The Canadian Hockey League will be on display this week, as the 2012 Subway Super Series gets underway on Monday night (after deadline) in Blainville-Boisbriand, Quebec. After a pair of games in Quebec, the other being played in Val-d’Or, the squad of Russian Juniors led by Nail Yakupov will travel to Ontario, playing a pair of games against some of the best players in the Ontario Hockey League. After playing in Guelph on Thursday night, the Russians will play a highly anticipated game in Sarnia on Monday, November 12th, in which Yakupov returns to the city he played in for the last two seasons before being drafted and leaving for the KHL. After Ontario, the Russian team moves on for a pair of games against Western competition in British Columbia, playing Wednesday the 14th in Vancouver and a night later in Victoria.
For their part, the Ontario team holds these games in high regard, as the Russians have never won a game in Ontario in the nine-year history of the Super Series, holding a perfect 18-0 mark. This year, it falls into the hands of players such as Ryan Strome, Matt Puempel, Stuart Percy, and Jordan Binnington to keep the perfect record intact. Both Ontario games, and all games in the 2012 Subway Super Series, are available live on Sportsnet.
So, the thing that never really was, but only wanted to be, turned out to be not very much, and now it isn’t, although it doesn’t know it yet. That, in a nutshell, is the circus-act that was once referred to as ‘The CHLPA’. Much was made clear about the CHLPA over the past week as far as who is really behind it, which started when Georges Laraque inadvertently identified a photo of convicted fraudster Randy Gumbley as being CHLPA Spokesman Derek Clarke.
Turns out, Clarke is, in fact, another person altogether, though, in an interesting coincidence (sic), the founder of the CHLPA is none other than Glenn Gumbley, brother of the afore-mentioned fraudster. Since stepping forth from the shadows, Glenn has become the center of a media firestorm, continuing to point to problems within the CHL, without addressing the numerous problems within his own CHLPA. After TSN obtained a CHLPA document which appeared to be signed by a ‘Randy Gumbley’, things deteriorated quickly, as Georges Laraque resigned his position as Executive Director. The numerous lawfirms that had been volunteering their services with the players association quickly jumped ship, leaving Gumbley, whichever one it is, with little more than his Twitter and Facebook accounts to serve as his soapbox.
In essence, though the CHLPA never really was, it sure tried to be, but couldn’t avoid the public eye that came with challenging a system such as the CHL. Now, it is nothing more than a comedic afterthought in the annals of the 2012 history books. That said, many of the questions and concerns raised by this “association” remain unanswered. My own personal belief is that the league should set up an objective Advisory Board to look out for the best interests of ALL concerned. This group should be made up of league representatives, players, parents, and agents. Those are the people who really know what will be in the best interests of the individual players, far more than a group of boardroom lawyers looking to make a buck ever will.
Players Of The Week
Brett Ritchie (Niagara IceDogs) – An incredible week by the Niagara IceDogs was led by the performances put in by their top players, including veteran right winger Brett Ritchie, who would have a week to remember. Thursday night, Brett would score a goal and an assist, as Niagara came out on top against Kitchener. Saturday night, Ritchie would begin an impressive weekend, scoring four times, and adding a pair of helpers to lead the IceDogs over the visitors from Guelph. The following afternoon, Ritchie would be a one-man show once again, scoring five more times, as Niagara won again, 6-4 in Peterborough. In just three games, Brett Ritchie scored an amazing ten goals and thirteen points, leaving no doubt to who we should choose as the Top Forward this week.
Dougie Hamilton (Niagara IceDogs) – The offensive output of the Niagara IceDogs this week made it impossible to overlook their top players, and while Ritchie may have led the team up front, Niagara may not have won their games without the calming influence of Dougie Hamilton patrolling the blue line. After being held pointless in a win over Kitchener on Thursday, Dougie had an impressive weekend of his own, posting four assists on Saturday against Guelph, and another three apples the next afternoon in Peterborough. With seven points, all of them assists, in three games this week, Dougie Hamilton earns the nod as the OHL Top Defenceman of the week.
Daniel Altshuller (Oshawa Generals) – No goaltender has played more so far this season than Daniel Altshuller of the Oshawa Generals, and much of the team’s success directly relates to his play. This past week, Daniel was on his game, giving his Generals a chance in each of their three games. On Thursday, Altshuller made 29 stops, earning his first shutout of the season, as Oshawa defeated Peterborough. The following night, Daniel was excellent again, keeping Guelph off the scoresheet for the first two periods, but didn’t receive any support from the offence. Altshuller stopped 34 of 37 in the loss. On Sunday, Dan was excellent once again, as he was beaten for two goals on 31 shots in a victory over Kingston. With a 1.68 goals against average, and a sparkling .948 save percentage in three games, Dan Altshuller is our choice as the OHL Top Goaltender this week.
OHL Power Rankings
1. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 2) By taking five out of six possible points for the second straight week, the Owen Sound Attack reclaim the top spot in the OHL Power Rankings. The Attack started a busy weekend with a pair of victories in Erie on both Friday and Saturday nights, but Owen Sound lost an overtime decision in Kitchener Sunday evening, spoiling an otherwise perfect week. Three more games face the Attack this week, including a weekday contest Wednesday night at home to Guelph. Friday, Owen Sound travels to Brampton before returning home to battle Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday night.
