OJHL Power Rankings – September
With the first month of the Ontario Junior Hockey League season nearly complete and yet another successful Governor’s Showcase wrapping up just the other day, its time for the first OJHL Power Rankings of the 2016-2017 season.
1. Trenton Golden Hawks (8-0)
No real surprise here as the defending OJHL Champs have dominated their competition through the first eight games of the season. The Golden Hawks are a veteran laden club that boast excellent depth both offensively and defensively and it shows as Trenton has already posted three wins were they have tallied 10 or more goals in the victory. To date the Golden Hawks smallest margin of victory was a 4-2 win in Aurora on September 25th where they actually trailed 1-0 after twenty minutes of play. Despite the strong start, Trenton continues to add to their potent lineup, recently acquiring overage winger Jeremy Pullara from the Toronto Patriots along with defensemen Andrew Cordssen-David from the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. The Golden Hawks received yet another boost this week as the Sudbury Wolves re-assigned 2016 fourth round pick Dawson Baker to the club. Led by Powassan, Ontario native Lucas Brown and his 19 points in 8 games, the Golden Hawks have a tough home and home on the horizon with the Whitby Fury this coming weekend.
2. Wellington Dukes (7-1)
Heading into this past weeks Governor’s Showcase the Wellington Dukes were one of the last remaining undefeated OJHL clubs before they fell 4-2 to the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Still with a 7-1 record there is know doubting the talent the Dukes sport this season. Playing in the toughest division in the OJHL, the Dukes will be in for a battle on a nightly basis with Trenton, Cobourg, Whitby and even Kingston providing tough divisional match-ups. The Dukes have continued to add to a strong lineup with the addition of former OHLer’s Mitchell Mendonca and defensemen Brody Morris. However the Dukes biggest addition this season came in the form of 20 year old Welland, Ontario native Brayden Storz. Storz came to the Dukes from the NOJHL’s Kirkland Lake Gold Miners were he tallied 38 goals and 62 assists for 100 points in 54 games. Stortz has continued his torrid offensive pace through his first 8 OJHL games, as he currently leads the league in scoring with 22 points. The addition of 20 year old Connor Ryckman from the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds have provided the Dukes with arguably one of the top tier 2 goaltenders in Canada, which should go along way in the Dukes challenging the powerful Golden Hawks of Trenton all season long.
3. Cobourg Cougars (5-1)
The host’s of the 2016-2017 RBC Cup have gotten off to a fantastic 5-1 start, however their start has been overshadowed by their division rivals in Trenton and Wellington. While somewhat overshadowed, the Cougars have quietly scored victories over Whitby, St. Mike’s, Pickering, Milton and the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, while their only loss came at the hands of the Wellington Dukes in a game were they actually outshot the Dukes by a 51 to 26 margin. Cobourg hasn’t done as much tinkering with their roster as their fellow division foes have, however they did recently acquire defensemen Matthew Busby from the Aurora Tigers. Busby actually never suited up for the Tigers after being acquire from the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds, were he spent the 2015-2016 season, tallying 38 points in 49 games. The Cougars have gotten solid early season contributions from Brendan Locke, Hunter Atchison, defensemen Brennan Roy and goaltender Stefan Durante who sits with a sparkling 1.48 goals against average.
4. Whitby Fury (6-1-0-1)
The Whitby Fury mark the fourth East Division team in top four of this month’s power rankings and for good reason. Whitby has scored victories over Buffalo, Milton, Newmarket, Georgetown, Lindsay and the North York Rangers, while their two losses were by the narrowest of margins and came against a very good Cobourg Cougars squad and a Toronto Patriots club how have looked revitalized over the last week. The Fury possess a veteran laden core with some high quality youngster’s sprinkled in, an it’s been a recipe for success early on this season. Riding a potent offense that already has five players who have reached double digits in points, including veteran Nik Coric who leads the club with 19 points in just 8 games, the Fury come at you in waves making them tough to limit offensively. The additions of Brock Welsh and Matt Latin from the Oshawa Generals have only strengthened the Fury’s depth as they head into a home and home with the Trenton Golden Hawks this weekend.
5. Georgetown Raiders (6-2)
This is where things started getting tough. With so much parity in the league this season, especially early on, ranking the clubs five through nine became very difficult as you really were splitting hairs when ranking one team ahead of the other. I gave Georgetown the edge here based on their quality victories over St. Mikes, Oakville, Markham, Buffalo, Mississauga and Lindsay. Georgetown has fallen to both Oakville and Whitby this season in games that they did exactly look like the top team we have come to expect them to be. With that being said Georgetown has returned some key pieces from a very solid 2015-2016 squad, including Jack Jacome, Austin Cho, Jordan Crocker, Josh Dickinson, Andrew Court and Jacob Payette all of whom have made solid early season contributions. With the additions of Ethan Wiseman from Orangeville and Matt McJannet from the GOJHL along with rookies Daniel Berno and Jett Alexander expect to provide quality contributions this season, Georgetown looks to be in a good place heading into the weekend.
