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ITO Three Stars & OHL Power Rankings: Week 15

Welcome back to another edition of the ITO Power Rankings and OHL Three Stars for the week of January 2nd-8th. This week, the games seemed almost secondary to all of the action off the ice, as many teams began to get a jumpstart on their respective playoff builds. With many players finding new homes this week, there were still many important games to play, as the races have really begun to heat up in the past couple of weeks. This week, we’ll take a look at our Three Star Selections for Week 15, and run down our weekly OHL Power Rankings. As we do, we’ll try and recap some of the acquisitions that have made news in the last week.

ITO 3 Stars

1. Tyler Toffoli (Ottawa 67’s) – With three games against big Eastern Conference rivals this week, Tyler Toffoli was the league’s leading scorer, helping his Ottawa team win all three contests. Tyler would score once, and add four assists on Friday night, as his 67’s knocked off the Bulls. The next night, in the back-end of a home and home series in Belleville, Tyler’s goal and two assists were instrumental in a 3-2 victory. Tyler would finish the week with another goal and assist in Mississauga on Sunday afternoon, finishing with three goals and ten points in his three games. For that, Tyler convinces us that he is the ITO First Star for Week 15.

2. Sean Monahan (Ottawa 67’s) – If anybody was as hot as Tyler Toffoli this week, it was his Center in Ottawa, Sean Monahan, who’s chemistry with Toffoli came to the forefront of the league this week. In Friday’s contest against Belleville, Sean would help set up four goals, and he would score a goal and two assists in the rematch the next night. Monahan scored again on Sunday, finishing the week with a pair of goals and eight points in three games. As such, Sean Monahan is Week 15’s ITO Second Star.

3. Michael Houser (London Knights) – While his team was picking up support up front, nobody has been as consistent in goal this season as Michael Houser, who is making his third appearance in the ITO Three Stars this season. Michael was a perfect 3-0-0 this week, winning all three games on the road, while giving up just four goals in the process. In games versus Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and Barrie, Michael made 79 saves, posting a save percentage of .952 in the process. As such, there was little doubt that Houser earns our Third Star selection this week.

ITO Power Rankings

1. Plymouth Whalers – (Last Week: 1) After dethroning the Knights from the top spot last week, the Plymouth Whalers continue to be the hottest team in the OHL. While the rest of the league were making deals this weekend, the Whalers just continued to win, defeating Saginaw in a shootout on Saturday night, and winning again in Sarnia the next afternoon. Plymouth begins the upcoming week with a big game in Kitchener on Friday night, then returning home to face Mississauga the next night. The Whalers wrap up the week ahead with a rare Monday afternoon contest, hosting Windsor.

2. London Knights – (Last Week: 2) While no longer atop the OHL Power Rankings, the Knights are still on top of the OHL Standings, a much more important rank. London has retooled heavily in the last week, acquiring Greg McKegg, Brett Cook, Tyson Teichmann, and Austin Watson. London won big in Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday night, and would win again in Sudbury on Friday. The Knights finished off the road trip with another victory Saturday night, defeating Barrie. Looking ahead, London returns home for a contest with Kingston on Friday night, then heads back out on the road for a pair of weekend games, first in Saginaw, then Sault Ste. Marie to wrap up the weekend.

3. Ottawa 67’s – (Last Week: 5) A perfect 3-0 weekend for the 67’s is enough to jump up into our top three this week, and the additions of John McFarland and Mike Cazzola will provide leadership for a potential long run in this year’s playoffs. After a big home win over Belleville on Friday night, Ottawa took to the road, and would defeat Belleville again the next night. The 67’s finished the perfect weekend in grand fashion, as Petr Mrazek would post a shutout on his return to the lineup in Mississauga. Ottawa has just a pair of home contests in the next week, but both against divisional rivals at a time of year where every point is important. The 67’s host Peterborough on Friday night, before Belleville returns to town on Sunday afternoon.

4. Kitchener Rangers – (Last Week: 3) The Rangers slip one spot this week, after splitting a pair of games in a relatively quiet week. After losing on home ice to Oshawa on Friday, Kitchener bounced back the next night in Erie. With Tyler Randall returned to the team from the Bruins organization, the Rangers made room Sunday afternoon, dealing rearguard Julian Melchiori to Oshawa. Kitchener plays three times in the coming week, starting Thursday night in Peterborough. Afterwards, the Rangers return home for a pair of weekend games, hosting Plymouth Friday night, and Kingston on Sunday night.

5. Brampton Battalion – (Last Week: 4) Despite winning just once this week, the Battalion continue to be one of the league’s tougher opponents, and Brampton would pick up four out of six possible points. Friday night, Brampton would lose a tough shootout against their rivals in Mississauga, and they would lose another the next night, this time in overtime. Sunday afternoon, the Battalion returned home, salvaging a positive weekend with a victory over Oshawa. Brampton got into the trade foray on Monday, acquiring Derek Froats from Kingston for Adam Lloyd. With points in twelve straight games (9-0-1-2), the Battalion look to keep the streak going with three more games this week, starting Thursday night when they host Belleville. Brampton travels to Oshawa for a Friday night game before returning home to wrap up the weekend Sunday afternoon against Erie.

