Let’s check in with some of the less covered teams that may be of interest to Oilers fans, or fans of local hockey in Edmonton:
The Condors have had an up-and-down January, picking up 14 points in 12 games this month. They’re currently on a three-game winning streak, with a 5-0 win over San Jose this past Wednesday, and a pair of win in Tucson over the weekend.
Overall, despite a few hot and cold streaks this year, the Condors currently sit at a mediocre 43 points in 42 games so far this season. Still, with 26 regular season games remaining, the Condors have a decent shot at playoffs. They sit two points back of the Ontario Reign for fourth in their division (and the final playoff spot), with one game in hand. The Reign shouldn’t be impossible to catch, their goal differential of -42 suggests that they’re probably not as good as their record indicates. Bakersfield’s bigger worry should be the San Diego Gulls, who sit one point behind the Condors, with three games in hand, and a +9 goal differential. The Gulls are the only Pacific Division team with a positive goal differential, who are not currently in a comfortable playoff position.
The AHL All-Star game is tonight. Tyler Benson, and Evan Bouchard are the Condors’ representatives. Bouchard competed in the hardest shot contest at Sunday’s skills competition, and registered a shot of 103 MPH. You’d think that would be good enough to win, but Ontario’s Martin Frk broke a skills competition record by shooting a puck 109 MPH. Still, Oilers fans should be excited about Bouchard’s fantastic offensive tools. His top notch passing and elite shot give him the makings of a top-flight powerplay defenseman in the not too distant future.
Alberta Golden Bears
The Golden Bears are coming off their first empty weekend of the season, after dropping both contests to the Calgary Dinos this past Friday and Saturday. Despite this setback, the Bears are still the cream of the crop in the CWUAA, with a 19-5 record, good for 38 points in 24 games, to go along with a conference-best +56 goal differential. This weekend, the Bears go on the road for a pair of game against the University of Regina. My CWUAA model gives the Golden Bears a 89.4% chance of winning each game, and expects them to outscore the Cougars by 6.7 goals over the two-game set.
Like the Golden Bears, the Ooks remain the class of the league, despite coming off a rare loss. They were shut out by Red Deer College on Saturday, after beating RDC on Friday. Still, the Ooks have won 17 of their 20 games this year, and have an insane +55 goal differential. Their next set of games come against Augustana on February 7th and 8th.
The Griffins are the hottest team in the ACAC. They’ve won six in a row and eight of their last ten. in the process, they’ve overtaken the Ooks in terms of goal differential, sitting at +56, despite being third in the conference, with a 15-5 record, including 13 wins in regulation. They’re on track to substantially improve their goal differential this weekend, as they play the conference’s second worst team, Briercrest College, twice. The Ooks are probably the best team in the ACAC, but if I was picking a team to beat them, it would be the Griffins. The Edmonton-based teams are without a doubt where the strength of the ACAC lies.