6. Oakville Blades (6-2-0-1)
Oakville falls just behind the Georgetown Raiders, whom they hold a 1-1 record against this season. Oakville looks as though they will certainly rise to be the cream of the crop in the South-West Conference as the boast excellent depth, a ton of skill and several veteran bodies. Three skaters have already tallied more then 15 points in just 9 games as Ryan Foss leads the club with 18 points, while Bryce Misley and Jackson Bales sit just behind with 16 points a piece. Oakville’s forward core can put up crooked numbers in a hurry and that will be what leads them to a large amount of their win’s this season, however you can’t underestimate how strong their back end and goaltending is this season, especially with veteran Brendan McGlynn returning between the pipes. The addition of Jack Jeffers from Orangeville and Cole Purboo returning from the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires only increases an already potent Blades lineup.
7. Stouffville Spirit (6-1)
Coming off a .500 season in 2015-2016 (24-24-3-3), you didn’t hear much about the Spirit heading into the 2016-2017 campaign, however that is quickly changing as they currently sport an impressive 6-1 record. Stouffville may play in what is looking like the OJHL’s weakest division this season, however they have scored wins over solid clubs in Kingston, Orangeville and Burlington, while adding wins over division rivals Newmarket, Aurora and Pickering. The Spirit made several off-season moves, however returning forward Kyle Thomas leads the bunch offensively with an impressive 10 points in seven games. Andrew Hughes as made solid contributions since coming over from the Pickering Panthers, while youngsters James Waldron, Beau Binnie and Hunter Jones have looked great early on.
8. St. Mike’s Buzzers (5-2-0-2)
The Buzzers sit with a 5-2-0-2 record, which isn’t exactly grounds for over exuberant excitement, however it is reason to be intrigued. With wins over the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Stouffville, Oakville, Aurora and the Toronto Patriots the Buzzers have opened the season with a fairly tough schedule and come out of it looking good. Their four losses albeit two took extra time were against tough teams in Georgetown, Cobourg, Kingston and Orangeville. Thus far this season the Buzzers have got strong goaltending from Cosimo Lazzarino, which has gone a long way for the club as there were some goaltending issues last season. Veteran Cameron Wright is off to a strong start offensively with 13 points in nine games, while youngsters Jonathan Malowney and Devlin Shanahan have looked cgood early on. The Buzzers depth offensively is intriguing as Cameron Searles, Finn Evans and Thomas Flack all have shown flashes of high end offensive abilities in the past.
9. Markham Waxers (5-1-0-1)
Markham has gotten off to a strong start, however they sit at the bottom of the top end bunch simply due to the fact that they haven’t had the toughest schedule early on. Markham has earned wins over Burlington, Pickering, Lindsay, Aurora and Mississauga. With the exception of the Burlington Cougars all the aforementioned clubs have sub .500 records. Still Markham has taken care of business winning the games they should win and credit has to go were credit is due. Markham tweaked their roster here an there over the off-season, with Sam Hu looking like their best off-season acquisition early on as he leads the club offensively with 9 points. Meanwhile the return of Laine McKay, Lucas Condotta and Rylee St.Onge has certainly helped pace what looks to be a deep and potent offense.
10. Toronto Patriots (4-3-0-1)
We had the top nine that were very tough rank as things were extremely close after the top three, now we have a bundle of teams ten through nineteen that are all very close. The Toronto Patriots lead that crop, for the time being. The Patriots started slow losing four of their first five games, however over the last week the Patriots have gone 3-0 scoring wins of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Kingston and a very good Whitby Fury club. With the three straight victories it looks as though the Patriots may have turned the corner as they have continued to tinker with their roster looking to find the right mix. Adding goaltender Tyler Fassl from the Trenton Golden Hawks has paid immediate dividends as he sits with a 2-0 record. Dante Spagnuolo who also came over from Trenton has looked good early on as he looks to build off a very impressive 2015-2016 Midge “AAA” season with the Richmond Hill Coyotes were he became one of the more coveted Midget prospects. The Patriots take on Lindsay and North York this week and a 2-0 record would go a long way in cementing them as a top 10 club.
11. North York Rangers (3-2)
North York looks to be a club who has been somewhat overlooked early on due to their limited action an near .500 record. However closer examination of their club has showed this team has the ability to do some serious damage in the South Division this season. North York has only lost to Trenton and Whitby, two of the top clubs in the league this season, while earning victories over Milton, Kingston and Orangeville in convincing action. The Rangers return a lot from last years squad who were a very competitive club. Chris Sekelyk who came over late last season from Pickering has emerged as the offensive leader early on with eight points in the first five games. Look for veterans Keegan Blasby, Shawn Tessier and Jeremie Lintner to play large rolls at their respective positions. Rookies Peter Muzyka and Harrison Toms should also make immediate impacts.
