We’ve been able to get through some of the learning curves early on this regular season and with tournament play starting to ramp up, it is time for the Alliance Scout Weekly Team Rankings to return for another year.
The Alliance released their first set of rankings last week and ours will not look completely different. There are a couple of tweaks we see. One thing that didn’t affect our rankings too heavily was the results from the Wendy Dufton Tournament this past weekend in London. While a great tournament to take in as a spectator and to play in as a player, the format isn’t one that I am a fan of.
Here we go with the first Alliance Scout rankings of the 2016/17 season.
1. Kitchener Jr. Rangers – Prior to the season beginning I did not think I’d be typing this at all this year. Kitchener has been a huge surprise in the Alliance this year and currently sit atop the standings. The dynamic scoring of Cole MacKay and Justin McCombs mixed with solid goaltending has given Kitchener life this season after a disappointing year in Bantam last year. Their first test as #1 comes tomorrow night at home to Waterloo.
2. London Jr. Knights – Many thought that London had the chance to run through the Alliance season unbeaten, but that quickly came to end with a loss in Elgin to the Chiefs one week ago. Still the deepest team in the league talent wise, London looks to get back on track later this week with a trip to Sarnia.
3. Waterloo Wolves – The Wolves are quietly putting together another great season. Both of their losses this season came at the Showcase and both were very close games against Windsor and London. Waterloo will try to claim top spot in the rankings with a win in Kitchener on Wednesday.
4. Windsor Jr. Spitfires – Windsor is still reeling off their incredible run at the Showcase. Defensively, they have been one of the best teams in the league. Now Windsor will hope to break out offensively with a three game weekend starting Friday.
5. Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs – The Chiefs collected their biggest win on the season last week, taking the 0 out of the Jr. Knights loss column. Elgin has surprised by being one of the highest scoring teams in the league thus far. The Chiefs see both Waterloo and Sun County this weekend, a big test for this offense.
6. Cambridge Hawks – Not quite the start the Hawks were looking for, but they haven’t had a full squad for many if any games this year. Last Sunday against Chatham they looked really strong, but then came out flat Monday in Waterloo. Cambridge hosts Windsor on Sunday which will be a big game for both squads.
7. Sun County Panthers – Much like was thought in the preseason, the Panthers troubles come on the offensive side of the puck. In four of their eight games this season, Sun County has failed to put up more than a single goal. Good goaltending will only take you so far and asking the defense to be nearly perfect may not be a recipe for success.
8. Hamilton Huskies – Hamilton has quickly become one of my favourite teams to check out in the Alliance this season. Their mix of speed and physicality is not matched by many and I’ve been impress by their powerplay setup and execution thus far.
9. Chatham-Kent Cyclones – The Cyclones made a statement at the Showcase by being 90 seconds and a penalty shot away from knocking off the Waterloo Wolves en route to a very respectable 2-2 record. The Cyclones have really tightened up the defense and that has helped strengthen their goaltending. Still a bit of work to go before they can be in the conversation with the likes of Cambridge and Windsor, but they are marching their way towards that point.
10. Lambton Jr. Sting – The Jr. Sting have had some bad games early in the season and it shows in their goals against. 42 goals allowed in just nine games is not great. But recently, Lambton has improved drastically and has gone from a team that looked destined to struggle towards win one on the year to a team with two wins and momentum. We will see if that momentum continues as the Jr. Sting
11. Brantford 99ers – After starting the season on a high note with a 5-0 win, the 99ers have struggled and have not won since. The offence has yet to click and the defense is yet to reach the level coach Pete Crosby has been expecting. Dates with Cambridge and Sun County this week will be big tests for the entire 99ers team.
12. Huron-Perth Lakers – It has been a very tough go so far for the Lakers. Hit with lots of injuries to begin the season, the Lakers has struggled mightily scoring just six goals in eight games while being shutout in half their games. Slowly getting healthy, the Lakers have a three game stretch against Hamilton, Windsor and Kitchener this weekend. A big offensive output would go a ways for the confidence of this squad.