Turfdogs Vs. Demons Playoff Preview
When the Durham Turfdogs and Ohsweken Demons square off at the ILA on Saturday it will not only kick off the 2015 Canadian Lacrosse League playoffs, but it will also be the third time the two clubs have met in just over a month. Both the Turfdogs and Demons claimed victories on their home turf during the season series, as the Durham picked up a 12-11 win at home in Oshawa, while the Demons defeated Durham 13-11 at the ILA on March, 6th.
Both clubs have faced consistency issues throughout the 2015 regular season, and while both teams posssses strong offenses and defenses, goaltending may be the key in crowning a winner on Saturday night. Demons starter Jake Henhawk had been impressive all season long, but as the season wore on, Henhawk seemed to wear down a bit, culminating in a rough appearance in the Demons final regular season game against Barrie. Meanwhile Durham has faced goaltending issues all season long, Cole Murray opened the season between the pipes for Durham with an impressive debut against the Niagara Lockmonsters, but struggled the following week, allowing veteran Kevin Croswell to claim the number one position. However Croswell has struggled more then he’s impressed this season. With that being said heading into the first round playoff match up, it is Croswell coming off an impressive regular season finale, where as Henhawk will be looking to rebound after a tough outing. If Henhawk is to return to form and Croswell displays his consistency issues, this one could be over early.
Offensively both teams boast four elite scorers apiece, as the Durham Turfdogs are led by Jesse Guerin, Geoff McNulty, Dylan Goddard and Tim Bergin. Meanwhile the Demons are led by Chris Attwood, Roger Vyse, Wayne & Torrey Van Every. Both group offers different ways to beat you offensively as the majority of the Demons offensive weapons tend to lean on their explosive outside shots to catch goaltenders off guard. That’s not to say they aren’t strong inside or off the pick and roll, simply they have the ability to beat you from outside with heavy, accurate shots. Meanwhile the Turfdogs like to move the ball a lot on offensive and use the pick and roll to their advantage. Durham likes to throw cross floor and skip passes to beat defenses with Jesse Guerin being the Turfdogs number one distributor. Both power plays are equally efficient and can be lethal if afforded an abundance of opportunities. A difference maker heading into the Saturday night affair will be what team can get offensive from their depth guys and through transition. With the Demons possessing talents transition players in Tom Montour and Rodd Squire they may hold a slight advantage. However with Turfdogs captain Mark Farthing making a return to the lineup this weekend, he and Mack O’Brien can be equally as effective in transition. Look for players like Nic Grasby, Josh Wasson, Thomas Hoggarth and Coady Adamson to be difference makers if the top offensive guys are kept in check for Durham.
Defensively the teams are again eerily similar although I’d give the slight advantage to the Turfdogs. When they are on their game and everyone is in the lineup, they can be tough to beat. Durham combines physicality and athleticism to be effective defensively, while Ohsweken likes to lay the lumber to their opponents and use their quick sticks to strip the opposition. Depth wise Durham is the deeper defense core, and may be the more finely conditioned team, which ultimately may play a factor if the game becomes a run and gun style of game. The fast pace up tempo game suites the Turfdogs, where as the 5 on 5 offensive set, slower paced game greatly benefits the Demons. If Durham wants to limit the Demons potent offensive ability they must transition and push the pace, and will need to stretch their defense to stay right on the hands of guys like Attwood, Vyse and Van Every ans their cannon of shots can beat you from extended distances.
This one should be a back and forth nail bitter, just as the first two match ups have been. It would not shock me in the least bit to see this game take extra time to declare a winner. I’ll go out on a limb here and predict a 12-11OT victory by the Turfdogs.