12. Kingston Voyageurs (3-2-1-1)
Kingston has the unfortunate designation of playing in the toughest division in the OJHL this season. Sitting with a record over .500 with wins over St. Mike’s, Oakville and Mississauga, the Voyageurs find themselves sitting last place in the East Division, despite a fairly good start to the season. Kingston has a deep and talented roster, but will be in tough throughout the season as they’ll consistently see the likes of Trenton, Wellington, Cobourg and Whitby. Josh LeBlanc and Danny Bosio have excelled offensively early on with 11 points in seven games while Reid Russell and Kyle Hallbauer have been consistent contributors from the back end. Rookie Emmett Gordon has looked strong as part of the Voyageurs defense core while Zach Springer has looked comfortable taking over the starters role in goal. Kingston has match up’s against Newmarket and Aurora sandwiched between games against Trenton and Wellington.
13. Buffalo Jr. Sabres (5-3)
The Jr. Sabres didn’t get off to the greatest start to the 2016-2017 campaign, going just 1-3, however they have since turned it around winning four straight games. Now not to down play their four game win streak, but the Jr. Sabres aren’t higher up in these rankings because the four wins have come the Jr. Canadiens, Mississauga, Aurora and Newmarket, all of whom have sub .500 record. Buffalo will have a chance to prove if they have turned the corner Friday night when they host the North York Rangers, before heading on the road for a game against the Jr. Canadiens. Christian DeFelice and Michael Faliero currently lead the Jr. Sabres in scoring with 11 points a piece while Erik Urbank and Cameron Radziwon aren’t far behind. Buffalo’s goaltending hasn’t been fantastic early on, however Tucker Weppner has proven he is a capable #1 netminder in the OJHL and should find his “A” game soon.
14. Burlington Cougars (4-3-1-0)
Despite a record above .500 early on, the Burlington Cougars would be considered underachievers after the first month of the season. Burlington features a veteran laden lineup rich in talent and depth and should turn the corner soon, however early season loses to Markham, Wellington and Stouffville have them sitting just one game above .500. Still there’s reason for optimism as loses to Wellington and Stouffville were hard fought 1 goal games that arguably could have one either way. Mario Cavaliere has come over from the NOJHL’s Powassan Voodoo’s and provided solid goaltending haven been handed the starters role, sitting with a 3-2-1 record. The Cougars haven’t been content with the losses either consistently making moves to improve their lineup, recently bringing in former OHLers Kyle Moore from the Powassan Voodoos and Matt Watson from the Cobourg Cougars. Matt Kennedy and Chris Cobham currently sit 1-2 in team scoring while Josh Cammalleri and Philip Lagunov aren’t far behind. Look for the Cougars to make a significant jump up the rankings by next month.
15. Orangeville Flyers (2-6)
Now we get into a grouping of teams who have got off to rough starts, but to be fair many of them have had tough schedules to start and have still come out of some of those games with victories. For instance the Orangeville Flyers, they haven’t had the most favorable start, but their only loss to a team they probably should have beat came against Mississauga. The Flyers other five losses came to powerhouses in Trenton and Wellington along with Stouffville, Burlington and North York. Orangeville holds victories over St. Mikes and Buffalo, quality teams in this years OJHL. Part of the Flyers early season struggles was starting a rookie netminder. Not that Nathan Torchia was bad by any means, he simply needed time to adjust to the OJHL and it showed at times. A few trades have brought in Nick Stuckless and Michael Mannara, while the addition of Ryan Barbosa along the blue line significantly improved the Flyers back end. Colin Rigney leads the offensive attack with 7 goals and 10 points in 8 games, while Zack Lyons isn’t far behind.
16. Toronto Jr. Canadiens (2-4-0-2)
The Jr. Canadiens started the season 0-3 before picking up their first win of the season against the Mississauga Chargers. While it looked like that may be the turning point for the JRC, another three game losing streak occurred. However the second three game losing streak provided a silver lining of sorts as all three losses where hard fought one goal games, two of which took overtime to settle. The Jr. Canadiens solid string of play finally resulted in a win, an it was a big one as the handed the Wellington Dukes their first lost of the season by a score of 4-2. For the most part the Jr. Canadiens are a young club, but boast an extremely talented young core of players, with Barrie Colts 2016 first round pick Jack McBain head-lining the bunch. Jason Pineo, Jeremy Smith and James Turner come to the JRC after a Telus Cup victory with the North York Rangers, while Matt Falls and Scott Del Zotto are two more youngsters worth keeping an eye on.
