Thursday, 22 March 2018

Western Conference Round 1 Preview (3) Sarnia Sting vs (6) Windsor Spitfires

Sarnia Sting 47-17-4-1

Head Coach
Darien Hatcher

Team Leaders
Jordan Kyrou picked up 39 goals and 70 assists this year and pushed his career point total to 290. He broke numerous Sarnia career records and at times was the most dominant player in the OHL as he averaged 1.95 points per game. He will be hard to contain for Windsor in round 1.

Cam Dineen picked up 28 points in 26 games with the Sting adding a strong puck moving defenceman to their back end and really adding to their team speed just with his ability to kick start the break out. Everytime he is on the Ice it feels like the Sting are a threat to score.

Adam Ruzicka picked up 72 points in 63 games. It was a big year for the hyped import who really blossomed in his 2nd year in the OHL. His PPG jumped from .75 to 1.14 and if Sarnia is going to go far they need Ruzicka to be a driver not a passenger.

Playoff Experience
The Sting have 146 games of playoff experience under their belt and leading the way is former Petes forward Jonathan Ang with 24 games. The bulk of which game last year as the Petes marked to the Eastern Conference Finals. On the back end Cam Dineen leads the way with 11 career playoff games.

Scoring Leaders vs
Anthony Salinitri    8G 1A
Jordan Kyrou         5G  4A
Drake Rymsha       1G   4A
Sean Josling           2G   3A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game   299 (2nd in West) 4.39
Goals Allowed Per game 213 (3rd in West) 3.13
Power Play 24.2%
Penalty Kill 88.5%
Special Teams Plus Minus +35 
Age 18.52(4th)
Height 184cm (11th)
Weight 84.52 (5th)

What to Watch for
The Sting exceeded expectations this year but when you look at the depth this team has down the middle maybe we all truly underestimated them. That said their defence has developed fantasticly and Justin Fazio has been stellar in goal.

Windsor Spitfires 32-30-4-2

Head Coach
Trevor Letowski

Team Leaders
Michael DiPietro is the only thing keeping the Spits from being the worst team in the West. He has the ability to steal games that Windsor has no business being in. At times since the big sell off he has looked quite ordinary but I would expect him to bring his A game into this one.

Cole Purboo picked up 49 points in 68 games as the burgeoning power forward took a big leap in his production. IMO Purboo may be the most under appreciated player in the OHL and wll be a key component for the Spits over the next 2 seasons.

Curtis Douglas contributed 28 points in 38 games with the Spits a slight jump over his production with Barrie as he continued a quantum leap in his development. The hulking forward has great potential and this will be another opportunity for the Spits to guide his development

Playoff Experience
43 games of playoff experience for the Spits as Luke Boka and Zach Shankar lead the way with 12 and 11 games each. This is the 2nd youngest roster in the OHL so it makes sense that this series is a starting off point for a lot of the young talent.

Scoring Leaders vs Sarnia
Curtis Douglas   1G  3A
Cole Purboo       1G   2A
Chris Playfair     1G  2A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 214 (8th in West) 3.14
Goals Allowed Per game 224 (5th in West) 3.29
Power Play 18.1%
Penalty Kill 81.2%
Special Teams Plus Minus -14
Age 17.80 (19th)
Height 183.32cm (16th)
Weight 80.20kg (18th)

What to Watch for
This is the 2nd youngest team in the OHL and one of the smallest. Their best player happens to be the best goalie in the league and while they have some intriguing pieces they just aren't ready for prime time. Games involving Windsor this year averaged the fewest power plays in the leauge. Is that a trend that will continue into this round?

Season Series
Sarnia 5-1-0-0
Windsor 1-5-0-0
Oct 15
SAR 3 @ WSR 2
Nov 17
WSR 3 @ SAR 6
Dec 28
WSR 5 @ SAR 0
Jan 11
SAR 5 @ WSR 3
Jan 12
WSR 1 @ SAR 6
Feb 1
SAR 5 @ WSR 3

Playoff History
Ive been sticking with the 20 team era when looking at playoff histories with teams but for Windsor Sarnia I will go back to 94-95 when the Sting got their start.

These teams have met 4 times all in the 1st round and they have split their playoff history 2-2. In fact the Sting have only won 3 playoff series in their whole history and 2 of them have come against Windsor. (96-97) and (07-08). Interestingly enough both times they beat Windsor they lost to Kitchener in round two.
Series Schedule
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 24 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., March 30 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Windsor – 2:05 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.


