The Belleville Bulls are off to the second round of the OHL playoffs, but it wasn't an easy task. As we know the Bulls were the top seed in the OHL's Eastern Conference finishing with 96 points. That's 36 more then the Mississauga Steelheads who ended the regular season with 60 points, clinching the eighth seed in the Conference on the last day of the regular season. Belleville came through winning the series in six games.
The Bulls didn't walk over the Steelheads the way some folks might have thought they would. (We predicted Bulls in five) At one point in the series no one in the Friendly City was doubting the Trout. Bulls old friend Tyson Teichmann played maybe the best hockey of his OHL career in this series and has probably earned himself a job next year in the OHL, be it with the Steelheads or somewhere else as an OA. Mississauga will say good bye to overage players Riley Brace and Alex Cord. Brace was a force in this series. The best complement we can give Brace is to say we won't miss him. Meaning that we won't miss him playing against the Bulls. He's a real pain to play against, nothing vs Riley Brace comes easy. Other Steelhead players that stood out were Spenser Cobbold, with some real gritty play, he was trying to get something going every shift. Josh Burnside emerged and looks to have all the tools to be an impact player in the OHL next season. Burnside already has NHL scouts looking at him and I'm sure his play in this series only helped his Draft Rankings. Damian Bourne only played 4 games in the series but at 6 foot 4 and 211 pounds we can't wait to watch him develop.
Belleville might have taken the Steelheads a little to lightly, Malcolm Subban told the Bulls website as much. "I think we learned a lesson in this series, the first two games weren't too close on the scoreboard and I think we came into Mississauga for three and four a little too casually. Defeating this team wasn't easy, they put up a good fight and we need to take the good things we did in this series and apply them to our next matchup with Sudbury."
The line of Brendan Gaunce, Tyler Graovac and Scott Simmonds was really good in this series. Malcolm Subban was strong and stepped up his game as the series went on. On the back end it was Jake Cardwell and Stephen Silas who stood out for Belleville.
Thursday March 21st - Game One : In Game One it looked very much like the matchup it was on paper, 1 vs 8. Belleville was amped up in the opening game and whipped the Steelheads by a score of 8-1. Everything was clicking for Belleville. Malcolm Subban (Bruins) was as strong as he had to be making 25 saves. Vancouver Canucks Prospect and Bulls Captain Brendan Gaunce lead the charge with four points (2G, 2A). Redwings draft pick Alan Quine (1G, 2A), Scott Simmonds (1G, 2A) and Minnesota Prospect Tyler Graovac (3A) all had multi point efforts. Garrett Hooey, Carter Sandlak and Jake Cardwell all had single markers and Brady Austin (Sabres) and Daniil Zharkov (Oilers) had single assists for Belleville.
Dylan DeMelo (Sharks) had the lone Steelheads goal from Spenser Cobbold. Top rated NHL Draft Eligible Spencer Martin was in goal for the loss.
Both clubs wanted to set the tone and this game had a heavy hitting feel to it, both clubs were trying to put the other through the boards with every hit. There was five fights in this game with three coming before the six minute mark of the first period.
Special Teams : Bulls PP 1/6, Bulls PK 3/3
3 Stars : 1- BELV Scott Simmonds, 2- BELV Brendan Gaunce, 3- BELV Tyler Graovac.
Attendance : 2222, Series : BELV up 1-0
Saturday March 23rd - Game Two : In Game Two we seen some changes, the end result was the same with the Bulls winning 4-1. The biggest change was in goal for the Steelheads. James Boyd elected to go with former Bull and Belleville native Tyson Teichmann. The Steelheads still left Belleville down two games but you could see and feel the momentum changing. Joseph Cramarossa (Ducks) scored the game winner Vs his former club. Graovac (1G, 1A), Sandlak (1G), Cardwell (1G), Simmonds (1A), Stephen Silas (1A), Adam Bignell (1A) and Gaunce (1A) rounded out the scoring for Belleville.
Spenser Cobbold score the lone Steelheads goal. Spenser is the brother of Bulls 2012 OHL draft pick Conner Cobbold.
Malcolm Subban made 29 saves and was only over shadowed by the 37 save effort by Teichmann.
Special Teams : Bulls 1/4 , Bulls PK 3/3
3 Stars : 1- BELV Tyler Graovac, 2- BELV Jake Cardwell, 3- BELV Carter Sandlak.
Attendance : 3062, Series : BELV up 2-0
Sunday March 24th - Game Three : Tyson Teichmann was the difference in this game, he held his team in the game until the third period and with less then a minute to go at 19:08 with Austen Brassard in the box for high sticking Josh Burnside scored on the power play giving the Steelheads a 2-1 lead, Belleville was unable to score in the last minute 50 seconds and 2-1 was the final score.
Damian Bourne scored the other Mississauga goal that tied the game from Stuart Percy (Leafs) and DeMelo, who also assisted on the winner. Riley Brace also had an apple on the winner.
The Belleville trio of Graovac, Gaunce and Simmonds continued their strong play, hooking up on the games 1st goal at 3:36 of the opening frame when Graovac scored from Gaunce & Simmonds . Malcolm Subban made 31 saves in the loss.
Special Teams : Bulls PP 0/4, Bulls PK 5/6
3 Stars : 1- MISS Tyson Teichmann, 2- MISS Josh Burnside, 3- MISS Dylan DeMelo
Attendance : 1724. Series : BELV up 2-1
Tuesday March 26th - Game Four : In Game four the home town Steelhead were pumped, their building was full, they had momentum and Belleville was flat. The Steelheads outworked the Bulls and handed them a 5-2 beating.
