The Subway Super Series wrapped up this past week, with a game in Sarnia last Monday before the Russians moved west for two games in B.C. After losing for the first time in 19 games against the Russians, Team Ontario would rebound on Monday, defeating Russia 2-1 to earn a split from their contests in 2012. Niagara IceDogs forward Ryan Strome got Team Ontario on the board midway through the 1st, a goal assisted by Garrett Meurs (Sault Ste. Marie) and Matt Puempel (Kitchener). That scoreline held until the middle of the third period, when defenceman Frank Corrado (Sudbury Wolves) made it 2-0 Team Ontario, with Strome and Niagara’s Dougie Hamilton earning the helpers.
Former Sarnia Sting leader Nail Yakupov would mark his return to Sarnia, scoring a goal in the final minute for the Russians, and spoiling the combined shutout bid of Team Ontario goaltenders Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound) and Jake Paterson (Saginaw).
Team Russia would come out on top in the 2012 Subway Super Series out west, as Team WHL needed a shootout to defeat the Russians on Wednesday, a 1-0 game in which both goaltenders, especially Russia’s Andrei Makarov, were excellent. Thursday night, the Russians would salt away the crown, defeating Team WHL by a 5-2 score, and winning the series with a 3-2-1 record, good for 10 points to the CHL’s 8, using three-point games that have become standard in International play.
Moving to news from the OHL, Monday afternoon, the Ontario Hockey League Board of Governors approved the relocation of the Brampton Battalion to North Bay for the start of the 2013-14 season, marking this the last season for OHL Hockey in Brampton. The motion was put forward by the Governor from Sudbury, and seconded by Governors from Barrie and Sault Ste. Marie. While I know of many fans in Brampton who are unimpressed by the news, the writing had been on the wall for this organization for some time, as incredibly low attendance year-in and year-out could no longer be ignored. In the process, OHL hockey returns to a city it should never have left, and the people of North Bay are incredibly excited for its return, selling over 2,000 season tickets in little more than a week. The average attendance in Brampton over the last three seasons was 1953.
Players Of The Week
Seth Griffith (London Knights) – As the London Knights go, so too does Seth Griffith, one of the team’s leaders both off and on the ice. Seth would lead by example over the past week, having a hand in all three Knights victories to extend their winning streak to eight games. On Thursday, the Knights would erase a three goal deficit in the third period against Oshawa, and Seth would provide assists on all three London goals to tie the game. Griffith provided further heroics by striking for the overtime winner himself, capping a four-point night. A night later, when the Knights were trailing again, Seth answered, posting three points, including a goal, as London went on to defeat Owen Sound. Finishing the week on Sunday night, Seth would score another goal, and add an assist, as his Knights won in Kitchener. Scoring in each of the three games he played in, and finishing the week with nine points to lead all OHL players, Seth Griffith is the ITO Top Forward for this week.
Ryan O’Connor (Barrie Colts) – The Barrie Colts were very good again this week, led by a veteran force on the blue line in Ryan O’Connor. Ryan would contribute to all three of his team’s victories over the last week, which began Thursday, where he would score the opening goal against Sarnia. O’Connor would score the game-tying goal with a minute remaining on Saturday against Windsor, to go along with a pair of helpers in an overtime win. On Sunday, Ryan would be busy again, scoring twice, and setting up two others, as the Colts won big in Sudbury. In his three games, Ryan O’Connor would notch four goals and eight points, far ahead of all other defencemen for the week, and his +6 rating would go as further proof that he is our Top Defenceman this week.
Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound Attack) – The Attack continue to lead the OHL Western Conference standings, based in large part on the veteran presence between the pipes for them this season. Already with one OHL Championship under his belt, Jordan is keeping Owen Sound in contention for another this year, and is coming off of an excellent weekend. While beaten for four goals in a loss Friday night in London, Binnington would be unbeatable for the Attack in a pair of weekend home games, posting a 35 save shutout of Kitchener on Saturday, and following with another Sunday afternoon, a 26-save performance over Windsor. Jordan has now played 126:04 seconds since allowing his last goal, and left little doubt that he would be named ITO’s Goaltender of the Week.
