And just like that, we’re 5 games in to the 2022/23 season. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster so far, with new names in unexpected places and a record number of “no shower guys” during #hotwatergate. You would think with so many rinkies and plumbers playing in this league, we could get the showers fixed a little quicker. I’m sure it won’t happen again…
As we wrap up the first quarter of the season and get set to celebrate Ladies’ night, let’s take stock of how good each team actually is, before the wives find out the truth. Here is where each team sits in this all-important edition of our NBC Power Rankings.
This team looked to be built for offence after the draft, but that’s why we play the games. The dream of entertaining, wide-open hockey has faded, and this team is instead winning close games that no one wants to watch. They are averaging less than 3 goals per game which has never been done in this league by a team above 0.500. Some opposing teams have complained about their use of the trap, but for now their system is working, and they’ve managed to climb atop the league standings. It remains to be seen if first year full time goalie Lance Scott will be able to keep pulling this team toward the playoffs by himself, he currently has a league best GAA of 2.40, or if this team will finally get their offence on track to take some pressure off of him.
Assurance has one path to success this season: score. And they are seemingly scoring at will, with 25% more goals than any other team in the league. As a result, they currently have 4 scorers in the league’s top 7 and look like a bona fide offensive juggernaut. This sounds great, but the real shock here is that an average of only 5 goals per game has been enough to get 3 wins and a tie with Erik Cochrane in net. In fact, statistically, Erik Cochrane isn’t even the worst goalie in the league this season (yet). He currently sits ahead of Adam Alexander, Gibby, and Bobby Raine in terms of goals allowed. I’m sure they haven’t noticed, and I hope no one points it out to them.
They say winning solves all problems, and that appears to be the case for this team, at least so far. Phil Nolet has started the campaign strong, he currently sits tied for second lowest GAA this year, and their offence has scored more goals than everyone aside from Assurance. While those results may help to quiet the criticism in the dressing room, there could be trouble brewing as this team looks to have a problem sharing the puck. While they are clearly capable of scoring goals, their top 5 scorers have a combined 2 assists. And believe it or not, 1 of them is from Ryan Fletcher. It must have been a rebound.
Wes Goldie looks like his offensive output last year may have been a fluke, as he is still searching for his second goal of the season. Fortunately for APC, other players have stepped up. Rob Versteegen sniped a hat trick against Blue Con a few weeks ago and Brian Pope is also filling the net. In fact, that dynamic duo is more than compensating for Goldie’s lack of production, accounting for almost 40% of APC’s goals this year on their own. Look for Luke Ramsay to juggle his lines in the coming weeks, perhaps using Versteegen, Pope, or even the “Ginger Gretzky,” Jamie Emms to try to get some of his underperforming players going.
One other bright spot on this team has to be the play of goaltender Trent Wellar, who only trails the current Vezina front runner by one goal allowed. It remains to be seen if his turn around this year is due to the small sample size, or if he has made the necessary adjustments to his game.
Just like their start to the season, this team wasn’t built to come out of the gates quickly. This veteran team is about doing things slow and steady. Case in point, Living Lighting is the only team (who has turned in their jersey numbers) without a player in the top 10 in league scoring. In years past, you would have regularly found players Chris Willsie, Brian Geerts, and even Marty Smith among the league scoring leaders, now you can only find them by the creaking noise their joints make, as they coast around the ice.
This team may be the biggest disappointment of this young season. With Justin Graham somehow leading the team in scoring, people are asking when the production will start to come from the good players. The only stat Justin should be qualified to lead in this league is the number of people he brings to watch his games each week. Fortunately for Treetops, that stain can spread beyond their dressing room walls, as the whole league is performing just as poorly. That’s right, Justin is miraculously tied for the league lead in the scoring race, with 50% more points than last years’ scoring champ, and almost double the total of the NBC League President. If Treetops plans to continue relying on Charlotte Graham’s current husband to lead this team, they’ll need to add some contributions from their role players, like veteran Sandy Jackson, who is currently off to a slow start. And while more offence won’t hurt their chances, the real problem here may be between the pipes. Darryl Gilbert has given up the second most goals in the league, a far cry from what this team expected out of last year’s playoff MVP.
The good news, they currently have the leading* scorer in the league in Josh Miller (*3-way tie for first). The bad news, Josh has personally accounted for over half of Blue Con’s goals….and he only has 7. A sputtering offense combined with a leaky defense leaves Blue Con battling Carsey to avoid being the last winless team this year, and likely relegation. After last year’s dumpster fire of a season, GM Brandon Haasen has already been rumored to be looking for potential trade targets to help get his franchise back on track. It seems almost inevitable that he will look to move the goal less Kevin Bachert again this season, but he’ll obviously need to get a better return than he got last year with the disappointing Ian McDonald.
This team has had a tough start, partially due to some low attendance in the early going. Unfortunately, as a result, this team has given up the most goals in the league and scored the least. In fact, they’ve given up twice as many goals as they’ve scored. That type of statistic isn’t typically an indicator of positive results, so it’s no surprise this franchise is still looking for its first ever win. While there have been some obvious challenges, onlookers have to be astonished that reigning Vezina award winner Bobby Raine currently sits alone in the goaltending cellar with the highest GAA in the league. Rumours have begun to swirl that Raine could be looking to play his way off the team, in hopes of landing somewhere with a little more help. If this team can’t get on track, Carsey may feel pressure to make a move ahead of the deadline, just to shake things up.