Almost a month into the season is in the books and from the way some teams are playing, it looks like the top spot in the OHL will be tough to hold on to. Some teams are off to sizzling starts, but there are some who are off on the wrong foot. Just like any season in any sport, it's a marathon and not a sprint. Here's the first OHL Power Rankings of the season.
1. Barrie Colts-Hottest team in the OHL and owners of a seven-game winning streak. The Colts should thank the NHL lockout because they would be a different team without Mark Scheifele. Anthony Camara and Zach Hall provide support while Andreas Athanasiou has been a nice addition for the Colts and is showcasing his talents. Aaron Ekblad picked up where he left off from last season with six assists and +5 rating. They face a tough task when the London Knights pay a visit this Saturday. They also host Brampton on Sunday.
2. Oshawa Generals-Boone Jenner leads the league in scoring (9-8-17 in
10 games) with Lucas Lessio and Scott Laughton providing support. Can
someone remind Michael Dal Colle that he's only 16 years old? Already,
he leads the league in plus/minus (+15) and has nine points in 10 games. Daniel Altshuller has made Generals' fans forget about
Kevin Bailie, especially after their 5-3 win over Oshawa. They have
three games in three days this weekend as they travel to Kitchener, then
Owen Sound and return home to host the Whalers on Sunday.
3. Owen Sound Attack-Well-balanced Attack (no pun intended) led by Cameron Brace (nine goals, five assists in nine games. Chris Bigras leads the blueline with six assists and plus/minus rating of +11, which ranks fourth in the league. Jordan Binnington has won all six contests with a 2.23 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. They host back-to-back home games this week as Ottawa and Oshawa come to town.
4. Belleville Bulls-Watch out, Malcolm Subban, because you have some competition. All kidding aside, Charlie Graham played the backup role to perfection in his first game of the season by blanking the Battalion on Friday. Graham's appearance in Brampton paved the way for Malcolm to stone the Generals with a 44-save performance at home on Saturday. Even the Bulls have scored 24 goals this season, they can beat any team on any given night. This Wednesday, they head to the Soo and cap off the week for a Thursday night date with the Wolves.
5. Guelph Storm-Scott Kosmachuk carried the hot stick blade for the Storm last week by netting two goals and three assists in two games with wins over Erie and Peterborough. The team's leading scorer has a great supporting cast in Zack Mitchell, Tanner Richard and Jason Dickinson. Matt Finn and Zac Leslie lead the blueline and Garret Sparks was off to a good start until his outing against Peterborugh on Sunday. His backup, Jason DaSilva, could be one of the best-kept secrets in the league. They host Sarnia Friday and then head to Saginaw on Saturday.
6. London Knights-Seth Griffith and Max Domi are tied for first in team scoring for the Knights, but watch out for Bo Horvat, who has posted consecutive two-goal games for the first time in his career. Kevin Bailie has picked up where Michael Houser left off and has played outstanding for London, especially his 42-save performance against the Whalers on Friday. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov leads the team with a +9 and will get better the more he gets accustomed to the OHL. They host Erie in a nationally televised game this Friday and then head to Barrie on Saturday.
7. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds-Nick Cousins has emerged as the offensive star for the Greyhounds with six goals and 10 assists in 16 games. Watch out for game-breaker Sergey Tolchinsky (five goals, four assists in 10 games). Matt Murray is one of the busiest netminders in the game as he's kept his team in every game, even if he's faced over 39 shots a game. Ryan Sproul and Darnell Nurse leads the defense brigade. They host Belleville this Thursday and Guelph to close out the week.
8. Niagara IceDogs-Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton are the key players for the IceDogs and Niagara should cherish the moments that they step on the ice. If the lockout is lifted anytime soon, it could be the last time that they'll step on Gatorade Garden City Complex ice. They got a much-needed win in Windsor on Sunday and they look to carry that into this week with home games against Brampton and Kingston.
9. Mississauga Steelheads-Riley Brace leads the team in scoring with 14 points in nine games, but the Steelheads should send a thank you card to the Barrie Colts by stealing Dylan Smoskowitz from them. Smoskowitz so far has rebounded from a disappointing 2011-12 campaign (three goals, six assists in 60 games) and has already surpassed his scoring totals from last season with seven goals and three assists in five games. They play twice on the road this week with stops in Sarnia and Saginaw.
10. Sudbury Wolves-The Wolves lost a step last week after winning three straight road games, including a 6-1 blowout by Saginaw and came up short in Barrie with a 2-1 loss. They have another tough test this week as they travel to Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday and come back for home games against Belleville on Friday and wrap up the week as they host the London Knights.
