As the calendar turns to April, the OHL turns to the second-round of the 2018 playoffs. The Road to Regina and the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup has already seen some impressive matchups as two first-round series in the Western Conference went to six games.
The Sarnia Sting just got by the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires in six games while the Kitchener Rangers squeezed by the Guelph Storm, also in six games. Here’s a video of the Sting eliminating the Spitfires in Game 6:
The same couldn’t be said for the other two series as both the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Owen Sound Attack swept the Saginaw Spirit and London Knights, respectively.
As we get into the second-round, there are some high-offence matches ready to go. If you like goals, you’re going to have a fun couple of weeks.
Just like the first round, part of our OHL crew, including myself and Andrew Forbes, give our take on the Western Conference and make some predictions. In the first round, we were pretty close with most of our selections. What about this round? Do you agree with us? Do you think we’re way off? Let us know!
#1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds v. #4 Owen Sound Attack
Records: SSM – 55-7-3-3; OS – 38-22-3-5
Head-to-Head: SSM – 1-0-0-1; OS – 1-1-0-0
The Road to Regina To Date:
SSM – Defeated #8 Saginaw 4-0
OS – Defeated #5 London 4-0
Players to Watch:
SSM – After holding the Spirit to just two goals per game, goaltender Matthew Villalta is going to have his hands full with an Owen Sound offence that scored 289 goals during the regular season.
OS – Similarly, Attack starting goaltender Olivier Lafreniere will have to raise his game if he wants to advance. While the Attack can score, he’s going to have to put up All-Star numbers to have a chance against a Greyhounds team that scored 25 goals in just four games against the Spirit.
Jewell – “Both teams have high-octane offences so this might just come down to which goaltender is up to the challenge. Owen Sound is fun to watch with the puck but stopping the puck is another story. The edge here has to go to the Hounds; better goaltending will be huge. Prediction: Greyhounds in 7.”
Forbes – “After a four-game sweep of the Knights, which might’ve seemed harder than the series score shows, the Owen Sound Attack will have to take on the top-seeded Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Western Conference’s second round. If the Attack can slow down the Soo’s high-powered offence, they might make a series of this as Owen Sound has some strong offensive players of their own. Prediction: Greyhounds in 6.”
#2 Kitchener Rangers v. #3 Sarnia Sting
Records: Kitchener – 43-21-3-1; Sarnia – 46-17-4-1
Head-to-head: Kitchener – 3-0-0-1; Sarnia – 1-3-0-0
The Road to Regina to Date:
Kitchener – Defeated #7 Guelph 4-2
Sarnia – Defeated #6 Windsor 4-2
Players to Watch:
Kitchener – Forward Logan Brown continues to show the OHL why he’s one of the best in the game. After a 13-point series against the Guelph Storm, Brown’s ready to go. He scored five points in two games against the Sting after the trade deadline and will look to test Sting goaltender Justin Fazio early.
Sarnia – After a 109-point regular season, Captain Jordan Kyrou had just two points in the first round against the Windsor Spitfires. Part of that was because of the superb performance of Spitfires’ goaltender Michael DiPietro. However, Kyrou will need to find the scoresheet if the Sting are to advance this time.
Jewell – “This is another series that could come down to goaltending. Mario Culina had a solid series for the Rangers and we saw Justin Fazio struggle a bit for Sarnia. If Fazio can find a way to stop the Rangers’ offence, and Kyrou can score, the Sting have a chance. I’m not sure it can happen, though. Prediction: Rangers in 6.”
Forbes – “All season I’ve felt that the Rangers were one of the more overrated teams in the OHL’s Western Conference. Now, we’re into the second round and the Rangers are still kicking. Is this the end of the road for them? It’ll be a tight series, but I expect the Sting to come out on top. Prediction: Sting in 6.“
I’m a resident of Windsor, ON and a graduate of St Clair College Journalism and New Media program as well as the University of Windsor Communication, Media, and Film program. I’ve been a junior hockey fan (specifically the Windsor Spitfires) for 30-years and have written about/photographed junior hockey since about 2005.