OHL Finals Preview
2012 OHL match up – Niagara Ice dogs vs London Knights
This year the two teams who will be battling it out for the J. Ross Robertson Cup (Ontario Hockey League Champions) and a ticket to the Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, Quebec are the London Knights and Niagara Ice dogs. Both of these teams had successful regular season, as both teams placed first in each other’s conferences. This matchup will begin Thursday, May 3rd at 7pm in London, Ontario. This is how the series schedule will look like for this cup final.
Game 1- Thursday May 3rd at 7pm in London
Game 2- Saturday May 5th at 7pm in Niagara
Game 3- Monday May 7th at 7pm in London
Game 4- Wednesday May 9th at 7pm in Niagara
Game 5- Friday May 11th at 7pm in London *If Necessary
Game 6- Sunday May 13th at 2pm in Niagara *If Necessary
Game 7- Monday May 14th at 7pm London *If Necessary
2012 HEAD-TO-HEAD RESULTS:
Thu Oct 1st London 7-3 Niagara
Fri Feb 3rd Niagara 3-2 London
CHL Rankings as of May 1st 2012
London Knights are Ranked 3rd in the CHL Top Ten
Niagara Icedogs are Ranked 8th in the CHL Top Ten
Teams regular season recap:
The London Knights finished their regular season with a record of (49-18-0-1) 99 points. The Knights scored the third most amount of goals in the regular season with 277 goals, just trailing behind their match-up of the Niagara Icedogs and the Plymouth Whalers. The Knights also had a strong defence and goaltending as they only allowed 178 goals against which placed them second overall in the OHL this season.
The London Knights offence relied majorly from players such as Seth Griffith the team’s leading scorer. Griffith scored a total of 45 goals and 40 assist in 68 games this season. The Knight’s also had a amazing season from Scott Harrigton, who was nominated for the league’s best defenseman. The Knights also got lots of help from Micheal Houser who had an outstanding save percentage of 0.925. Houser went 46-15-0-1 in 62 games with a goals against average of 2.47. Houser was also named the goaltender of the Year for the Ontario Hockey League.
Niagara Ice dogs
The Niagara Icedogs finished their regular season with a record of (47-18-0-13) 97 points. The Icedogs had the number one ranked offense and defence in the OHL regular season this past season, as they tallied a total of 291 goals and at the same time only allowing 169 goals.
The Icedogs leading scorer was Andrew Agozzino, who scored 40 goals, and 44 assist in 60 games this regular season. Agozzino was fifth in the league scoring this year and has impressed many scouts as he comes in his 5th season with the Icedogs. They also got scoring help from the Hamilton brothers Freddie and Dougie. Freddie was the team’s second leading scorer, as he chipped in 35 goals and 51 assist in 61 games. The Icedogs also got alot of help from the goaltender Mark Visentin who lead the league in goals against average of only 1.99. Visentin also had an amazing save percentage of only 0.926, in 42 games with a 30-9-0-2 recorded.
London Knights (12-2)
The London Knights started their playoffs playing against the 8th seeded (Western Conference) Windsor Spitfires. They sweep the spitfires in 4 games winning them, 3-0, 3-2, 3-2, and 8-3. They then went off to a harder fought matchup against 5th ranked Saginaw Spirit which the knights won 4-2, and those were the only 2 games they lost so far in the playoffs. They series went 5-2 London, 5-2 Saginaw, 5-2 Saginaw, 5-2 London, 2-1 OT London, and 5-3 London to wrap up their series. They then went on to battle the 2nd ranked Kitchener Rangers and also sweep that series winning 3-2 OT, 6-4, 5-2, and 4-2.
So far in the 2012 playoffs, rookie Olli Maatta has shine with Seth Griffith. Maatta has chipped in 5 goals and 14 assist in 14 games so far. We will see if he can keep it up against this strong Niagara Icedogs team. Griffith has 8 goals and 11 assist and is tied for the Knights leading scorers. Goaltender Micheal Houser was just awarded the goalie of the month for the past month. Olli Maatta was also just awarded the player of the week.
Niagara Ice dogs (12-3)
The Niagara Ice dogs started their playoffs by winning their first series against the 8th ranked Oshawa Generals. The Icedogs took the series in 6 games as the scores were (8-2 NIA, 6-1 NIA, 6-4 OSH, 5-3 OSH, 5-3 NIA, 4-1 NIA). They then went on to play the 4th ranked Brampton Battalion, and sweep them with 2-1 OT, 3-1, 6-3, 3-1 victories. Then they went on to play the Ottawa 67’s and beat them in 5 games (2-1 OT NIA, 7-4 OTT, 5-2 NIA, 5-2 NIA, 5-2 NIA).
The Ice dogs will need the their whole team to keep it up as 4 players in the top 10 players for scoring in the playoffs (Freddie Hamilton, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Murphy, Alec Friesen, Ryan Strome). If they have stellar goaltending for Visentin whose save percentage is now 0.921 and goals against average of 2.43.
Players to WATCH!
Olli Maatta of the London Knights will be trying to make a bigger name for himself in the next ranking, as they currently have him ranked 8th among the North American skaters. Another London Knight will be trying to make a bigger name for himself is Andreas Athanasiou as they have him ranked 40th among North American skaters. Mike Houser is defiantly going to try to tell the scouts that they are doing a mistake as they have him ranked 16th among North Americian goaltenders. The Icedogs currently don’t have any goaltenders or skaters ranked in the top 50 North American skaters.
Other players draft allegeable in this series
Josh Anderson – Ranked 57th in NA rankings (LDN)
Joel Wigle – Ranked 113th in NA rankings (NIA)
Chris Tierney – Ranked 118th in NA rankings (LDN)
Jesse Graham – Ranked 125th in NA rankings (NIA)
Luke Mercer – Ranked 193rd in NA rankings (NIA)
The way this matchup is looking like it will be a low scoring affair. As both teams should be having trouble solving each other’s net minding (Houser and Visentin). I’ll be expecting this series to go to game 6 or 7 before either team can book their tickets to Shawinigan, Quebec.
If the London Knights want to be the ones booking their tickets to Shawinigan, Quebec they will need to find a way to cool of the Hamilton brothers and Agozzino. They will need Scott Harrigton to keep up his amazing defence and with a bit of help from his goalkeeper Houser, they might be able to shut-down the Icedogs offence. The Knights will also need help on the offense side of the puck with Griffith and Maatta going to be watch carefully. The Knights can also use a lot of help from their 3rd and 4th lines to grind in some goals against Visentin.
|Mark Visentin of the IceDogs will be a challenge for the Knights offence|
Now If the Icedogs want to be the ones booking their tickets they will need their big 5 from the playoffs (Freddie Hamilton, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Murphy, Alec Friesen, Ryan Strome), and if they can have Visentin play like he did in the regular season they will be tough to beat.