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NORTH-EAST PLAYOFF PREVIEW

Feb 25, 2013
NORTH-EAST PLAYOFF PREVIEW

Trenton Golden Hawks (1) -vs- Cobourg Cougars (8)

Season series:

09/17/12    Trenton 5 at Cobourg 3    

10/01/12    Trenton 6 at Cobourg 4    

11/02/12    Cobourg 2 at Trenton 6    

11/23/12    Cobourg 2 at Trenton 6    

12/17/12    Trenton 3 at Cobourg 4 SO 

02/22/13    Cobourg 3 at Trenton 7   

This is no ordinary battle between a number 1 and number 8 seed and don't let their dismal regular season record fool you; the Cobourg Cougars are a much better club than one might imagine. Think of the 2012 Stanley Cup winning LA Kings and their struggles before putting it all together.  After a disastrous opening half of the 2012013 season, the Cougars came on like gangbusters and won 13 of their final 23 games, finding their stride in the process.. All the while, Trenton has quietly led the conference from wire to wire, often in an overwhelming fashion.

The Coaches:

Trenton is led by former NHL'er Jerome Dupont. Dupont has Major Junior coaching experience, previously guiding the Gatineau Olympique as well as having led the Aurora Tigers and the Thornhill Rattlers to Dudley Hewitt Cup championships.  Often relying on a bevy of older players, this years edition of the Golden Hawks are no different. Dupont has assembled an impressive cast that is heavy on talent and depth that is certainly looked upon as the odds on favourites to represent the OJHL in North Bay.

This year has been a struggle for new Cobourg bench boss Curtis Hodgins.  However, the highly respected Hodgins is the ultimate strategist whom relies on a defence-first approach and breaking down his opponents game plan. Hodgins has been an assistant coach in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals, as well as guiding both the Bowmanville Eagles and the Whitby Fury to league finals. appearances Hodgins also ed Team Canada East to a silver medal performance at the 2011 World Jr. A Challenge.

Forwards:

Trenton is led by top point getters Jordan Minello, Josh Timpano, Sammy Banga, Shawn Hulshof and Greg Trichilo. Ex Cougar Loren Ulet provides a physical spark to the Golden Hawks.

Cobourg is led by dynamic and explosive forwards Justin Danforth, Evan Jasper, Connor Armour, Colbie Andrews and Dylan Goddard.

Defence:

Trenton: The Golden Hawks boast a collection of impressive d-men, led by Robbie Hall, Brandon Scott and Erlich Doerksen.

Cobourg is led by ex Georgetown Raider Jake Emilio and Cody Mintz

Goaltending:

The Trenton Golden Hawks have the tandem of Victor Adamao and Andrew Winsor.  Both are in the top 10 in league GAA.

Cobourg will be relying on impressive OJHL rookie, Nathan Perry

Questions and Key matchups:

Simply put, will the Golden Hawks depth up front match the output of Cobourg's first two forward lines? If not, this series could favour the underdog Cougars. If they do, the Golden Hawks could cruise into the second round.

Will Cobourg's power play take advantage of their opportunities? Trenton will take their fair share of penalties and the ultimate outcome of this series could rest on special teams play.

Goaltending-whom will outplay whom? The Trenton tandem of Adamo and Winsor don't have to win

this series on their own. They just have to put in a solid performance and not cough up a game or two. If Trenton does not get solid goaltending from one of its tenders and Perry shines in the Cobourg net, this series could become very interesting.

 

(2)Aurora vs (7) Lindsay

Season Series:

09/15/12    Lindsay 2 at Aurora 4    

10/05/12    Aurora 4 at Lindsay 3 SO 

10/12/12    Aurora 3 at Lindsay 5    

11/17/12    Lindsay 2 at Aurora 5    

12/07/12    Aurora 5 at Lindsay 4    

12/22/12    Lindsay 5 at Aurora 4 

This series has the potential to be the most exciting, and highest scoring series of any throughout the North/East Conference. Both clubs are veteran laden,  blessed with numerous offensive options and although the Tigers have more than exceeded pre-season predictions, the Lindsay Muskies have been inconsistent at best during the 2012-13 season. Will the 'Fish finally play up to expectations and make this a series to remember, or will the 'Cats claw their way into the second round?

