After a very successful regular season finish for the Kingston Frontenacs, the playoffs were extremely disappointing.
The third-seeded Fronts played the No. 6 seed Peterborough Petes in the first round and took a commanding three games to none series lead. It seemed as though Kingston’s 16-year drought of no playoff series victories was all but over.
But you have to tip your hat to the Petes as they never gave up and fought their way back one game at a time, including two overtime victories.
The series was very physical, and at times a little dirty as there were several fights, a suspension and plenty of hate right from the drop of the puck in game one. In the seventh game the trainers for both teams were rather busy tending to injured players in what was an extremely hard fought game in front of a full house at the K-Rock centre in Kingston.
The crowd was vocal and spirited as three busloads of Petes fans made the trip to watch their team complete the miraculous comeback when Nick Ritchie scored the series winning goal late in the first overtime period.
And just like that, the heavily favoured Kingston Frontenacs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs ending what had been a successful season and one that had some thinking possible Championship possibilities and a trip to the Memorial Cup. But Kingston is a young team, and while some playoff experience would have been great for the players and engaging for the fans, the future is still bright.
And just like that, the Fronts are out. Disappointing end , but remember, the team is built around 95 and 96s. Still loads of time.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) April 2, 2014
While it is assured the team will see turnover for next season, the core of talent such as Sam Bennett, Roland McKeown, and Spencer Watson will all be back. Overage players Matt Mahalak, Darcy Greenaway and Mike Moffat will all be moving on. It is also expected that the World Junior Gold Medal winners from Finland, Henri Ikonen and Mikko Vainonen will make their Pro debuts elsewhere next season as well. One or both could return as an overage but would also still use up an import card as well so it is doubtful. Both players have been drafted by an NHL team and will likely make their AHL debuts.
The playoffs were a bit of a coming out for Fronts rookie Lawson Crouse. Crouse had a successful rookie season and has been nominated for the league rookie of the year award, and was very good in the playoffs. Head Coach Todd Gill recognized his elevated performance as he was promoted from his regular third line role to playing on the first line with Sam Bennett and Henri Ikonen for the seventh game.
With the regular and post seasons both over in Kingston, focus will shift to the OHL Priority draft on Saturday April fifth. The Fronts own the 15th pick overall and will likely pick a forward as it is a forward heavy draft. McKeens scout Sean Lafortune predicts they will select Logan Stanley of the Waterloo Wolves in his mock draft.
Following the Priority draft is the import draft. The Fronts will be busy here as well as t is expected the Fronts will use both picks on imports this year
Several Kingston players will have busy summers as Bennett, McKeown and Watson will all be invited to play for Canada at the under 18 tournament and will all be at the NHL Entry Draft in June as well.
It was a crushing defeat for the Kingston Frontenacs and their fans as their playoff drought seemed all but over before it all came crashing down. But the future is still bright and brimming with optimism and hope as their window of opportunity surrounds their 18 year old star players who will all be back next season to pursue a championship and fulfill the expectations.