I dont think Sarnia can Sarnia their way out of this one. They are just too powerful and IMO Windsor is the worst team in the Western Conference. I would even put them below Erie and Flint.

Sarnia in 4

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Western Conference Round 1 Preview (1) Sault Ste. Marie vs (8) Saginaw Spirit

(3) Sarnia vs (6) Windsor

Tale of the Tape

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 55-7-3-3

Head Coach
Drew Bannister (3rd Season)

Team Leaders

Morgan Frost finished 2nd in the league with 112 points in 67 games. He led all OHLers in 5on5 points and finsihed the year by tying the OHL record as a +70.

Taylor Raddysh picked up 39 points in 28 games with the Greyhounds and brings OHL title expierience to the roster. He will be looking to make his 3rd OHL finals appearence in his career and will look to pick up his 2nd title.

Mac Hollowell finished the year with 56 points in 63 games this year. I really could have talked about a whole host of their dmen whether it be Timmins, Sandin or Hollowell. Mac really took a big leap this year and his play with Rasmus Sandin on the Hounds 2nd power play unit really co-incides with this team taking off as that unit is just as dangerous as the first unit lead by Frost, Raddysh, Katchouk and Timmins.

Playoff Expierience
This Greyhounds Roster has 309 games of OHL playoff expierience. 2 Players Tim Gettinger and Hayden Verbeek were on the Hounds WCFs team from 3 years ago. Taylor Raddysh and Jordan Sambrook won OHL titles with Erie last year and a handful of players were on each of the last 2 playoff squads for the Greyhounds.

Scoring Leaders vs Saginaw
Morgan Frost    6G 9A
Taylor Raddysh 7G 5A
Barret Hayton    1G 8A
Boris Katchouk  3G 5A
Jack Kopacka     4G 4A
Tim Gettinger    3G 5A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 317 (1st in west) 4.66
Goals Allowed Per game 186 (1st in west) 2.74
Power Play 24.8%
Penalty Kill 82.0%
Special Teams Plus Minus: +36
Age: 18.33yrs (9th)
Height: 183.67 (14th)
Weight 83.50 (7th)

What to Watch for
The Good News? The last 2 times the Greyhounds have made it to the Western Conference finals they opened up with a 4 game sweep of the Spirit. The Bad News? That is as far as the Greyhounds made it on each of those trips.

Matthew Villalta and Tyler Johnson split the season series vs the Spirit. In his 4 games against Saginaw Villalta had a sparkling Save Percentage of .938%

Saginaw Spirit 29-30-9-0

Head Coach
Troy Smith (1st season)

Team Leaders

Mason Kohn finished with 49 points in 54 games after coming over from Oshawa in a steal of a deal. He will need to have a big series if the Spirit are to keep this close.

Marcus Crawford the OA leader of the Spirit finished off his OHL career with 53 points in 68 games. Of his 13 goals 5 were game winners.

Blade Jenkins finished with 44 points in 68 games in his first OHL season. He only picked up 5 points on the power play so there is plenty of room for growth if he can start clicking on the man advantage.

Playoff Expierience

The Saginaw Spirit only have 72 games of playoff expierience on their roster. Leading the way is Mason Kohn with 26 games. Daniel Vertiy has 11 games under his belt and those are the only 2 on the team who have won a playoff series.

Scoring Leaders vs SSM
Keaton Middleton   0G 5A
Mason Kohn           0G 4A
Damian Giroux       3G 1 A
Ryan Stepien           2G 2A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 196 (9th in west) 2.88
Goals Allowed Pergame 238 (6th in west) 3.5
Power Play: 14.7%
Penalty Kill: 78.8%
Special Teams PlusMinus: -16
Age 17.81 (18th)
Height 184.31 (8th)
Weight 82.69 (12th)

What to Watch for
This is the 3rd youngest roster in the OHL and is over matched from top to bottom against these Hounds. They dont have the goaltending to steal a game on paper but this should be a good learning experience for this young team as they look to make the jump for next year and ultimately challenge for a Western Conference title in 2 years.

The Spirit have the worst special teams of any team to make the playoffs. They will be in especially tough with the Greyhounds who have one of the top PPs and PKs and led the league in short handed goals for the 2nd consecutive season.

