1. Six Nations Rivermen (8-2)
Last Week: 16-7 W vs Oakville, 10-9 W vs Brooklin
The defending Ontario Champions continued to roll this past week, picking up two victories. The Rivermen kicked off their set off games with a dominating 16-7 victory over the Oakville Rock, and would follow that up with a narrow 10-9 victory against a vastly improved Brooklin Merchants squad. In the 16-7 win over Oakville, Roger Vyse exploded for eight points on four goals and four assists. Vyse currently leads the Senior B loop in scoring with 49 points in 10 games, and has been the Rivermen’s go to guy offensively throughout the first half of the season. Isaiah Kicknosway also had an impressive game in the thrashing of the Titans, picking up five assists, while Cory Bomberry, Rodd Squire, Stu Martin and Randy Martin all went on to tally four points apiece in the win. The Rivermen have been putting up offensive effortlessly this season, and have while the game against the Merchants was much closer then the previous victory over Oakville, the Rivermen proved they are equally as strong at the defensive end of the floor. Led by Jake Crans, Isaiah Kicknosway and Tory Gardner, the Rivermen defense while physical and intimidating, can also push the tempo in transition, and have the ability to add some scoring punch as well. Six Nations has used three goaltender this season, with Chase Martin starting 7 of the 10 games, while this past week we saw Warren Hill and Angus Goodleaf make starts. The addition of Angus Goodleaf to the Senior B club only strengthens and already extremely deep and talented Rivermen squad, who look poised to return to the Presidents Cup tournament this season.
2. St. Catharines Saints (8-1)
Last Week: 11-8 L to Owen Sound, 8-5 W vs Ennismore, 10-8 W vs Brooklin
The Saints dropped their first game of the season this past week, taking an 11-8 loss to the Owen Sound North Stars, as Ryan Oldrieve was excellent in goal for the North Stars, while the Saints netminders struggled at times. None the less the Saints are still an elite club in the Senior B loop, and proved that, bouncing back with back to back wins over solid clubs in Ennismore and Brooklin. The Saints looked as though they where going to drop this past Sunday’s match up with the Merchants, however a strong third period from the Saints willed them to their eighth victory of the season. Dan Keane, Brad Favero and Geoff McNulty all had strong offensive weeks for St. Catharines, however the scary thing is the likes of Chris Attwood and Dylan Llord had quite weeks, at least for them. Even scarier is the additions the Saints made this past week, acquiring Tory VanEvery and picking up the Senior B rights to NLL stars Kiel Matisz and Jordan Houtby. VanEvery’s impact was immediately felt as he picked up six goals & three assists for nine points in just two appearances, while Matisz and Houtby are expected to make their debuts this weekend. The Saints are arguably as deep as any team both offensively and defensively, and you know they’ll continue to tinker with their roster as we near the trade deadline. The Saints will need to get quality efforts in goal from Jake Henhawk and Grant Crawley if they hope to knock the Rivermen off as Ontario champions.
3. Owen Sound North Stars (5-6)
Last Week: 11-8 W vs St. Catharines, 7-2 W vs Brooklin, 11-9 L to Wallaceburg
It was an interesting week for the North Stars as they knocked off the previously undefeated St. Catharines Saints to open their week, but fell to the previously winless Wallaceburg Thrashers to close their week. Sandwiched between the surprising win and unexpected loss was an impressive 7-2 win over the Brooklin Merchants. The North Stars seem to be finding ways to get things done this season, as for the first time in years they have no NLL stars plying their trade with club, rather the North Stars are using the team concept, getting solid goaltending from Ryan Oldrieve, and timely offense from a number of underrated offensive threats. Travis Szabolcs currently leads the team in scoring with 31 points in 11 games, and picked up a total of nine points over the North Stars last three games. The North Stars second leading scorer sits 16 points behind Szabolcs in scoring, and that in itself is an issue that may cause Owen Sound some issues down the stretch, as the North Stars may struggle to find offense at times over the second half of the season. Ryan Oldrieve has been surprisingly good for Owen Sound this season, which is a huge reason why the North Starts currently sit tied for third place in the leagues standings. His 8.11 goals against average places him fourth in the league in that category, for goalies who’ve played more then four games this season. With five games remaining in the season, the North Stars schedule doesn’t get any easier, as next up are the St. Catharines Saints this week, followed by the Six Nation Rivermen next weekend.