17. Milton Icehawks (2-6)
The Icehawks look to be in a much better place this season after struggling through a five win 2015-2016 campaign. The roster and staff was completely overhauled and some high quality younger players have been brought in. With wins over the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Lindsay Muskies early on Milton looks as though they will much more competitive this season. While they do have six loses in eight games it is important to note that their loses have come against Trenton, Cobourg, Wellington, North York, Whitby and Newmarket. Only one of those clubs sits with a sub .500 record while the rest are top teams in the league. Youngster Justin Paul is off to an excellent start this season leading the Icehawks in scoring with 7 points in 8 games, while Will Rawski has provided quality goaltending. The youthfulness of the Icehawks roster will get them in trouble at times, however there is a strong amount of skill within the lineup this season.
18. Mississauga Chargers (2-7-0-0)
The Chargers again find themselves near the bottom of the OJHL standings, something that has become common place for this franchise. The Chargers do hold victories over Orangeville and Pickering this season and have looked as good as you can look while still losing in a handful of games, however the youthfulness of their roster has played a role in their early season struggles. Chris Karabassis has looked good early on for Mississauga with 2 goals and 3 assists while rookie defensemen Joseph Rupoli has been surprisingly good offensively on top of his always sound defensive play. Max Routledge leads the Charges offensively with 8 points in 9 games, although he does have just 1 goal thus far. Julian Sime has looked strong in goal despite the 2-5 record after thriving in the NAHL last season. There are some intriguing pieces in Mississauga this season, if there able to develop quickly the Chargers may squeak into the playoffs in the South-West.
19. Newmarket Hurricanes (2-6)
The Hurricanes opened the 2016-2017 season with a 2-1 record, picking up wins over Aurora and Milton, they have since gone on a five game losing streak dropping their record to 2-6. The Canes are a fairly young club this season, much like many of the lower ranked teams in our opening power ranking article. It’s no secret, young teams struggle in Junior hockey, however there is reason to be optimistic. Newmarket has lost to Trenton, Whitby, Wellington, Stouffville, Buffalo and Burlington, all teams considered to be serious contenders this season. Playing these high quality veteran teams early in the season should help the Canes build towards making a late season playoff push. Playing in the weak North Division should also help this club rack up some wins and get the confidence high. Alex Ierullo currently leads the team in scoring with 11 points in 8 games, while Cole Thiessen has looked strong along the blue line since arriving via trade.
20. Aurora Tigers (1-7-0-1)
The Tigers have struggled quiet a bit early on with just one win through their first nine games. The Tigers lone win came against the winless Pickering Panthers at home on September 18th. Since then the Tigers have lost four straight games, including a very tight game against Trenton and a 9-2 blowout against the St. Michael’s Buzzers. The Tigers are fairly young and consistency has been an issue, however there are some talented players lining the Aurora roster which makes their sluggish start alarming. Mel Melconian leads the team with 10 points in 9 games while Eric Holland isn’t far behind. The Tigers have been active on the trade market, acquiring Dominic Argento and Bryce Martin from Cobourg for Matt Busby. Aurora also picked up Carmine Alberga from the Junior Canadiens and Dakotah Woods from the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Aurora in the coming weeks.
21. Lindsay Muskies (0-6-0-1)
I’ll give the Muskies the marginal edge over Pickering in the battle to stay out of the basement in the first OJHL Power Rankings of the season. Lindsay has had a couple close games against Burlington, Whitby, Georgetown and Milton and that’s the difference between them and Pickering this season as the Panthers have been blown out in many of their opening games. Lindsay has some intriguing pieces in Cameron Lamport and Cameron Robinson while youngsters Matt McNamara and Braydon Leeking have been strong early on for the Muskies. Sean Green and Rock Boyton don’t have great numbers between the pipes however they have been surprisingly good at times but have fallen victim to a young an developing team in front of them.
22. Pickering Panthers (0-6-0-1)
The new jerseys and new coaching staff has done little to change the losing ways that have plagued the Panthers for the past few seasons. Numerous bodies were moved out since the end of the 2015-2016 season and a ton of youngsters have been brought in. While the team may turn into a contender down the road, this season looks like it may be a trying one for the Panthers as they have yet to have a truly close game, with exception to the season opener against Stouffville in which they fell in overtime. To be fair the Panthers haven’t played at home yet, due to renovations at the Pickering Rec Centre and won’t until October 10th when they take on their Durham region rivals the Whitby Fury. Pickering does square off against Lindsay on October 7th which could be their best chance at a win in the coming weeks.
*We will release the OJHL Power Rankings once a month often on the last Thursday of the Month. Be sure to check back in the upcoming months for Power Rankings, some weekly updates, game reports and other OJHL related content.
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