FPHL Power Rankings: Dec. 27th-29th

FPHL Power Rankings: Dec. 27th-29th

By Shawn Johnson

January 3, 2020

We say goodbye to week 4 power rankings as we move on to week 5! We had an interesting week in the FPHL. We have seen call ups, a temporary coaching change, roster changes as well as coaches (and owners!) suiting up over the weekend. With that being said, let’s get to it. 

10) Battle Creek Rumble Bees (0-24), 5th place Western Division

Rank Last Week: 10 (no change)

24 games and 24 losses for Battle Creek. All of those losses have come in regulation so the bees sit in last place with zero points.  They took on the defending champion Carolina Thunderbirds over the weekend. Battle Creek traveled to Winston-Salem and lost both games, first 5-2 on Friday then 4-0 on Saturday. This must be the longest losing streak in FPHL history. Maybe that record belongs to North Shore.  There are not many positive things to say about Battle Creek, but many people, including myself are rooting for them to get that first win. Jake Mullen has been a star in the net for Battle Creek and he continues to impress. 

9) Columbus River Dragons (6-12-2-1), 4th place Western Division

Rank Last Week: 9 (No Change)

Another 3 game home series for the River Dragons and they lost 2 out of the 3. This team has many talented players.  It seems like maybe there isn’t much team chemistry going on. Danville traveled south to take on Columbus and took home 7 out of 9 possible points. After a big 6-2 Danville victory on Friday, Columbus responded on Saturday by taking Danville to a shootout. Fred Hein and Yianni Liarakos both scored in round 1, but it was MJ Graham that scored in round 3 to seal the victory for Columbus. Danville again bested the River Dragons by a score of 4-2. 

8) Delaware Thunder (6-15), 5th place Eastern Division

Rank Last Week: 8 (No Change)

Being an expansion team is hard. You don’t just immediately become successful. Look at Mentor for example; they were terrible all of last year until the final two months, then Coach Duncan started to figure it out. Delaware reminds me a lot of last year’s Mentor team. They started slow, but team chemistry is starting to play a factor. They are getting better week by week. Over the weekend the team traveled to Watertown, NY on Friday and beat the Wolves 4-3 including 2 shorthanded goals.  The Wolves then traveled to Delaware for a Saturday night rematch. The Wolves responded by defeating the Thunder 8-3. Ryan Marker now has the most points in the league with 43.

7) Mentor Ice Breakers (12-11), 3rd place Eastern Division

Rank Last Week: 6 (Down 1)

The Ice Breakers fall one spot in this week’s power rankings. Port Huron shut them out 2-0 on home ice Friday, and then defeated them once again on Saturday by a score of 4-2. Their best player, Jon Buttitta was loaned to Quad City of the SPHL. Two games with a total of two goals. Mentor is in trouble without Buttitta unless they add an offensive weapon to the roster or someone else steps up. 

6) Watertown Wolves (12-8-0-1) 2nd place, Eastern Division

Rank Last Week: 7 (Up 1)

The Wolves climb one spot this week by a big 8-3 win over Delaware on the road Saturday night. Kyle Powell led the charge with a total of 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists). Powell now leads the league in assists with 29. Right behind Powell was Gjurich with 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists). Watertown’s offense sparked with 8 goals on 34 shots. Wolves scored shorthanded, at even strength and on the power play. A big win like this to end their 7 game losing streak is exactly what Watertown needed to gain some confidence back. The team still sits in second place in the eastern division. 

5) Danville Dashers (12-9-0-2) 3rd place, Western Division

Rank Last Week: 5 (No Change)

Even though Danville had a phenomenal weekend on the road versus Columbus, I could not move them up or down quite yet. They traveled and took home 7 out of 9 possible points. That’s pretty good for an 11 hour road trip (more like 13 on a bus with stops). Maybe the Danville we saw at the beginning of the season is back. Jesse Gordichuk has been solid between the pipes tied for first in wins (10) and sits in third for save percentage (.927) 

4) Elmira Enforcers (9-7-2-1), 3rd place, Eastern Division

Rank Last Week: 3 (Down 1)

Elmira drops a spot to #4 in our power rankings. The Enforcers took on Danbury and lost 3-2. I understand they were shorthanded. I understand that their coach Brent Clark and their owner Robbie Nichols suited up. Yes, you read that right! 55 year old Robbie Nichols actually suited up as an emergency player. Even ESPN gave the Enforcers some more attention.  The Enforcers are still in great shape this season considering. They have had so many issues with roster movements, but they still sit in fourth places, a couple games shy of mentor.  

3) Port Huron Prowlers (11-6-3-0), 2nd place, Western Division

Rank Last Week: 4 (Up 1)

The Port Huron Prowlers are on a hot streak! They have moved from eight in our power rankings to third, making them our biggest mover.  They are winners of eight straight and do not seem to be slowing down. Their top two lines have been putting in work. One of their biggest strengths is their ability to stay out of the box. They are the least penalized team in the league. The biggest news coming from Port Huron is their star goaltender Cory Simons getting the call up to Pensacola (SPHL). How will the team respond? Will Chris Paulin step up and continue to get the job done for the prowlers?  Only time will tell. 

2) Carolina Thunderbirds (19-1-0-1) 1st place, Western Division

Rank Last Week: 2 (No Change)

For now, the Thunderbirds stay in second in our power rankings, but they are lighting it up this year! We could potentially see the very first franchise win back-to-back championships in the FPHL. Carolina has promoted Goaltender Henry Dill to Roanoke (SPHL) as well as Konner Haas to Fayetteville (SPHL). Interim Head Coach Karolina Huvarova took over head coaching duties for Coach Niec for one night while Andre served his suspension.  Huvarova keeps the win streak going with 4. The Thunderbirds play the Danbury Hat Tricks this weekend, so next week our power rankings could shake up!

1) Danbury Hat Tricks (14-5-1-2) 1st place, Eastern Division

Rank Last Week: 1 (No Change)

This week, it was actually difficult to choose a #1 for the power rankings. There was a lot of discussion whether it should be the Thunderbirds or the Hat Tricks, but overall, we decided to keep Danbury in the top spot.  I’m sure Carolina fans are disappointed with this decision, but hear us out. Carolina played two games at home against the worst team in the league, Battle Creek. However, Danbury traveled 8 hours to Mentor to play Thursday night and lost 6-5. It was a tough match-up and a respectable loss. The team then traveled 5 hours and played Friday night in Elmira and won 5-4. After the game, Danbury headed home and played Saturday at home against Elmira winning 3-2. 2 out of 3 is respectable with that kind of schedule. As a former employee travelling with a team, I can tell you, travelling is tough. You don’t get a full night of sleep in a hotel room, you try to get as comfy as you can on bus seats as you travel through the night. So considering Danbury played 3 games in 3 nights in 3 different cities and still won 2 out of 3, We agreed that Danbury is STILL the hottest team in the league.  Their biggest offensive weapon in Johnny Ruiz was loaned to Knoxville for the weekend, but has since returned to the league. The game of the week is this weekend, Carolina Thunderbirds vs. Danbury Hat Tricks for a two game series on neutral ice. The games will take place at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington, IL.