Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Let the Fun Begin

This is the Memorial Cup, it is the CHL version of the Stanley Cup and starting Wednesday evening 6 New York Ranger prospects are competing for the right to raise it in the air. The goal is to still be playing come May 25th when the Championship game will be played in Kitchener Ontario

Bobby Sanguinetti, Tomas Zaborsky, Ryan Hillier, David Skokan, Antoine Lafleur, and Justin Soryal are going to be leading their respective teams into their league playoffs for the right to play for the Memorial Cup. Of the 6 though only Sanguinetti's Brampton Battalion and Hillier's Halifax Mooseheads are viewed as serious contenders.

We start at our look at the playoff matchups with the OHL playoffs as Justin Soryal and his Peteborough Petes got the playoffs going Wednesday evening taking on Belleville Bulls. The Bulls jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead before cruising to a 4-1 win and a 1-0 series lead.

Soryal was held scoreless registering a -1 for the game as the Bulls used their depth to jump on the out manned Petes.

Given how the Bulls took the regular season series 6-0 and the Petes are in the midst of a rebuilding phase then it will be a major miracle if this series goes past 5 games. The Bulls are too experienced and too deep for a young Pete team that has a lot of heart but little depth.

Bobby Sanguinetti leads his Brampton Battalion against the Barrie Colts who have had the Battalion's number for most of the regular season as the Battalion struggled to defeat the Colts 3-2-1. This though is playoff time and Sanguinetti is bringing some very talented friends to help him make a run at the OHL championship .

The Troop have Cody Hodgson (expected high NHL draft pick) and his 40 goals, Cory Emmerton and John Hughes who with Sanguinetti give them some serious offensive firepower. When you also factor in one of the most experienced coaches in the CHL in Stan Butler and while the Barrie Colts will put up a fight, in the end the Battalion will move on in 6 games.

The final OHL matchup involves Tomas Zaborsky and his Saginaw Spirit as they take on the Saute Ste. Marie Greyhounds. On paper this is supposed to be a mismatch as the Spirit are rebuilding under a rookie coach while the Greyhounds are coached by Canada's World Junior
Coach Craig Hartsburg who also has gold medalist Wayne Simmons along with 2 scoring lines.

The Greyhounds dominated the Spirit during the regular season 5-1-2 and one would think that the Spirit have no chance. To us the only chance the Spirit have is Tomas Zaborsky as if Zorro shows up like he did at the end of February when Zaborsky and the Spirit won 5 straight games against the best teams in the OHL while Zaborsky went 2-7-9.

We think the Greyhounds might overlook the Spirit at first but in the end they have too much experience and while this may come close to an upset it will wind up going to the dogs 4-3.

One thing to point to out about the OHL is that unlike other leagues, the OHL playoffs are held in a 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 format which in our eyes kills off the home ice advantage. Alternating games like they do gives the underdogs at least the sense of a fighting chance.

The OHL Coaches Poll

Only one OHL Ranger prospect was finished in the top three in any of the areas that the OHL coaches voted on and that was Bobby Sanguinetti winning the "Best Offensive Defensemen" award.

We are disappointed that Justin Soryal was not one of the 3 "Best Body Checkers" or that Tomas Zaborsky as one of the "Best Defensive Forwards"

The University Cup

Canada's version of the Frozen Four gets underway Thursday evening in New Brunswick as Eric Hunter and his 2nd seeded University of Alberta Golden Bears will take on 6th seeded and host University of Moncton in Pool "B" action.

This is our own first experience with the CIS University Cup and it has a very different but very interesting format that we have ever seen before. There are 6 teams for this Cup seeded of course 1-6.

The losers of Thursday's games will have to come back on Friday evening and face the two teams who did not see action on Thursday.

On Saturday the winners of the game on Thurdays will face off against the teams they did not face on Thursday. In other words, If Alberta wins on Thursday then on Saturday they will face McGill. If Alberta loses then they face McGill on Friday.

The 2 teams who have the most points from each pool will meet on Sunday for the University Cup. We have no idea how they determine what happens in the event of ties during pool play.

However we do know that the games will be webcast at a link found right here. Eric Hunter's Alberta Golden Bears will start at 7 PM Atlantic time (one hour faster than EDT).

One final thing as we just got word as we were writing this up that Eric Hunter was named to the All-Rookie Team in the CIS so we offer our congratulations to Eric on that award as well.

(Memorial Cup picture courtesy of the CHL)

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