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Who said the ITO Crew were Experts?


With about 15 games left for every OHL franchise in the regular season the standings are still not set in stone. And really, when have they ever been? This is the fun about the OHL. Heading into the final 2 weekends, teams in each conference could still be as high as 5th or even as low as 9th. This final stretch is very exciting and predicting the end is almost as difficult as predicting the start. With just over 4 weeks remaining in the OHL schedule, lets take a look at how accurate ITO was at predicting the standings of the OHL.

Eastern Conference

            In all fairness this has been the most difficult conference to predict. A 3 game winning streak takes a team from 8th place to 4th. And a 3 game losing streak throws a team down the ladder fast. Prior to the season this is how the ITO Crew saw the Eastern Conference like this, from 1st to 10th: Niagara IceDogs, Oshawa Generals, Sudbury Wolves, Ottawa 67’s, Brampton Battalion, Mississauga Majors, Belleville Bulls, Barrie Colts, Peterborough Petes and Kingston Frontenacs.

The only thing for certain in the Eastern Conference is that there are no certainties. Even sitting in 10th place, 17 points behind 6th place right now, Kingston could go on a heck of a run and bump themselves up to 9th or even 8th and sneak into the playoffs. The Magic number for the Frontenacs to be eliminated is 66 points, and only the Niagara IceDogs and the Ottawa 67’s have more than that right now. Given that Mississauga, Peterborough and Belleville have been far too streaky; the Fronts could still end up in 9th or even 8th in the Eastern Conference.
            The ITO Crew had Peterborough being the other team on the outside looking in and given the state of the conference (6th-9th place is separated by 2 points) this could still be a possibility but the Petes could rise to 6th in no time. The 6th to 8th place predictions can still happen in the order predicted minus the surprise of the Barrie Colts. Heading into the year no one knew what exactly you would get from the Colts. Last years worst team in the league, made some changes and added an unknown import goaltender. That mix can be dangerous to understand which lead the ITO Crew to throw them in the bottom of the conference. Of course, Barrie has surprised many, even themselves, at how good they can be. Consistency is an issue but they are in a good place in the conference to make a surprise playoff run right now. The top 5 in the Eastern Conference as predicted by ITO are where they should be (minus Oshawa currently sitting in 6th) with Niagara sitting on top the conference. It did take them a long time to finally reach the top of the mountain but they are sitting in 1st one point ahead of the Ottawa 67’s. As mentioned the Oshawa Generals have had their struggles and are currently 2nd in the East division, 17 points behind the Ottawa 67’s, and the gap is far too much to make up. The race for third in the Conference is intriguing. 3 points separate Brampton, Sudbury and Barrie and one of them will not get home ice. No matter what the divisional playoff matchup is, it may be the best series of the playoffs.
            Out of the Eastern Conference predictions for the Eastern Conference, only one will definitely not happen, that being the Oshawa Generals not winning the division and claiming 2nd seed in the Conference.

Western Conference

            There were many surprises in the west this season, besides the awful predictions by the ITO Crew at the beginning of the season, also the out comes of the West thus far still leaves us scratching our head… Here is how the ITO Crew saw the Western Conference from 1st to 10th: Plymouth Whalers, Owen Sound Attack, Kitchener Rangers, London Knights, Erie Otters, Sarnia Sting, Saginaw Spirit, Windsor Spitfires, Soo Greyhounds and Guelph Storm.

            The biggest gaffe here has to be the prediction of the Erie Otters being hire than… well last place. On paper the pieces were in place, and this is a case where ‘games are played on the ice, not on paper’ takes over. The Otters have been eliminated from the playoffs for quite some time but can still ruin the rat race for a few teams. Saginaw (ITO Predicted 5th place) has climbed back up the ladder from a horrendous start and has given themselves some separation room from the teams in 7th to 9th in the Western Conference. The Spirit are now in a position to even host a playoff series, as high as 4th place. Currently sitting in that 7-9 group are the Windsor Spitfires, Soo Greyhounds and Guelph Storm. They may not be 8-10 right now. But the way these teams are fighting it out, any of them could be on the outside looking in. Brandon Sudeyko from ITO has said numerous times that the Greyhounds will unfortunately miss the boat this year. Any time when you miss the playoffs when 80% of the league makes it in, it will be perceived a disappointment… after the trade to acquire a top-flight goaltender in Jack Campbell though… it would be considered a major disappointment and one that may hamper the franchise next season as well. Windsor and Guelph have played as ITO expected. Bursts of great games, but a lot of mistakes that the young teams will definitely learn from. Any young team that makes the playoffs will be a dangerous threat next year. Both are shaped for a better season in 12/13. The Sarnia Sting have been a riddle wrapped in an enigma this season. A lot of good, a lot of bad, a lot of confusion. At the beginning of the year many people had Sarnia as the conference favourite. ITO, as a consensus, did not see it like that and the Sting are slightly better than predicted by the ITO Crew. That of course is because of other predictions being wrong. The Sting have the offensive weapons, defensive standouts, and some great goaltending. But they do not seem to all show up every game. In all reality, if the Sting had better luck with injuries, they should be on top of the division and maybe the conference. Knock was always the goaltenders, and it still is. The Owen Sound Attack is another team that surprised the ITO Crew. It did look promising for the club to have another great season but stumbling out of the gate did not help. Binnington was not his Memorial Cup self at the beginning of the year but has turned it around as of late. Mix in their injuries and it is almost a copy of the Sting this year, only Owen Sound’s concern is defence, not goaltending. The top 3 as predicted by ITO has 1 big surprise, the London Knights. Predicted 4th on the basis of Michael Houser dominating between the pipes. We were right about Houser, just never expected the rest of the team to do their job for the entire season. Plymouth and Kitchener were expected to fight for the division and conference crown. The divisional rivals only have one more contest between each other before the end of the season. Separated by 1 point this will rival the Eastern conference’s fight for home ice.


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