Guelph newcomers Nick Ebert (10) and Justin Nichols (39) - Terry Wilson:OHL Images
The Canadian Hockey League's much-awaited Dynamic Dozen returns after taking a week off. The theme so far in 2014 is the dogfight at the top of the rankings between Kelowna, Guelph and Portland, but two of those teams pulled a little further ahead over the two-week period.
You'll note how Guelph and Portland are separated by just a single point of RPI. They are, objectively, as close as close can be at this point although both teams face tough tasks in their own conference before we can pencil them in to face off on the final Sunday of the Memorial Cup tournament in London.
1. Guelph Storm, OHL (.586 RPI, +2.3 SRS, +1) — The Storm have won six consecutive games, enough to push them back up to first place. Only the Kitchener Rangers, a distant 41st in RPI rankings, have a more difficult strength of schedule among OHL teams, and it's still incredible that they haven't already created a giant gap in the standings between themselves and rivals Erie and London.
New challenge, could the Storm score more goals against the Norwegian, Austrian, Finnish and Latvian national teams than a team of Canadian NHL all-stars?* The Storm are most recently coming off a game they scored nine against Plymouth, during which Nick Ebert became the third Storm defenceman to hit the 40-point mark. A fourth, Steve Trojanovic, is at 37, and the rest of the league combined have just eight. With 280 goals, the Storm are in a class of their own on offence, and it doesn't end there: goaltender Justin Nichols is second in the league in save percentage.
* - not a serious question
2. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.585 RPI, +2.0 SRS, -1) — It's not uncommon for major junior teams to enjoy long winning streaks, which is why it's a bit of a shock that Portland's current 17-game win streak is a franchise best. You might think that at some point, they'd have reached that during their four seasons of laying waste to the WHL's Western Conference.
After a four-game-in-six-days road trip in which he scored ten points, Taylor Leier was named the CHL's Player of the Week, and he's shown during the streak how he can be leaned on offensively by a good hockey team. Mat Dumba is also fitting in to his new team, with 12 points and a +19 rating through 15 games. Dumba added the punch on D the Winterhawks needed, but rookie Garrett Haar has also stepped up with 13 points in his 17 games since 2013 began.Read More »from Portland streaking, but Guelph hold onto top spot in Dynamic Dozen rankings