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ITO Three Stars and OHL Power Rankings: Week 18

As we reach the end of January, we find many teams going through the various rigours of an Ontario Hockey League season, some pushing to be considered amongst the league’s elite, while others are beginning to fade, unable to sustain first half momentum. With just seven weeks remaining on the OHL schedule, no team has secured a playoff spot as of yet, and a number of excellent races are shaping up in each conference.
ITO 3 Stars
1. Tobias Rieder (Kitchener Rangers) –Three multiple point games for the German National earns Tobias this week’s ITO First Star. Rieder has been on quite a tear since returning from his homeland over the holidays, and opened the week on Wednesday, scoring twice and adding a helper in a big victory in London. Two nights later, Tobias would score the game winning goal with less than 30 seconds left against Owen Sound, adding to an earlier assist in the game. With another goal and three points Sunday afternoon against Guelph, Tobias would finish the week with four goals and eight points in just three games, and would be our choice as ITO First Star for week 18.
2. Mark Visentin (Niagara IceDogs) – Mark Visentin was about as perfect as a goaltender can be this past week, stopping every shot he would face over a pair of games, and helping to lead the IceDogs to the top of the Central Division. Thursday night, Mark would stop all 26 shots, as his club would blank Belleville to start the week. After being given the night off on Friday, Visentin would be back between the pipes for a big contest in Brampton, where he would turn aside all 15 shots to shutout their division rivals. With no goals against in two appearances this week, the IceDogs netminder was a clear choice as the ITO Second Star for the week.
3. Ryan Murphy (Kitchener Rangers) – Ryan Murphy makes his second straight appearance on the ITO Three Stars, following up on last week’s First Star selection with another great week in week 18. The Kitchener rearguard would score a goal as part of a three point night in London on Wednesday night, and followed that up with another assist Friday, a win over Owen Sound. Sunday afternoon, Murphy would be huge again for the Rangers, scoring again as part of his second three point game of the week. With two goals and seven points in Kitchener’s three games this week, Ryan earns our choice as Third Star for week 18.
ITO Power Rankings
1. London Knights – (Last Week: 1) The Knights continue to roll, as the league’s top team keeps finding ways to win. This past week would start rough for London, who were blasted on home ice by Kitchener on Wednesday night. The Knights would bounce right back from the tough defeat, winning Friday night at home to Windsor, then earning another two points in Saginaw on Saturday. Just two games lay ahead for London this week, as they play games on Friday and Saturday night at the JLC. A visit from Niagara begins the weekend Friday, and the Knights host Mississauga the next night.
2. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 5) With three more wins this week, the Kitchener Rangers vault themselves up into the coveted number two spot in this week’s OHL Power Rankings. Winners of six of their last seven, the Rangers would earn a huge Wednesday night victory in London, and use that momentum to post two more wins, Friday night over Owen Sound, and Sunday afternoon in Guelph. Kitchener plays twice in the coming week, hosting Belleville on Friday night, before Saginaw visits on Sunday afternoon.
3. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 4) The Plymouth Whalers climb back into the top three in the OHL Power Rankings after winning all three of their contests over the last week, extending a winning streak to four in the process. Thursday night, the Whalers would open the week with an impressive win in Barrie, followed by an overtime win in Sudbury a night later. Sunday evening, Plymouth would win again, this time via the shootout, taking two points away from Sault Ste. Marie. The Whalers are another team playing just twice this week, as they face one more contest on their road trip Friday night in Sarnia. The next night, Plymouth returns home to host Windsor, wrapping up the weekend.
4. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 2) Last week’s 2nd ranked team, the 67’s slide a couple of spots this week, despite winning two of three in a three game weekend. Friday night, Ottawa started things off with a bang, repelling a visit from Sarnia, but would drop a tough game in Barrie Saturday night, causing the slide. Even a win in Owen Sound Sunday afternoon wouldn’t be enough to avoid the drop, though the 67’s continue to remain firm in top spot in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa plays just twice in the next week, beginning on Friday when they play host to Oshawa. A night later, a visit from Kingston wraps up the 67’s weekend.
5. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 3) Much like Ottawa ahead of them, the IceDogs slide a couple of spots this week, as one tough loss would override a pair of big victories. Things would start well for Niagara, as they would win convincingly over Belleville on Thursday night, but a night later, the IceDogs would find themselves shutout in Guelph. Niagara replied well Sunday, earning a shutout of their own in Brampton. There are two games ahead for the IceDogs in the coming week, beginning with a big matchup in London on Friday night. On Saturday, Niagara returns home to host Brampton in a rematch for the lead atop the Central Division.
6. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 6) It was a tough week for the Brampton Battalion, who manage to hold their spot at number six this week, despite dropping two of three over the weekend. Friday night, the Troops would be unable to pull out a victory on home ice, losing to Barrie, but Brampton would answer with a win the next night in Oshawa. On Sunday afternoon, the Battalion would be dropped by their rivals from Niagara, losing their grip on top spot in the division in the process. Brampton faces another three game weekend ahead of them, beginning Friday night in Erie. From there, the Battalion play Saturday in Niagara, before returning home to host Sudbury on Sunday afternoon.
7. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 7) Sudbury continues to hold steady at number seven, as they try to put some distance between themselves and the bottom half of the Eastern Conference. The Wolves only managed three points in as many games over the last week, beginning with an overtime loss Friday night against Plymouth. Sudbury would lose at home to last place Erie, before bouncing back nicely to end the weekend, defeating Mississauga. The Wolves face another three game weekend coming up, which begins Friday night when they host Sault Ste. Marie. From there, Sudbury takes their act on the road, with contests Saturday in Peterborough, and in Brampton on Sunday afternoon.
8. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 8) No change at number eight this week, as the Barrie Colts would post a pair of impressive victories in the last week. The week didn’t start out great for the Colts, who would be beaten by Plymouth on home ice Thursday night. Barrie would answer with wins Friday in Brampton, and Saturday against Ottawa. If the Colts are to build on the momentum from these two huge wins, it all starts on Friday, when they play in Mississauga. After that, Barrie only has one other game in the next week, playing a night later at home to Sault Ste. Marie.
9. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 10) Saginaw would split a pair of games in a relatively quiet week past, but the split would be enough to see the Spirit climb one spot to number nine in the OHL Power Rankings. On Thursday night, the Spirit would find a way to win in Windsor, but, upon returning home, Saginaw would be defeated by London Saturday night. The Spirit head back out on the road this weekend, playing three times in as many days, in as many visiting cities. On Friday night, the Spirit play in Guelph, before travelling all the way to Erie for a contest the next night. Sunday afternoon, Saginaw is back in Ontario, playing in Kitchener to finish the weekend.
10. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 9) The Generals slide one spot this week, but remain in the top ten of the OHL Power Rankings after earning three points in as many games this past weekend. Friday night in Kingston, Oshawa would drop a disappointing decision in overtime, and the next night, the Gens would be dropped again, this time on home ice against Brampton. The Generals would salvage a .500 weekend Sunday evening, when they would knock off their rivals from Peterborough. Looking ahead, Oshawa faces a pair of big games this week, beginning on Friday night, when they play in Ottawa. The Generals will wrap the weekend up on home ice Sunday evening, playing host to Guelph.
11. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 14) Two wins in a three game weekend help propel the Storm up three spots in this week’s Power Rankings, as Guelph lands at number eleven this week. After starting the weekend by shutting out Niagara on Friday night, the Storm would win again a night later in Owen Sound. On Sunday, however, Guelph would lose a tough game on home ice to Kitchener, spoiling an otherwise perfect week. Just a pair of games for Guelph coming up, as the Storm host Saginaw on Friday night, before hitting the road to play in Oshawa on Sunday afternoon.
12. Mississauga St. Michaels Majors – (Last Week: 12) A split in a pair of games over the last week is enough for Mississauga to retain number twelve in this week’s Power Rankings. The Majors would win a huge Eastern Conference battle against Peterborough on Friday night, but were unable to capitalize two days later, losing to Sudbury. Mississauga is another team with a three game weekend ahead of them, which begins Friday night when the Majors host Barrie. Road games in London on Saturday, and in Windsor Sunday afternoon complete the Majors weekend schedule.
13. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 11) It was a tough week for the league’s defending Champions, as the Attack would lose all three contests, extending their losing streak to five overall. Owen Sound would only be outscored by four goals in their three losses, beginning Friday night when the Attack lost in Kitchener. Losses at home to Guelph on Saturday, and to Ottawa Sunday would add to the misery in Owen Sound, who look to fix things with a pair of games coming up. On Friday night, the Attack play host to Windsor, and, a night later, Belleville comes to town for a Saturday night contest.
14. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 15) Three points in as many games on an eastern road trip is enough to help stop Sarnia’s freefall down the OHL Power Rankings, as they climb back up a spot to land at number fourteen this week. After losing Friday night in Ottawa, the Sting were much better over the rest of the weekend, earning a point for a shootout loss the next night in Belleville, then ending the week with a big win in Kingston. Sarnia has but a single game this week to try and build on their new found momentum, and a Friday night visit from a tough team from Plymouth won’t be easy.
15. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 13) The Petes continue their slide down the OHL Power Rankings, and fall two more spots this week to land at number fifteen. After opening the week with a win on home ice over Kingston, Peterborough would be unable to find any success over the weekend, losing Friday night in Mississauga, and Sunday evening in Oshawa. The Petes get another crack at Kingston when they travel down the highway for a contest on Friday night, before returning home to play against Sudbury in their second of two games this week.
16. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 16) The Windsor Spitfires hold firm at number sixteen this week, after earning just a single point from a pair of games over the last week. On Thursday night, the Spits would taste defeat on home ice, losing in the shootout to Saginaw, and would lose in regulation the next night in London. Windsor is another team with a three game weekend in front of them, which begins Friday night in Owen Sound. After playing in Plymouth on Saturday, the Spitfires return home to finish the weekend with a Sunday afternoon bout against Mississauga.
17. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 18) It was a pretty good week for the Greyhounds, who earned three out of four possible points this week, allowing them to climb up one spot in the OHL Power Rankings. Sault Ste. Marie would earn a victory when Erie came to town on Friday night, and the Hounds would earn another point in a shootout loss against Plymouth on Sunday night. The Soo only play twice again this week, and need points in both to get back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Friday night, the Greyhounds play in Sudbury, before traveling to Barrie for a Saturday night contest.
18. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 17) Even putting a stop to a six game losing streak wouldn’t be enough to stop the Bulls from sliding yet further down the OHL Power Rankings, as the slide all the way into the bottom three this week. On Thursday night, Belleville was unable to muster any offence, being dismantled in Niagara, before rebounding to defeat Sarnia on home ice on Saturday night. A pair of tough road games lies ahead of the Bulls this week, who will try to get back into the top eight in the East with games Friday night in Kitchener, and in Owen Sound on Saturday.
19. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 19) While it seems as though the bottom two teams may never change, Kingston has been playing much better hockey over the past month, and are being rewarded with some victories for their hard work. The week would start out with a loss in Peterborough on Thursday night, but the Fronts would get a big win the next night, defeating Oshawa in overtime, avenging a lopsided loss from the week before. Sunday afternoon, Kingston would lose a tough battle with the visitors from Sarnia, halting any thoughts of a rise in this week’s Power Rankings. Only two games in from of the Frontenacs this week, beginning with a rematch at home to Peterborough on Friday night. Saturday afternoon, Kingston plays in Ottawa to finish the week’s schedule.
20. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) While still comfortable at the bottom of the OHL Power Rankings, the Otters did pick up their sixth victory of the season this weekend. After losing in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday night, Erie would win in Sudbury the next night, knocking off a tough Eastern team in the process. The Otters only play twice this week, but get the benefit of both being on home ice, beginning Friday night when Brampton comes to town. On Saturday, Erie plays host to Saginaw, another team desperate for as many points as possible.
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 the week’s best players, and to find out where your favourite team ranks. If you can’t wait for your OHL fix, find me on Twitter anytime, @N24Nicholson.

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