11. Kingston Frontenacs-They're a streaky team. First they start off winning their first three games, then drop their next three and now have won their last two contests. Michael Moffat is off to a good start in Kingstown with a team high 10 points and Ryan Kujawinski is emerging as one of the bright young stars of the OHL as he is tied for second in team scoring (3-6-9 in eight games). They have a three game weekend that starts at home with Plymouth, then off too Niagara on Saturday and they finish off the weekend in Kitchener.
12. Sarnia Sting-Riding a four-game winning streak, the Sting are in the middle of the pack in the West
Division and the Western Conference and Alex Galchenyuk has picked up
from where he left off at the end of the 2010-11 season. Reid Boucher,
Craig Hottot and Charles Sarault are a nice offensive supporting cast,
but watch out for Nikolay Goldobin, who could be the next import star
for the Sting. Anthony DeAngelo is a player to watch on the blueline and
on the 2013 NHL Draft radar. They host Mississauga on Thursday, travel
to Guelph on Friday and head back home to host Kitchener on Saturday.
13. Windsor Spitfires-They're one of the youngest teams in the OHL and
at times they show it. They won at home against Sault Ste. Marie on
Thursday, but let a 3-1 lead slip away in a shootout loss to Niagara.
Brady Vail is off to a great start on the stat sheet (5-8-14 in 10
games) and expect Kerby Rychel to pick it up. Josh Ho-Sang is arguably
the best 1996-born player in the OHL and will get better as the season
progresses. Stats can be decieving at times, but Jaroslav Pavelka has
played better than his numbers show. Their three-game schedule starts at
home with Erie on Thursday, at Brampton on Friday and in Erie on
14. Saginaw Spirit-Vincent Trocheck remains the offensive catalyst for
the Spirit, but they played like the tale of two teams last week. They
won in Sudbury in convincing fashion, but that was in between losses in
Barrie and Brampton. The team misses Brandon Saad's presence, but it's
time for others to step up because Saad has played his last game of
junior. They visit Mississauga on Friday and they visit Guelph on
15. Kitchener Rangers-The Rangers started off strong, but they have tailed off as of late as they've gone winless over their last four games. A player or three has to put the puck in the net as they've averaged over two goals a game and that won't win a lot of games. John Gibson and Franky Palazeese are one of the top goaltending tandems in the league, but their they can't put the puck in the net. This weekend is an important one as they host Oshawa on Thursday, travel to Sarnia on Friday and return home as they welcome Kingston on Saturday.
16. Plymouth Whalers-Since head coach Mike Velucci's 400th win, the Whalers have gone 0-2-0-1, but missing Tom Wilson due to suspension hasn't helped. What's underlooked is that Austin Levi returned to the Whalers lineup last Wednesday and hasn't looked out of place. The Whalers, who are always in the mix in the Western Conference, should snap out their funk real soon. They have a three-game road set this week with stops in Peterborough, Kingston and Oshawa.
17. Brampton Battalion-After going winless in their previous four
games, the Battalion ended the week with a 5-3 win over Saginaw in which
Jamie Lewis posted his first three-point game. Youth is served in
Brampton with youngsters like Nick Paul, Blake Clarke and Brandon
Robinson.They visit Niagara this week and will have home gamses against
Windsor and Barrie.
18. Ottawa 67's-Who'd have though that the 67's would start off the
season like this? Me neither, but that happens when you lose key
players who've aged-out (Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince), but
co-captains Cody Ceci and Sean Monahan need to take charge. They have a
tough test this weekend as they have two road games in Barrie and Owen
19. Peterborough Petes-The Petes are in their first real rough patch in club history as they've missed the playoffs for two straight seasons which is a franchise first. The team relived Dave Reid of his general manager duties and the players responded with a win against Niagara, but fell to Guelph in a 7-6 shootout. They have given up the most goals in the league with 42. They have home-ice advantage this week as they host London and Saginaw.
20. Erie Otters-The Otters have drawn interest since the arrival of Connor McDavid. He's got some talent around him such as Connor Brown, Stephen Harper and Adam Pelech. Netminders Oscar Dansk and Devin Williams need support as they've given up the second most goals in the league with 42. The Otters are one of two clubs with two wins, but they have a tough test this week with stops in Windsor and London and head home to face the Spitfires to close out the week.
Photo of Barrie Colts courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images