We’re getting down to the stretch run in the Alliance regular season.
With only three weeks left of regular season games once the season resumes on Saturday, it is crunch time for every team. Regardless if you are fighting for a spot in the playdowns, fighting for positioning or fighting to gain a more respectful record, all of these games count.
In terms of the rankings, there wasn’t a whole lot of action this past week. And with only a couple days of games this week, there may not be a tonne of movement for the Week 13 rankings. The one big factor is the Marlies Holiday Tournament which features 8 or the 12 Alliance teams. Any team that goes on a significant run could see their stock rise in the Alliance Scout rankings.
- London Jr. Knights (1) – The Jr. Knights had a statement win for the first time in a long time on Monday when they bullied the Hamilton Huskies in an 8-2 win. London is trying to work their way back in the OHL Cup top 10 and a strong performance in Etobicoke this week could be the run that puts them back on the provincial map.
- Waterloo Wolves (2) – Although ranked behind the Jr. Knights in the Alliance Scout rankings, the Wolves are actually ranked 9th in the OHL Cup rankings, among the top teams in Ontario. I don’t disagree with that ranking and as I’ve stated for weeks, London and Waterloo really are team 1A and 1B in the Alliance. Fans can only dream of seeing a series between these two teams.
- Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs (3) – The Chiefs will play another big game when they return from the Marlies tournament on Saturday as they travel to Kitchener to take on a red hot Kitchener squad. Chiefs lost to the Jr. Rangers at the Showcase in September, but there is no doubt Elgin-Middlesex is a much better team than they were in September.
- Kitchener Jr. Rangers (4) – Kitchener continued to be the hottest team in the Alliance last week with a dominant 4-0 over Cambridge, maybe the most lopsided game I’ve seen all season. Jr. Rangers return this week to where their season took a turn for the better last season, the Marlies tournament. Kitchener returns from Toronto to battle Elgin on Saturday with a 3rd spot opportunity up for grabs.
- Huron-Perth Lakers (6) – The Lakers are starting to get healthy and that will hopefully have them playing like they were early in the season when they were healthy. Brady Hinz returned just over a week ago and Owen Gilhula should be ready to return any day now. The Lakers were the best team in the league for many weeks to begin the year and could be a tough out in a first round matchup.
- Windsor Jr. Spitfires (5) – Windsor and Huron-Perth flip flop mainly on the merits of Windsor’s disappointing loss to Sun County last Tuesday. Everyone with the Windsor team knows that now is the time to start putting everything together and stringing together some wins. Windsor is not involved in the Marlies tournament, but does have a tough game in Hamilton on Saturday.
- Hamilton Huskies (7) – Hamilton’s woes continued last week with another embarrassing defensive effort in a 9-2 loss to London. That makes three straight games where Hamilton has allowed an average of just under nine goals a game. Offensively gifted, Hamilton has a few weeks to now figure out the other half of their game.
- Lambton Jr. Sting (8) – In a statistic that was surprising to me when I saw it, only London and Waterloo have allowed less goals this season than Lambton. Following a tough draw at the Marlies tournament, the Jr. Sting return to season action with back to back games against Waterloo and Elgin-Middlesex. Both could be tight defensive battles.
- Chatham-Kent Cyclones (9) – The Cyclones could have climbed back into 8th spot, but they played a tough Lambton team to a 2-2 tie last week. The Cyclones draw the Lakers and the Panthers this upcoming weekend and a couple of wins would create some separation for the Cyclones to hold onto the final playdown spot.
- Sun County Panthers (10) – The Panthers pulled out a huge win over Windsor last week and now they are just four points out of a playdown spot. Unfortunately, the Panthers have played a league high 29 games already this season. While they may not be able to complete the comeback, Panthers can still play the spoiler role while also ending the year on a really high note.
- Brantford 99ers (11) – The 99ers were off last week so they weren’t able to try and turn their play around, mainly in the offensive zone. They travel to Etobicoke for the Marlies festivities and then visit Kitchener on Sunday for a tilt with the Jr. Rangers.
- Cambridge Hawks (12) – The Hawks 4-0 loss to Kitchener on Wednesday was probably a low point for Cambridge this season. The Hawks still have nine games to play this season and will host Windsor on Sunday with another tough chance at win #1 on the year.