The Kingston Frontenacs went the distance – and then some – with the Hamilton Bulldogs to move on to the second round of the OHL playoffs Tuesday night.
Linus Nyman’s overtime winner, part of a two-goal, one assist evening, completed the comeback as the Frontenacs scored three unanswered goals to win Game 7 of their series 3-2.
Elsewhere, in a series that many could have expected to be played in round two or three of the playoffs, the reigning Memorial Cup champion London Knights came back from a 3-1 series to beat this year’s Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires, sealing the series with a 3-2 win. Olli Juolevi scored the game winner in that tilt.
London and Kingston were the only teams that hadn’t moved on to their respective conference semifinals prior to yesterday.
The wins cap off a first round in which all of the higher seeds were able to advance. The Knights and Fronts will both play the top-ranked teams in their conference.
London will face the Erie Otters and Kingston will take on the Peterborough Petes. Here’s a breakdown of those matchups as well as others heading into the next round.
(1) Peterborough Petes vs. (4) Kingston Frontenacs (Peterborough won season series 6-2)
It’s the classic tale of a favoured Peterborough team going into the series well rested after sweeping their first-round series against a Kingston squad that just wrapped up its series in seven games.
The Petes and Fronts can both play a physical, workmanlike game and benefit from great goaltending by Peterborough’s Dylan Wells and Kingston’s Jeremy Helvig.
After many years of struggling through the playoffs, Peterborough has a deeper lineup this year anchored by dynamic forwards Jonathan Ang and Nikita Korostelev.
Meanwhile, Kingston has been successful despite scoring fewer goals
in the regular season than any other team in the league. Their offence
relies heavily on Jason Robertson and Nyman while overage defenceman
Stephen Desrocher is more than capable of contributing in both zones.
Prediction: Peterborough wins in six games
(2) Mississauga Steelheads vs. (3) Oshawa Generals (Oshawa swept season series 4-0)
Both teams were put through the rigours of a six-game series, with Mississauga defeating the Ottawa 67’s and the Generals winning over the Sudbury Wolves.
Three of the four games in the regular season were during a time when Oshawa was on top of the East and Mississauga was plummeting down to last place overall, but they were all decided by one goal, with one of them going through overtime and another through a shootout.
Since then, the Steelheads’ offence has skyrocketed while the Generals have been able to grind through games and remain consistent thanks in part to excellent goaltending from Jeremy Brodeur.
Mississauga’s Michael McLeod and Spencer Watson and Oshawa’s Domenic
Commisso and Jack Studnicka have the potential to carry the load
offensively in this series.
Prediction: Mississauga wins in seven games
(1) Erie Otters vs. (4) London Knights (Erie won season series 4-2)
These juggernauts are very familiar with each other as both Midwest Division rivals and teams who have met in the last two OHL playoffs.
Erie swept London in the 2015 Western semis en route to the OHL final while the Knights returned the favour last year, winning all four games of the Western final before winning the OHL championship and Memorial Cup.
This is the rubber match series between arguably the two deepest teams in the OHL and you can expect both offences to shine and make it an exciting series.
It’s worth noting that stars like Erie’s Dylan Strome and Alex
DeBrincat and London’s Mitchell Stephens and Mitchell Vande Sompel are
all likely to turn pro next year and would all love to wrap up their
junior careers with a title or two.
Prediction: Erie wins in six games
(2) Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. (3) Owen Sound Attack (Owen Sound won season series 2-0)
Owen Sound and the Soo both went through relatively easy paths to the second round, beating the Kitchener Rangers and Flint Firebirds respectively in five games.
A lot of the spotlight will be on goalie Michael McNiven, who has been the backbone of the Attack, while Joseph Raaymakers has recovered from an inconsistent regular season to provide stability in goal for the Greyhounds.
Offence can be on full display with Zach Senyshyn expected to lead the Soo and Nick Suzuki and Petrus Palmu capable of doing the same for Owen Sound.
There’s lots of scoring depth to go around on both teams too since
Kevin Hancock from the Attack and Bobby MacIntyre from the Greyhounds
were among the West’s most underrated players on the OHL Coaches Poll.
Prediction: Owen Sound wins in five games
1) John Dean Returns to OJHL to Coach Toronto Patriots
2) Off-Season Brings About Massive Turnover for OHL Coaches
3) Justin Sourdif Named 2017 HockeyNow Player of the Year for B.C.
4) Where Are They Now: 2016 Player of the Year Owen Lalonde
5) Former NHLer Jason York Now Part of Kemptville 73’s Ownership Group