Pictured is Vincent Trochek of the Plymouth Whalers – currently #2 in the league scoring race. He has 48 points and a +25 rating in 23 games since being traded from the Saginaw Spirit at the trade deadline.
Plymouth at Saginaw
This is a morning game (10:45 start) between these two state rivals. The Whalers are near the top of the conference with a record of 37-17-5-4 and the Spirit are near the bottom with a record of 29-26-3-3.
The Whalers have their playoff positioning comfortably locked up but are not in ‘cruise control’ by any stretch. They have been plowing through the opposition – especially in the past few weeks. As part of their current 3 game winning streak and 9 wins in their last 10 games, they blew by all 3 teams this past weekend on the road. First it was the Icedogs 7-1 on Thursday, then the Otters 7-2 on Saturday and finally the Steelheads 5-0 on Sunday afternoon. Top scorers are currently Trocheck (98 – 2nd in the league), Hartman (59), Mistele and Wilson (56) and Meurs (55).
The Spirit have been trying to stay ahead of Windsor for the final playoff spot and the privilege of competing against the #1 seed in the Western Conference for the first round. They have dropped 3 games in a row and only gained points in five of their last 10 games. Their only action last weekend was an 8-7 squeaker when they hosted the Sarnia Sting despite being outshot 45-21. Saginaw had early leads of 2-1, 3-2 and 5-3 but could not tame the Sting as they erupted for 6 second period goals to take the lead. Eric Locke had 3 assists in the loss and Jimmy Lodge had 2 points. Leading scorers this season for the Spirit are Eric Locke (92 - #4 in the league), Garret Ross (83) and Jimmy Lodge (63).
My prediction Plymouth 6 Saginaw 3
Guelph at Kitchener
This game has huge playoff implications as Guelph trails the Kitchener by 3 points in the standings. Kitchener would host Guelph in the first round of the playoffs if the playoffs started today.
Kitchener lost their last game and has 5 wins in their past 10 games. Guelph has won 3 in a row and a healthy 7 of 10 wins recently.
The Rangers have scored the fewest goals of any team in the Western Conference – they have also surrendered the second fewest goals in the conference. The Storm are in the middle of the pack as far as goals scored for and have the third best goals against average in the conference. Kitchener is coming off a lacklustre 6-1 performance at London on Sunday following a solid 2-1 victory at Owen Sound. Guelph had a successful Northern Ontario road trip with victories at Sault Ste Marie (6-3) and at Sudbury (4-2).
The Storm host 4 of their next 7 games, finishing their schedule with a home/home series vs. the woeful Erie Otters. The Rangers host their next 3 games and then finish their schedule on the road for their final 3 games. Interesting that their only opponents in these 6 games will be the Storm, Spirit and Greyhounds.
My prediction Guelph 2 at Kitchener 3