Twelve series are in the books in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs and the Conference Finals are set to begin with Peterborough hosting Mississauga for the Bobby Orr Trophy as the Eastern Conference Championship while Owen Sound travels to Erie to challenge the regular season champs for the Wayne Gretzky Trophy in the Western Conference.
Of the 12-series completed, I was able to pick 11 correct series winners, but only 6 of those in the correct number of games. The one I did miss on I had the correct 7 games, but picked Hamilton over Kingston in round 1, which of course, Kingston took in a game 7 thrilling overtime.
Here’s a look back at round one and two predictions and results:
|(1) Peterborough vs (8) Niagara||Peterborough in 6||Peterborough 4-0|
|(2) Mississauga vs (7) Ottawa||Mississauga in 5||Mississauga 4-2|
|(3) Oshawa vs (6) Sudbury||Oshawa in 6||Oshawa 4-2|
|(4) Kingston vs (5) Hamilton||Hamilton in 7||Kingston 4-3|
|(1) Erie vs (8) Sarnia||Erie in 4||Erie 4-0|
|(2) SSM vs (7) Flint||SSM in 5||SSM 4-1|
|(3) Owen Sound vs (6) Kitchener||Owen Sound in 5||Owen Sound 4-1|
|(4) London vs (5) Windsor||London in 7||London 4-3|
|(1) Peterborough vs (4) Kingston||Peterborough in 6||Peterborough 4-0|
|(2) Mississauga vs (3) Oshawa||Mississauga in 7||Mississauga 4-1|
|(1) Erie vs (4) London||Erie in 6||Erie 4 -3|
|(2) SSM vs (3) Owen Sound||Owen Sound in 6||Owen Sound 4-2|
Eastern Conference Final – Bobby Orr Trophy
(1) Peterborough vs (2) Mississauga
|Goals For||239 – 38||240 – 45|
|Goals Against||221 – 18||219 – 31|
|Powerplay||20.7% – 26.1%||19.7% – 27.8%|
|Penalty Kill||80.7% – 75.0%||80.6% – 73.9%|
|Draft Eligible Players to Watch||Cole Fraser (D)||Nicolas Hague (D)|
|Zach Gallant (C)||Owen Tippett (RW)|
|Nick Isaacson (LW)||Shaw Boomhower (C)|
|Matyas Svoboda (LW)|
It’s only fitting that the conference final comes down to the top two teams from the regular season. Peterborough has yet to lose in these playoffs, sweeping both Niagara and Kingston. Mississauga was forced to a 6-game series versus Ottawa and 5 games versus Oshawa. This series is one that puts defence against offence.
In goal, we have the playoff’s second best goaltender in Peterborough’s Dylan Wells going up against Mississauga rookie netminder Jacob Ingham. While the Petes hold an advantage in goal, I don’t think the spread is as wide as some are making it out to be.
During the season series, Logan DeNoble, Kyle Jenkins, and Matthew Timms led the way with 4 points apiece. Christopher Paquette also had 4 points, but all of his damage came while with the Niagara IceDogs.
For Mississauga, Villi Saarijarvi and Michael McLeod each had 8 points in the 4 games, followed by Spencer Watson with 4 points in 2 games.
Prediction: Peterborough in 6 games
Western Conference Final – Wayne Gretzky Trophy
(1) Erie vs (3) Owen Sound
|Goals For||319 – 51||297 – 42|
|Goals Against||182 – 29||177 – 23|
|Powerplay||27.2% – 27.3%||28.6% – 20.8%|
|Penalty Kill||83.4% – 74.2%||83.4% – 87.0%|
|Draft Eligible Players to Watch||Ivan Lodnia (C)||Sean Durzi (D)|
|Markus Phillips (D)|
|Zachary Roberts (LW)|
|Jonah Gadjovich (LW)|
|Maksim Sushko (RW)|
|Nick Suzuki (C)|
As exciting as the Erie/London and Owen Sound/Sault Ste Marie series were, this series will be that and plus some. Erie was the top team in the regular season, but one could make the argument that Owen Sound was the best team in the league during the second half. Despite Erie winning the season series, 5 of the 6 matches between the two took place before Christmas – the unofficial half-way point. Owen Sound took the final meeting 4-2 on February 28th.
We’re looking at two high powered offenses that both play extremely well on defence. They are both strong on specialty teams although Erie’s penalty kill took a bit of a tumble in the playoffs as did Owen Sound’s powerplay.
In goal, the Attack have arguably the OHL’s best netminder in Michael McNiven up against Troy Timpano (if the Otters stick with their starter), who had a couple of rough outings against the Knights. It’s the one area where the Attack hold a distinct advantage.
Alex DeBrincat led the way in the season series with 5 goals, 6 assists and 11 points in the 6 meetings, followed by the Raddysh brothers, Taylor with 8 and Darren with 7. For Owen Sound, Jonah Gadjovich and Nick Suzuki led the way with 6 points apiece followed by Kevin Hancock with 5.
When you break down these two teams and look at experience, defence, discipline, and offense, there isn’t a clear-cut winner. So, for me, it all comes down to goaltending.
Prediction: Owen Sound in 7 games