The coaches:

James Richmond, affectionately known as J.R., has been one of the most successful coaches in the OJHL over the last decade. Since taking the reigns of the storied Aurora Tiger's franchise three seasons ago, J.R. has steadily improved the teams fortunes, culminating in a first place finish atop the North Division this season. Richmond has previously been named to coach league All-Star Games and was an Assistant Coach in 2009 of Team Canada East. J.R. was also bestowed Coach of the Year honours while coaching the Georgetown Raiders in 2008-09.

This season's edition of the Lindsay Muskies are led by Peterborough native, and ex Muskie Paul Mattucci.  In fact, Mattucci was the Fish' top point producer for three successive seasons during his playing days before heading to the United States on an NCAA scholarship. Previous to this season, Mattucci had a very successful run coaching the now defunct Peterborough Stars. It has been said that Mattucci is a meticulous planner, whose teams are tremendously well coached and extremely hard to play against.

Forwards:

Undoubtedly, the Aurora Tigers are blessed with the most skilled offensively minded players throughout the North/East conference. Led by their captain, classy veteran Daniel Clairmont, the 'Cats keep coming at you in waves with the likes of newly acquired sniper Blake Forslund, as well as holdovers Robert Angiolella, Kory Kennedy, Taylor McCloy, Adam Moody, Daniel Lisi and Dylan Sikura

The Lindsay Muskies are led offensively by D-L Bourgault, Felix Chamberland, Dylan Fitze, Vince Herlihey and Matt McCartney.

Defence:

Aurora back end is led by Tyler and Tanner Shaw, as well as Mikhel Poldma and Kyle Liu.

Lindsay is led by ex OHLer Cole Murduff, as well as Corey Jackson, Brian Hubers, Patrick Thornton and ex Hamilton RedWing, Kurt Gottschalk.

Goaltending:

Aurora is backstopped by one of the best tandems throughout the entire OJHL.  Led by 2012 Team Canada East goalie, Kevin Entmaa, the Tigers also boast Brett Sinclair, a legitimate starter in his own right.

The Muskies will rely on the steady veteran presence of Tanner Davis.

Questions and key matchups:

Will Lindsay's top two lines have comparable point production to that of Aurora?  If they can, an upset could be in the offing. If not, Aurora's offense may be a juggernaut that won't be denied.

On the flip side, how will the Aurora forward lines handle the ensuing onslaught of physicality being doled out by Lindsay?  If Aurora is gonna survive and get past the Muskies, Coach Mattucci will have made them earn this series victory.

How many minutes can top Lindsay defenseman, Cole Murduff play? A lot will be asked of the former Peterborough Pete, both offensively and defensively. He will be on the ice at all the critical junctures.

Is it possible for Lindsay's Tanner Davis to shut the door and keep the 'Cats at bay? Not likely, but, Davis will likely have to steal a couple of games in this series for Lindsay to realistically survive and thrive.

 

(3) Kingston vs  (6) Wellington.

Season Series:

09/13/12    Wellington 3 at Kingston 5    

10/12/12    Kingston 4 at Wellington 5    

11/08/12    Wellington 0 at Kingston 2    

12/06/12    Wellington 5 at Kingston 4 SO 

12/21/12    Kingston 1 at Wellington 0    

02/15/13    Kingston 5 at Wellington 1

This series renews a great battle between two flag ship OJHL franchises. Historically, Wellington has dominated the Vees. However, last season Kingston finally got over the hump and vanquished the favoured Dukes in the first round. Will payback be at hand, or will Kingston make it two straight playoff series victories against their arch nemesis'.

The Coaches:

Kingston is led by second year coach, Colin Birkas. Known throughout the Limestone City from his minor hockey coaching days, Birkas guided his 2012 Vees to successive playoff victories over heavily favoured Wellington and Trenton in his rookie campaign.

The Wellington Dukes are led by legendary tier II coach, Marty Abrams, a Washington Capitals draft selection. Abrams boasts an impeccable coaching record, including 13 successive seasons seasons with a minimum of 30 victories, an Ontario Jr. A record. Abrams has Major Junior experience, coaching the S.S. Marie Greyhounds as well as leading Wellington to two Dudley Hewitt Cup championships (2003,2011). Abrams has also been General Manager and/or Head Coach of Team Canada East on multiple occasions.

Forwards:

Kingston is led offensively by Junior Harris, Graham Yeo, David Quesnele, Mike Schug and recently acquired Dylan Hutton

Wellington has a tremendous amount of depth up front led by Craig Campbell, Erick Delaurentis, Mike Soucier, Jake Marchment and Spencer Turcotte

Defence:

Ex OHLer Chris Grant, Brett DuPuy, Aiden Wright and Chad Duchesne anchor possibly the best back end in the OJHL for Kingston.

