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Youngblood: Second Round OHL Playoff Preview & Predictions

The London Knights prevailed over the Kitchener Rangers and crushed my hopes of thinking a perfect first round projection was possible. All in all, going seven for eight in the opening round is a record that should be applauded…enough so that maybe I should quit while I was ahead.

The Oshawa Generals overcame some bumps in the road to defeat the Peterborough Petes in five games but, more importantly, showed that they are certainly beatable.

Belleville couldn’t muster up enough offense to pick up a win and played their final games at the Yardmen as the Barrie Colts knocked off the Bulls in four straight games.

Stan Butler’s North Bay Battalion continue to exceed everyone’s expectations as they handled Sam Bennett and the Kingston Frontenacs fairly easily outscoring them 17-4 en route to a first round sweep.

The Ottawa – Niagara series certainly lived up to the high-scoring affair that I expected and after falling behind 2-0, the IceDogs won four straight to take the series 4-2.

The Saginaw Spirit were totally overmatched by the Soo Greyhounds and their four-line attack as the Northern pups cruised to a 4-0 series win, outscoring the Spirit 22-5 in the sweep.

Sarnia stung the Erie Otters early and put a real scare into the second ranked Western Conference team. After the Sting forfeited several sizeable leads, Erie squeaked out four consecutive wins but this series could’ve easily ended up in Sarnia’s favour. The Otters may thank the Sting later for opening their eyes in the opening round.

The big guns in London – Marner, Domi and Dvorak - were firing on all cylinders and the Knights got the secondary support they needed to break games wide open. Kitchener didn’t get the star-studded goaltending performances that they needed and fell to the mighty Knights in six games.

The 4-1 series win by the Guelph Storm isn’t a reflection of how this series played out because the Owen Sound Attack put up a dogged fight with four games decided by one goal – all loses by the Attack.

Let’s take a look at how the second round could play out.


Eastern Conference

Oshawa Generals (1) vs. Niagara IceDogs (5)

Breakdown: The Generals didn’t have the “cleanest” opening round as the Petes gave them some unexpected problems and with the Niagara IceDogs picking up steam, Oshawa will have to sharpen their game. Oshawa lost the season series (2-0) to the ‘Dogs but those games came prior to the ‘new’ Generals team with Michael McCarron and Matt Mistele. This is the most difficult series to predict and much depends largely on Niagara’s ability to keep pucks out of their net – an area they didn’t necessarily excel in during the opening round. Oshawa has the better goaltender and they’re a much bigger team and with their experience, Oshawa should squeak out another win.

Prediction: Oshawa in 6

IceDogs to Watch: Josh Ho-Sang (NYI), Carter Verhaeghe (TOR) and Brendan Perlini (ARI)

Generals to Watch: Michael Dal Colle (NYI), Cole Cassels (VAN) and Mitchell Vande Sompel (2015 NHL Draft)


Barrie Colts (2) vs. North Bay Battalion (3)

Breakdown: The Colts and Battalion split the season series 3-3 and it’s shaping up to be another lengthy battle. After sweeping a skilled and quick Kingston squad, North Bay will have a similar challenge in limiting the talent in Barrie. The Colts are a deeper offensive team than the Frontenacs but their challenges will be the same – breaking through the stifling defensive system that the Battalion play. The Battalion blue line is vastly underrated in OHL circles and despite having three 100-point scorers, Barrie could certainly have difficulty scoring. If the trio of Blandisi, Labanc and Mangiapane can’t continue scoring then the Colts are in trouble.

Prediction: North Bay in 6

Colts to Watch: Joseph Blandisi (NJD), Rasmus Andersson (2015 NHL Draft) and Mackenzie Blackwood (2015 NHL Draft)

Battalion to Watch: Nick Paul (OTT), Mike Amadio (LAK) and Nick Moutrey (CBJ)


Western Conference

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (1) vs. Guelph Storm (4)

Breakdown: Everyone knew that the Greyhounds would prevail out of the first round but damn, they certainly made it look easy. The Guelph Storm needed only five games to eliminate a tough Owen Sound team but they were all battle-tested affairs and that wears on a smaller squad like the Storm. The OHL defending Champs enter this season as underdogs and with all due respect to Guelph, it will be surprising if they can muster up a win. Justin Nichols was flat out fantastic in the opening round and the Storm will need him to elevate his game to an impossible level to compete with the ‘Hounds. The Greyhounds were a perfect 4-0 against the Storm in regular season play and I see a similar result in the post-season.

Prediction: Sault Ste. Marie in 4

Storm to Watch: Robby Fabbri (STL), Tyler Bertuzzi (DET) and Jason Dickinson (DAL), Justin Nichols

Greyhounds to Watch: Sergey Tolchinski (CAR), Nick Ritchie (ANA) and Anthony DeAngelo (TBL)


Erie Otters (2) vs. London Knights (3)

Breakdown: Erie’s Devin Williams was “shaky” in the opening round and London’s rookie netminder Tyler Parsons didn’t face the talent of a Connor McDavid…or Dylan Strome…or Remi Elie….or Alex Debrincat…or Nick Baptiste…or, well you get the point. It’s clear that goals will come often in the Knights and Otters series so the team with the best goaltending and highest scoring ability should come out on top. The Otters have the depth to stop or, at least, limit the likes of Mitch Marner, Max Domi and Christian Dvorak. In the end, London’s inexperience on the blueline and between the pipes will be in tough to stop Erie’s top guns. Regardless, it should be the most exciting matchup in the second round and that’s especially true if you like high-scoring hockey.

Prediction: Erie in 7

Knights to Watch: Max Domi (ARI), Christian Dvorak (ARI) and Mitch Marner (2015 NHL Draft)

Otters to Watch: Connor McDavid (2015 NHL Draft), Dylan Strome (2015 NHL Draft) and Remi Elie (DAL)


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