to start the season, the Kitchener Rangers found new enthusiasm returning home, and are up five spots in the OHL Power Rankings this week. Friday night, the Rangers started their home schedule with a win over Oshawa, and carried that momentum into Sarnia a night later, winning again. Kitchener returned home to pick up their third straight win, defeating Kingston on Sunday. The Rangers have another three-game weekend coming up, as they host Owen Sound Friday night to kick things off. Over the weekend, Kitchener travels to Plymouth for a home and home series, which concludes Sunday night at home.
13. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 9) A once-promising start has flat-lined in Sault Ste. Marie over the past couple of weeks, and the greyhounds suffer falling four spots for the second straight week. The Hounds got off to an inspired start to the week, defeating Sudbury at home on Wednesday night, but lost when Belleville visited the next night. On Sunday, Sault Ste. Marie wrapped up the homestand, losing again to Guelph. The Greyhounds head out on the road this week, playing three times, starting Thursday night in Niagara. A night later, they must travel to Erie, before finishing the weekend in Guelph Sunday afternoon.
14. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 10) Coming into the week on a four game winning streak, the Sarnia Sting failed to capitalize on any momentum, and lost all three games over the past week, dropping four spots in the process. Thursday night, the Sting were defeated by the visitors from Mississauga, and lost again the next night in Guelph. Sarnia returned home to lose again Saturday versus Kitchener. The Sting have three more games this week with which to reverse course, as they host Windsor on Thursday. Saturday night, Sarnia plays in Erie, and ends the weekend in Brampton Sunday afternoon.
15. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 13) With one win to show from three games this week, the Sudbury Wolves are down two spots, but avoided disaster by earning some much needed points. The Wolves lost in Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday night, but bounced back to defeat the visitors from Belleville Friday. Sunday afternoon, Sudbury lost at home to London, finishing the week on a sour note. The Wolves face a three-game weekend this week, which starts Friday night at home to Niagara. From there, Sudbury plays a pair of weekend road games, playing in Owen Sound on Saturday, and in Mississauga Sunday afternoon.
16. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 16) The Saginaw Spirit hold firm at number sixteen this week, after splitting a pair of home games this past week. On Friday night, Saginaw defeated Mississauga, but lost to a hot team from Guelph the next night. The Spirit will look to trend upward this week, playing three road games. Wednesday night, they travel to Erie, before a long bus ride to Oshawa for a Friday night contest. The weekend wraps up for Saginaw Saturday night in Peterborough.
17. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 11) Up and down go the Kingston Frontenacs so far this season, as they answered a huge opening week with an equally disappointing one, then rebounded for another perfect week. This past week, Kingston found themselves declining once again, as they lost all three games, falling below .500 for the first time this season. On Friday night, the host Frontenacs were defeated by Plymouth, and Kingston followed with road losses, Saturday in Niagara, and Sunday in Kitchener. This week, the Fronts open at home Friday night against Ottawa, and play again a night later down the road in Belleville. Kingston ends the week with a rare Monday morning contest, as they play in front of school kids in Ottawa.
18. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 18) No change for the Ottawa 67’s this week, as they hold number eighteen in the OHL Power Rankings, despite losing a pair of really tough road games in a quiet week. On Thursday, the 67’s were outclassed in Barrie, and the next night, they found themselves losing again in Owen Sound. Ottawa has three divisional contests coming up this week, which will begin on Wednesday night, when they host Oshawa. The 67’s then open up a home and home series with Kingston, playing on the road on Friday, then hosting the rematch early Monday morning.
19. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) While the Erie Otters continue to struggle winning games, their compete level has been much more evident this season, as they give themselves an opportunity to win on any given night. The Otters climb up one spot this week after earning a big win on national television Friday night in London, but that victory was sandwiched in between a pair of one-goal losses to Windsor, losing on the road on Thursday, and again back at home Saturday. Looking ahead, the Otters have an opportunity to begin to climb the standings, as they play three times on home ice, starting Wednesday against Saginaw. Friday night, Sault Ste. Marie comes to visit, before Erie finishes the weekend Saturday against Sarnia.
20. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 19) The Peterborough Petes find themselves at the bottom of the OHL Power Rankings this week, as much due to inactivity as it is to poor performance. Peterborough played just one contest this past week, dropping a tough one-goal decision Thursday night at home to Plymouth. The Petes have a much more active week ahead of them, as they play three times, including a home contest against the defending OHL Champions from London on Thursday. A night later, Saginaw comes to town for their only visit of the season, before Peterborough plays in Oshawa Sunday evening.
Congratulations are in order to Josh Newhart of Erie, Pennsylvania, who was the winner of our ‘In The O... The Magazine’ contest! Josh will be attending a Lake Erie Monsters game later this season, courtesy of In The O...! 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: Hunter Garlent is our Top Forward this week, and also has his Guelph Storm sitting atop the OHL Power Rankings. (Photo Courtesy: Terry Wilson/OHLImages)