The CCHL playoffs are already underway, starting last night in Carleton Place and Smiths Falls. With multiple match-ups that will prove to put audiences on the edge of their seats, I’ve decided to dive deep into each series and make some bold(?) predictions regarding their outcome.
(1) Carleton Place Canadians – (8) Kemptville 73’s
It’s no secret that the Carleton Place Canadians are favourites to win the Bogart Cup this season. Not only that, but you could arguably call them the Fred Page Cup favorites as well. The extreme scoring depth of the squad was highlighted by the signing of former QMJHL player Anthony Latina close to the deadline – with that addition, the Canadians look to be unstoppable.
On the other hand, the Kemptville 73’s have been one of the hotter clubs in the league toward the final stretch of regular season games, only losing to Carleton Place 5-4 in their last meeting approximately a month ago.
The season series did finish in an unsettling way for head coach Peter Ambroziak and the Kemptville 73’s, where CPC cleaned house. However, the 73’s have the ability to steal hockey games.
They showed this talent off at the CCHL Showcase in Carleton Place last month, where they put up an impressive 7 goals in a high-scoring 7-5 win over the Pembroke Lumber Kings, a storied club looking to add another Bogart Cup to their resume this playoff season.
It is that fight that the 73’s show vs strong clubs that tells me they won’t roll over. I could see a few overtime games, with Kemptville starter Matt Couvrette stealing the show. In the end, I can’t see Kemptville winning the series, but they may last 5 or even 6 games.
(2) Smiths Falls Bears – (7) Nepean Raiders
The Bears and Raiders will do battle in a series that features a Raiders team that is searching for its identity after losing leading scorer Philippe Gadoury to the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. After the loss of Gadoury, Nepean’s record took a nosedive for the worse. They’ve slid from competing for home ice advantage to competing for a playoff spot.
One reassuring element to the Raiders’ squad is in the crease. They’ve had two of the CCHL’s more solid goaltenders, with Brett Magnus (2.84, .923) and Ryan Mulder (3.75, .906) sharing the crease. Both tenders have shown to be valuable and tough to beat.
The Bears come into the series with an impressive record that proved to be the only one to challenge that of the Carleton Place Canadians during the regular season. The Bears are a young, high octane squad who can consistently cause huge issues for the opposing defense core.
They’re also backstopped by potential goalie of the year Michael Pinios – who came out of the season with a goals against average of 2.75.
I could potentially see this series ending on a goalie battle; with some close, low scoring games down the stretch run of the first round. In the end, I expect offensive leaders Stefano Momesso and Derian Plouffe to lead the Bears to a series win in 6 games.
(3) Ottawa Junior Senators – (6) Cornwall Colts
The Ottawa Jr. Senators are all in for these playoffs. With just 4 returning players next season, head coach and GM Rick Dorval will be faced with a rebuild. Due to that, you can expect to see an intense series from the higher seeded club.
On the other side of the equation, you have a rebuilding Cornwall Colts team gearing up for a run at the 2015 Fred Page Cup, being hosted by the Colts at the Ed Lumley Arena.
The Colts – well-coached by owner, GM and coach Ian MacInnis – already have a good chance of winning this series themselves. The veteran leadership of Marly Quince and Kevin Hope who have returned to the team after winning the league title last year will help them along.
The only wild card for the Colts is nets, after trading their starting goaltender Jordan Piccolino to Dauphin of the MJHL. However, with the experienced leadership plus the 3-1-1 season series victory for the Colts, I’m calling a Cornwall win in 7 games.
(4) Pembroke Lumber Kings – (5) Brockville Braves
What can really be said about the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the playoffs? Their reputation for performing in the postseason is impressive to say the least, where they won 5 straight Bogart Cups and an RBC Cup during a stretch in the last decade.
However PLK has entered a new era. Having lost Sheldon Keefe who guided them to those championships, the reputation of the club has slightly stalled. This season is the chance to prove the pundits wrong for new bench boss Dale MacTavish – and you can expect that the Lumber Kings’ leaders will step up as well.
The Brockville Braves finished the season strong and are looking to oust higher-seeded Pembroke. While this squad is full of offensive punch from both the forward core (Nate Todd, Ryan Cusin) and the back end (Eric Israel), I believe that the young team’s time is not now.
Should they retain some of their better players, I see the Braves contending next year. However with a mid-season coaching change and an abundance of penalty minutes, I think this coming postseason will be chalked up on the experience board for the Braves.
I expect the Lumber Kings to win this series in 5 games – and don’t be surprised if you see some extra-curricular activity along the way.
There are multiple games on the CCHL playoff schedule tonight, with 2 of them coming inside the Ottawa city limits and are bound to be good games, with the Nepean Raiders looking to bounce back from a game 1 loss in Smiths Falls, and the Ottawa Jr. Sens opening their stanza up against Cornwall.
We’ll be following the rest of the CCHL’s race for the Bogart Cup step by step – see you at the rink!