There were no cinderella stories in the first round of the OJBLL Eastern Conference playoffs as each top seed team clean swept their series. First seed Akwesasne Indians will take on the fourth seed Oakville Buzz, while the number 2 seed Green Gaels will match up against long time rivals, the Halton Hills Bulldogs. Round 1 was short and sweet for all four teams but round two should be a different story as the top teams in the East fight to survive the road to the Founders Cup
1 Akwesasne Indians 4 Oakville Buzz
The super powered offense of the Akwesasne Indians may have their hands full in the second round as they take on the Oakville Buzz, a tough defensive team backstopped by goaltender Ian Duffy.
Although the Buzz are set to face the top team in the East, veteran goaltender Duffy believes that his team has what it takes to compete with every team they take the floor with, including the top ranked Indians. â€œWeâ€™ve got a good blend of talent, experience and youth which gives us confidence matching up against any team in the leagueâ€ said Duffy. â€œThe experience will help us in a hostile environment such as the Turtledomeâ€.
The two teams met half way during the regular season in a tight battle in the Hive. Duffy and Oakville held Akwesasne to single digits while facing almost 50 shots, but the offense of the Buzz struggled and could only put 5 goals past Jake Lazore. â€œA three minute let down cost us the gameâ€ said Ajax native Duffy. â€œWe know theyâ€™re an extremely gifted team and it will take 60 minutes every time we hit the floor to get a win.â€
A vital side note in that match up was that Ajax native Todd Nakasuji was not in the lineup for the Buzz as he was still playing for Limestone College in the NCAA DII. Nakasujiâ€™s return has been a major boost for the Buzz as he averaged 5.2 points a game in 9 games.
Nakasuji is not alone in this offensive boost for the Buzz as Mike Beirgard stepped up last round against Newmarket tallying 6 goals, 5 assists for 11 points in 3 games. Greg Campbell also has chipped in with an impressive 9 assists in 3 games.
Besides game 1, the Markham Ironheads were able to counter the dominate transition game of Akwesasne as they limited the odd man rush scoring opportunities. With this strategic change by the Ironheads, the offense of the Indians had to step up and did they ever answer the bell.
Depth was a key factor in the offensive success as six Akwesasne players hit double digits in the stats column. Hank Delisle and Ky Tarbell lead the Indians with 16 points each while UAlbany attackmen Ty Thompson found the back of the net 7 times.
A potential road block could be in the future of the Akwesasne Indians as 6 players will be competing for Iroquois Nationals in the 2012 U19 World Championships in Finland. Hank Delisle,Ty Tarbell, Korin Sunday, Thomas Oakley, Dalston Day and Chris George will all dawn the purple and gold in Turku, Finland. The tournament begins July 12th until the 21st which will force the 6 players to miss some playoff action. Although the 2nd round series for the Indians may be finished by the 12th, depending on departure time, they could be gone as early as this weekend; which is unofficially reported to when round 2 will begin. Losing Delisle, Tarbell and some key defenders will be a big loss for Akwesasne but due to their great depth on both ends of the floor, they will still be fielding a elite team.
Regardless of who is in or out of the lineup for Awkesasne, the Buzz will be ready to play as they look to shock the world.
Players to watch:
AWK:Hank Delisle 3GP 5G 11A 16P OAK:Todd Nakasuji 3GP 5G 9A 14P
AWK:Ky Tarbell 2GP 5G 11A 16P OAK:Mike Beirgard 3GP 6G 9A 11P
AWK:Ty Thompson 3GP 7G 8A 15P OAK:Ian Duffy 7.00 GAA 21 GA
2 Clairington Green Gaels 3 Halton Hills Bulldogs
A new chapter in a historic rivalry will be written as the Green Gaels take on the Halton Hills Bulldogs for the 6th consecutive year in the playoffs. The Bulldogs have the upper hand with 3 of 5 series wins, including the past two playoff meetings.
The Green Gaels offense dominated Mimico in the first round outscoring the Mountaineers 49-19.
Of the top 10 scoring leaders, 5 of them are Green Gaels. Dylan Goddard currently leads all playoff scoring with 22 points. Brock Levick sits tied in second with 20 points while Luke Laszkiewicz(18), Brenden Fox(17) and Austin Shanks(16) trail closely behind.
Although it was a clean sweep for the Bulldogs of Halton Hills, Kahnawake put up a fight. Game 1 was the most lopsided affair as the Dogs won 12-7. Game 2 was as tight as it gets as the Bulldogs defeated the Hunters 10-8 in double overtime. Game 3 was close again as Halton squeezed out a 9-7 victory to clinch the series.
Halton Hills will have to do a better job of putting the ball in the net as they play a tougher and more athletic defensive team in the Gaels. Backstopping the Gaels is veteran goaltender Neil Roberts who has been stellar all season and will continue his solid play into round 2. Another veteran goalie, Dustin Hanzelka will have to step up if Halton Hills wants to shut down the many offensive threats of the Gaels.
The Halton Hills Bulldogs should not be worried about the lack offense in round 1 due to the fact that they have had no problems stuffing the net this year. The trio of the Laidlaws combined for 264 points this season. Accompanying the Laidlaws in the scoring parade is rookie Connor Brown with 64 points. Princeton Tiger Mike MacDonald joined the Bulldogs with 6 games remaining in the season and is continuing his help in the playoffs by leading Halton Hills in goals(7) and points(13).
Two teams with powerful offenses and great goaltending is a perfect recipe for a great series, especially having great playoff history.
Players to watch:
GRE:Dylan Goddard 3GP 7G 15A 22P HH:Mike MacDonald 3GP,7G,6A,13P
GRE:Brock Levick 3GP 9G 11A 20P HH:Luke Laidlaw 2GP 4G 5A 9P
GRE:Brenden Fox 3GP 6G 11A 17P HH:Seth Laidlaw 3GP 5A 9P