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OHL Begins 2012 Conference Finals
- Updated: April 19, 2012
Tonight begins the first night of play in the OHL Conference Finals as the London Knights take on the Kitchener rangers in the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa 67’s will battle the Niagara Ice Dogs beginning tomorrow, April 20th.
Both the Knights and Ice Dogs had a relatively easy trip to the conference finals, while the Rangers and 67’s have worked a bit harder to get where they’re at.
In the west, the London Knights opened the playoffs against the Windsor Spitfire. The Spitfire were outplayed and shutout in game one, losing 3-0. Games two and three yielded more positive results throughout gameplay, as they kept the score close, but the final result was the same, two more victories for London. The Knights closed out the series with a huge 8-3 in Windsor. Ryan Rupert had a had trick in the series clinching victory for the Knights.
London met the Saginaw Spirit in round two, and actually trailed in the series 1-2 after three games. Oddly enough, the score in each of the first three games was 5-2, with Saginaw looking for an upset in the series. The Knights got back to business by winning the next three games, including an OT thriller in game five. London clinched the series with a 5-3 win in game six with Jared Knight picking up a goal and an assist for the Knights.
The Kitchener Rangers nearly swept Owen Sound in round one as they won three straight to open the series, only to lose game four in overtime. Cameron Brace helped lead the Rangers in game five though, contributing two goals in a 4-2 victory which sent Kitchener to round two.
Kitchener met the Plymouth Whalers in the second round and got off to a hot start in game one, shutting out Plymouth 2-0. Game two saw the opposite as Plymouth tied the series 1-1 with a 2-0 shutout of their own. The teams would split the next four games, going back and forth, and headed to a decisive game seven. The Rangers came out strong with two goals in each period, defeating the Whalers 6-3, and winning the series. Tyler Randell had four goals in the final game for Kitchener.
In the East, the Oshawa Generals battled Niagara in the first round and took them to six games. The Ice Dogs had little trouble scoring in this series, averaging five goals per game. In the series clinching game six, Niagara finished Oshawa off with a 4-1 victory as David Pacan picked up 2 goals and an assist.
Round two saw the Ice Dogs face the Brampton Battalion. While Brampton managed to hold the Ice Dogs to fewer goals during the series, they couldn’t manage to put together a victory, losing in four straight games as they got swept. Ryan Strome added two assists in the clincher for Niagara, giving him one goal and six assists in the four game series.
The Ottawa 67’s managed squeeze by in a couple of close series, beating the Belleville Bulls 4-2 in the first round, and edging out the Barrie Colts 4-3 in a tough seven game series. Ottawa played in five overtime games through the first two rounds, managing to win only two.
The London Knights have been a threat all season long, and put together the best record in the OHL at 49-18-0-1 in 68 games played. With 99 points, the Knights finished 13 ahead of the Rangers while amassing 20+ more goals for and over 30 fewer goals against. They have too much firepower on their squad to not make it to the OHL finals, and my prediction is they take the series 4-2.
In the East, it’s the top two seeds battling against each other for a chance to play in the finals. The Niagara Ice Dogs have top talent in Ryan Strome and Alex Friesen, and Mark Visentin has been great between the pipes. These guys will help Niagara defeat Ottawa in a tight seven game series, sending Niagara to play London for the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
What are your predictions? Do you agree with my picks or do you think there will be an upset or two in the conference finals? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!