OHL Roundup: Greyhounds dominate with perfect start
By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor
Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - Week 1 of the Ontario Hockey League season is officially in the books, and per usual for this time of year, there are plenty of stories and surprises.
With several top players from teams across the league still battling for a spot in the NHL, opportunities abound for breakout stars and unheralded performances.
EASTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS ON THE RISE
The Oshawa Generals spent a lot of time last year on the wrong side of the win column.
But the Generals looked like a new team when OHL action opened last Thursday, reeling off two straight wins and getting strong performances from defenseman Scott Valentine and left winger Andy Andreoff.
Despite only playing one game, the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors - the No. 2 ranked team - looked strong in their lone match.
WESTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS ON THE RISE
Things weren't all quiet on the Western front last week, as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds made plenty of noise with an impressive 3-0-0 record to start the season.
Many were expecting the Soo to slip after losing all-star goaltender Robin Lehner to the Ottawa Senators and scoring leader, and captain, Jacob Muzzin to the Los Angeles Kings.
But the Greyhounds must have tuned out the critics, sending a message with big wins against Ottawa, Niagara and Windsor.
The powerhouse Kitchener Rangers made do without scoring dynamo Jeff Skinner and linemate Jeremy Morin, relying on the rising stock of Swedish forward Gabriel Landeskog.
London also remains unbeaten, as the Knights scraped by with two overtime wins against the Plymouth Whalers and Sarnia Sting.
FLAT START - EASTERN CONFERENCE
The once mighty Barrie Colts went nearly all the way last year but fell short, losing in the OHL final to the Windsor Spitfires.
But with a good chunk of the core now gone, the Colts are in the midst of a rebuild on the fly.
They will certainly be hoping for the return of Atlanta Thrashers first rounder Alexander Burmistrov, who has made a favorable impression at camp, but will likely see another year of junior before going pro.
The same goes for Darren Archibald and Kyle Clifford, two players who played a vital depth role on the Colts last year who have yet to lace up in Barrie.
Sudbury and the Peterborough Petes also struggled out of the gate with 0-3-0 records.
FLAT START - WESTERN CONFERENCE
While every team in the West has at least one win, you have to look at a veteran team like Guelph as a club that hasn't lived up to expectations so far.
Yes, it's way too early in the season to draw much from the results, but a team stacked with offensive weapons like Guelph should not have a problem putting the puck in the net.
BULGING THE TWINE
Plymouth Whalers forward Alex Aleardi was named the OHL Player of the Week after an impressive seven-goal, eight-point performance that featured two hat tricks.
Aleardi, 18, is an undersized center with tons of skill who could benefit from a change of scenery after being acquired from Belleville on Sept. 20.
He had his best offensive campaign a season ago, scoring 16 goals and 41 points in 64 games split between Belleville and Kitchener.