NOVEMBER VS OCTOBER – A COMPARISON OF THE WEST CONFERENCE

November vs October – A Comparison of the West Conference – by C. Scott Holland

While the standings have changed since the end of October relatively little some of that can be attributed to the number of games each of West Conference teams have played.

Let’s take a look at how the teams fared:

Chatham led the way by winning seven of their 10 contests for 14 points. Their worst game was an 8-0 blowout in Leamington but that game was pivotal because since then the Maroons have been a very dominant team. The closest win Chatham has had was their final game in November when they topped Sarnia 5-4 in double OT. The Maroons are currently on a five-game win-streak – just one short of the six in a row they won in October when they had a 7-2 record. They are continuing at the same clip and should remain a serious contender with strong offense – 55 goals scored compared to their 52 in October and great defensive work – 24 goals allowed but even with two extra games played that translates to a figure very much like the 17 they let in during October. They will be a tough team to conquer.

Leamington had a rather light schedule in November playing only eight contests, but the Flyers continued their winning ways. Their two setbacks (5-2 and 6-3) came at the hands of top teams – LaSalle and Chatham. Leamington’s goals against remains extremely low (only 12 in November) and after a 7-1-0-1 October it is no surprise their record (6-2) is nearly the same. The offense is not overpowering but it does supply enough goals per game in order to allow the team to win. However it is their superb goals against (12 in November) which is their forte. Some minor improvements in the offensive area will greatly aid their quest for a third regular season and playoff title but even without, as it stands they appear to be ready to stake their claim.

The St. Thomas Stars have solidified nicely this season. In October they had a 7-2-0-1 record but November didn’t start well for the Stars. They lost two straight close contests before winning seven straight. The Stars’ offensive units have been explosive they have amassed 59 goals in 10 games and allowed 24. Their scoring has increased since late October and the three contests they lost in November were relatively close – 5-4, 5-3 and 6-2. This team has dramatically cut down on goals allowed since early October and has maintained its pace. They are in a good position but must keep up their work ethic in order to have a shot at a regular season title or the playoff crown. Both month’s records (6-3-0-1 and 7-3) show the Stars’ consistency.

London’s October was one of close games, three of which ended in double OT ties. After an Oct. 2-1 loss to Sarnia (7-4) London has been on a roll. They’ve only lost two since that time and both came this past month in close games (scores 4-6 and 2-4). Their offense has been high-powered lately and a 4-0 shutout to end November is certainly a sign London will continue to be a top team.  Two statistics which indicate an improvement are: they have cut down their goals against (21 ga in November), and another shows that they have started scoring a significant number of goals (36 goals in the month). Those two figures definitely belong to a team that will be a real contender and shows that very little needs t be tweaked.

The LaSalle Vipers played nine games in November and their record indicates they fared as well in November as October. But it is really deceptive. In October they went 5-2-0-2 with 38 gf and 24 ga. They had knotted two games and won five straight. Yet in November they had a 5-4 record, scoring 38 times but allowing a rather high 33 ga. All their losses were somewhat close ones, but at this rate of gaining wins they certainly won’t make it into the top four. The higher number of goals against shows a need to address goaltending or defensive issues. Only by returning to the October defensive side can they become a team that will challenge.

The Sarnia Legionnaires have been on the edge of breaking into the top four or five teams especially after they had won six of their 11 November games and picked up valuable points in two double OT losses. The 2015/16 edition of the club has been highly competitive and had some close scores both in their favour and not. In October they had allowed 43 while in November only 32. Their records for both months are very similar but with an average of about three goals scored per contest the Legionnaires will have to increase that in order to win more games.

The Strathroy Rockets have had two of most horrible months in their history. Only five times in the last 18 games have they scored four or more goals – and they won only three of those contests. For November they went 2-5-1. This is a team which struggles in the scoring department. In October, they played 10 times and won once, but tied a game yet they picked up points in three overtime losses. They permitted 41 goals in nine games. November hasn’t been much better although their final game of the month has seen them play with a more consistent all-around effort and may give the remaining players a much-needed shot of confidence. With the recent trade sending two of their top players to Jr. C, the Rockets appear to have more holes to fill than what they started with. Bottom line is that unless they can generate some more consistent offense game in and game out, they may be in danger of dropping a notch or two. Only good news for them is that both St. Marys and Lambton Shores are behind them.

St. Marys made a coaching change and it appears that new coach Jason Glover has finally started to draw the evident talent out of is players. The Lincs went 3-7 which is marginally better than the 1-7-0-1 record they had in October. However, the downside is that like in October they played two games in which their offense did not score and another two in which they generated only one goal. While offense and defense are still problems with the Lincolns, it looks as though they may finally be turning the corner. Even a single overtime win (over Strathroy) and only permitting Leamington to score two goals against them are positive signs. Despite their slow progress, this team should make the playoffs. There is still plenty of things for them to work on in order to advance higher in the standings.

Lambton Shores like St. Marys and Strathroy had a November record almost identical to the one they had in October. They went from 2-6-1 to 1-7. And that was with head coach Don Dickson moving to the position of Director of Player Personnel and a new coach taking over. A telltale sign of Lambton woes is seen by their goals against. In October they permitted 41 in nine games while in November that figure ballooned to 53. Plus the goals scored by the team have dropped from 28 to 24. While the difference is negligible if one considers the team might have scored another four if they had played one more game, it still reflects the fact that Lambton is not a high scoring team. They have scored four or more goals five times in the past two months. Only way to move upward in the West is by cutting those goals against down and adding some steady firepower. With some work though Lambton could conceivably get into the final playoff position.

POINTS WEST TEAMS EARNED IN NOVEMBER:
Chatham – 14
St. Thomas – 14
Leamington – 12
London – 10
LaSalle – 10
Sarnia – 10
St. Marys – 6
Strathroy – 5
Lambton Shores – 2

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