The Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference Final is all set: The Kingston Frontenacs will begin their 7-game series in Hamilton against the Bulldogs.
I haven’t fared to well in my predictions this season especially when it comes to the Eastern Conference. Through the opening two rounds, I have only been able to predict four of six teams advancing correctly in the East. And only one of those predictions in the correct number of games. Alas, I will march on.
The top seed Bulldogs got here by dispatching the Ottawa 67’s in the opening round in 5 games. They went on to eliminate the Niagara IceDogs in 5 games in a series that was closer then it appears, with three of the games needing extra time.
The third seed Frontenacs took care of business defeating the North Bay Battalion in 5 games. In round two they eliminated the second seed Barrie Colts in 6 games. And as they say, “the stage was set.”
Here is how the two teams stack up:
|Regular Season Series||4-1-0-1||2-1-2-1|
|Powerplay (regular season)||24.6%||25.7%|
|Penalty kill (regular season)||77.1%||84.7%|
|Penalty kill (playoffs)||75.6%||82.1%|
|PP vs opponent||22.2%||25.0%|
|PK vs Opponent||75.0%||77.8%|
|Leading scorer||Thomas (24-51-75)||Robertson (41-46-87)|
|Leading after 2nd||33-2-0-2||25-3-2-2|
|Trailing after 2nd||6-15-2-0||5-17-2-0|
|Last 10 games||8-1-1||8-1-1|
The schedule for the series is as follows:
Game 1, Wed., April 18 at Hamilton, 7:00 Game 2, Fri., April 20 at Hamilton, 7:00 Game 3, Sun., April 22 at Kingston, 6:00 Game 4, Tue., April 24 at Kingston, 7:00 Game 5, Thurs., April 26 at Hamilton, 7:00* Game 6, Sat., April 28 at Kingston, 7:00* Game 7, Mon., April 30 at Hamilton, 7:00* *if necessary
These two squads met a season ago in the playoffs in what was an exciting series that went to game 7 in overtime with the Frontenacs prevailing. After losing the first two games at home, Kingston would invade First Ontario Center and even the series up on the road. After exchanging home victories in games 5 and 6, the finale would take place in Kingston.
Both teams came into this season being favorites to come this far. I had the Bulldogs meeting the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds in the OHL Finals. Both teams loaded up during the season for just this opportunity.
The Frontenacs added Mitchell Byrne (Erie Otters), Max Jones and Cliff Pu (London Knights), Sean Day and Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor Spitfires) and Matt Hotchkiss (Guelph Storm) during the season.
The Bulldogs made big moves of their own adding Nicolas Mattinen (Erie Otters), Robert Thomas (London Knights), Riley Stillman (Oshawa Generals), Nicholas Caamano and Ryan Moore (Flint Firebirds) and Kade Landry (Barrie Colts).
Both squads carry a wealth of experience with the only notable draft eligible player being Hamilton backup goaltender Nick Donofrio. There are a couple of players to keep an eye on re-entering the draft however. They include Kingston’s Linus Nyman and Hamilton’s Isaac Nurse and Brandon Saigeon.
Statistically speaking, these two teams are evenly matched. Kingston holds a decisive advantage on the penalty kill in both the regular season and the playoffs while Hamilton holds the powerplay advantage during the playoffs, but not the regular season. And head-to-head the advantage goes to the Frontenacs.
This should come down to home ice advantage. Both teams were extremely strong in their own barn with the Bulldogs a little more susceptive to giving up a game on home ice. The difference however is that Hamilton was as dominating on the road as they were at home.
Prediction: Hamilton in 7 games