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Friday, April 29, 2011

OHL Final Preview


Owen Sound visits Mississauga for game one of the OHL Finals and the chance to hoist the J. Ross Robertson Cup beginning Tuesday May 3, 2011.

Both teams are coming off of 4-1 series victories. Mississauga took care of the Niagara Ice Dogs and suffered their only defeat through three rounds of the playoffs to date. Owen Sound knocked off the defending Robertson and Memorial Cup Champs while suffering only 3 losses through the playoffs.

This will be both teams first appearance in the OHL finals, although the Attack have been their before and won in 1986 when they were the Guelph Platers. The Majors have also won the Robertson Cup and the Memorial Cup back in the old OHA days when they played in Toronto. The current Majors franchise was revived in 1996.

The two teams squared off just twice in the regular season with Mississauga winning both contests. The first was on November 29 in Owen Sound with a 4-2 victory. JP Anderson was in goal for the Majors and stopped 26 of 28 shots. It was a costly loss for Owen Sound. Starting goalie Scott Stajcer stopped just 4 of 8 shots and left the game after the first period with an injury and didn't play again until late in the first round of the playoffs. Jordan Binnington came on in relief and stopped all 18 shots he faced and then carried the Attack the rest of the season.

Justin Shugg led the way offensively for the Majors with 2 goals and an assist. Marc Cantin and Mika Partanen would add the other goals. Devante Smith-Pelly had a single assist in the game. Andrew Fritsch led the way for Owen Sound with both their goals. Leaders Joey Hishon and Garrett Wilson had assists in that game.

The rematch was in Mississauga just eight days later with the Majors taking that one 6-3. Anderson would stop 34 of 37 shots while Binnington stopped 24 of 29 for the Attack.

Smith-Pelley tallied 2 goals and an assist while Casey Cizikas, Joseph Cramorossa and Riley Brace each had a goal and an assist for Mississauga. For Owen Sound, Garrett Wilson had a pair of goals while Joey Hishon had a pair of assists.

Here's a look at the playoff leaders, and their draft eligible players through the playoffs.

For Owen Sound's 15 games:

Garrett Wilson 9 goals 9 assists
Robby Mignardi 9 goals 7 assists
Joey Hishon 4 goals 12 assists

Andrew Fritsch 0 goals 2 assists (4 games played)
Cameron Brace 1 goal 4 assists (12 games played)

For Mississauga's 13 games:

Maxim Kitsyn 7 goals 7 assists
Jordan Mayer 5 goals 7 assists
Devante Smith-Pelly 7 goals 4 assists

Mika Partanen 2 goals 3 assists
Stuart Percy 1 goal 3 assists
Joseph Cramarossa 2 goals 1 assist

The goaltenders in this series have spectacular playoff numbers although Binnington's aren't that great. Owen Sounds Michael Zador leads all goalies with a 1.10 GAA and .958 SV%. JP Anderson is second with a 1.68 GAA and .931 SV%. Scott Stajcer is fourth with a 2.08 GAA and tied with Anderson with a .931 SV%. Binnington has a 3.88 GAA and .864 SV%. Owen Sound has used all three goalies in these playoffs.

The keys for Owen Sound are going to be difficult to come by. Hishon will have to provide more goal scoring. Stajcer is going to have to be a wall in goal. They can't afford to take undisciplined penalties against the Leagues second best power play and are going to have to find a way through the leagues best penalty kill when they get their chances.

For Mississauga its the same as its always been. Play their own game. The leagues best offense has 7 players with double digit scoring and the leagues best defense is allowing less than 2 goals per game.

With Mississauga being the host city for this years Memorial Cup, both teams are automatically entered this year, win or lose this series. But neither team wants in via the back door. To a man, both teams want this series and head to the Memorial Cup as Champions.

I've been lucky enough to be 10 for 14 selecting winners in these playoffs, so now it's prediction time. I think I'll have to go with the experience, leadership and depth in this one.

Mississauga in 6 games.

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