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Toronto Maple Leafs prospects report: NCAA brackets are set, CHL playoff preview

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Terry Wilson, OHL Images

I could talk a lot up here, but I won’t. Below each team are results of their playoff series or a quick preview of what I expect from the teams.

Playoffs! Woo!

Ontario Hockey League

JJ Piccinich (F) / Nicolas Mattinen (D)
2G, 4A, +3 / 1G, 0A, +1
London Knights - Series vs Windsor starts Friday

March 14th: @ Erie Otters
W 3-2 - 0G, 2A, +2 / No Points
March 17th: vs Flint Firebirds
W 7-3 - 0G, 1A / No Points
March 18th: @ Flint Firebirds
W 3-2 - 1G, 1A, +3 / 1G, 0A, +1
March 19th: @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
L 6-4 - 1G, 0A, -2 / No Points

OHL Championships: 4 (2016, 2013, 2012, 2005)
Memorial Cups: 2 (2016, 2005)
Round one opponent: Windsor Spitfires
Season head to head: 3-2-1
Playoffs head to head: 7 series wins, 2 series losses

The London Knights kick off their defense of the OHL Championship & Memorial Cup against this years Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires. The Knights are looking to become the first back to back OHL & Memorial cup Champions since the 2009 & 2010 Windsor Spitfires. The Spitfires are looking to prove they deserve their spot in the Memorial Cup tournament this year, and after a mediocre season, they have a hard fight ahead of them - and starting against London is not the way they wanted this to go.

Charlie Clarke from Last Word on Sports wrote a great fanpost on why Leafs fans need to watch this series. Thanks Charlie!


Stephen Desrocher (D) - 2G, 1A, +7
Kingston Frontenacs - Series vs Hamilton starts Friday

March 17th: vs Hamilton Bulldogs
W 5-3 - 1G, 1A, +2
March 18th: @ Barrie Colts
W 6-3 - 1G, 0A, +3
March 19th: @ North Bay Battalion
W 5-4 - 0G, 0A, +2

OHL Championships: 0
Memorial Cups: 0
Round one opponent: Hamilton Bulldogs
Season head to head: 2-4
Playoffs head to head: Have not met in playoffs.

Last season was the Frontenacs big ‘Go for it’ year, and then went as far as the second round of the OHL playoffs before being swept in an upset by the Niagara IceDogs. This year there was hope they’d do just as well again, but they were a middling team most of the season. This year they’re heading into the playoffs in 5th place against the Hamilton Bulldogs who are making their first entry into the post-season since moving from Belleville two years ago. The Frontenacs have only made the conference finals once since joining the OHL, and never won a championship, and this year doesn’t look to be the one to make either of those happen.


Jeremy Bracco (F) - 1G, 2A
Windsor Spitfires - Series vs London starts Friday

March 15th: @ Sarnia Sting
L 4-2 - 0G, 1A, -2
March 16th: vs Owen Sound Attack
L 6-1 - No Points
March 18th: @ Saginaw Spirit
W 4-3 - 1G, 1A, +2

OHL Championships: 3 (2010, 2009, 1988)
Memorial Cups: 2 (2010, 2009)
Round one opponent: London Knights
Season head to head: 3-3
Playoffs head to head: 2 series wins, 7 series losses

The Spitfires are hosting the Memorial Cup this year and need to make an impact on the playoffs lest they be seen as the team that bought their way into the tournament instead of earning it. The last few hosts to win the tournament have done well - Shawinigan made it to the second round in 2012, Vancouver lost the WHL finals in 2007, and London won the OHL Championship in 2005. Although after this season, they could end up like 2014 host London Knights, and go 0-3 in the tournament. The pressure is on, Windsor needs to respond.


Nikita Korostelev (F)
Peterborough Petes - Series vs Niagara starts Thursday

March 15th: @ Ottawa 67’s
W 2-0 - 0G, 0A, +1
March 16th: vs Hamilton Bulldogs
W 4-0 - 1G, 0A, +1
March 19th: @ Oshawa Generals

OHL Championships: 9 (2006, 1996, 1993, 1989, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1972, 1959)
Memorial Cups: 1 (1979)
Round one opponent: Niagara IceDogs
Season head to head: 3-1
Playoffs head to head: Never met in playoffs

The Peterborough Petes have long been a middling team. Never quite the contender, never really terrible. They’ve just been....there. Since winning the OHL Championship in 2006, they’ve made the playoffs 6 out of 10 years, and made it past the first round only once. This is the year they hope to push away the past and take control of the future. Finishing on top of the Eastern Conference, they’ll have an easy path to the conference finals, where they will most likely face off with either the division rival Oshawa Generals or the Mississauga Steelheads - the Central division winner who rose fast from a bad start and is filled with young talent. The hope if they make it to the OHL Championship Series, the western team will have fought hard against each other, because the best of the west finished far, far, ahead of anyone in the East.


Keaton Middleton (D) - 0G, 0A, -1
Saginaw Spirit - Season over.

OHL Championships: 0
Memorial Cups: 0
March 15th: vs Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
W 2-1 - 0G, 0A, +1
March 17th: @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
L 3-1 - No Points
March 18th: vs Windsor Spitfires
L 3-2 - 0G, 0A, -2

Finished 9th in the OHL Western Conference, and did not qualify for the playoffs.
The Spirit are my prime example of how conference imbalance is hurting some teams. Keep an eye out at the Bloggers Tribune this week for look at the OHL playoffs, and how the format can(should) be changed. The Spirit finished 14th overall in the OHL, and if the league was seeding 1-16 like the QMJHL, they’d have a playoff series against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. They’d have no chance of winning, but they deserve to get beat down in round one more than the Sudbury Wolves.


Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Martins Dzierkals (F) - 0G, 0A, +1
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies - Series vs Halifax starts Friday

March 15th: @ Shawinigan Cataractes
L 3-2 - No Points
March 17th: @ Blainesville-Broisband Armada
L 3-2 - 0G, 0A, +1
March 18th: @ Victoriaville Tigres
L 5-3 - No Points

QMJHL Championships: 1 (2016)
Memorial Cups: 0
First round opponent: Halifax Mooseheads
Season head to head: 3-2-1
Playoffs head to head: 7 series wins, 2 series losses

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were one goal away from becoming the Memorial Cup champions last year, losing 3-2 in overtime to the London Knights. This year they have essentially the same team on the ice, and are looking to avenge their loss. Finishing near the top of the standings give the Huskies breathing room, with lesser opponents in the first couple of rounds. A rematch of the 2016 QMJHL final series against Shawinigan could happen as well. The later rounds of the playoffs will be a fight, but the Huskies did it last year, and are primed and ready to do it again.


Western Hockey League

Adam Brooks (F) - 4G, 9A, +6
Regina Pats - Series vs Calgary starts Friday

March 14th: vs Saskatoon Blades
W 5-4 - 0G, 3A
March 15th: vs Swift Current Broncos
W 6-2 - 1G, 2A, +1
March 17th: vs Brandon Wheat Kings
W 7-1 - 2G, 2A, +2
March 18th: @ Brandon Wheat Kings
W 6-0 - 1G, 2A, +3

WHL Championships: (1980, 1974)
Memorial Cups: 4 (1974, 1930, 1928, 1925)
First round opponent: Calgary Hitmen
Season head to head: 3-1
Playoffs head to head: 1 series loss

The Regina Pats are the 2017 Memorial Cup hosts, and a win this year will make the 100th Memorial cup next year more special for the host city, and it’s looking like a lock. The Pats finished 1st overall in the WHL with 108 points, 9 more than second place Medicine Hat. These two teams could meet in the Conference final, as the WHL mirrors the NHL playoff format, starting with divisional playoffs. The Pats are the most talked about WHL team, as they have the top two scorers in the WHL with Sam Steele’s 130 points (drafted by the Ducks) and Adam Brooks’ 123 points. Most people are expecting to see the Pats in Windsor this year, and anything less would be a disappointment.


Jack Walker (F) / Vladimir Bobylyov (F)
2G, 0A, -2 / 1G, 2A
Victoria Royals - Series vs Everett starts Friday

March 14th: @ Vancouver Giants
L 5-3 - No Points / 0G, 1A
March 17th: vs Everett Silvertips
L 4-2 - 2G, 0A, -2 / 0G, 1A
March 18th: @ Everett Silvertips
L 5-2 - No Points / 1G, 0A

WHL Championships: 0
Memorial Cups: 0
First round opponent: Everett Silvertips
Season head to head: 0-3-1
Playoffs head to head: Never met in playoffs.

The Victoria Royals were toiling in the wild card race most of this season, and a sudden burst of wins locked them into a wild card spot at the end of February. They celebrated by going back to losing games. Everett did well this season, but the length of this series, and possibly it’s outcome, depends on which Victoria Royals show up.


NCAA

Joseph Woll (G) - 57sv, 63sh, 0.905sv%
Boston College Eagles

March 17th: vs Boston University
W - 3-2 - 40sv, 42sh, 0.952sv%
March 18th: U-Mass Lowell
L 4-3 - 17sv, 21sh, 0.810sv%

The BC Eagles lost the Hockey East championship game to U-Mass Lowell, and now their season is over. This is the last we’ll see of Woll until development camp in the summer. After his freshman season in the NCAA, he played 34 games, with a 2.64GAA and .913sv%.


JD Greenway (D) - 0G, 1A, +1
Wisconsin Badgers

March 17th: vs Ohio State
W 2-1 - 0G, 1A, +1
March 18th: vs Penn State
L 2-1 2OT - No Points

Losing the finals seems to be a theme here. After defeating Ohio State, Wisconsin fell in double overtime to Penn State. The Badgers season is now over, and Greenway finished off his first year on the NCAA Blueline with 1 goal, and 7 assists.


Dominic Toninato (F) - 2G, 0A, +3
U-Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

March 17th: vs Western Michigan
W 5-2 - 1G, 0A, +2
March 18th: vs North Dakota
W 4-3 - 1G, 0A, +1

The UMD Bulldogs will be facing off with Ohio State in round one of the NCAA hockey playoffs. After winning the NCHC title, the Bulldogs now face a tough climb to the Frozen Four and the NCAA title. If they make it past Ohio State, they’ll have to play either Boston University or North Dakota. This is Dominic Toninato’s senior year with UMD, and hopefully he can add captaining the Bulldogs to an NCAA Championship to his resume.


Dakota Joshua (F) - 1G, 0A, -3
Ohio State Buckeyes

March 16th: vs Michigan State
W 6-3 - 0G, 0A, -1
March 17th: vs Wisconsin
L 2-1 - 1G, 0A, -2

Despite losing the Big 10 conference, Ohio State is still in the NCAA playoffs, and will take on Dominic Toninato and the UMD Bulldogs in round one. Despite a strong season, Ohio State ins’t the favoured team in this match up, but if the Buckeyes can pull it off, they may gain the confidence to make it to Chicago for the final.


Nolan Vesey (F) - Season over
Maine Black Bears
Eliminated 2-0 by Vermont in the first round of Hockey East playoffs.


Playoffs are moving fast, but I’m still going to keep the updates weekly. If anything big happens, we’ll tweet it out, and if anyone wins anything between posts, it will get it’s own spot in the Twigs section.