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ITO Three Stars and OHL Power Rankings: Week 16

This week, we got our first look at the team’s that will compete this spring for the J. Ross Robertson Cup, as Ontario Hockey League teams showcased their new additions from the recent trade deadline. Many teams were loading up last week in efforts to improve their chances in the playoffs, and while some clicked with their new clubs immediately, others may take some time to fit in to new surroundings. In this edition, we’ll look back at how everyone did over the last week, and look ahead to this week, with many teams still jockeying for position in their respective conferences.

ITO 3 Stars

1. Josh Shalla (Saginaw Spirit) – Already named as the OHL Player of the week, Josh was also a clear choice as our ITO First Star for January 10th-16th, scoring two goals and eight points in a three game weekend. Shalla would register a pair of assists in a loss in the Soo Thursday evening, and would score a goal to go along with another pair of assists on Saturday, a shootout loss to London. Sunday afternoon, Josh would cement his place as top star of the week, scoring again, and adding two more helpers, as his squad would dismiss Mississauga. His eight points would lead all OHL’ers in points, and earn Josh the ITO First Star Selection for Week 16.

2. Alex Basso (Sarnia Sting) – Who would have thought that with Sarnia’s recent acquisitions, it would be the play of rearguard Alex Basso that would lead the team over the past week? Alex made an impact in both contests the Sting played, starting with a two goal, three point performance in a win over Mississauga on Friday. The next night, Basso was strong from the point once more, scoring a goal and adding a helper in a victory over Kingston. With three goals and five points in only two games over the last week, it was impossible to ignore Alex Basso as our ITO 2nd Star for Week 16.

3. Shane Prince (Ottawa 67’s) – After the Ottawa 67’s earned two of our OHL three stars last week, a third Ottawa junior would earn recognition for Week 16, as Shane Prince would be a force in both games his club played. Shane would score a pair, and add an assist in a 5-3 loss to Peterborough on Friday night, and he would register another three point game on Sunday afternoon, scoring a goal in a big win over Belleville. With three goals and six points in just two games, Shane Prince earns the ITO 3rd Star Selection for the week of January 10th-16th.

ITO Power Rankings

1. London Knights – (Last Week: 2) The London Knights find themselves back atop the OHL Power Rankings this week, after spending all season in the top spot until a two week hiatus here in January. The Knights started the week with a disappointing loss on home ice to Kingston Friday night, but would avenge the loss with a pair of victories on the road, first in Saginaw Saturday, and then in Sault Ste. Marie to finish the weekend. Looking ahead, if the Knights are to keep hold at the top, they must face another three game weekend, beginning Friday night at home to Owen Sound. The teams play once again in Owen Sound on Saturday, before London returns home to face Erie Sunday afternoon.

2. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 1) The Whalers drop from the top spot in the OHL Power Rankings, despite matching London’s 2-1 record for the week past. After an impressive win in Kitchener on Friday evening, Plymouth had no answer the following night, being shutout at home by Mississauga. The Whalers rallied to salvage a winning week by defeating Windsor on holiday Monday afternoon. Three more games in the week ahead leaves little time for the Whalers to rest, as they get right back to work on Wednesday night, when they play in Owen Sound. The next night Plymouth travels to Brampton, before returning home for a Saturday evening tilt with Sault Ste. Marie.

3. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 6) Another perfect three game weekend is enough to vault the IceDogs into our top three in the OHL Power Rankings. Now winners of five in a row, the ‘Dogs made a number of key moves designed to make them stand apart from the rest of the Eastern Conference, and early results have been good. After winning at home to Barrie on Thursday, Niagara would take to the road, winning in Sudbury Friday, before defeating Barrie again, this time in Barrie, Saturday evening. The IceDogs will look to keep the streak going this week, starting another three game weekend on Friday night in Erie. From there, Niagara returns home to face Sudbury on Saturday, and Peterborough Sunday.

4. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 3) A quiet week for the 67’s saw them slip one spot in the OHL Power Rankings, after earning a split in a pair of games in the last week. Friday night, Peterborough came to town and left with two points, defeating the 67’s in a divisional battle. Two nights later, Ottawa would get some redemption, winning big on home ice over Belleville. The 67’s play three games in the week ahead, as they get back to a full schedule starting Thursday night in Peterborough. Ottawa returns home for a pair of games over the weekend, as Oshawa pays a visit on Friday, and the 67’s host Kitchener Sunday afternoon.

5. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 4) The Kitchener Rangers drop a spot this week, leaped over by the surging Niagara IceDogs. The Rangers would win two out of three contests in the past week, starting the week off right with a win in Peterborough Thursday night. Kitchener returned home the following night, where they were humbled by a visit from Plymouth, before wrapping the week up with a victory over Kingston Sunday afternoon. The Rangers head out for three games on the road this weekend, beginning Friday night in Kingston. Kitchener will also make stops in Belleville Saturday and Ottawa on Sunday.

6. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 5) The Brampton Battalion are also down a spot this week, after only picking up three points in three games in the last seven days. Thursday night, the Battalion fell on home ice to a visit from Belleville, and Brampton would lose again the following night, this time picking up a single point from an overtime loss in Oshawa. Sunday afternoon, the Battalion salvaged an even week by returning home to defeat Erie. Still keeping pace near the top of the Eastern Conference, the Battalion face three more games in the week ahead, starting Thursday evening at home to Plymouth. Friday, Brampton travels down the road to play in Mississauga, then returns home for a contest Sunday afternoon against Sudbury.

7. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 7) The Sudbury Wolves continue to be a difficult opponent to face, remaining right in the thick of the Eastern Conference in the process. Sudbury won two of three games this past week to keep pace, even though the week began with a loss at home to Niagara on Friday. Over the weekend, the Wolves went out on the road, earning wins in Belleville Saturday, and in Oshawa Sunday. The Wolves play their second of four straight three game weekends this week, starting Friday night at home to Saginaw. Much like last week, Sudbury then heads out on the road for the weekend, playing Saturday in Niagara, and in Brampton Sunday afternoon.

8. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 10) Owen Sound was fairly active at the deadline this year, and they find themselves up two spots this week after winning both games they played this week, both at home to Erie on Friday and Saturday nights. The Attack will get their first good look at their new team, as they face a busier week ahead, playing three times against stiffer competition. Wednesday evening, Plymouth pays a visit to Owen Sound, after which the Attack play a home and home series with London, on the road Friday, and back at home Saturday night.

9. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 8) A pair of losses saw the Barrie Colts slide another spot this week in the OHL Power Rankings, as the Colts found themselves on the wrong side of scores in both ends of a home and home series with the Niagara IceDogs last week. The Colts have three games this week in which to redeem themselves, all against teams fighting for their playoff lives. Barrie hosts Saginaw to start the week Thursday night, and then plays again at home on Saturday against Guelph. The Colts wrap the weekend up on the road, playing a Sunday evening contest in Oshawa.

10. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 9) The Petes are another team that has faced more than their share of ups and downs so far this season. Of late, the team appears on another down turn, as Peterborough would lose two of three this week, and slide ever further down the standings in the Eastern Conference. Thursday night, the Petes would lose on home ice to Kitchener, but would be much better a night later, when they would win in Ottawa. However, being shutout by Guelph on home ice Sunday would leave Peterborough looking behind them in the standings. Looking ahead, the Petes have a rematch with Ottawa in store for Thursday night, before they head out on the road for games in Erie Saturday, and in Niagara Sunday afternoon.

11. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 13) After a horrific start to the season for these once-contenders, Oshawa has been playing much better hockey as of late, and have climbed back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Generals, who were as many as nine points out of the final playoff spot in mid-December, are now just two points behind Mississauga in eighth. Oshawa would split a pair of games at home over the last week, defeating Brampton in overtime on Friday, before losing to Sudbury Sunday. The Generals face an important three game weekend coming up, starting in Ottawa on Friday night. From there, the Gens return home, playing against Kingston Saturday night, and hosting Barrie Sunday.

12. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 11) After climbing up the OHL Power Rankings, the Saginaw Spirit slip one spot this week, after earning three points in three games over the last week. The Spirit would get stronger as the week went on, beginning the week with a loss in Sault Ste. Marie Friday night. On Saturday, Saginaw would push London to a shootout before eventually conceding the extra point, and they would wrap the week up on Sunday afternoon, defeating Mississauga at home. The Spirit begin a road trip with three games away from Michigan, beginning Thursday night in Barrie, and making stops in Sudbury on Friday, and in Mississauga on Sunday afternoon.