OHL Power Rankings
1. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 1) For a third straight week, the Owen Sound Attack remain at the top of our OHL Power Rankings, riding the strong play of their netminder to a pair of weekend victories over the past week. After a tough start to the week, losing Friday night in London, Attack goalie Jordan Binnington would post back-to-back shutouts over the weekend, victories over Kitchener on Saturday, and Windsor Sunday, both wins coming on home ice. Owen Sound remains at home to start the week ahead, hosting Barrie on Wednesday night, then finishing up the home-stand against London Saturday. Sunday afternoon, the Attack play in Mississauga to wrap up the week.
2. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 5) The Barrie Colts continue to make things difficult on their opponents in the Eastern Conference so far this season, and have jumped out to an impressive 17-5-0-1 record to lead the OHL standings. The Colts were perfect this week, winning all three games to climb up three spots, and earn themselves the number 2 position on this week’s Power Rankings. Thursday night, Barrie would defeat Sarnia on home ice, and win again at home Saturday, defeating Windsor in overtime. The Colts finished an impressive week with an impressive victory on Sunday afternoon, blasting Sudbury in their own building. Winners of six of their last seven games, Barrie looks to keep momentum going this week, playing a tough contest in Owen Sound on Wednesday, before returning home for games against Brampton, on Thursday, and Sault Ste. Marie, on Saturday.
3. London Knights – (Last Week: 4) The London Knights continue to win hockey games at a rapid pace, putting aside an early slow-start to the season, and are flying high, winners of eight in a row, including three over the last week. On Thursday, the Knights overcame a third-period deficit against Oshawa, winning in overtime, and extending the winning streak on Friday with another home ice victory, this time over Owen Sound. London would make it eight straight on Sunday afternoon, handing Kitchener their first loss at home this season. The Knights face three games in three nights this week, beginning in Sarnia on Thursday night. Should they win there, London returns home to attempt to make it ten wins in a row, when Peterborough visits on Friday. Saturday night, the Knights wrap up the week’s play in Owen Sound.
4. Mississauga Steelheads – (Last Week: 2) Proving that it’s tough to stay near the top of the ultra-competitive OHL Power Rankings, the Mississauga Steelheads find themselves actually down two spots this week, despite the fact that they won three out of four games, all on the road, over a busy week. Tuesday night, the Steelheads picked up a victory in Ottawa, but would find themselves humbled in Guelph on Friday night. Mississauga rebounded with a pair more victories, winning in Peterborough on Saturday, and in Oshawa on Sunday. After a grueling road trip, the Steelheads return home for three contests this week, which begins with a Wednesday morning rematch with Guelph. On Friday, Mississauga hosts Brampton, then finishes the weekend with a Sunday afternoon matinee against Owen Sound.
5. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 3) The Kitchener Rangers can be excused for cooling a little bit over the last week, as they had been winning games at a click that would be unreasonable to expect all season long. The Rangers fall two spots to land at number five this week, after losing two of their three games. The weekend would start well for Kitchener, defeating Erie to improve their home-ice record to 9-0-0 on the season, but a night later, the Rangers would be shutout in Owen Sound. On Sunday night, the Rangers suffered their first home loss, dropping a close game to London. Only two games on the sched for Kitchener this week, as they host Sarnia on Friday night, then play again the following night in Erie.
6. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 7) With three games on the road this past week, the Niagara IceDogs would make the most of them, taking five out of six possible points, and climbing up to number six on this week’s Power Rankings. On Wednesday, the ‘Dogs would win in Erie, and won again in Ottawa Saturday afternoon. The next day, Niagara would be stopped in a shootout in Kingston. The IceDogs face a three-game weekend ahead, but begin at home, hosting Belleville on Friday night. Saturday, Sudbury pays a visit before Niagara ends the weekend on the road Sunday afternoon in Oshawa.
7. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 6) After a big leap a week ago, the Sarnia Sting drop this week after losing all three of their games, earning just a single point in the process. After losing in Barrie on Thursday, the Sting picked up their point the next night in Sudbury, losing in a shootout. On Sunday night, Sarnia would finish the weekend on a sour note, losing big in Sault Ste. Marie. The Sting return to friendlier confines for two of their three games in the coming week, beginning on Thursday, when they host London. The following night, Sarnia plays in Kitchener, then returns home to play Peterborough on Saturday night.
8. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 11) With wins in all three contests over the last week, the Battalion have put together a five game winning streak, and are up three spots, landing at number eight in our OHL Power Rankings. Brampton started a five-game road trip successfully, winning in Sudbury on Wednesday, and again in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday. A night later, the Battalion made it three-for-three on the road trip, winning in Saginaw. Brampton looks to continue their road success, with two more games on the trip before returning home. On Thursday, the Battalion play in Barrie, and finish the trip a night later in Mississauga. Sunday afternoon, the troops finally return to home ice, playing against Sudbury.
9. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 8) The Plymouth Whalers picked up three points from as many games over the last week, which wasn’t good enough to hold position on the OHL Power Rankings, as they slip one spot to land at number nine. Wednesday night, even a seven goal outburst against Saginaw wouldn’t be enough to pick up the win, and they would lose again Saturday in Belleville, this time in overtime. On Sunday, the Whalers would salvage a .500 week with a win in Ottawa. Plymouth has a pair of home games on the schedule in the coming week, Wednesday against Windsor, and Friday night against Kingston.
10. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 12) A quiet week on the schedule wouldn’t stop the Kingston Frontenacs from climbing another two spots this week, creeping into the top ten in the process. Two more wins would extend the Fronts winning streak to five games, as they defending home ice against Peterborough on Friday night, and again against Sunday, defeating Niagara in a shootout. The Frontenacs make up for the quiet week in the week ahead, as they play four times on the road, beginning on Tuesday night in Ottawa. On the weekend, Kingston heads out for games in Plymouth on Friday, Saginaw on Saturday, and wrapping up the weekend Sunday afternoon in Windsor.
11. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 9) The Belleville Bulls have been fluctuating around the midpoint of the OHL Power Rankings, despite some impressive play lately that has seen them take the East Division lead from Oshawa. The Bulls fall two spots this week, needing extra time for a pair of wins sandwiched around a loss. On Wednesday, Belleville hung on to win in a shootout over Guelph, but fell in Oshawa on Friday. Saturday, the Bulls returned home to defeat Plymouth in overtime. Belleville begins the week ahead with a pair of games out of town, playing in Erie on Thursday and Niagara on Friday, before coming home to finish the weekend against Ottawa on Sunday afternoon.
12. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 10) Earning points in all three of their contests this past week wasn’t enough the keep the Guelph Storm from sliding further down the OHL Power Rankings, as they land at number twelve. The Storm would lose a shootout in Belleville on Wednesday, but returned home to defeat Mississauga on Friday. On Saturday, Guelph would lose another shootout decision, this time in Erie. Three more games await the Storm this week, including a rare Wednesday morning contest in Mississauga. Guelph then plays a pair of weekend games at home, Friday against Erie and Saturday against Ottawa.
13. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 14) Three points in as many games is enough to see the Oshawa Generals climb one spot, settling in at number thirteen. Thursday, the Gens saw a big lead in London evaporate in the third period, and would have to settle for a single point, losing in overtime. The next night, Oshawa was much better back at home, defeating Belleville. On Sunday evening, the Generals had another third period let-down, resulting in a loss at home to Mississauga. Oshawa has only two games this week, both at home, as they host Ottawa on Friday, and Niagara on Sunday afternoon.
14. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 13) The Windsor Spitfires drop a single spot this week, winding up at number fourteen after earning three points in three games. On Thursday, the Spits started the week with a win at home, defeating Saginaw. On the road, Windsor didn’t have the same success, losing in overtime in Barrie on Saturday, and being shutout the next afternoon in Owen Sound. Looking ahead, the Spitfires play another game on the road Wednesday, in Plymouth, before returning home for a pair of weekend contests, first hosting Saginaw on Friday night, then Kingston on Sunday afternoon.
15. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 15) The Saginaw Spirit are able to retain their position at number fifteen this week, despite winning just one of their three games played. The Spirit would win a wild game at home to Plymouth on Wednesday night, but dropped a decision in Windsor a night later. Saginaw would be defeated again on Saturday, at home to Brampton. The Spirit start the week ahead on the road, playing in Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday night, and traveling to Windsor on Friday. Saginaw finishes the weekend Saturday night, back at home to Kingston.
16. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 18) Up two spots this week, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds climb to number sixteen after splitting a pair of games over the past seven days. On Friday night, the Hounds couldn’t pull off the victory at home to Brampton, but were successful two days later, crushing Sarnia on Sunday night. Sault Ste. Marie plays another game at home midweek, when Saginaw visits on Wednesday, then heads out for a pair on the road. The Greyhounds play in Sudbury on Friday night, and in Barrie on Saturday night.
17. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 16) With three games at home over the last week, the Sudbury Wolves managed only one victory, falling one spot in the OHL Power Rankings in the process. Wednesday, the Wolves were knocked off by Brampton, but rebounded by beating Sarnia in a shootout on Friday. On Sunday, the Wolves were defeated by Barrie. Sudbury faces a three-game weekend in front of them, but need points in order to keep pace in a tight Eastern Conference. Friday night, the Wolves play host to Sault Ste. Marie, then head out for games in Niagara on Saturday, and in Brampton Sunday afternoon.
18. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 17) The Erie Otters slide a spot on the OHL Power Rankings this week, landing at number eighteen after losing two of three games over the past week. This past Wednesday, the Otters dropped a decision at home to Niagara, and lost again in Kitchener on Friday. The next night, Erie returned home and picked up the win in a shootout over Guelph. The Otters play three games in as many nights this week, which begins for them on Thursday night, when they host Belleville. On Friday, Erie plays in Guelph in a rematch from last week, then returns home for another rematch from last week on Saturday, against Kitchener.
19. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 19) No change for the Ottawa 67’s, who remain at number nineteen this week in the OHL Power Rankings. The 67’s couldn’t earn any points from four games over a busy week, and see their losing streak reach seven games in the process. Tuesday night, Ottawa was defeated by the visitors from Mississauga, and would lose in Peterborough two nights later. On Saturday, the 67’s returned home where they lost to Niagara, and lost again the next day when Plymouth came to town. Ottawa will look to turn things around this week with four more games, as they host a Tuesday night affair with Kingston, before playing a three-game weekend beginning in Oshawa on Friday night. The road trip continues with games in Guelph on Saturday night, and in Belleville on Sunday afternoon.
20. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 20) The Peterborough Petes are a franchise that continues to sputter, with no playoff appearances in the last two seasons, and none looking likely on the horizon, as they sit at the bottom of the OHL standings. Thursday night, the Petes were able to put an end to a seven-game losing streak with a home-ice victory over Ottawa, but lost the next night in Kingston, starting a whole new losing streak. Saturday night, that streak reached two, when Peterborough lost back at home to Mississauga. The Petes face another tough week ahead, though they play just twice, as both games are on the road against stiff competition. Friday night, Peterborough plays in London, and the following night, the Petes play in Sarnia.
If you haven’t already, 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, or send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Jordan Binnington would post back to back shutouts over the weekend, as his Owen Sound Attack continue to lead the OHL Power Rankings. (Photo Courtesy: Aaron Bell/OHLImages)