While teams are starting to take shape in terms of expectations and where they may finish at the end of the season, it’s a big weekend that could see some of the landscape shift one way or the other for teams.
It is the All-Star Showcase weekend in Woodstock for the third consecutive year. The weekend, which sees teams play three games on Friday and Saturday caps off with the Bantam, Minor Midget and Midget all-star games on Sunday. Personally, I think this format is fantastic and a big improvement from a few years back when All-Star weekend consisted of four teams and a mini-tournament amongst those four teams. I found that during those events, the final day seemed to drag, and the games weren’t as fluid as players were still trying to figure out playing with one another.
As promised, this is the second edition of the Alliance Scout Team Rankings. While the top four in the league seems to have separated themselves from the pack, there are five teams that seem to be competing for what should be four playdown spots. There are some matchups this weekend that could become even more relevant when late January arrives.
- Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs (1) – The Chiefs remain the only Alliance team to not have a loss on their record during the regular season. The Chiefs kick off their weekend with a huge tilt against Waterloo. These teams tied in their only previous meeting back in September.
- Waterloo Wolves (2) – Don’t let a loss to Lambton fool you, the Wolves should still be considered the top threat to the Chiefs championship aspirations. Look for that loss to be the exception rather than the norm.
- Hamilton Huskies (3) – The Huskies have quietly returned to their form from previous years and are on a tear. Winners of six in a row, the Huskies have a Saturday meeting with EMC where they could remind everyone of the success the 04 Huskies have had in years past.
- Huron-Perth Lakers (4) – Winners of just one of their past five games, the Lakers are still comfortably sitting in the Alliance top four. They have a big weekend ahead as they play three teams all within striking distance of them and a down weekend could spell trouble.
- Lambton Jr. Sting (9) – Huge jump for the Jr. Sting as they have been on a roll as of late, capped off by their 5-1 win over Waterloo last weekend. You have to go back to September 28th, the last time Lambton lost to a team not named the Chiefs.
- Windsor Jr. Spitfires (7) – Windsor also gets bumped up a spot with two wins in the past two weeks. The Jr. Spitfires have a tough Showcase schedule, but it could be a good indication whether Windsor is a threat come the opening round of playdowns.
- Brantford 99ers (5) – Dropping down a couple spots are the 99ers following losses to the Huskies and Lakers. Ignoring an eight goal outburst against Windsor, Brantford has scored more than three goals just once since October 8th.
- London Jr. Knights (6) – Still a hard team to figure out, London’s defensive numbers suggest they should be performing better, but the offense just hasn’t been there consistently.
- Cambridge Hawks (8) – Winless in their past six games, Cambridge is quickly falling behind the pack. Having played the most games thus far in the league this season, the Hawks will need strong play with only three games remaining this season against the 10-12 place teams in the league.
- Kitchener Jr. Rangers (10) – The offense still isn’t there, but Kitchener has been able to snag a point from both London and Cambridge these past couple weeks. Forward Ben Oliver has been a workhorse while the Jr. Rangers have been shorthanded.
- Sun County Panthers (12) – SCP finally snagged their first win of the year against Chatham, but followed that up losing their next two by a combined 11-2 score. They’re closer to a 10 seed than a 12.
- Chatham-Kent Cyclones (11) – The Cyclones followed up a big win against Cambridge with a losing effort to SCP. The Cyclones have both the Hawks and Jr. Rangers this weekend in Woodstock, so the opportunity is there to pick up some points.