2. Mississauga Steelheads – (Last Week: 4) Full marks for the Mississauga Steelheads this week, as they continue their ascent up the OHL Power Rankings by winning both contests over the past week. Friday night, the Steelheads defeated the visitors from Peterborough, and they were winners again on Sunday afternoon, beating Erie. Mississauga has three games coming up this week, beginning Tuesday night in Kitchener. The Steelheads then return home for a pair of weekend contests, hosting Niagara on Friday night, and Peterborough on Sunday afternoon.
3. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 1) Last week’s top club on the OHL Power Rankings, the Barrie Colts drop this week after splitting a pair of games over the weekend. Friday night, the Colts lost in Sudbury, but replied with a big overtime win in Sault Ste. Marie the next night. Barrie will look to reclaim the top spot this week, as they play three times, starting with a Tuesday night tilt in Peterborough. On Friday, the Colts play in Oshawa, then return home to finish the weekend Saturday night against Brampton.
4. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 11) The Niagara IceDogs own the week’s biggest jump, climbing seven spots this week to land at number four on the strength of three straight victories. Thursday night, the ‘Dogs defeated the visitors from Kitchener, and won big on Saturday night when Guelph came to town. Niagara finished a perfect weekend with a Sunday afternoon victory in Peterborough. The IceDogs play just twice in the week ahead, playing in Mississauga on Friday, and back at home to Peterborough on Saturday.
5. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 9) The Kitchener Rangers climb into the top five of the OHL Power Rankings, winning two of three games over the last week to continue their upward trend. After a shutout loss in Niagara on Thursday, the Rangers answered with wins back at home, against Windsor on Friday, and Sunday, an overtime victory over Owen Sound. Looking ahead, Kitchener starts the week by remaining at home, hosting Mississauga on Tuesday, and Sault Ste. Marie on Friday. The Rangers travel to Oshawa for a Sunday evening contest to wrap up the weekend.
6. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 3) The Guelph Storm fall three spots this week, as a busy three-game weekend saw the Storm come away with a single win. Guelph would come out on top on Friday night, defeating Oshawa in front of a national audience. From there, things went sour for the Storm, as they would lose to Niagara on Saturday, and again, back at home against London on Sunday afternoon. The Storm look to get back to their winning ways with three contests this week, beginning with a big game in Owen Sound on Wednesday. Friday night, Guelph plays host to Sarnia, and finishes the week with a Sunday matinee in Brampton.
7. London Knights – (Last Week: 5) Wins in two out of three contests couldn’t stop the London Knights from sliding two spots, landing them at number seven this week in the OHL Power Rankings. Thursday, the Knights were downed in Windsor, but rebounded back at home a night later, defeating Belleville. London wrapped up the weekend on Sunday afternoon, earning a shutout victory in Guelph. The Knights have only a pair of games this weekend, as they host Sudbury on Friday night, then play in Plymouth a night later.
8. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 10) Wins in two out of three contests would allow the Oshawa Generals to climb back up two spots, coming in at number eight this week in the OHL Power Rankings. Thursday night, Oshawa would post a shutout victory in Peterborough, but would lose on national television the following night in Guelph. The Generals were able to salvage a winning weekend back at home Sunday evening, defeating Kingston. Oshawa has a three-game weekend coming up, which begins Friday night when they host Barrie. Saturday, the Generals play in Erie, before traveling back home in time for a Sunday evening contest with Kitchener.
9. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 8) By splitting a home and home series with Sarnia this week, the Plymouth Whalers continue to hold firm in the Western Conference. The Whalers are down one spot in the OHL Power Rankings this week, earning the win in Sarnia on Friday, but losing back at home a night later. The Whalers remain in Plymouth for three contests this week, which begins on Tuesday night, when they play host to Saginaw. On Friday, the Whalers face the visitors from Windsor, and London pays a visit Saturday evening.
10. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 7) Perhaps evening out some after a large jump last week, the Sarnia Sting fall three spots to land at number ten this week, despite winning two out of three games in a busy weekend. After starting slow at home to Plymouth on Friday night, the Sting returned the favor in Plymouth a night later. Sunday afternoon, Sarnia won another, this time in Saginaw. The Sting will look to build on another good week with two challenging games, playing in Guelph on Friday, before returning home for a Sunday matinee versus Sudbury.
11. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 6) Proving that it’s tough to stay ahead in the OHL Power Rankings, the Belleville Bulls fall five spots this week, landing at eleven, even though they were able to take three points from a tough three-game road trip weekend. The Bulls would start the weekend with an overtime loss in London, and followed up with another loss, this time in regulation in Saginaw a night later. Sunday, Belleville salvaged the weekend with a shootout victory in Windsor. The Bulls play another three-game weekend coming up, though stay much closer to home, beginning Friday night in Kingston. On Saturday, Belleville hosts Saginaw, and travels to Ottawa for a Sunday afternoon contest.
12. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 12) Three points in as many games is good enough for the Windsor Spitfires to hold on at number twelve, though the pack ahead of them is pulling away. The Spits were impressive on home ice Thursday, defeating London, but couldn’t find their groove the next night in Kitchener. Sunday afternoon, Windsor returned home, but only came away with a point, losing to Belleville in a shootout. The Spitfires only have a single game to deal with this week, and need to make the most of it, as they play in Plymouth on Friday night.
13. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 17) The Ottawa 67’s leap four spots this week, landing at thirteen with a pair of wins in Northern Ontario. Ottawa extended their point-streak to five games and have crawled back into the race for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. On Friday, the 67’s won big in Sault Ste. Marie, and would keep the momentum alive with a shootout victory a night later in Sudbury. The 67’s return home to the nation’s capital for three games this week, beginning Tuesday night when they host Kingston. Saginaw visits on Friday night, before Ottawa wraps up the week with a Sunday afternoon tilt against Belleville.
14. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 13) What was once a promising start to the season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds has dissipated quickly, and they find themselves spiralling down the Western Conference standings with just one point to show from a pair of home games this past week. Friday night, the Hounds were on the wrong end of a drubbing at the hands of the visitors from Ottawa, and the next night, Sault Ste. Marie would earn a valuable point, losing to Barrie in overtime. The schedule gets no easier for the Greyhounds this week, as they head out for a three-game weekend road trip against some of the top teams in the West, playing Friday night in Kitchener, and making stops in Owen Sound on Saturday, and in London on Sunday afternoon.
15. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 14) The Brampton Battalion slide a spot this week after splitting a pair of games against Eastern rivals. Friday night, the Troops lost in Kingston, but answered with a big home ice win over Sudbury on Sunday afternoon. Brampton needs to build momentum this week, but it won’t be easy, as they have a three-game weekend facing some of the stiffest competition the OHL has to offer. Friday night, the Battalion host Owen Sound, and play in Barrie on Saturday. The following afternoon, Brampton returns home in time to battle with Guelph.
16. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 15) Finding themselves down another spot this week, the Sudbury Wolves started the week with a bang, but couldn’t sustain a charge up the standings, as the week got worse as it went on. On Friday night in front of a raucous crowd, the Wolves defeated Barrie, but a night later, found themselves on the wrong end of a shootout decision against Ottawa. Sunday afternoon, Sudbury lost in regulation in Brampton. The Wolves have a two-game road trip this weekend, as they play in London on Friday night, before traveling to Sarnia for a Sunday afternoon tilt.
17. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 16) A split in a pair of home games wasn’t enough for the Saginaw Spirit last week, as they drop a spot to land at seventeen. The Spirit played in two close games, winning a one-goal game over Belleville on Saturday, but losing another Sunday afternoon to Sarnia. Things get no easier this week, as Saginaw heads on the road for four games, including a Tuesday night affair in Plymouth. Friday night, the Spirit head into Ottawa, with stops following in Belleville on Saturday night, and Kingston Sunday afternoon.
18. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 18) One of many teams to earn a split from a pair of games this past week, the Kingston Frontenacs remain at eighteen, and continue to fight for position in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference. Friday night’s victory at home to Brampton would be slightly tarnished with a loss in Oshawa on Sunday evening, halting any forward progress the Fronts could have made in the OHL Power Rankings. Kingston has three games this week, playing a weeknight contest in Ottawa on Tuesday, then returning home for games against Belleville on Friday night, and Saginaw Sunday afternoon.
19. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 19) Things continue to look bleak for the Peterborough Petes this season, and three straight regulation losses this week put them further behind the rest of the Eastern Conference. After being shutout on home ice Thursday night by Oshawa, the Petes would fare little better the next night, losing again in Mississauga. Sunday afternoon, Niagara paid a visit to Peterborough and left town with a pair of points as well. Points will be tough to come by again this week, as the Petes host Barrie on Tuesday night, then travel to Erie for a game on Friday night. Peterborough wraps up the weekend with a chance at redemption in Niagara on Saturday night.
20. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) It was a tough week for the Erie Otters, who lost all three games they played, and saw their winless streak extend to five games. The Otters lost on home ice against Owen Sound, not once, but twice, on Friday and Saturday nights, and lost again Sunday in Mississauga. There are points to be had this week for the Otters, as they play a pair of games on home ice, Peterborough on Friday night, and Oshawa Saturday.
Be sure to check out the newest edition of ‘In The O... The Magazine’, with a one-on-one interview with Toronto Maple Leaf draft pick Tyler Biggs of the Oshawa Generals. There’s also an in-depth look at the Ottawa 67’s, profiles of Erie Otters’ Nick Betz and Niagara IceDogs Anthony DiFruscia, and a look at Interns in the OHL. The November edition of ‘In The O... The Magazine’, as well as all past issues, are available for free download at www.intheoradio.com/ito-monthly-e-zine. 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 @N24Nicholson, or send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Brett Ritchie of the Niagara IceDogs had a weekend to remember, scoring nine times in a 24 hour period, and ten times in the last week. (Photo Courtesy: Terry Wilson/OHLImages)