By Tom Hunter (@PuckDontLie)
Eastern Conference – Round 1
Peterborough Petes (1) vs. Niagara IceDogs (8)
This series should be fun.
No team in the OHL playoff gave up more scoring chances during the regular season than Niagara and Peterborough. Both teams rely heavily on their goaltenders and as a result, an upset shouldn’t be surprising.
The Petes took off in the second half of the season but they still rely far too much on Dylan Wells bailing them out.
On the flip side, 2017 draft eligible Stephen Dhillon might be the most talented goaltender in the OHL and has the ability to steal a series on his own. If nothing else, this will be invaluable experience for Akil Thomas and a young Ice Dogs team that is at the early stages of a rebuild.
Prediction: Niagara in 6
Mississauga Steelheads (2) vs. Ottawa 67’s (7)
After losing to Sudbury last night, the Steelheads draw Ottawa in the first round, and while they are the 7th seed, the 67’s are a first round matchup that most fans did not want to see.
Mississauga had a terrible start to the season, but they turned things around enough to win a terrible Central Division and grab the second seed in the conference. The team took off when Spencer Watson returned from injury midway through the season. The LA Kings prospect is having a tremendous end to his junior career and will look to lead the Steelheads on a deep playoff run.
This is a series Mississauga should win, but the talented team lacks depth and has been plagued by inconsistency all season so an upset shouldn’t be ruled out.
Prediction: Mississauga in 5
Oshawa Generals (3) vs. Sudbury Wolves (6)
The Generals pulled off the rare in-season rebuild even while sitting in first place at the trade deadline. The young team that was vastly exceeding expectations, traded away their best two players with an eye towards building a contender for the future.
Since coming to Oshawa in the Anthony Cirelli trade, 2018 draft eligible rookie Allan McShane has been one of the most productive players in the OHL. He, along with veteran Dominic Commisso, will look to lead the Generals offensively in this series. Commisso and Joe Manchurek are the only two Oshawa players that have scored more than one playoff goal.
This will be the first taste of playoff action for ten of the 21 skaters in the Generals lineup.
While Sudbury has been less than impressive over the past few months – and have a goal differential of -58 on the season – Dmitri Sokolov is one of the most dangerous players in the league and could put the team on his back when they need it the most. To do so, he will have to overcome a stifling defensive system that has become the calling card in Oshawa.
He likely won’t have to be the star of the series, but this Generals team will go as far as over-age goalie Jeremy Brodeur carries them, so it would be nice to see a solid first round from him.
Prediction: Oshawa in 5
Kingston Frontenacs (4) vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (5)
Kingston has scored less than any team in the OHL this season – they’ve also given up less than anyone else in the East. The Frontenacs are not an exciting team by any stretch of the imagination and will look to keep these games at a tempo that best suits their style.
The Bulldogs, on the flip side, are one of the highest scoring teams in the conference and will need to get an early lead every game, in order to win this series. In his third season, Canadiens draft pick Will Bitten is set to get his first taste of OHL playoff action – and should be looked upon to provide a spark for the Bulldogs.
In his final season, Leafs prospect Stephen Desrocher has caught fire and become the best player for Kingston – he will look to extend this OHL career and lead the Fronts to a first round win.
This series should be fun for NHL scouts as Matthew Strome and Jason Robertson – two high scoring prospects in this summer’s draft – go head to head
Prediction: Hamilton in 6