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January 30 2011 at 12:12 PM No score for this post
Spabb (Login Spabb) from IP address 18.104.22.168
Congrats to all the teams that made it into the second round of playoffs, sounds like some pretty entertaining games in round one. Figure might as well get the conversation started on the conference finals with my picks and see what comes about.
Demons vs. Rampage
The Rampage are on a bit of a tear at the moment, having won their last eight games and not lost since December 4 and never lost at home. Kitimat is always a tough team at home and have really come together late in the season as well. The only thing I think is guaranteed from this series is some exciting, fast-paced hockey. That being said, I think Rupert takes this one in three very close games.
Stamps vs. Steelheads
Smithers first round paints a bit of a confusing picture. Their defense and goaltending were obviously spot on as they had back-to-back shutouts, but their offense only combined for four goals against the fourth place Luckies. They're going to need more than that to get by the Stamps, who have proven playoff success and have poured on the offence in their past couple of games. Another tough series to call, but I'm just feeling the Stamps will take this series in three games that should also be pretty hard fought and exciting.
Good luck and safe travels...
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Well the second round has produced the 4 best teams over the course of the final half of the year. Rupert has won 7 straight, Williams Lake has won 8 of 9, Kitimat 9 of 10 and Smithers has only suffered 1 loss since the seasons opening week. So this is definitely the group most deserving of being here and we should be in for two great match ups.
2. Kitimat 9-5-2 (2-0) vs 1. Prince Rupert 11-5-0 (2-0)
Season Series: 3-1 Rampage
This will be a great Western final between a long time perennial power and a franchise on the rise that is trying to gain credibility as one of the leagues elite. After winning their first ever division title and following that up with the teams first ever series victory the Rampage venture to the second round for the first time ever as they continue to break new ground preparing for the Coy Cup in March that they will be hosting. Rob Millar along with Brett and Colt Stava continue to be the teams offensive catalysts, but they seem to be finding scoring from other places through the second half of the season which has been a large factor in their second half winning streak. Despite the new found scoring this team will need to continue to get solid goaltending from Kieth Movold to hold up against the Demons who have been finding another gear down the stretch run as well.
The Demons come into this series just as hot as Rupert, but will have to find a way to beat the Rampage in Rupert if they want to move on to the Coy Cup. Having lost 3 consecutive to the Rampage, Kitimat will need to cause more trouble around Movolds crease if they hope to move to an incredible 7th straight Coy Cup. With just 6 goals in those three games Hewitson, Mayer, Wakita and Coleman will have to make their chances count to end that streak and find a way to end Ruperts home winning streak which is at 11 this season (including the northern cup). Kitimat will also draw from all it's playoff experience and goaltending duo of Vilness and Moran as well as former playoff MVP Jeff Mildenberger.
This should be a great series, but my gut says Kitimat in 3.
2. Williams Lake 11-4-1 (2-0) vs 1. Smithers 13-3-0 (2-0)
Season Series: Tied 1-1
This series has all the makings of an instant classic between two highly skilled, but very different teams. Smithers comes into this round, remarkably having not allowed a goal in round one, but facing a team that scored a league high 17 in just 2 games. Since giving Jamie Deba the reigns in net he has not disappointed leading all goalies, sporting a perfect GAA and save %. The question for the Steelheads now becomes do they have the fire power to win this series if they fall behind? With Darryl Young, Stu Barnes, Adam DeVries and Randall Groot leading a very hard working group of forwards this team does generate a ton of puck control and shots, the key for the Steelheads will be creating high quality shots and finishing their chances. Do that, and the Fish could very well be making their first ever visit to the league finals and Coy Cup.
For the Stampeders, it's basically the exact opposite situation for them. They will create chances and they will score on them, but can they defend well enough against such a hard working, skilled group to prevent more goals from entering their own net. Francis Johnson, Wilf Robbins, Paul Girodat and Jeff Gagnon will be the offensive spark plugs for the Stamps and Justin Foote will stand tall in the nets, but as a team they will need to defend much better then they did 3 weeks ago in Smithers as the shot totals were just too high and can't reach those totals again.
Depth wise, these are the only two teams in the league that can match each other and it may come down to who's 3rd and 4th lines produce the most. it is also a matchup between the leagues top PK in round one in Smithers who has not given up a goal down a man and the Stampeders top PP which is clicking at over 35% through the first round. Both teams also enter the series with some injury concerns. The Stamps have lost NathaN Zurak to shoulder surgery and the fish are dealing with their top two dmen being very banged up, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
When all is said and done this will be as near a coin flip as you can have, but i gotta go with experience and take the Stamps in 3.
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