Season Series
Sault Ste. Marie 7-0-1
Saginaw Spirit 1-6-1

Playoff History
These teams have met 3 times in the playoffs with the Greyhounds winning each time. The Greyhounds hold a 12-2 record in those games and have won the last 9 playoff games these two teams have played

Series Schedule
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 25 at Sault Ste. Marie – 3:00 p.m.
Game 3, Mon., March 26 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 28 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., March 30 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
Game 6, Sat., March 31 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 7, Mon., April 2 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.

Saginaw is a young team with average goaltending and are 2 years away from being contenders in the West. The Greyhounds will play keep away from them and slowly pick them apart. Sounds like Spirit forward Brady Gilmour is doubtful for the series which makes an almost impossible task that much harder.

Greyhounds in 4

Western Conference Round 1 Preview (2) Kitchener Rangers vs (7) Guelph Storm

(3) Sarnia vs (6) Windsor

Tale of the Tape

Kitchener Rangers 42-21-3-1

Head Coach
Jay McKee (2nd Season)

Team Leaders

Adam Mascherin picked up 86 points in 67 games this year falling 4 points shy of the 300 mark on his career. It has come out that he has informed the Florida Panthers that he will not sign with them. If they can not find a taker for his rights he will be playing to impress teams for the upcoming NHL draft.

Logan Brown picked up 24 points in 17 games with Rangers and hit the 200 career point mark near the end of the season. He has 0 goals in 12 career playoff games with the Spitfires which is somewhat concerning but it wont take much for him to find his groove and make that stat look like an anomoly

Joseph Garreffa picked up 65 points in 68 games this year as the pint sized swiss army knife absolutely carved up the Storm this season. His versatility gives the Rangers great flexibility in the playoffs and allows them to throw multiple looks at their opponents.

Playoff Expierience
This Rangers team surprisingly only has 134 games of OHL playoff expierience. That said they have 3 skaters who were on the Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires last season plus goalie Mario Culina was a back up. Kole Sherwood had a part time role on the London Knights OHL winning team from 2016 as well.

Scoring Leaders vs Guelph
Joseph Garreffa   1G  10A
Adam Mascherin  5G  4A
Adam Liska          3G  5A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 246 (4th in West) 3.62
Goals Allowed Per game 218 (4th in West) 3.21
Power Play 20.7%
Penalty Kill 82.9%
Special Teams Plus Minus -1
Age: 18.48 (5th)
Height 184cm (10th)
Weight 83.37 (9th)

What to Watch for
The 3 Stars. Based on the reaction to the 3 stars by Kitchener media this team needs lots of positive reinforcement. If they dont get a single nod in the 3 stars could it derail the whole locker room?

It wont be an issue in round 1 but Kitchener will need to play better on the special teams. They were a -1 on special teams this year as they gave up more power play and short handed goals than they scored themselves.

Guelph Storm 30-29-5-4

Head Coach
George Burnett (1st season with Guelph)

Team Leaders
Isaac Ratcliffe 68 points in 67 games. The Flyers 2nd round pick was the Storms leading scorer averaging over a point per game. He was particularly dangerous on the power play where he added 24 points and led the storm with 282 shots this season

Ryan Merkley picked up 67 points in 63 games for the Storm. More than half of his points came on the power play as he added 2 goals and 32 assists on the man advantage. His 32 assists on the PP led all OHLers

Playoff Experience
2 straight years of missing the playoffs and the Storm roster only has 70 games of OHL expierience. Leading the way is Zach Porier who has 25 career games with the Battalion. In fact 54 of the 70 games of experience comes with other OHL franchises.

Scoring Leaders vs Kitchener
Ryan Merkley    2G 9A
Isaac Ratcliffe    5G  3A
James McEwan   4G  4A
Cam Hillis          3G  4A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 228 (6th in the west) 3.35
Goals Allowed Per game 263 (8th in the west) 3.87
Power Play 22.2%
Penalty Kill 79.7%
Special Teams Plus Minus +14
Age: 18.10 (15th)
Height: 185.55cm (5th)
Weight: 84.6kg (4th)

What to Watch for
The Storm enter the playoffs with the 2nd worst GF% in the western conference. On special teams the are actually outscoring their opponents so most of Guelphs issues can be found by looking at their play 5 on 5.
Popovich has exceeded expectations this season but even if he plays at a Michael DiPietro level the Storm are not getting past the Rangers.
With an important OHL draft coming up for the Storm it will be intersting to see how George Burnett juggles is multiple duties within the organization as they will need a hell of a game plan to even steal 1 game let alone 4