4. Brooklin Merchants (5-4)
Last Week: 7-2 L to Owen Sound, 9-7 W vs Ennismore, 10-9 L to Six Nations, 10-8 L to St. Catharines
The Merchants schedule was a slow one to start the season, but it got hectic the past week and a half, as the Merchants took to the floor four times, and while they did end up going 1-3 over those four games, the Merchants have proved themselves as team to take seriously in 2015. The Merchants where without some key guys in their loss to Owen Sound, picked up a big win over their rivals from Ennismore, and put forth excellent performances against the leagues top two teams, two games the Merchants argubably could have and should have one. The Merchants have excellent depth and balance this season, as they are equally as strong up front as they are on the back end and in goal. The goaltending trio of John Chesebrough, Lukas Coote and Neil Roberts have been excellent, as Coote and Cheseborough both sit in the top five in goals against average, with Cheseborough’s 5.67 GAA leading the league. The off-season addition of Dylan Goddard has given the Merchants a true number one option on offense, and his distribution skills are allowing other offensive guns to thrive. Veteran Dan Ransom sits just behind Goddard in team scoring with 21 points, while Josh Gilray has been excellent for the Merchants with 17 points in eight games. The return of Ryan Degerdon and the Levick Brothers has really made the Merchants a potent offensive bunch. If Kyle Whitlow and TJ Sanders continue to toil with both the Brooklin Redmen and Merchants, the Merchants offense could be on par with the top teams in this league. The Merchants defense is also much improved this season, as veterans Cory Upshaw and Nick Loyst have excelled throughout the season. With just a road game in Wallaceburg on the Schedule this weekend, the Merchants will hope to move to 6-4 and grab a strangle hold of third place in the standings.
5. Oakville Titans (4-5)
Last Week: 16-7 L to Six Nations, 10-8 W vs Wallaceburg, 20-6 W vs Wallaceburg
The Titans didn’t have a great start to their week, getting demolished by the defending Champion Six Nations Rivermen, however they bounced back with two consecutive wins over the lowly Wallaceburg Trashers by scores of 10-8 and 20-6. The Titans continue to tinker with the roster as the season rolls on, and with the recent additions of Allister Warren and Brendan Fox, the Titans should only improve offensively, as both have the ability to put the ball in the back of the net at a potent pace. Currently the Titans are led by veteran Jon Mason, the former Orangeville Northmen product has picked up 25 points in eight games for Oakville, exploding for eight points in the Titans 20-6 win this past Sunday. Reed Board, Todd Kozak and Gage Board also continue to produce for the Titans offensively, as the growing depth up front, should allow the Titans to overcome a lack of depth on the back end. While the back end works itself out, Oakville has been getting solid goaltending from Craig Wende, as his 3-3 record and 8.33 goals against average has been enough to keep the Titans winning games this season. Back up Ian Duffy is also no slouch in goal, as the former Oakville Buzz star has spent time at the Major level the past two seasons, and while his 1-2 record might not be noteworthy, Duffy has a tendency to come up big when it counts. With Ennismore and Six Nations on the schedule this weekend, the Titans will need to pick up at least a split if they hope to stay within striking range of the Merchants and North Stars.
6. Ennismore James Gang (3-7)
Last Week: 9-8 W vs Wallaceburg, 9-7 L to Brooklin, 8-5 L to St. Catharines
After going 14-2 last season, to lead the regular season standings, the James Gang continue to struggle this season, picking up just a narrow 9-8 win over the lowly Wallaceburg Thrashers in their last three games. Kyle Clancy and Aaron Grayson missing from this years Ennismore lineup has certainly hurt their offensive output, while slow seasons from Justin Kulla and Chad Evans also hasn’t helped their cause. However the emergence of Chris Lopes, and continued offensive production from Josh Wasson-McQuigge has soften the blow at times. With that being said, Ennismore is going to need to find another couple of players to consistently step up and produce offense, as the teams in front of them all boast very strong and deep offensives, with the lone exception being the Owen Sound North Stars. Ennismore has also had trouble staying out of the box this season, and its hurt them in tight games, as consistently playing a man short wares on teams as the game continues on. Cole Murray has the ability to steal games in the James Gang cage, while the transition ability of Mack O’Brien and Alex Henderson make Ennismore a threat whenever their on the floor. The season is far from done for Ennismore, as all but one team misses the Senior B playoffs, if Ennismore can come on strong in the second half of the season, they still have a roster very capable of reaching the OLA Senior “B” finals once again in 2015.
7. Wallaceburg Thrashers (1-9)
Last Week: 9-8 L to Ennismore, 10-8 L to Oakville, 11-9 W vs Owen Sound, 20-6 L to Oakville
With the exception of a 20-6 loss to the Oakville Titans to close the Trashers week, Wallaceburg continued to play teams tough, coming up just short in three of their games, as they dropped a tough 9-8 loss to Ennismore, and followed that up with an even tougher 10-8 loss to Oakville. To make matters worse for Wallaceburg, the club lost their star netminder, as Tye Belanger took his talents out West, to suite up with the Burnaby Lakers, where he has since become the talk of the league with a string of strong performances. The Thrashers don’t have the depth of the other six clubs in the loop this season, but they do play with a ton of heart and will never quit in a game. Colin McDowall, Kyle Childerhose, Clint Lamarsh and Chadd Murphy have all being producing well for the Thrashers this season, however after that the depth really starts to fall off. The same can be said for their defense, as Joel Shepley is arguably the only noteworthy name on the Thrashers back end. If Tyler Glebe can step up an steal a few games for the Thrashers the final weeks of the Senior B regular season could become very interesting as Wallaceburg looks to push their way into the playoff picture.