Both the OHL and WHL are down to the final match-up of their playoffs awaiting a champion to crown and a team to send to the Memorial Cup. The QMJHL is still finishing up their conference finals and won’t know their final two team until the end of this coming week. However, with two of the three CHL teams ready to name a champion it’s time for an update on their championship.
We’ll start our championship update with the OHL and their final two, the North Bay Battalion and the Guelph Storm.
The Battalion easily swept their way through their conference final after a game winning goal from penalty killing specialist Jamie Lewis. After the Battalion packed up their things and moved both, they weren’t supposed to do much. It started out as a feel good story, the team that moved to another arena in North Bay which lost it’s junior team, made the OHL playoffs- how awesome! From the start the Battalion proved they wouldn’t be outdone and have ridden their fell good story and hot play all the way into the OHL championships. They’ve overcome the odds and have done so without any world junior members, first round NHL draft picks or upcoming NHL stars. The former Brampton Battalion are proving that a team doesn’t need star power to be successful, sometimes a team that bands together and puts the team first can beat even the most skilled teams.
Barclay Goodrow has been a solid captain for the Battalion putting up 21 points in 17 playoffs games this season and helping the Battalion win their conference for the first time since the Cody Hodgson days. Now the Battalion are hoping to hang on for one more series against the powerful Guelph Storm.
If you want to see a dominate team check out the Guelph Storm who have 3 of the top 5 playoff scorers on their roster. They nearly swept the talented Erie Otters, however were defeated in game four and had to one wait for another crack at an OHL championship series. The Guelph Storm are good… scary good and will provide a really tough test for the Battalion. With a huge 5-0 win over the Otters, the Storm won their third straight 5 game series and in 15 games have an impressive, +36 goal differential. Led by defenceman Matt Finn, the Storm have been able to shutdown every team’s offence and are a major reason they outscored opponents by 145 goals this season.
Justin Nichols has been huge between the pipes for the Storm posting 2.65 goals against average and a .921 Save Percentage. Both Zack Mitchell and Kerby Ryche have 23 points for the Storm and lead all OHL playoff scorers. The Guelph Storm have a very talented team looking to close the door on an amazing season, while the North Bay Battalion are looking to prove underdogs can win.
The WHL finals is between two powerful Western teams in the Portland Winterhawks and the Edmonton Oil Kings.
If you want to talk about dominate WHL teams, the Winterhawks and Oil Kings are meeting in the WHL championships for the third consecutive season. The Oil Kings rode Curtis Lazar, the Eastern Conference MVP and along with Griffin Reinhart, Cody Corbett, Mitch Moroz, Henrik Samuelsson, Ashton Sautner, Cole Benson and Tristan Jarry will have a chance to avenge last years game 6 loss at the hands of the Winterhawks. NHL prospect Brett Pollock had a big impact for the Oil Kings this season considering he didn’t dress for any of their games in their 2013 run. He now leads the Oil Kings alongside Lazar. However the Oil Kings will go into the finals as the underdog of the two power house teams.
Both the Winterhawks and Oil Kings dominated their first three playoff matches and now the two best WHL teams are set to do battle.
The Winterhawks have the top three playoff scorers on their roster in Oliver Bjorkstrand, Brendan Leipsic and Derrick Pouliot. The Winterhawks finished as the best team in the WHL during the regular season and have not slown down a step in the playoffs. Aside from their top 3 playoff scorers, mix in offence from Nicolas Petan, Chase De Leo and Taylor Leier and the Winterhawks offence seems never ending. However the Oil Kings may just have the edge between the pipes with Tristan Jarry one of the Eastern Conference’s top goaltenders who has maintained 1.86 average and .928 save percentage throughout the playoffs. The Winterhawks on the other hand will have to make a decision between Corbin Boes, the man who started their last three games or Brendan Burke the man who was their regular season starter.
Either way these two heated WHL rivals are set for one heck of a series as they meed a third time to settle the record.