Season Series
Kitchener 5-2-1
Guelph 3-4-1
Oct 7
KIT 2 @ GUE 5
Nov 3
GUE 1 @ KIT 4
Nov 17
Gue 5 @ KIT 7
Dec 10
KIT 10 @ GUE 3
Jan 21
GUE 2 @ KIT 4
Mar 4
KIT 5 @ GUE 4 OT
Mar 13
KIT 3 @ GUE 4 OT
Mar 16
GUE 6 @ KIT 3

Playoff History
These teams have met 3 times in the 20 team era of the OHL in the playoffs. The Rangers have won the last 2 meetings one being in the opening round (2012-13) and in the 2nd round (2002-03) The Storms only victory was a 1st round sweep in 2001-02 the year they hosted the Memorial Cup

Series Schedule
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Kitchener – 7:30 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 25 at Kitchener – 7:00 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Guelph – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 28 at Guelph – 7:00 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., March 30 at Kitchener – 7:30 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Guelph – 2:00 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Kitchener – 7:00 p.m.

I cant see any scenario where Guelph wins this series. They have some intriging pieces but they do not have an intriging team. Anything beyond a sweep should be considered a success for the Storm

Kitchener in 4

Western Conference Round 1 Preview (4) London Knights @ (5) Owen Sound Attack

(3) Sarnia vs (6) Windsor

Tale of the Tape

Owen Sound Attack

Head Coach
Todd Gill (1st year with Owen Sound)

Team Leaders
Nick Suzuki hit the century mark this year with 100 points in 64 games. He blew past the 200 point mark and is sitting at 234 on his career. He improved in the faceoff circle this year and also took more shots. He was dynamite in the playoffs last year and should be even better this season.

Jonah Gadjovich picked up 48 points in 42 games this season. His per game numbers dipped a bit from last season but he did average more shots and was an important piece on Team Canada's gold medal winning world junior team.

Sean Durzi finished the year with 49 points in 40 games as the 19 year old exploded offensively for the Attack. Missed some time after suffering an ankle sprain in a game against the Greyhounds but picked up where he left off at the end of the year.

Playoff Experience
The Attack roster has 337 games of OHL experience and most of the games have been together as a unit. This is an experienced and veteran group who has been here before with varying degrees of success.

Scoring Leaders vs London
Nick Suzuki    6G 2A
Aidan Dudas   3G 3A
Maxim Sushko 2G 2A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 289 (3rd in West) 4.25
Goals Allowed Per game 247 (7th in West) 3.63
Power Play: 21.8%
Penalty Kill: 80.1%
Special Teams Plus Minus +16
Age: 18.52 (3rd)
Height: 182.64cm (17th)
Weight: 83.16 (10th)

What to Watch for
In each of the last 3 seasons the Owen Sound Attack have been eliminated by the eventual OHL champions. That bodes well for them going into this series because London is not winning the OHL title this year.

London Knights 39-25-2-2

Head Coach
Dale Hunter

Team Leaders
Evan Bouchard led the Knights and all OHL defencemen in points with 87 in 67 games this season. He affects the game on both ends of the ice and is a dominant force in all facets of the game.

Alex Formenton picked up 48 points in 48 games and showed an ability to take over when needed for the Knights. He was held pointless in the playoffs last season in 13 games so he will be looking to bounce back from that.

Joseph Raaymakers finished the year with a .910 sv% for the Knights and really turned this team around when he arrived from Sault Ste. Marie. He was outstanding in the playoffs last year with a .942 sv% and almost led the Hounds to an upset over the Owen Sound Attack. Can he finish the job this year?

Playoff Expierience
The Knights only have 86 games of OHL Playoff experience. All 24 games on the blueline are held by captain Even Bouchard. Formenton and Foudy were held pointless in 13 games last year but should see more production this year in leading roles.

Scoring Leaders vs Owen Sound

Evan Bouchard      3G 6A
Alex Formenton    4G  3A
Tyler Rollo             2G  4A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 233 (5th in West) 3.43
Goals Allowed Pergame 212 (2nd in West) 3.12
Power Play 18.2%
Penalty Kill 80.5%
Special Teams Plus Minus +3
Age: 17.75 (20th)
Height: 183.42 (15th)
Weight: 79.03kg (19th)

What to Watch for
The Knights have started the rebuild and enter the playoffs with the youngest roster in the OHL. They still have plenty of fire power and boast the top offensive defenceman in the OHL in Evan Bouchard. If he gets going he is capable of putting this team on his back offensively.

