OHL Playoff Picture Starting to Take Shape

The Ontario Hockey League regular season is in the final stretch. With just six nights remaining, there is still plenty of business left to be settled.

Of the 16 playoff spots up for grabs, 15 of them are accounted for. The last spot can’t be decided until at least Friday. The rest of the games will help determine seeding and first-round matchups.

We get you up to speed on all of the happenings in this final week of the OHL Regular Season. Let’s start with the battle for the last playoff spot.

Sting/Otters Battle for Final Playoff Spot

Both the Sarnia Sting and Erie Otters are neck and neck for the last playoff spot. Coming into Tuesday night’s action, each team has three games left. The Sting lead the Otters by one point in the standings 57-56. Each team plays on the same days to the end.

The Sting play Tuesday in Flint. They host the Saginaw Spirit on Friday and then end Sunday afternoon in London. The Otters meanwhile have three home games left: Tuesday against Guelph, Friday against Windsor and Sunday against Hamilton.

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Both the Spitfires and Bulldogs are their conference’s respective number-one seeds. Each team could elect to rest some players knowing the game doesn’t impact them. This makes the race for the last playoff spot truly up for grabs.

Both the Sting and Otters can clinch the last playoff spot as soon as Friday. If one team wins both games and the other loses both in regulation, that will settle it although Sarnia controls its own destiny and has other paths available to them. Should the teams finish tied in points, there would be a one-game playoff with the winner advancing to the playoffs.

Nolan Lalonde Erie Otters
Nolan Lalonde hopes to lead the Erie Otters to the last playoff spot. (Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images)

The team who clinches the last playoff spot will draw the Spitfires in round one. The loser is out of the playoffs but then would join in on the new OHL Lottery that has been implemented. The four teams who miss the playoffs each get a 25% chance of winning the top overall pick at the upcoming Priority Selection. That will take place on Apr 29-30.

Only Two Series Set

With just six days left, just two first-round series are set in the OHL, one in each conference. In the East, the Mississauga Steelheads will play the Barrie Colts. In the West, the London Knights will play the Kitchener Rangers.

Everything else is up in the air. Here is where teams stand as of Tuesday night’s games. We’ll list how high they could finish and what possible opponents they could see.

Western Conference

  • 1. Windsor Spitfires: Will host either Sarnia or Erie in round one.
  • 2. London Knights: Will host the Kitchener Rangers in round one.
  • 3. Flint Firebirds: Could finish as low as fourth. Will host either Owen Sound or Guelph in round one.
  • 4. Soo Greyhounds: Could finish as high as third. Will host either Guelph or Owen Sound in round one.
  • 5. Guelph Storm: Could finish as low as sixth. Will play either Sault Ste Marie or Flint in round one.
  • 6. Owen Sound Attack: Could finish as high as fifth. Will play either Flint or Sault Ste Marie in round one.
  • 7. Kitchener Rangers: Will play the London Knights in round one.
  • 8. Sarnia Sting: Could play the Windsor Spitfires in round one or miss the playoffs.
  • 9. Erie Otters: Could play the Windsor Spitfires in round one or miss the playoffs.
  • 10. Saginaw Spirit: Were eliminated from playoff contention.

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Eastern Conference

  • 1. Hamilton Bulldogs: Top seed in OHL. Will host Peterborough, Ottawa or Oshawa in round one. If the Generals get at least one point, they wouldn’t play Hamilton.
  • 2. North Bay Battalion: Will host either Ottawa, Peterborough or Oshawa in round one.
  • 3. Kingston Frontenacs: Will host either Oshawa, Ottawa or Peterborough in round one.
  • 4. Mississauga Steelheads: Will host Barrie in round one.
  • 5. Barrie Colts: Will play Mississauga in round one.
  • 6. Oshawa Generals: Could finish 6th-8th. Will play either Kingston, North Bay or Hamilton in round one. Most likely outcome is sixth.
  • 7. Ottawa 67s: Could finish 6th-8th. Will play either North Bay, Kingston or Hamilton in round one. Most likely outcome is seventh.
  • 8. Peterborough Petes: Could finish 6th-8th. Will play either Hamilton, North Bay or Kingston in round one. Most likely outcome is eighth.
  • 9. Sudbury Wolves: Were eliminated from playoff contention.
  • 10. Niagara Icedogs: Were eliminated from playoff contention.

The Hamilton Bulldogs seem like the favorite. But several teams have their cases to make. Do the Knights get Brett Brochure back? If not the Kitchener Rangers pull off the upset? How will Shane Wright do in these playoffs? The Windsor Spitfires have won 13 in a row. Are they primed for a huge run? What about Flint and new record-setting scorer Brennan Othmann?

Shane Wright Kingston Frontenacs
Shane Wright could take center stage at these OHL Playoffs. (Brandon Taylor/OHL Images)

We’re almost there. The best time of the year is upon us. We’ll finally have a full playoffs and Memorial Cup to look forward to. That’s music to the ears of every hockey fan.

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