After two series that can only be described as wars, we’ve finally made it all the way down to the final round for the CCHL.
The Smiths Falls Bears and Carleton Place Canadians are set to go to work in what has been dubbed “The Battle of Highway 15”. It has been a dream of many to see the Bears-Canadians regional rivalry come through in the setting of a playoff series; doing so in a league final only heightens the thrill.
The Carleton Place Canadians were seen as a juggernaut during the regular season, almost untouchable by all teams, with barely a kink in the armour to show for it after their first round series sweep over the Kemptville 73’s.
Many predicted the Pembroke Lumber Kings to give them a handful once it was determined that those two would be facing off. However even with those thoughts floating around, the 2-0 hole that CP found themselves in through game 2 of the semi-finals was a shock to them, and a wake-up call.
Not only that, but the Canadians were down to their final goal against in game 6, where the Lumber Kings had them on the brink of elimination in double overtime.
However, that 2OT goal from Stephen Baylis to extend the series to seven games has proven to also extend the playoff lives of the Carleton Place Canadians, as they head to the CCHL finals.
It may also have given them the Bogart Cup, as many had Pembroke being the biggest threat to their potential win. The Lumber Kings proved to be a little more than a threat, doing everything that the losing team in a series could possibly do.
This has surely humbled the Canadians a great deal, as they embark to the finals. Against the rival Bears, they’ll have to be on their toes.
Jason Clarke stated it himself in an interview with TSN 1200 earlier in the week that the Canadians will have to be disciplined against a Smiths Falls team that is very much like theirs.
I have to agree with that statement – with scoring power from the likes of Michael Buonincontri and Chris King on the top of the list, and the threats continuing to appear as you head down the roster with individuals like the veteran Brett Costello and hard-working local boy Karson McCartney, the Bears have a deep squad.
This depth is reflected in their finals opponents from CP, where all year they have been known for sending wave after wave of attack from every end of the team’s roster. The detail of both these rosters will make for a great series.
The only definitive edge in favour of the Bears could be in nets, where Michael Pinios has been lights out for the duration of the regular season, also saving his team’s bacon on multiple occasions in the semi-final series against Ottawa. Multiple games have been won solely off the role of Pinios, who has put up impressive numbers (1.78, .943) in these playoffs.
The Bears have also bought into the coaching of Mark Grady, who has sent this club on a very impressive run. Grady has the Bears playing a fast, speedy type of CCHL hockey that we’re used to seeing, along with adding the playoff grit that wasn’t seen from the Bears as much in the regular season.
All in all, Smiths Falls showed that they’re a team with an ability to perform under pressure and in the playoffs. The only question that remains unanswered for them, and it is a fairly large one, is how the Canadians will respond to their game?
We’ll see this unfold as the series rolls on, with game 1 in Carleton Place at the end of this week. Check the CCHL website and scoreboard frequently for updates on the Bogart Cup Final’s official schedule.
Expect to see some big crowds and the nastiness of the Carleton Place-Smiths Falls rivalry star in what is shaping up to be one of the more notable league finals in recent memory.