We are primed for the Alliance Semi-Finals which are set to begin tonight with the two-seed, Cambridge Hawks, hosting the three-seed, Waterloo Wolves, in a tri-city match-up. As a bit of review, we saw some excitement in the first round as all underdog teams marched through the first round with #11 Kitchener defeating #3 Windsor, #10 Chatham-Kent defeating #7 Hamilton, and #9 Brantford overcoming #8 Huron Perth.
However, that is where the excitement ends as the top four seeds see themselves competing for a berth in the league final. With that being said, an admirable effort was made by Elgin-Middlesex taking Sun County to the brink, eventually losing in the 7th game, 5-1.
Series H | 1. London Jr. Knights (55 pts) vs. 4. Sun County Panthers (37 pts)
It’s hard to look past the Knights in this series and expect an upset out of the Panthers. Having only lost one regular season game in 2015-16, and walking through Kitchener in 3-games, confidence will be running high in London. Sun County will look to carry through momentum from a game 7 win over Elgin and it will be important for them to start strong and potentially catch the Knights off guard, who haven’t played a game since January 31st.
Key Players: The Knights rely heavily on the strength of their forwards, boasting top end prospects in Aidan Prueter and Ryan Suzuki. We would like to see Bryce Lewis elevate his game, and become a force in this series. It’s tough to pin-point one player that can carry Sun County through to the finals, as they will need a full team effort to compete. The Panther’s key will be the play of their very capable goaltending duo in Aidan Pitre and Romano Liburdi to keep them in every game.
Prediction: We expect London to win this series handedly and secure their spot in the final. Sun County may be able to steal a game, but against a team that has had no issue with the Alliance all season, it's difficult to take the underdog in this one.
Series I | 2. Cambridge Hawks (47 pts) vs. 3. Waterloo Wolves (46 pts)
Up the 401, Cambridge and Waterloo will square off in a series that is anyone’s guess to predict a victor. Two very strong clubs will be fighting tooth and nail for a spot in the finals. The season series went in favour of the 3rd seed Wolves, winning two of three, but all very tight games (2-0, 2-3, 2-1). Waterloo breezed past Brantford winning three straight, while, unexpectedly Chatham-Kent was able to steal a point from Cambridge, before eventually falling in the three subsequent games.
Key Players: Cambridge boasts a deep team up front and on defense, but Nathan Yeck will be an important player to provide offense on a team that can sometimes struggle to score goals despite no shortage of depth. Jagger O’Toole and goaltender Jet Greaves will need provide stability on the backend and in goal in order to make this a series. Waterloo’s offense flows through Keean Washkurak, but complimentary player, Callan Christener, may be the key if Cambridge is able to key in on Washurak. Nate Allensen will also be a key contributor keeping Hawk’s Ryan Campbell and Yeck at bay.
Prediction: If the season series is any indication, viewers are in for a treat over the next couple weeks. It really is a coin flip who comes out on top in this one, but, ‘gun to our head’, we will select Waterloo to come out on top. This one should come down to the final minutes, but Cambridge’s inability to keep consistent offense has us leaning towards the Wolves.