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Knights streak ends short

With 49 points in 38 games, Max Domi is second in London Knights scoring. (Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

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With 49 points in 38 games, Max Domi is second in London Knights scoring. (Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The London Knights push for history was thwarted by the Sarnia Sting - and the stick of rookie Nikolay Goldobin - days before London’s defense was going to be bolstered by the return of World Junior Championship players. Now they are firmly in control of the Ontario League though, and sit atop the circuit they were expected to challenge for at the start of the season. 

And the Knights further strengthened their back end for the 2013 half of the season, by signing Dakota Mermis, a player drafted by London in 2010 who had been playing with the NCAA’s Denver Pioneers. A strong skater with puck-moving skills, Mermis will likely get a chance on the second defense unit alongside one of the more experienced blueliners returning from the WJC.

It’s unlikely the Knights will piece together another mammoth streak, but they’re about to get stronger and, amazingly, deeper in talent. That’s a scary thought for opponents who have spent the past two months being run through the London buzz saw.

THE HOCKEY NEWS CHL POWER RANKINGS
1.
Halifax

Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

OVERALL: 31-3-1-1
LW: 1

No Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin? No problem. Even without their top two scorers the Mooseheads still haven’t surrendered the top spot, winning seven in a row (six without the two stars). This kind of accomplishment bodes well for success down the road.

2.
Kamloops
London Knights (OHL)
OVERALL: 32-5-1-2 LW: 2

The Knights’ incredible two-month winning streak is over, falling one shy of tying the all-time Canadian League mark of 25 consecutive wins. No matter. With defenders Olli Maatta and Scott Harrington returning from WJC action soon, London will become even more difficult to handle.

3.
Portland
Portland Winterhawks (WHL)  OVERALL: 32-5-1-0 LW: 3

As sturdy as their defense is, the Winterhawks now have two of the WHL’s top three scorers. Nicolas Petan (draft eligible) and Brendan Leipsic (Nashville third-rounder, 2012) sit second and third behind Kamloops’ Colin Smith. They haven’t lost since Dec. 7, despite having players away at the WJC.

4.
London
Owen Sound Attack (OHL) OVERALL: 25-9-1-2 LW: 6

The Attack may be 14 points out of first place in their division – but they’re still the second-best team in the OHL. Without the stellar netminding of Jordan Binnington, the Attack still managed to win three of their last five, allowing 10 goals in all.

5.
BB
Kamloops Blazers (WHL)  OVERALL: 26-10-2-2
LW: 4

Losers of four of their past six, the Blazers have allowed an average of five goals a game in that span. They have lost most of their early-season magic and are now at risk of dropping to third in the Western Conference, as Kelowna gives chase.

6.
OS
Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
OVERALL: 25-8-2-3 LW: NR

Though goalie Laurent Broissoit (Calgary sixth-rounder, 2011) was, to the chagrin of Oil Kings and Flames fans, passed over by Team Canada for the WJC, it meant he was able to stay in Edmonton’s net. Broissoit has allowed only five goals in his past four starts as the Oil Kings have won seven of their past last eight.

7.
Barrie
Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
OVERALL: 25-10-1-3
LW: NR

Still 10 points behind Halifax, with three more games played, the Oceanic have won 11 of 12 and moved into first in the East Division, ahead of Quebec. The acquisition of overage defenseman Kevin Gagne (undrafted) was a clear push and he’s answered with two assists in two games since joining the club.

8.
Quebec
Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
OVERALL: 27-10-1-1 LW: NR

With a 4-2 win over Victoria Wednesday night, the Rockets have won 15 straight at home and hold a 16-2-0-0 record at Prospera Place overall. Now, the Rockets are only two points behind Kamloops, with two games in hand.

9.
Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) OVERALL: 24-11-1-2 LW: 7

The Remparts will be more than happy to have Mikhail Grigorenko return from the WJC. They’ve lost five of seven, have coughed up first place in the division and have one more stiff test without Grigorenko, Friday against West Division leading Rouyn-Noranda.

10.
Kamloops
Barrie Colts (OHL)
OVERALL: 24-11-0-1 LW: 8

The Colts were certainly one team that benefitted from the NHL lockout, as Mark Scheifele was guaranteed to return. What would happen to this team if they lost him? Well, while Scheifele was around the world (with Anthony Camara) representing Team Canada, Barrie turned into a .500 team. Good news is that their stars will be back in short order.

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