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London Free Press staff

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. London Knights

Coach: Dale Hunter, fourth year GM: Mark Hunter

Last season: 53-11-2-2, first overall, lost in conference final.

This season: Ranked No. 1 to start season. Bryan Rodney big addition on defence. Right-winger Corey Perry could lead league in scoring. Unknown factor is how they'll deal with pressure of already being in Memorial Cup.

2. Owen Sound Attack

Coach: Mike Stothers, third year GM: Mike Futa

Last season: 30-27-7-4, sixth in conference, lost in first round.

This season: Patrick Jarrett, Stefan Ruzicka and Bobby Ryan great 1-2-3 scoring punch. Young defence could be a detriment in a conference loaded for bear.

3. Kitchener Rangers

Coach-GM: Peter DeBoer, fourth year

Last season: 34-26-6-2, fourth, lost in first round.

This season: Forward Mike Richards could captain world junior team. He and six teammates have 2001 Memorial Cup rings. Goalie Carlo DiRienzo is the question mark.

4. Sarnia Sting

Coach: Shawn Camp, first year GM: Allan Millar

Last season: 37-23-4-4, second, lost in first round.

This season: Camp and Millar were effective in Guelph and will avoid a first-round elimination for eighth straight year, guaranteed. Goalie Ryan Munce should crack world junior lineup.

5. Erie Otters

Coach: Dave MacQueen, sixth year GM: Sherry Bassin

Last season: 29-26-6-7, seventh, lost in second round.

This season: Solid in net with Josh Disher and Jhase Sniderman. Rob Hisey coming off 96-point season. NHL's eyes are on forward Ryan O'Marra.

6. Plymouth Whalers

Coach-GM: Mike Vellucci, fourth year

Last season: 32-24-9-3, fifth, lost in second round.

This season: It's a rebuilding year and that's tough in a strong conference. Second-year goalie Ryan Nie will have to shoulder a big workload.

7. Saginaw Spirit

Coach: Doug Lidster, first year GM: Bob Mancini

Last season: 16-45-3-4, 10th, missed playoffs.

This season: New management team includes former NHL defenceman Lidster. Shy in scoring department. Sean Courtney led with 42 points last season.

8. Soo Greyhounds

Coach: Marty Abrams, second year GM: Dave Torrie

Last season: 30-34-3-1, ninth, missed playoffs.

This season: NHL lockout has kept forward Jeff Carter of London in junior, but he has little help. We might see the first-rounder traded when 'Hounds falter.

9. Guelph Storm

Coach-GM: Dave Barr, first year (as coach)

Last season: 49-14-5-0, third, won OHL championship.

This season: Do we hear "starting over from scratch?" From penthouse to almost the outhouse without top line of Dan Paille, Marty St. Pierre and Matt Ryan (267 points last season).

10. Windsor Spitfires

Coach-GM: Mike Kelly, first year (as coach)

Last season: 27-30-3-8, eighth, lost in first round.

This season: Big year needed from ex-Knight Tom Mannino. Strathroy's Brad Topping is over-age goalie. Ryan Garlock a future pro.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Mississauga IceDogs

Coach: Greg Gilbert, second year.

GM: Mario Forgione

Last season: 36-21-7-4, third in conference, lost in OHL final.

This season: Centre Patrick O'Sullivan is prolific scorer. Ex-Knight Kyle Quincey anchors defence. Top-notch goalie in David Shantz. Only fly in ointment could be owner Forgione as GM.

2. Ottawa 67's

Coach-GM: Brian Kilrea, 28th year

Last season: 29-26-9-4, second, lost in first round.

This season: Two-time scoring champ and league MVP Corey Locke almost returned by Montreal, but Kilrea, who turns 70 this season, has reloaded the guns.

3. Barrie Colts

Coach: Marty Williamson, first year

GM: Mike McCann

Last season: 31-21-12-4, fourth, lost in second round.

This season: OHL rookie of the year Bryan Little will lead the charge. Williamson coached Aurora Tigers to national Tier 2 title last season.

4. Kingston Frontenacs

Coach: Jim Hulton, second year

GM: Larry Mavety

Last season: 30-28-7-3, fifth, lost in first round.

This season: Anthony Stewart top power forward. Rookie goalie Matthew Spezza is brother of Ottawa Senators' Jason. Must replace Bryan Rodney's points on blue line after trade to London.

5. Sudbury Wolves

Coach-GM: Mike Foligno, second year

Last season: 25-32-6-5, eighth, lost in first round.

This season: Bobby Chaumont, Rafal Martynowski and Zack Stortini will provide scoring. German Patrick Ehelechner will keep pucks out of net.

6. Toronto St. Michael's Majors

Coach-GM: Bud Stefanski, first year

Last season: 38-21-7-2, first, lost in conference final.

This season: Goalie Justin Peters coming off stellar year. Stefanski over from Barrie after Dave Cameron moved up to AHL. Bandbox arena always a Major advantage.

7. Peterborough Petes

Coach: Dick Todd, first year

GM: Jeff Twohey

Last season: 22-40-3-3, ninth, missed playoffs.

This season: Todd is no rookie. He returns after a stint in NHL. Guided Petes to two OHL crowns. Finnish goalie Eero Kilpelainen is a Dallas Stars prospect.

8. Brampton Battalion

Coach-GM: Stan Butler, seventh year

Last season: 25-32-9-2, seventh, lost in second round.

This season: Left-winger Luch Aquino, former Provincial Junior A League scoring champion, left University of Maine. NHL first-rounder Wojtek Wolski top point-getter.

9. Oshawa Generals

Coach: Bob McGill, first year. GM: Brad Selwood

Last season: 30-29-8-1, sixth, lost in first round.

This season: McGill comes from midget and Selwood from Provincial Junior A League. Sure could use Nathan Horton, who is locked out of NHL.

10. Belleville Bulls

Coach-GM: George Burnett, first year

Last season: 15-44-8-1, 10th, missed playoffs.

This season: Burnett is no stranger to league, coming over from Oshawa after change in Generals' ownership. Lack of defence will test over-age goalie Eric Tobia.


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