Wellington is led by Kyle Paat, super rookie Brody Morris and Josh Finkelstein

Goaltending:

Kingston is led by Team Canada East starter Charlie Finn and his back-up, Colin Dzidjacky, has Royal Bank Cup experience.

Wellingtons tandem consists of Matt LaRose (University of Alabama-Hunstville) and Belleville Bulls draft pick Hayden Lavigne.

Questions and Key matchups:

Is it possible for the Wellington goaltending tandem to outperform the OJHL's top netminder in Charlie Finn (Colgate)? One thing's certain, Duke players will be going hard to the Voyageurs net trying to disrupt Mr. Finn's rhythm.

Will Wellington's dismal power play, bottom three in the OJHL, suddenly spring to life in this opening round series and make Kingston pay?

On the flip side, Wellington has the second best penalty kill in the OJHL and the Dukes' four-man units will need to be spotless if an upset is to play itself out.

What kind of series will the ultra talented Junior Harris have? He has the potential to lead Kingston to a relatively easy series victory or allow Duke players to get him off his game and become a distraction.

Will Vees coach Colin Birkas be able to keep his composure and not allow Dukes boss Marty Abrams to dictate the series?

 

(4) Whitby vs (5) Newmarket

Season series:

09/11/12    Newmarket 0 at Whitby 4    

09/27/12    Whitby 2 at Newmarket 3    

10/13/12    Whitby 3 at Newmarket 5    

11/01/12    Whitby 4 at Newmarket 2    

01/06/13    Newmarket 5 at Whitby 3    

01/10/13    Whitby 3 at Newmarket 4 SO 

02/10/13    Newmarket 3 at Whitby 4 

Of all the series within the North-East conference, this one would seem the hardest to handicap. Nobody really knows what this series might bring.Will it be a low scoring, grind it out affair or something entirely different? Although both clubs have put together stretches of dominance over the course of the season, both the Fury and Hurricanes will be looking to take their game to the next level during the 2013 playoffs.

The coaches:

Craig Fisher may be new to the OJHL, but the Whitby bench boss  brings with him a wealth of experience.  Most recently, Fisher helped guide the OUIT Ridgebacks of the CIS during the last half decade, many of which his teams were nationally ranked. As well,Fisher has experience coaching at the national level, assisting the 2009 Team Ontario Under 18 club. During his playing days,Craig Fisher was an NCAA standout at Miami-Ohio, before embarking on a decade long professional career.

New Hurricanes coach and former Italian and Canadian International, Justin Peca, has had two previous stints coaching in the OJHL with Villanova (now Orangeville) and the defunct Streetsville Derby's. Peca, a Toronto area native, is well known throughout the province for his skill development camps.

Forwards:

Whitby is led by a veteran cast of players, including Matt Davis, Spencer MacCormack, Jack Lewis, Taylor Best, Sam Gray and Steven Deeg.

Newmarket is led by offensively minded forwards Daniel Leavens, Brandon Francisco, Chris Chiste, Calvin Higley and Ryan Johnson.

Defence:

Whitby's backend is led by one of the leagues best defenseman, the ultra talented Chris Raguseo, along with Kevin Stevens and Ryan Logan

Although not as gifted of a group as in previous seasons, the 'Canes defence is once again deep and talented. The '12-'13 Newmarket squad is led by Austin Rigney, Kyler Nixon, Travis Dermott, Alex Bontje and Dylan Savery.

Goalies:

Tyler Feaver once again hopes to lead Whitby back to the league finals. He is backed-up by young goalie, Josh Hickey.

Newmarket is led by the impressive tandem of Matthew Wintjes and Lucas Peressini.

Questions and Key matchups:

Which team will find their mojo first? One of these two clubs seemingly will need to take charge, or it could turn out to be a very, long and drawn out opening round matchup with neither team able to gain momentum.

Can the Fury replicate last seasons playoff success that saw them go to the Buckland Cup final? Whitby may not be quite as talented as last seasons' club, therefore, will there still be enough battle-hardened vets that know how to get the job done? If so, will the desire be there to battle day in and day out through four rounds of playoffs?

Can the Newmarket Hurricanes vanquish the ghosts of recent playoff failures? Simply put, the 'Canes have been eliminated from post season play in back-to-back Game 7 losses. Worse yet, both defeats came against bitter rival, Stouffville. Even more painful to the Hurricane faithful, both losses happened after holding leads heading into the the 3rd periods.