It looked like the game was going to be Belleville's when Joseph Cramarossa scored his 2nd of the series just 11 seconds in to the game unassisted. Early in the middle frame it was Cardwell with his 3rd from Gaunce and Graovac getting the helpers on the power play goal.
But Mississauga wanted this game and it showed. the Steelheads would score three goals in the 2nd period. Dylan Smoskowitz scored his 1st to make the score 2-1 from Trevor Carrick (Hurricanes) and Brace. Riley Brace tied the game at 8:57 with his 1st of the series from Andres Kopstala and Burnside.
In the 3rd it was Burnside with the Steelheads 2nd power play goal in a row from DeMelo and Percy, and then it was Kopstals in to the empty net at 18:56 from Burnside sealing the deal 5-2.
Malcolm Subban allowed 4 goals on 20 shots but this was a team loss not a loss that be can hung on Subban alone, has he been better, of course the answer is yes, but the Belleville club needed to be better as a whole. The effort wasn't there from anyone. Steelheads stuck with Teichmann and he made 25 saves.
Special Teams : Bulls PP 1/6, Bulls PK 2/4
3 Stars : 1- MISS Dylan Smoskowitz, 2- MISS Josh Burnside, 3- MISS Stuart Percy
Attendance : 5263. Series : Tied 2-2
Saturday March 30th - Game Five : Game 5 was all Belleville, everyone showed up and they beat the Steelheads by a score of 5-0. The Bulls got two goals from Stephen Silas. The OA D-Man had the games 1st goal at 18:02 from Scott Simmonds and Tyler Graovac. Before the first period was over at 19:59 Brendan Gaunce scored his 3rd of the series from Simmonds and Brady Austin. In the 2nd the Bulls chased Tyson Teichmann from the net after he allowed 4 goals on 18 shots. Alan Quine (2) from Daniil Zharkov and Joseph Cramarossa at 4:36 and Jets Draft pick Austen Brassard netted his first of the playoffs from Michael Curtis and Jake Cardwell at 10:08.
In the third Stephen Silas put home his 2nd of the game and the series on the power play from Gaunce and Graovac. Some of the shine came off Teichmann in this game. Even though he wasn't named a star Malcolm Subban was a star in this game. He made 29 saves and was huge in helping to keep the Steelheads power play at bay. In relief for Mississauga Spencer Martin gave up 1 goal on 10 shots.
Special Teams : Bulls PP 1/3, Bulls PK 5/5
3 Stars : 1- BELV Stephen Silas, 2- BELV Brendan Gaunce, 3- BELV Scott Simmonds
Attendance : 3034. Series : BELV up 3-2.
Monday April 1st - Game Six : As much as things change, they stay the same, up to this point in the series the home team had won every game. Even though the Belleville Bulls would have been able to play Game Seven on home ice, Coach Burnett and his club didn't want it to come to that and they put the Steelheads away in six games by the score of 3-1. As far as things staying the same , it was Belleville that scored the games 1st goal something they did in all six games of the series. This time it was Alan Quine (3) who got the goal. Daniil Zharkov assisted on the Quine goal in the first period and also scored his 1st of the playoffs in the second period at 4:55 from Tyler Graovac and Austen Brassard.
Mississauga would score on the power play early in the third period at 4:06 when Eric Diodati beat Malcolm Subban for his first from Trevor Carrick and Riley Brace making it 2-1, but that was it for the Steelheads thanks to the fine play of Subban. Malcolm made 31 saves and was at the top of his game and was named the games 1st Star. He showed that he can win when his team needs him too. The Bruins Prospect gave the credit to his teammates telling the Bulls website that "I thought Mississauga did a great job of generating energy and building momentum off that in games three and four here, but tonight our defense and guys off the backcheck did a really good job keeping them outside off the rush,". Teichmann made 24 saves for the Steelheads.
Special Teams : Bulls PP 0/2, Bulls PK 3/4
3 Stars : 1- BELV Malcolm Subban, 2- MISS Riley Brace, 3- BELV Daniil Zharkov.
Attendance : 2826. Series : BELV wins 4-2.
Notes : Belleville's PK gave up 4 goals in the series and is ranked 6th after the 1st Round......The Power Play went 4/25 and is ranked 10th.....Bulls leading scorer after round one is Graovac with 10 points (2G, 8A).....Gaunce, Quine, and Cardwell all have 3 goals to lead the team.....Silas has a + 9 ranking and Brassard leads the club with 15 PIMS.....Malcolm Subban played in all 6 games going 4-2 with a 1.51 GAA, and a .944 save%, he gave up 9 goals and posted one shut out....This is Belleville's 1st Playoff series win since 2008-2009....The Minnesota Wild have signed Graovac to an entry-level contract. Belleville has 9 players on the roster who have been drafted. Stephen Silas (COL 2010), Alan Quine (DET 2011), Austen Brassard (WPG 2011), Tyler Graovac (MIN 2011), Joseph Cramarossa (ANA 2011), Brendan Gaunce (VAN 2012), Daniil Zharkov (EDM 2012), Brady Austin (BUF 2012) and Malcolm Subban (BOS 2012). Graovac, Cramarossa, Gaunce and Subban have all been signed to entry-level deals.