The stage is set as the Ontario Hockey League’s top two teams during the regular season face off for the J. Ross Robertson Cup and the winner advancing to the Memorial Cup in Saint John New Brunswick from June 20 through June 29.
The finals begin Friday June 3 as the Windsor Spitfires face off against the Hamilton Bulldogs in the steel city at 7:00 pm. Game two will be a matinee addition on Sunday at 2:00 pm, also in Hamilton.
Before we break down how the two teams stack up, here’s a look at how the two teams got to this point along with my predictions:
CONFERENCE QUARTER FINALS
|(1) Hamilton vs (8) Peterborough||Hamilton in 4||Hamilton wins 4-0|
|(2) North Bay vs (7) Ottawa||North Bay in 5||North Bay wins 4-0|
|(3) Kingston vs (6) Oshawa||Kingston in 6||Kingston wins 4-2|
|(4) Mississauga vs (5) Barrie||Mississauga in 7||Mississauga wins 4-2|
|(1) Windsor vs (8) Sarnia||Windsor in 5||Windsor wins 4-2|
|(2) London vs (7) Kitchener||London in 6||Kitchener wins 4-3|
|(3) Flint vs (6) Owen Sound||Flint in 6||Flint wins 4-3|
|(4) Sault Ste Marie vs (5) Guelph||Sault Ste Marie in 7||Sault Ste Marie wins 4-1|
CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS
|(1) Hamilton vs (4) Mississauga||Hamilton in 5||Hamilton wins 4-0|
|(2) North Bay vs (3) Kingston||North Bay in 6||North Bay wins 4-1|
|(1) Windsor vs (7) Kitchener||Windsor in 6||Windsor wins 4-1|
|(3) Flint vs (4) Sault Ste Marie||Sault Ste Marie in 7||Flint wins 4-1|
|(1) Hamilton vs (2) North Bay||Hamilton in 5||Hamilton wins 4-0|
|(1) Windsor vs (3) Flint||Windsor in 7||Windsor wins 4-3|
There were no head-to-head matches between the Bulldogs and Spitfires as all games were played within their own conference because of the concerns of the COVID-19 Pandemic. But let’s take a look at how their regular season matched up:
|Power Play (Home)||25.0%||28.1%|
|Power Play (Away)||31.3%||24.5%|
|Penalty Kill (Home)||79.1%%||78.2%|
|Penalty Kill (Away)||83.1%||86.8%|
|Leading After First||34-2-4||23-5-0|
|Leading After Second||43-2-2||32-0-2|
|Trailing After First||3-6-0||7-7-2|
|Trailing After Second||3-9-2||6-14-3|
|Out Shot By Opponents||15-7-3||10-4-3|
The Bulldogs are the favorites and I don’t think the Spitfires mind being the underdog. Statistically speaking, the two teams match up pretty well except in one category: Goals against. The Bulldogs allowed a whopping 72 fewer goals then the Spits in the 68-game regular season.
But how do they matchup in the playoffs? Let’s take a look:
|Power Play (Home)||37.9%||16.3%|
|Power Play (Away)||37.9%||10.3%|
|Penalty Kill (Home)||84.7%||93.9%|
|Penalty Kill (Away)||88.0%||68.4%|
|Leading After First||8-0||7-2|
|Leading After Second||10-0||10-0|
|Trailing After First||1-0||4-1|
|Trailing After Second||0-0||1-5|
There is a little more separation between the playoff stats and the regular season stats and of course, one must take into consideration their opponents. Some may not agree, but I believe the Bulldogs had the tougher route to the finals. Admittedly, I tried to find a loss for the Bulldogs in the first three rounds and even said that in prior articles, but it just never happened.
But I can’t count out the Spitfires who are well coached and Marc Savard has gotten more out of his younger players then anyone could have imagined.
Coming into the season, the Bulldogs were my choice to win it all. And here we are. Can the Spitfires be the team that finally puts one in the loss column for Hamilton?
Prediction: Hamilton in 6 games