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ITO Three Stars & Power Rankings: Week 5

It’s time for our weekly breakdown of the Ontario Hockey League, with a look back at the week that was with our ITO Three Stars, and a new update to the OHL Power Rankings. This week, we’ll look at how teams did last week, and who’s up next.

ITO 3 Stars

1. Brandon Saad (Saginaw Spirit) – Perhaps no player has been as critical to their team’s success and/or failure this season as Brandon Saad. With just one win in their first nine games, the Spirit looked to be on their way to one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Cue Saad’s return from his tryout with the Chicago Blackhawks organization. Since his return two weeks ago, the Spirit have won four straight, and this week Brandon would lead the way, scoring 6 goals and 10 points in just three games. For that, Brandon Saad is the ITO First Star for the week of October 18th-24th.

2. Mark Visentin (Niagara IceDogs) – Since returning from a groin injury to start the 2011-12 campaign, Visentin has helped the IceDogs begin to turn around their troubled ways. Though called into action just twice, Mark would be all but unbeatable, stopping 63 of 64 shots he faced, including a 30 save shutout over the Plymouth Whalers. With a .984 save percentage for the week, and allowing just a single goal, Mark Visentin is a clear choice as the ITO Second Star.

3. Michael Houser (London Knights) – This is Michael’s 2nd stint in the ITO Three Stars of the week already this season, following up a Second Star selection opening week. Michael would post three straight victories this week, including a 31 save Shutout over the Belleville Bulls. Throw in big wins over the Mississauga Majors and Windsor Spitfires, Houser would post a Save % of .931 for the week and earn another appearance in the ITO Three Stars.

ITO Power Rankings

1. London Knights – (Last Week: 3) With three straight wins last week, the Knights claim the top spot in the OHL Power Rankings, to go along with the league lead in points. London would power their way to the top with victories over Mississauga, Belleville, and Windsor, and look to keep their winning ways going this week in Kitchener, and on the weekend with games versus Owen Sound and Sarnia.

2. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 1) After reaching the top spot on the OHL Power Rankings last week, the Sting found themselves unable to keep pace, earning just three points in three games. Following a loss to Sault Ste. Marie, the Sting were able to bounce back to shutout Kitchener, but would fall in the shootout over the weekend to Belleville. Sarnia looks to get back on track with three games on the road this week, starting Wednesday in Sault Ste. Marie, before travelling to Saginaw and London over the weekend.

3. Mississauga St. Michaels Majors – (Last Week: 2) The Majors continue to set the pace in the Eastern Conference this season, despite suffering a sub-par week. A win in Sudbury would be sandwiched between home losses to London and Plymouth, dropping them a spot this week in the Power Rankings. With the week off, Mississauga should be well rested for weekend games in Ottawa and Oshawa.

4. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 10) A big jump this week for the Greyhounds, who leap back up into the top five on the strength of three road wins this past week. The ‘Hounds would pick up victories in Sarnia, Owen Sound, and Guelph, and now return home for three games this week, starting Wednesday when Sarnia visits. Plymouth and Guelph will also make stops in the Soo over the weekend.

5. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 5) Ottawa remains in the OHL Power Rankings top five this week, after picking up a pair of wins in three games on the road last week. A tough loss in Niagara on Thursday was quickly forgotten after wins in Erie and Kitchener, and the 67’s look to continue their winnings ways with a pair of games this week. Thursday finds the 67’s playing in Peterborough, while the next night they will return home to host Mississauga.

6. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 9) Brampton moves up again this week, erasing a loss to Saginaw with a pair of shutouts over the weekend, defeating Kingston and Peterborough. The Battalion haven’t been scored on in 121:51, and will look to extend that this week with a pair of games at home, taking on Barrie on Friday, and hosting Sudbury on Sunday.

7. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 4) Things couldn’t go right for Windsor this week, as the Spitfires would manage just a single point from three contests. A shootout loss to Kitchener would wind up being the highlight of the week for the Spits, who also suffered losses to Guelph and London. Windsor looks to right the ship this week with games against some struggling clubs. The Spitfires will host Kingston on Thursday evening before hitting the road for games in Barrie and Owen Sound.

8. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 8) The Colts have grabbed on tight to the number 8 spot on the OHL Power Rankings, and won’t let go. Now their third straight week at 8, Barrie would split games last week, losing at home to Owen Sound before bouncing back to knock off Kingston. With tougher opponents this week, the Colts play three times, starting in Belleville on Wednesday night. From there, they will travel to Brampton for a game on Friday, before returning home to wrap up the weekend against Windsor.

9. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 11) The Bulls are able to jump two spots this week in the Power Rankings, despite only earning a split from their two games last week. The fact that those games were against the league’s best two teams, London and Sarnia, might have something to do with it. Belleville continues to impress around the league, and have three big games on tap this week. The Bulls will host Barrie on Wednesday, before visiting Oshawa Friday night. Belleville then returns home to wrap up their weekend on Saturday evening against Peterborough.

10. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 7) Kitchener falls three spots this week, picking up just one win in three tries over the last week. After a big win in Windsor Thursday night, the Rangers would be unable to capitalize on a pair of home games over the weekend, losing to Sarnia and Ottawa. The Rangers will hope to build some momentum this week, hosting London on Tuesday night before a home and home series with Erie over the weekend.

11. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 12) Splitting their games this past week, Guelph finds themselves at number 11 in the OHL Power Rankings. After defeating Windsor on Friday night, the Storm were unable to make it two in a row, dropping to Sault Ste. Marie Sunday afternoon. Only two games on the slate again this week for Guelph, both on the road, as they play in Sudbury on Friday before travelling to the Soo for a rematch with the Greyhounds Saturday night.

12. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 6) Peterborough finds themselves cooling off after a hot start to the season. Losers of all three games last week, and four overall, the Petes would fall in games with Oshawa, Saginaw, and Brampton over the last week. Peterborough aims to set things right this week with a pair of divisional matchups, hosting Ottawa on Thursday before venturing down the road to Belleville for Saturday night.

13. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 14) Winning two of three games over the weekend was only good enough to move Plymouth up one spot in the OHL Power Rankings. Wins over Erie and Mississauga were tempered by a shutout at the hands of Niagara. The Whalers have games in Saginaw and Sault Ste. Marie this week, as well as a home game against Kingston, and will look to continue moving up the charts.

14. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 13) One step forward, two steps back seems to be the motif for the Generals this season. Oshawa watched as a big win in Peterborough on Thursday night was erased by a pair of losses on home ice, to Sudbury and Saginaw, over the weekend. The Generals have three games over the upcoming weekend, starting at home Friday to Belleville, visiting Owen Sound on Saturday, and finishing the week back at home to Mississauga.

15. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 15) The Wolves are coming off a good weekend, winning a pair of games in Oshawa and Owen Sound after losing to Mississauga. If Sudbury can keep winning, they’ll move up in the Power Rankings in no time. It won’t be easy, however, as they play three games in three nights once again, this time starting home to Guelph, and then heading out on the road with stops in Niagara and Brampton.

16. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 17) Niagara is starting to become the team many thought they would be this season, and they would win both their games over the last week, allowing just one goal in the process. Wins over Ottawa and Plymouth re-establishes the IceDogs as a threat in the East, and they should continue up the charts. Niagara starts the week with a game in Erie, before returning home for games against Brampton and Sudbury.

17. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 16) Last year’s OHL Champions continue to sputter to begin the 2011-12 season, but the Attack were able to pick up three points in three games last week. Owen Sound picked up the victory in Barrie, but a loss to Sault Ste. Marie, and a shootout loss to Sudbury, knocks them down one spot this week. A tough week lies ahead for the Attack, who play in London on Friday night, then return home for games with Oshawa and Windsor.

18. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 18) The return of Brandon Saad to Saginaw has coincided with the turnaround in the Spirit team. After starting 1-8, the team has now won four straight games, including a perfect road trip this past week through Brampton, Peterborough, and Oshawa. The Spirit now return home this week for three games, hosting Plymouth Wednesday, Kingston on Friday, and Sarnia Saturday night.

19. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 19) No change for Kingston this week, as the Frontenacs could muster but one goal in a pair of losses to Brampton and Barrie last week. If Kingston doesn’t turn it around this week, they may find themselves at the bottom of the OHL Power Rankings. The Frontenacs are away from the K-Rock Centre this weekend, playing three games in three nights in Windsor, Saginaw, and Plymouth.

20. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) Even the return of goalie Ramis Sadikov wasn’t enough to turn around the sinking Otters, as they would lose both games on home ice last week, to Ottawa and Plymouth. Erie would score only two goals in those two games, and will need more goal production this week, as Niagara comes to visit before the Otters start a home and home series with Kitchener.

Well, there you have it, a look around the league at who’s hot, and who’s not. Be sure to check back next week to see where your favourite team ranks. If you can’t wait for your OHL fix, find me on Twitter, @N24Nicholson.

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