Season Series
LDN 4-1-1
OS  2-4-0

Oct 15
OS 4 @ LDN 3 OT

Nov 4
LDN 4 @ OS 1

Nov 24
OS 3 @ LDN 5

Dec 17
LDN 1 @ OS 0

Jan 26
OS 4 @ LDN 7

Feb 14
LDN 2 @ OS 4

Playoff History
The Knights at Attack have met 5 times in the playoffs in the 20 team Era. The first meeting was in 98-99 when they faced off in the Western Conference Finals. The Knights have won 4 of their 5 match ups with Owen Sounds only victory coming in 2010-11 which was the year the Attack won the OHL title.

Series Schedule
Game 1, Thurs., March 22 at Owen Sound – 7:00 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 24 at Owen Sound – 7:30 p.m.
Game 3, Mon., March 26 at London – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at London – 7:00 p.m.
Game 5, Sat., March 31 at Owen Sound – 7:30 p.m.
Game 6, Mon., April 2 at London – 7:00 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Owen Sound – 7:00 p.m.

Owen Sound on paper is the better team and has started to play up to their potential the last few weeks. The one spot where London has the advantage is in net. If Joseph Raaymakers plays like he did last year against the Attack the Knights have a real chance to pull off the upset.

I feel Owen Sound has more margin for error even though London has a clear advantage in net. because of that I am going with Owen Sound in 6

Monday, 19 March 2018

Eastern Conference Round 1 Preview (2) Barrie Colts vs (7) Mississauga Steelheads

(3) Sarnia vs (6) Windsor

Tale of the Tape

Barrie Colts 42-21-4-1

Head Coach
Dale Hawerchuk

Team Leaders

Aaron Luchuk 64 points in 38 games with the Colts. 115 over the coarse of the season to claim the OHL scoring title. Earned himself a contract with the Ottawa Senators with his strong play. Scored the Mem Cup winning goal for Windsor last year.

Andrei Svechnikov: With 40 goals in 44 games this year Svechnikov averaged more goals per game than his 20 50 goal teammates. He will be motivated to leave his mark during these playoffs and has 5 points in his last 2 games vs Mississauga.

Dimitri Sokolov: with 58 points in 29 games with the Colts included 30 goals. 96 points overall when you include his time with Sudbury. He was great last year with Sudbury against the Generals so I am looking forward to watching him play some playoff hockey with real talent around him.

Playoff Expierience
The Colts have the least playoff experience on their roster among Eastern Conference teams with only 116 games. Leading the way is OHL champion blueliner TJ Fergus with 45 career playoff games under his belt. He will be leaned upon to lead the charge in his final OHL season.

Scoring Leaders vs Mississauga
Ben Hawerchuk  2G 5A
Justin Murray      1G 5A
Jason Wilms        2G  2A
Lucas Chido        3G 1A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 297 (1st in East)
Goals Allowed Per game 229 (3rd in East)
Power Play 22.8%
Penalty Kill 79.3%
Special Teams PlusMinus 0
Age: 18.22yrs (12th)
Height: 181.96 (20th)
Weight 81.91kg (15th)

What to Watch for
The smallest team in the Playoffs the Colts have an elite top line lead by OHL scoring leader Aaron Luchuck fellow 50 goal man Dimitri Sokolov and top NHL draft prospect Andrei Svechnikov. They struggled in the regular season vs Mississauga but Svechnikov was only in the lineup for 3 of those games.

Mississauga Steelheads 33-32-1-2

Head Coach
James Richmond (2nd Season)

Team Leaders

Nicholas Hague: With 78 points and 35 goals in 67 games the hulking defender has his name all over the Steelheads record books. More of a rover than a defender he can put up some scaring offensive numbers if he isnt accounted for.

Micheal McLeod The Devils 1st rounder finished the year with 44 points in 38 games in a season which included a world junior gold medal.

Owen Tippet: The Panthers 1st rounder finished the year with 75 points in 51 games after getting a taste of NHL hockey in October. With 275 shots the sniper averaged more than 5 per game.

