The OHL post-season begins

RYAN MORISSETTE

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Oshawa and Sault Ste. Marie are the clear favourites heading into the playoffs

The OHL Trade Deadline is a good indicator for determining the teams that are ready to compete for an OHL championship. This year’s deadline was no different, as both the Oshawa Generals and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds made a flurry of trades to bolster their lineups. These two teams sit atop their respective conferences with the expectation of earning a berth to the Memorial Cup in May. With that being said, there are other teams looking to make a playoff run of their own, including Connor McDavid’s Erie Otters and Joseph Blandisi’s Barrie Colts.

Here is my take on what could transpire during this year’s playoffs:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Oshawa Generals vs. (8) Peterborough Petes
The Generals have had high expectations all year, and now is their time to show it. With the acquisitions of veterans Michael McCarron (MTL, ’13, 25th overall), Dakota Mermis, and Matt Mistele to a team already featuring Michael Dal Colle (NYI, ’14, 5th overall), they are expected to advance well past the first round. The Petes are in rebuild mode after trading away Nick Ritchie (ANA, ’14, 10th overall) at the deadline. Prediction: Generals in four.

(2) Barrie Colts vs. (7) Belleville Bulls
A 100-point trio featuring Joseph Blandisi, Kevin Leblanc and Andrew Mangiapane have led the Colts all season long, while the highly touted Mackenzie Blackwood has been rock solid between the pipes. The Bulls, who will be moving to Hamilton starting next season, will be motivated to give their fans a memorable last hurrah. Prediction: Colts in six.

(3) North Bay Battalion vs. (6) Kingston Frontenacs
The Battalion will look to continue off of last season’s playoff success when they reached the OHL Finals, while the Frontenacs will look to advance past the first round for the first time since the 1997-1998 season. The return of Sam Bennett (CGY, ’14, 4th overall) to the Frontenacs’ lineup has them on a roll heading into the post-season, which just might be what the team was looking for. Prediction: Frontenacs in seven.

(4) Ottawa 67’s vs. (5) Niagara Ice Dogs
The surprise team of this OHL season, the 67’s are back in the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. However, their opponent is a team that has been on fire since the return of Brendan Perlini (PHO, ’14, 12th overall), which includes winning 25 of their past 30 games. This series could come down to depth and experience. Prediction: Ice Dogs in six.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. (8) Saginaw Spirit
The Greyhounds scored a league high 342 goals, and got even stronger at the deadline when they acquired Anthony DeAngelo (TB, ’14, 19th overall), Nick Ritchie (ANA, ’14, 10th overall) and Justin Bailey (BUF, ’13, 52nd overall). The Spirit will look to provide a challenge, but the depth of the Greyhounds will prove to be too much. Prediction: Greyhounds in four.

(2) Erie Otters vs. (7) Sarnia Sting
The Otters are led by a trio of 17-year-old stars in Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat while the Sting feature Jakob Chychrun, the first overall pick in last year’s OHL draft. The Otters’ firepower – led by McDavid and the league’s scoring champion in Strome – will prove to be too much for a young and inexperienced Sting team. Prediction: Otters in four.

(3) London Knights vs. (6) Kitchener Rangers
The Knights will only go as far as their first line will take them. Max Domi, Mitchell Marner and Christian Dvorak were the anchors of their team all season long. The Rangers acquired two-time world junior goaltender Jake Paterson (DET, ’12, 80th overall) at the trade deadline, and he has been a brick wall for them ever since. Prediction: Knights in six.

(4) Guelph Storm vs. Owen Sound Attack
Only one point separated these teams in the standings. The Storm, who won the OHL championship last season, feature Robby Fabbri (STL, ’14, 21st overall) and Jason Dickinson (DAL, ’13, 29th overall) among others, while the Attack are led by Chris Bigras (COL ,’13, 32nd overall), who is second in OHL scoring amongst defenseman. Experience could play a key factor in this series. Prediction: Storm in six.

Second Round
(1) Generals vs. (6) Frontenacs – Generals in five.
(2) Colts vs. (5) Ice Dogs – Ice Dogs in six.
(1) Greyhounds vs. (4) Storm – Greyhounds in five.
(2) Otters vs. (3) Knights – Otters in six.

Third Round
(1) Generals vs. (5) Ice Dogs – Generals in five.
(1) Greyhounds vs. (2) Otters – Greyhounds in six.

OHL Final
(1) Generals vs. Greyhounds – Greyhounds in six.

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