6. Niagara IceDogs – (Last Week: 7) Niagara climbs a spot this week, winning both games at home in a fairly quiet weekend. After dispatching Owen Sound via the shootout on Friday night, the IceDogs would win again Sunday, defeating a new look club from Sarnia. Tom Kuhnhackl returned from a lengthy suspension this week, and with the recent acquisitions of Brett Ritchie and Canadian Junior Jamie Oleksiak should help the club contend down the stretch. Niagara plays three games in three nights, beginning Thursday night, when they host Barrie. From there, the IceDogs head out on the road, playing in Sudbury before a return match in Barrie rounds out the weekend Saturday night.

7. Sudbury Wolves – (Last Week: 8) After falling a spot last week, the Wolves get that spot back after winning two out of three games this week. Sudbury got the week started right, winning in Barrie on Wednesday, but would be bounced at home Friday night by London. The Wolves would reply well Sunday, trouncing Windsor. Sudbury sent Kristoff Kontos to Mississauga, landing Derek Schoenmakers and picks from the Majors, and acquired Mackenzie Braid from Windsor. The Wolves have a three game weekend ahead of them, beginning Friday night at home to Niagara, before they take to the road for games in Belleville and Oshawa.

8. Barrie Colts – (Last Week: 6) Sliding two spots this week, the Barrie Colts continue to keep pace in the middle of the Eastern Conference, and split a pair of games over the weekend. The Colts lost on home ice to a tough team from London on Saturday night, but went down the highway and won in Kingston on Sunday afternoon. Barrie was one of the teams to start the trading spree this week, pulling the trigger on a large deal with Saginaw that saw Anthony Camara and Ryan O’Connor join the Colts. Another quiet week lies ahead for Barrie this week, as they play a home and home series with Niagara that starts Thursday night in St. Catharines and wraps up Saturday.

9. Peterborough Petes – (Last Week: 11) Back in the top ten, the Petes took two out of three games this week, as they fight to remain in playoff contention in the East. Thursday night, Peterborough was humbled on home ice at the hands of Kingston, but the Petes would gain a measure of revenge the next night, as they would travel down to Kingston and win in their building. Saturday night, Peterborough used the shootout to knock off Mississauga in an important game for position in the Eastern Conference. The Petes made a splash in the trade market on Monday, shipping Austin Watson to London in exchange for Chase Hatcher and picks. Looking ahead, Peterborough hosts Kitchener on Thursday night, then travels to Ottawa for a game the following evening. The Petes wrap up three games in as many nights on Saturday, when they host Guelph.

10. Owen Sound Attack – (Last Week: 12) Still in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, the Attack earned three out of four points this week, and have been active in the week’s trades. Owen Sound would lose a shootout in Niagara, earning a valuable point on Friday night, then used extra time again the next night, defeating Brampton in overtime. The Attack would complete a deal before Saturday’s game, sending veteran defencemen Geoffrey Schemitsch and Matt Petgrave to Oshawa for Kyle Hope and picks. An interesting week for the Attack, who play just twice, both coming at home to the same team. Erie comes to town for a game Friday, and the two teams play a second game in Owen Sound the next night.

11. Saginaw Spirit – (Last Week: 13) The Spirit are up another two spots this week, as they continue to push towards one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, while selling off many of their key pieces. Saginaw started the ball rolling this week on the trade front, completing a blockbuster with Barrie that sent O’Connor and Camara to the Colts, and acquiring Eric Locke and Clint Windsor, along with picks. The Spirit also dealt John McFarland to Ottawa and Jamie Oleksiak to Niagara, getting back interesting youngster David Perklin and Frank Schumacher, as well as many more picks. On the ice, the Spirit would drop two of three games this past week, losing games to Plymouth both at home and away, but winning big over Guelph Friday night. The new-look Saginaw Spirit play a three game weekend ahead, starting Friday night in Sault Ste. Marie, before returning home for games against London and Mississauga, respectively.

12. Mississauga St. Michaels Majors – (Last Week: 10) The Majors slide a couple of spots this week, and already it would appear as though a small rebuild has begun in Mississauga, just months after coming one game from a Memorial Cup Championship. The Majors were busy, both on and off the ice this week, playing three games in three nights, as well as making a number of deals. Friday night, Mississauga earned an overtime victory over Brampton, but the Majors were burned in overtime themselves the following night, losing in Peterborough. Mississauga would finish the week on home ice, where they would be shutout by Ottawa. After numerous moves, gone now are J.P. Anderson, replaced in goal by Brandon Maxwell, and Cramarossa, Mayer, and Schoenmakers, replaced with Kristoff Kontos and a number of draft picks. The Majors face yet another three game weekend ahead, starting Friday night in Sarnia, and making stops in Plymouth and Saginaw over the weekend.