Playoff Experience
With 241 games of playoff expierience on their roster thanks to their run to the finals last year the Steelheads sit 2nd in the East in that catagory. Will it be enough to upend the Colts who have the fewest games of experience? The Mcleaods, Tippet and Gibson all lead the way with 27 career games with the 3 forwards all having siginificant offensive impact in their previous playoff trips.

Scoring Leaders vs Barrie
Mathieu Foget     3G 6A
Owen Tippet        2G 7A
Albert Michnac   2G  6A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 251 (3rd)
Goals Allowed Per game 250 (7th)
Power Play 25.5%
Penalty Kill 78.4%
Special Teams Plusminus +15
Age: 18.46yrs (6th)
Height: 184.92cm (6th)
Weight: 83.46kg (8th)

What to Watch for
Picked by many (including myself) to run away with the East but they stumbled and never seemed to truely get their footing finishing in 8th. They have the talent up front to give Barrie troubles but the play of Jacob Ingham is really concerning. Does Richmond go with him or does he put Vella in net who gives them a real chance at upseting the Colts.

Season Series
Missssauga 4-2-0
Barrie 2-4-0

Oct 28
MISS 4 @ BAR 2
Nov 30
MISS 3 @ BAR 6
Dec 8
BAR 3 @ MISS 2
Jan 19
BAR 2 @ MISS 5
Feb 9
BAR 4 @ MISS 6
Feb 22
MISS 7 @ BAR 4

Playoff History
These teams have met 5 times in the playoffs since 2005-06. Most recently in 2015-16 which was the only time they have met while Mississauga has been branded as the Steelheads. Barrie took that series in 7 games in a 2vs7 matchup. All matchups have been in round 1 except for the 2009-'10 matchup which were the ECFs. Overall Barrie holds a 3-2 advantage over the Missssauga/St.Mikes franchise during the playoffs and have won the last 3 encounters.

Playoff Schedule
Game 1, Thurs., March 22 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.
Game 2, Mon., March 26 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Mississauga – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at Mississauga – 7:00 p.m.
Game 5, Sat., March 31 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Mississauga – 2:00 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.

The Steelheads won the season series 4-2 and have the horses up front to run with the Colts. Both teams have questions in net but in my opinion the Steelheads questions are more glaring. Still if they can get some solid goaltending the Steelheads will be hard to knock off but my gut just tells me the Colts will be too much.

Colts in 6

Be sure to also check out the preview done by @VeryBarrieColts which can be found here

Eastern Conference Round 1 Preview (4) Niagara Ice Dogs vs (5) Oshawa Generals

(3) Sarnia vs (6) Windsor

Tale of the Tape

Niagara Ice Dogs 35-23-7-3

Head Coach
Billy Burke (1st Season)

Team Leaders

Sam Miletic 38 points in 28 games with the Icedogs after being picked up from London. He was particularly dangerous on the power play where he picked up 13 points which was just a shade under .5 PP points per game. Will have a much larger role on the Icedogs in this series than he did while playing for London last year

Akil Thomas 81 points in 68 games for the potential NHL 1st rounder. It will be a great opportunity for him to showcase his talents to NHL scouts with a trio of top prospects playing for Oshawa.

Ben Jones the 3rd year forward hit the 30 goal mark this season and finsihed with 79 points in 68 games. He will be leaned on as a leader next year for the Icedogs but will need to have a great series if the Icedogs are to get past the Generals

Playoff Expierience
The Icedogs have 185 games of playoff experience on their roster which is 4th in the East. Corniel (39) and Carbonara (36) lead the way in terms of games played although Carbonara has never really made much of an impact in his 36 games.

Scoring Leaders vs Oshawa
Daniel Singer     2G 2A
Ben Jones          2G 0A
Akil Thomas     0G  2A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 240 (6th) 3.53
Goals Allowed Per game 235 (4th) 3.46
Power Play 19.5%
Penalty Kill 80.1%
Special Teams Plus Minus: 0
Age: 18.38yrs (8th)
Height: 182.13cm (19th)
Weight 82.25kg (13th)

What to Watch for
The Icedogs are a very Jekyl and Hyde team. They are either on a long winning streak or a long losing streak it seems. They ended the season on a 7 game winning streak so I am sure Icedogs fans are hoping the time hasnt come for another swoon.

Kyle Langdon is the type of physical and grinding player that every hockey cliche says should thrive in the playoffs. He is come off of a disappointing season and may be playing for an OA spot for next season. He is the last remaining branch on the Lucas Lessio trade tree so it is only fitting that he comes up big against the Generals.

