In the blink of an eye, this season is already half done and we’ve had some spectacular plays, some weak goals, and some controversial calls along the way. At the end of the day, everyone has remained calm and no one’s feelings have been hurt. The only one who might be upset is Josh Miller, who hasn’t gotten much attention for singlehandedly shaking up the traditional scoring race standings and holding a comically large lead over last year’s scoring champion. Between the pipes, Darryl Gilbert is also changing things up, as he’s currently the clubhouse leader among the tendies. Unfortunately for Giby, he’s not very good at golf, or goaltending, so look for him to lose his hold on this spot rather quickly when play resumes in January. And with that positive introduction, let’s dive into our midseason edition of the 2023/24 power rankings.
The Blue-Con boys are on a real heater, going 5-0-1 in their last 6. This group hasn’t lost a game since October 22 nd , which is the longest active streak in the league. A big reason for this surge is the play of Josh Miller, who recorded 22 points in those 6 games. Miller’s offensive output has him comfortably leading the league scoring race and has helped to compensate for almost no contributions from underachieving players such as Derek Battin, Tyler McMuffin, Willam Rhyno, and Jordan Barons, who have each only mustered low single digit production. If Blue-Con can’t get some help from their depth players, they could be in for an early exit from the playoffs.
Treetops may be searching for another hit, as their early season buzz appears to be wearing off. Turning in a record of 3-2-1 over their last 6 is not the type of high we expected to see from this group, and they look to be falling faster than Cam Norton on a flight of stairs. Part of the reason for their struggles is their offensive drop off, as their goal differential is +25 on the season, but only +2 over their most recent 6 games. With some of the veteran players on this team, I would expect this group to get vocal and motivate (criticize) each other, but with Ryan Grayson only contributing 1 point in the past 6 games, perhaps he's keeping his comments to himself this time?
Not to point out the obvious, but these very Power Rankings called out the production of the defense on this team after their first 6 games. Low and behold, with Will Giles and Devon Brown putting up 12 points in their past 6 games, the team suddenly posted a winning record, going 3-2-1 over that stretch. Aside from the improvement on the back end, it appears that Shayne Rhyno may be reverting to his regular form. After a down year last year, Shayne is currently tied for 9 th in league scoring. If it wasn’t just their offensive outburst that helped to right the ship, perhaps it was the improved play in their own end, as the team also flipped their goal differential from -16 in their first 6 games, to +2 over their past 6. In the process, they even managed to make Phil Nolet look like a respectable goalie!
Carsey Trucking’s offence appears to have stalled, causing them to slide down these rankings. With only 3 points in his last 6 games, Travis Schruder’s lack of production is a big reason why, leading to frustration and disappointment from Coach Carsey and the dozens of children that come out to watch Travis play each week. Like Travis, Tom Risdon has been tough to watch through the first half of this season. Tom may tell his new baby that he’s a good hockey player, but if that kid is going to have a chance, they might be better off watching Uncle Jeff play, as he’s statistically 3 times better than Tom. Also, with the team now facing some adversity, they will need to rely on other players if they hope to survive multiple games without well-known faceoff specialist Motor Macdonald. Fortunately for them, Ian Macdonald (the good one) is having a career year, currently knocking on the door for the league top 10 in scoring. Here’s hoping Ian’s play can inspire others, like Kevin Bachert or Dave Coombe, to start piling up some points. While much of the conversation around this team has focused on the offense, there are some things worth noting on the back end as well. Case in point, despite Darryl Gilbert currently leading the league in GAA, Kyle Elliott and Matt Spence are somehow tied for the worst +/- in the league. While that stat might be tough to read, it’s important to point out that they do also lead the league in D to D passes below the offensive goal line, so there are some bright spots if you just look hard enough.
With Mike Mullis finally submitting his jersey numbers, we can start to assess what’s happening with this team. Mortgage has gone 2-3-1 in their past six, only putting up 18 goals in that stretch. Some may think scoring 3 goals per game is good, but in this league it will rarely get the job done, especially when you’re giving up 4 per game over the same period. You would think the Mortgage Teacher himself would have a better understanding of numbers and could figure that out on his own, but evidently not. This mediocre team is currently led offensively by the Big Cat, Lane Boyse, closely followed by Chili “Greg” Murray. While that might not be the 1-2 punch any sponsor in the league would intentionally build their team around, they’re working with what they have. In net, Adam Alexander has shaved his GAA by half a goal per game with his play in recent weeks, which has helped keep games tighter. Perhaps if Adam got one more new set of gear, he could get his goals against under 4.
Assurance is struggling to find a way to a win, like a surprisingly high number of their players struggle to find their way into the right house. Despite the performance of the talented (and graceful) Chris VandenHeuvel, who has scored more goals than 77% of the league, this team isn’t generating much offence with 8 players recording 1 goal or less this season. The weak performance of the supporting cast is a major reason this team has only recorded 4 wins this year. The only thing moving in the right direction on this team appears to be the goaltending, as Trent Wellar has (ever so slightly) pulled himself out of the statistical basement, climbing all the way up to the 7th position.
TIGGS has scored the fewest goals in the league this year, perhaps explaining why they’ve only managed to register 3 wins so far. With several players still searching for their first goal, and presumably Matt Jansel waiting for the right time to make his first appearance, this group isn’t at the level where many expected them to be at the halfway mark of the season. With some key players returning from lengthy absences away from the league, Jon Graham probably playing somewhere in Russia and Todd Cadenhead taking a year off to get that surgery so he can raise it up again, perhaps this team just needs a few more games to shake off the rust? In the meantime Ben Walmsley is trying to hold the fort, turning in a tidy GAA below 4, and coming off a near shutout in his last game before the Christmas break.
This team actually looks pretty good on paper, but as they say, that’s why we play the games. Going 1-5-0 over their past 6, APC doesn’t appear intent on making a move up the standings anytime soon. One significant reason why the team rarely wins is their atrocious offense. APC is the only team in the league that hasn’t been able to get more than one player to put up double digit points this year. In fact, several prominent players on this squad are still looking for their first goal of the campaign, including Aaron Webster, Jamie Emms, and Zack Korol. That spells WE(a)K. While it’s hard to win without scoring, it’s near impossible to win without goaltending, and this team clearly isn’t blessed between the pipes. Erik Cochrane, who identifies as a goalie, is now playing at his peak form, allowing 10 more goals over the past 6 games than any other goalie. This combination of awful offense and shoddy goaltending is rarely a recipe for success at this level, so we’ll see how this team responds in the second half.
That’s it for the halfway edition of the power rankings, but there’s lots to look forward to with another
primetime game coming up and the NBC tournament on the horizon. Let’s have a great second half of