After 90 gruelling, hard fought games the post season is finally upon us. We are blessed with arguably the best quarter final round matchups anyone could ask for. So with just over 48 hours before the fun begins 5pm in Niagara on Saturday, let’s break down the series one by one.
#1 Vaughan Red Wings vs. #8 Toronto Polar Bears
The Vaughan Red Wings will begin their quest for the Premier Championship after wrapping up the number one seed with a clash against the Toronto Polar Bears. Both teams have the offensive fire power to win games based solely on their offence. The Polar Bears had the two top scorers in the Premier Division Jeff Wilson and Chris Monaghan. The Bears tallied 53 goals, with Wilson playing a part in an astounding 40 goals and linemate Monaghan were not far off the pace. The Wings had two scorers in the top ten as well as Luciani and Metallo ranked amongst the league leaders. The biggest question going into this series has to be the defensive part of the game. The Wings will have to decide who will start between the pipes as starter Ferrante returned after a six game layoff and allowed ten goals in two games. The Bears gave up a league leading 100 goals against almost giving up two goals against for every goal scored. These two have faced each other twice this year with the Wings coming back both times the first a 5-4 victory and the second a 6-5 shootout win. Two games that could have gone either way.
Who Needs to Shine - The Polar Bears need to get off season pickup Sandro Mignosa scoring to take the pressure off the big two Monaghan and Wilson. The Wings need Shilton and Renda to be the dominating duo we’ve seen all through the season.
Who Will Step it up - The Wings will get a big series from speedster Steve Ceccanese who will give the Bears defenders fits with his lighting quick acceleration. Goaltender Gus Kalaitzis plays big in big games and there’s no bigger than playoff games.
Prediction - The numbers all point to the Wings but you can never count out the veteran Bears when the playoffs begin.
#2 Brampton Express vs. #7 Metro Orangemen
A fifth straight Premier Championship is the goal for the Brampton Express. After another outstanding season finishing in second place the road begins through the Metro Orangemen who will be a formidable first round opponent. This series will be the battle of the goaltenders Flegal vs. DiGironimo, both players are the backbone of their clubs and keep their teams in games by not allowing the next goal to beat them. This game also showcases the top young snipers in the game today as Giustini and Pires will go head to head in this series. Vic Azevado led all defensemen in scoring and his speed and ability to clear the zone quickly give the Express a dangerous transition game. Not to be outdone Carreria, Cerqueria and Creador the triple Cs on defence will keep the Express at bay. In the two meetings this year the Express swept the Orangemen 2-1 and just last week 5-1. In a battle of the minds behind the benches Malkahassian and Vieira will do their best to outwit each other and come up with game plan that will lead to the execution for success.
Who Needs to Shine - Chris Morrison Jr. coming off an injury slowed season should be back in form. Steve Lindo, an underrated winger, has the habit of scoring big goals in big games.
Who Will Step it up - Paul Lima and Terry Roache the veterans of the Orangemen can dictate the pace of the game and series. Tony Montiero, if the winter playoffs were any indication count on him to put up big numbers.
Prediction - This could be the Express`s first step on the road for five straight, or it could be the changing of the guard in favour of the young Orangemen.
#3 Toronto Thunder vs. #6 Niagara Generals
After a see saw season the Toronto Thunder have righted the ship and finished the season on a high, the perfect time to get the ball rolling for a long playoff run. The Generals as well were a tale of two stories starting off slow, tearing up the division for ten games then cooling near the end. These two teams faced each other two years ago in the semi finals with the then Ironmen upsetting the heavily favoured Thunder in a three game series. With the first game being played in Niagara the Thunder will hope to gain that ever important road win then return to Toronto for games two and three if needed. The goaltending duo of Serniak and Leggatt will do battle against Giffin and Medeiros as all four played superb throughout the year. Offensively the Thunder and Generals can snipe with the best of them. In the two meetings this year the Thunder went to Niagara and came away with a 5-2 victory in the rematch 14 goals were scored as the Generals won 8-6 in Toronto so home floor meant nothing to either side.
Who Needs to Shine – 2011 Premier Top Forward Marco Goncalves will be relied on to spark the offence. Ian Downes needs to continue his amazing scoring touch for the Generals.
Who Will Step it up -Daniel Freitas, this agitator has suddenly found a scoring touch as well. Mike Hedden may be the Playoff MVP after the dust settles.
Prediction - Last team to touch the ball wins, as there will be no 2-1 games in this series.
#4 Mississauga Hawks vs. #5 St. Michael’s BHC
In a slew of trades and signings the Hawks have transformed themselves into Premier contenders. Gaining the number four seed the Hawks look for a long playoff run. These two teams could not be more evenly matched as they finished with the same points, fitting they play each other in the QF round. The Hawks must score early and often as goaltender Anthony Flores gets better and better as the game gets into the later stages. Head coach Frank Zampini has the experience and composure to get through these pressure packed series. The series was swept by the Hawks with scores of 4-1 and 4-3 respectfully. Ralph Pellicori and Paul Zarnett will be relied heavily to stop the likes of Trougakos and Macri from St. Mike’s. Danny Novis, who’s blossomed into an All Star defenseman, quietly controls the flow of the game from the back end. Novis will have his hands full as the Hawks can throw three outstanding lines at you offensively. Let’s not forget Matt Tremblett who has won everything imaginable in his ball hockey career and will log mega minutes.
Who Needs to Shine - Frank Zuccaro had an impressive rookie season can he continue it in to post season. Mike Gaggi, superstar will raise game to elite level.
Who Will Step it up - Will Trougakos Captain will lead by example. JK Gill true power forward can’t be stopped
Prediction - Hawks won both regular season meetings, but you better flip a coin you`ll have better luck than trying to call this series.