Oshawa Generals 36-39-3-0

Head Coach
Bob Jones*

Team Leaders

Jack Studnicka The Bruins 2nd rounder finished the season with 72 points in 66 games. He can score in all situatons with 5 pp goals 4 sh goals and 5 game winning goals. He was electric in the playoffs last year finishing with 17 points in 11 games. Niagara will need to game plan around him.

Allan McShane The prized return in the Anthony Cirelli trade from last season he finished just shy of a point per game with 65 in 67 games. 21 points came on the power play and his 16 primary points had him finish 6th among NHL draft eligible skaters

Serron Noel finished with 53 points in 62 games although he had some struggles playing 5 on 5 as he finished the year as a -8. Still the hulking power forward is becoming more dominant every game and has the ability to put the Generals on his shoulders if need be.

Playoff Experience
With 203 games of playoff experience this Generals roster sits 3rd in the East. What is more impressive is that the players on the Gens roster have had a greater impact in the play games they have appeared in than their Icedogs counter parts. That said I wouldnt read too much into that part of things as with jr hockey roles are always changing and players are always growing and developing and different rates.

Scoring Leaders vs Niagara
Kyle MacLean    1G 2A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 250 (4th) 3.68
Goals Allowed Per game  243 (6th) 3.57
Power Play 18.8%
Penalty Kill 74.9%
Special Teams Plus Minus  -13
Age 18.38yrs (7th)
Height 186.19cm (2nd)
Weight 85.69kg (2nd)

What to Watch for
The Generals have some of the worst special teams in the playoffs. Mind you most of their misery came before Christmas and they have gotten quite a bit better during their 2nd half surge. With that being said they will not want to give the Icedogs any extra chances. These two teams are evenly matched 5 on 5 so special teams will likely play a big role.

Season Series
Oshawa 1-0-1
Niagara 1-1-0

Oct 6
NIA 5 @ OSH 4 OT

Oct 26
OSH 4 @ NIA 3

Playoff History
These teams have met 5 times since 07-08 includng 3 straight seasons from 10-11 to 12-13. The Generals won the last time they met in 2014-15 in round 2 on their way to the Memorial Cup and have won 3 of their last 5 playoff meetings.

Series Schedule
Game 1, Fri, Mar 23 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.
Game 2, Sun, Mar 25 at Niagara – 2:00 p.m.
Game 3, Tues, Mar 27 at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs, Mar 29 at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m.
Game 5, Sat, Mar 31 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.
Game 6, Sun, Apr 1 at Oshawa – 6:05 p.m.
Game 7, Tues, Apr 3 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.


No matter who losses this series Hockey Canada wins as they will be getting some elite talent for the U18. That said I would prefer Oshawa to lose becasue I want to see Noel put the Maple Leaf on again. He was a delight to watch in Sault Ste. Marie last year for the U17 hockey challenge

Niagara in 5 games (because I want McShane and Noel playing in the U18s)

Be sure to check out the preview done by @Gens_Brandon which you can find right here

And of course we can not forget the great work form @IcedogsthisWeek as their preview can be found here

Eastern Conference Round 1 Preview (3) Kingston Frontenacs vs (6) North Bay Battalion

(3) Sarnia vs (6) Windsor

Tale of the Tape

Kingston Frontenacs 36-23-6-3

Head Coach
Jay Varaday (1st Season)

Team Leaders
Jason Robertson 87 points in 68 games. Hit the 200 point mark on his career late in the year. 1 of only 3 from the 2015 draft class to reach that mark in only 3 seasons.

Linus Nyman 85 points in 67 games. The electric import just keeps producing for the Fronts. The playoffs will be a fantastic stage for him to leave an imprint in scouts minds leading up to the NHL Draft

Gabe Vilardi 58 points in 32 games. Vilardi may be the best player in the Eastern Conference as he averaged 1.81 points per game in the 2nd half of the year with the Fronts.

Playoff Experience
Forwards and D have 320 games of OHL Playoff expierience which is tops in the Eastern Conference. Leading the way Cliff Pu with 36 games. Villardi and Day bring Mem Cup experience from last season even though they entered through the back door. Jason Robertson was fantastic in last years playoffs almost single handily carrying the team past Hamilton in Round 1.