13. Oshawa Generals – (Last Week: 16) The Generals have toiled near the bottom of the OHL Power Rankings for much of the season, but now find themselves rising up the charts, and the team has decided to buy in efforts to make the playoffs this season. With three games on the road this past week, Oshawa would win in Belleville on Wednesday, and pick up another victory in Kitchener on Friday, extending their winning streak to five games. That streak would be broken Sunday afternoon, when the Generals would fall in Brampton to wrap up the weekend. Oshawa has loaded up on defence, acquiring Julian Melchiori from Kitchener, as well as Geoffrey Schemitsch and Matt Petgrave from Owen Sound, giving up Kyle Hope, Mark Petaccio, and a handful of picks. The Generals only play twice in the next week, both on home ice, starting with a rematch against Brampton on Friday night. Sunday evening, the Generals host Sudbury to finish the week.

14. Belleville Bulls – (Last Week: 9) After keeping pace with the Eastern Conference leaders for much of the first half of the season, the Bulls have spiraled over the last month, and fall another five spots this week in the OHL Power Rankings. This week, the Bulls would lose all three contests, starting Wednesday, when Oshawa came to town. After that, Belleville would lose both ends of a home and home series against division-leading Ottawa, extending the Bulls streak to five straight losses, and nine losses in their last eleven games. Belleville has acquired Joseph Cramarossa and Jordan Mayer in two separate deals with Mississauga, helping their depth for a push in the East Division. The Bulls begin the upcoming week by traveling to Brampton for a Thursday night contest, then returning home to face Sudbury on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, Belleville finishes the week in Ottawa.

15. Sarnia Sting – (Last Week: 15) No change this week for the Sarnia Sting, who’s once promising season has slowly gone off the rails. The Sting have made a number of deals in an attempt to right the ship, acquiring stud goaltender J. P. Anderson from Mississauga, Adrian Robertson from Windsor, and veterans Cory Spooner and Tyler Brown from Kingston. The new-look squad still produced the same results, as the Sting would drop two of three games over the last week. On Friday night, Sarnia started the weekend with a big shutout win in Erie, but failed to follow up with any success, losing games in Niagara Saturday, and to Plymouth on Sunday. The Sting will look to move forward this week with a pair of home contests, Anderson will face his former club from Mississauga on Friday, and Spooner and Brown will see their old teammates Saturday.

16. Windsor Spitfires – (Last Week: 17) The Spitfires are back up one spot this week, after earning a split in a pair of games, and seem to be retooling as they go. Windsor started the week by dealing Adrian Robertson to Sarnia, and also sent Mackenzie Braid to Sudbury. The Spitfires replaced those bodies with Jeff Braithwaite from Kingston and Derek Holden from Erie. Windsor started the week with a big win in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday, but would end the week with a sour 7-2 loss in Sudbury. The Spitfires have another exceptionally quiet week ahead, as they play in Guelph on Friday night, before playing a Monday afternoon matinee in Plymouth.

17. Guelph Storm – (Last Week: 18) The Guelph Storm continue to fight to try and hold onto one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, as they have struggled to find any consistency through much of the first half of the season. The Storm would split their two games this week, losing a stinker in Saginaw on Friday night, but replying with a big win in Sault Ste. Marie the next night. One of the few teams to have yet to make a move as of Monday evening, Guelph has two more games in front of them in the week ahead. The Storm host Windsor on Friday night, then travel to play in Peterborough Saturday.

18. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – (Last Week: 14) The Hounds season has continued to flounder, and they now find themselves in the bottom three of the OHL Power Rankings. With just four wins in their last nineteen games, Sault Ste. Marie could find themselves in danger of missing the playoffs, and have begun to mix things up, making some deals, and acquiring Mark Petaccio from Oshawa. The Greyhounds lost all three games this past week, all on home ice, as they would be defeated by London Wednesday, Windsor on Friday, and Guelph Saturday. Two more games in the Soo this weekend for the Greyhounds, as Saginaw comes to town Friday before another visit from London on Sunday.

19. Kingston Frontenacs – (Last Week: 19) With their sights set firmly on next season and beyond, the Frontenacs have begun to unload talent, as the rebuild has begun. Cory Spooner and Tyler Brown were sent to Sarnia, and Jeff Braithwaite and Derek Froats have also been moved. Even with the changes, Kingston continues to fight for each game, and won one of their three games this past week. Thursday night, the Fronts went into Peterborough and won big against their divisional rivals, but lost to the Petes the very next night on home ice. Kingston was defeated by Barrie on Sunday afternoon, as they wrapped up their week at home. More moves are still possible out of Kingston, but the Fronts move on with a three game weekend roadtrip ahead of them, starting in London on Friday night. From there, Kingston plays games in Sarnia and Kitchener to round out the weekend.

20. Erie Otters – (Last Week: 20) The Erie Otters remain at the bottom of the OHL Power Rankings, as well as the OHL Standings, and have begun to dismantle their team. This week, the Otters said goodbye to many of their top players, including Greg McKegg, Derek Holden, Brett Cook, Tyson Teichmann, and Mike Cazzola. Erie lost a pair of games this past week, making it a five game losing streak. The Otters lost both games on home ice, as Sarnia would defeat them on Friday, and Kitchener came to town the next night. Erie now has a three game road trip ahead of them this week, as they travel to Owen Sound for not one, but two games, playing the Attack on both Friday and Saturday nights. The Otters wrap up the weekend on Sunday afternoon in Brampton.

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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