13. Mississauga St. Michaels Majors – (Last Week: 12) Mississauga continues their descent down the OHL Power Rankings, sliding another spot this week to land at thirteen. Dropping two out of three this week doesn’t help the Majors’ cause, as they now find themselves clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Mississauga began the week by losing in Sarnia on Friday, but would earn a much needed two points by winning in Plymouth Saturday. The Majors ended the week by losing in Saginaw on Sunday, falling a little further behind the pack in the East. Mississauga looks for redemption beginning Wednesday night in Belleville, then returns home, facing Brampton Friday, and Saginaw on Sunday.

14. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 14) Once a team competing with Ottawa for the division lead, the Bulls have slid over the past month, and have just three wins in their last fourteen games. With netminder Malcolm Subban out of the lineup, Belleville has slid down the standings, and now find themselves looking to avoid sliding out of playoff contention. Thursday night, the Bulls helped their cause by winning in Brampton, but would follow up that game with losses, first on Saturday at home to Sudbury, and then on Sunday in Ottawa. Belleville looks to rebound this week, starting Wednesday night when they host Mississauga. From there, Kitchener comes to town on Saturday, then the Bulls travel to Kingston for a Sunday afternoon tilt.

15. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 15) The Sarnia Sting remain steady at number fifteen for the third straight week, though they would finally post a winning week without star forward Nail Yakupov. Another team quite active at the deadline, many of the new pieces in Sarnia have begun to pay dividends immediately, as the Sting would win both contests over the past week. Friday night, Sarnia would run up the score, winning big over Mississauga on home ice, and the next night, the Sting would be equally effective, defeating Kingston. Sarnia has an excellent chance to string some wins together, beginning on Thursday night when they host Sault Ste. Marie. The following night, the Sting host Windsor, before heading on the road to wrap up the weekend Sunday afternoon in Guelph.

16. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 17) In a weird twist of fate, the Guelph Storm find themselves up one spot this week, leaping over Windsor, despite being shutout on home ice by the Spitfires on Friday night. The Storm found themselves able to bounce back nicely, posting a shutout of their own on Sunday night in Peterborough. If Guelph is to continue their upward trend, as well as hold on to one of the final playoff spots in the West, they will need to keep winning this week, starting Thursday night, when they play in Windsor. After that big game, the Storm play in Barrie on Saturday, then return home to play Sarnia on Sunday afternoon.

17. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 16) Windsor would split a pair of games over the last week, and find themselves back down one spot to number seventeen in the OHL Power Rankings. Friday night, the Spits would earn a hard-fought shutout victory in Guelph, but couldn’t sustain the momentum, dropping a decision in Plymouth in a holiday Monday matinee. As for the week ahead, Windsor has a big opportunity on Thursday night, when they host Guelph. The Spifires play in Sarnia the next night, before wrapping up the weekend back at home Sunday afternoon against Sault Ste. Marie.

18. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 18) With just a split from a pair of games this past week, the Greyhounds find themselves holding steady at number eighteen this week. With both games coming on home ice, the Soo earned a big win over Saginaw on Friday night, before losing to London on Sunday. This week, the Hounds head out on a three game road trip, playing in Sarnia on Thursday night, before travelling to Plymouth Saturday, and to Windsor for a Sunday afternoon tilt.

19. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 19) After making a number of moves at the deadline, the new look Frontenacs have shown great potential, holding tough against many tough opponents as of late. Kingston started the week out with a huge victory over a top-ranked team in London on Friday night, but followed up with losses in Sarnia on Saturday and in Kitchener Sunday. The Fronts have another three game weekend in front of them, beginning with a chance for redemption when Kitchener comes to town on Friday night. On Saturday, Kingston travels down the highway to play in Oshawa, then returns home for a Sunday matinee against Belleville.

20. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) Three more losses this week extended the losing streak to eight in a row, and the Otters have lost twelve of their last thirteen, rendering their season effectively over long ago. Erie was on the road this past week, losing games in Owen Sound on both Friday and Saturday nights, then traveling to Brampton for another loss on Sunday afternoon. The Otters have another three game weekend in front of them, beginning at home Friday night to Niagara. The next night, Erie hosts Peterborough, then the Otters head out to London for a Sunday afternoon contest.

The ITO Three Stars and Power Rankings can be found every Tuesday here at In The O… The Radio Show. Be sure to check back next week to see where your favourite team ranks, but if you can’t wait for your OHL fix, find me on Twitter, @N24Nicholson.

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