Scoring Leaders vs North Bay
Gabe Vilardi      3G 4A
Linus Nyman    2G  4A
Cliff Pu              2G  1A
Jason Robertson 2G 1A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game: 243 (5th in East) 3.57
Goals Allowed Per game: 202 (1st in East) 2.97
Power Play: 25.7%
Penalty Kill: 84.7%
Special Teams Plus Minus: +22
Age 18.8 yrs: (1st)
Height: 186.12cm (3rd)
Weight: 87.76kg (1st)

What to Watch for
Kingston has arguably the best forward in the East in Gabe Vilardi, the best goalie in the east in Jeremy Helvig, the best defenceman in the east in Eemeli Rasanen, the best special teams in the East and are the oldest and biggest team in the playoffs. It should be enough to get them past North Bay but will it be enough to get out of the East?

North Bay Battalion 30-28-7-3

Head Coach
Stan Butler (He has been their HC since the beginning of time)

Team Leaders

Justin Brazeau 39 goals and 36 assists in 68 games. The power forward from New Liskeard ON will surely get some looks from NHL teams this offseason as he has been a big bodied force this season putting up big points on the power play for North Bay. If Kingston gets into penalty trouble Brazeau could make them pay.

Luke Burghardt 71 points in 68 games. Burghardt was picked up off the scrap heap from Guelph where he had 58 points in 167 career games. He blew those numbers out of the water and had a career year under Stan Butler which seams to happen every year with a player the Battalion pick up.

Matthew Struthers 27 points in 30 games with the Battalion. Came over to North Bay from Owen Sound and has flourished in under Stan Butler. He will be a big part of this team next season.

Playoff Expierience
With 111 games of playoff experience among their forwards and defence the Battalion sit last in the OHL in that category. Veteran OA defender Riley Bruce leads the way with 41 career games under his belt. Mathew Struthers who has been fantastic since coming over from Owen Sound has 21 games of playoff expierience from his first 2 seasons with the Attack. These two will be leaned on as this young roster gets its feet wet against Kingston.

Scoring Leaders vs Kingston
Adam Thilander  1G 4A
Brandon Coe    3G 1A
Justin Brazeau  2G  2A

Team Averages
Goals Per Game 213 (9th in East) 3.13
Goals Allowed Pergame 237 (5th in East) 3.49
Power Play: 19.9%
Penalty Kill: 79.2%
Special Teams PlusMinus: -4
Age 18.24 (10th)
Height 186.56 (1st)
Weight 83.92 (6th)

What to Watch for
Stan Butler will have his team prepared but I am not sure if it will be enough to seriously push the Fronts. Have one of their 2 home games in Sudbury doesn't help either as the World Curling Championships are in North Bay right now. This will be an opportunity to continue the development of guys like Coe and McMaster.

Season Series
Kingston 3-1
North Bay 1-2-1

Oct 22
KGN 2 @ NB 8
Feb 11
NB 2 @ KGN 3
Mar 4
KGN 4 @ NB 3 SO
Mar 16
NB 3 @ KGN 5

Playoff Schedule
Game 1, Fri, Mar 23 at Kingston – 7:00 p.m.
Game 2, Sun, Mar 25 at Kingston – 6:00 p.m.
Game 3, Tues, Mar 27 at North Bay (in Sudbury) – 7:00 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs, Mar 29 at North Bay – 7:00 p.m.
Game 5, Sat, Mar 31 at Kingston – 7:00 p.m.
Game 6, Sun, Apr 1 at North Bay – 7:00 p.m.
Game 7, Tues, Apr 3 at Kingston – 7:00 p.m.

Playoff History
North Bay and Kingston met in the 1st round with North Bay sweeping the Fronts out of the 1st round

In Brampton the Battalion were pushed to 7 games by the Fronts. It was the first game 7 I ever attended and I happened to sit in front of some very friendly Fronts fans for the game. Brampton ended up winning and I did a fantastic job of boxing out my friends wife as I caught a rally towel tossed into the stands by Sarge.

Kingston has made it out of the 1st round each of the last 2 seasons so it is hard to say they are going to Kingston themselves out of these playoffs. I just think they are too good on paper. Stan Butler does a great job with less on the Battalion but hard work can only take you so far. There becomes a point where Talent will always overcome hard work in spite of what your favourite motivational cliche will tell you.

Kingston in 5 games because they will want an extra home gate to line their owners pockets.